Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

Booth Design

Working Effectively With a 3D Exhibit Designer

You’ve decided it’s time for a new booth. Time to start from scratch. For whatever reason, your current booth no longer effectively represents the company brand, so you’re hiring a new exhibit designer.

Where do you start? To begin with, it’s not a bad idea to issue an RFP (Request for Proposal).

Once you’ve chosen a designer and/or exhibit house, it’s time to get off to a good start with your new 3D designer. You’ll want to keep a few things in mind:

First, if you’re working with a graphic designer to come up with a booth design, you may be starting with the wrong person. Graphic designers aren’t necessarily trained in 3D exhibit design, and 3D exhibit designers are necessarily adept at graphic design. Chances are you’ll want both.

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Start by creating a design brief that details your overall marketing goals, and then details the specific tradeshow marketing goals. In fact, if you can detail the show-by-show goals, that will be even better. Define the objectives: branding awareness, lead generation, media and PR outreach, product sales and more. Not everything will be directly applicable to the 3D design, but your designer can absorb the information anyway.

Next, explain from your perspective, the company’s brand and how you’d like to represent it to the world. If you have information on how the brand is seen by consumers and clients, add that in too, especially if it’s different from your perspective.

Now, list your products and services. Sometimes, in the case where a company has hundreds of products, listing them all is probably unnecessary. However, a good description of the main product areas is important. Create a list of issues and problems that your products and services address: what do they solve? How do they help customers solve a problem, achieve a goal or satisfy a need?

Detail your target market. Are they young, old? Consumers or businesses? Men, women? Or some combination?

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Next, write a paragraph or two on the look and feel of your new booth. Detail size, materials, and how the booth should make people feel when they see it. Is it traditional, cutting edge, modern? Space age, funky, unusual? What colors are in your brand?

Include your budget, booth size, note if it will be set up in different configurations, and the functional needs, such as storage, product display, meeting areas, demo counters, video monitors, greeting counters and other items such as banner stands, iPad kiosks, etc.

Include a few comments on how and where will the booth be stored and whether you expect your staff to set up the booth or if you plan to hire show labor.

Working with an experienced designer and exhibit house can save you money in the long run, especially if you exhibit multiple times a year. You’ll have a professional team working with you at each step to craft a creative and effective design and bring that design to life.

 

Find Your Exhibit with Exhibit Design Search [Video]

Need to get your hands on your next great tradeshow exhibit but don’t know where to start? Here’s a place that will give you so many choices your head will spin. However, the great thing is that once you narrow your choices down, it’s easy to share with your colleagues and team members. Check out this video:

Check out the Exhibit Design Search now!

Your Tradeshow Marketing Questions Answered [Webinar Replay]

It appears that our first webinar of 2016 went off with a hitch or a hiccup. At least that’s what it felt like! Here’s a replay in case you missed it:

Sign up for future webinars at TradeshowGuyWebinars.com. Our next one is set for February 16 at 10 am Pacific, and will feature Hiett Ives of Show Dynamics, Inc. of Houston Texas. The title of his presentation is “Tradeshow Leads Guaranteed” so you’ll want to make sure to attend!

People’s Choice Awards: Vote Today and Again Tomorrow!

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One of our recent booth projects over the summer was a custom portable modular booth for the Toronto-based company SoYoung. The project turned out so great and people loved the look, that the design and fabrication team at Classic Exhibits thought it should be entered in the Exhibitor Portable/Modular, which recognizes design excellence. So it was. And it made the finals round where you, the public, get to vote!

Classic Exhibits also had two other projects make it to the finals round: Philadelphia Commercial and Nationwide.

The rules for the voting are simple: you can vote only once a day, but you can vote every day.

To vote, simply go here. To learn more about the awards, check this page.

Thanks to SoYoung for letting us design and fabricate their exhibit, and for letting us enter it in the design excellence contest.

And to see a full gallery of photos of the SoYoung booth, check it out here.

What is a GREEN Exhibit?

Lots of things are green today, but what does it really take to make a green exhibit?

First, let’s agree on what ‘green’ means.

Most agree that it means moving away from standard business-as-usual fabrication methods by replacing traditional materials and/or ensuring that the chain of incoming products and outgoing materials is as eco-friendly as possible. Ultimately it means as many methods as possible are used to design and fabrication environmentally sustainable exhibits.

How to be Green

In a recent chat with Matt Wish, the Marketing Director of Eco-Sustainable Exhibits (HQ in Grand Rapids, MI; Manufacturing in Portland, OR), we went over what it takes to design and produce a green exhibit.

“Compare it to what people are used to in the construction world: LEED Certification. It’s a great buzzword. What we’ve done is take what we think the LEED Certification would be for a tradeshow exhibit and applied it,” said Matt.

ECO-2054-V1.1 green exhibit

Everything from materials that are being used to the substrates that graphics are printed on, down to the inks used are all combined to assemble what could be called a green exhibit. This includes recycled aluminum extrusions, LED lighting, Paradise Fabric Graphics made from 100% recycled soda bottles, eco-glass, bamboo plywood, FSC certified wood, eco-board and even stains and finishes using water-based low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and VOC Free.

“We do all we can to hold our company accountable to keep things eco-friendly and green,” said Matt.

Eco-Sustainable Exhibits works closely with Classic Exhibits, their manufacturer, and that has been fruitful for both, as Classic Exhibits adheres to a very sustainable model, using recycled materials and recycling as many leftovers as possible. Another partner, Optima Graphics, also works diligently to recycle materials and use sustainable materials, which means that exhibits nowadays from these companies are about as green as can be.

Classic Exhibits is also in a unique position of being right next to a set of railroad tracks where recycled aluminum can be loaded easily and transported just a few miles to an aluminum recycler that has the capability of extruding many of the Classic Modul aluminum shapes. Being able to transport materials only a short distance instead of hundreds or thousands of miles is yet another way to keep the carbon footprint down on a green exhibit.

What about cost?

“Virtually identical,” says Matt. Which means that a few years ago what used to be more expensive than materials from the mainstream now costs virtually the same.

What about the quality?

“Most people can’t tell the difference,” says Matt. Some of the materials are better than typical building materials, some others may not be quite as good, but in any case, it’s a tossup. When it comes to the recycled plastic that goes into shipping cases, you’re actually getting a case that is more durable than those made from traditional cases in the industry.

Rentals are Eco-Friendly

A company can buy an exhibit and use it 5, 6, 7 years or more and get a lot of mileage out of that new purchase. This contributes to the greening of the exhibit because you’re not buying very often. And when you finally outgrow the exhibit, as you transition to something new, those old materials can likely be recycled or repurposed.

But what about renting? By renting you’re continuing to use the same materials over and over, which also contributes to the greening and the sustainability of the industry.

Final words?

As Matt put it, “so many people have a negative approach, saying that you shouldn’t drive so much, or waste so much, and so on, but we like to take the positive approach and say that even a little bit of green is a great step in the right direction.” Whether renting or buying, asking your exhibit house what kinds of sustainable materials they have, or what kind of sustainability practices they incorporate, lets them know that you, as an exhibit purchaser, are interested in the greening of tradeshow exhibits.

By making small changes where they make sense, that small change can add to the overall effect that we, as planet inhabitants, need to consider when we get out our checkbook to put a new exhibit into place.

Want to browse green exhibits? Many of Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits are found here on the Exhibit Design Search.

Tradeshow Exhibit Design and Fabrication Timeline

You want a successful tradeshow exhibit design and fabrication process, naturally. A number of factors come into play in the process, including (but not limited to) the timeline. When do you start the process?

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It depends upon your current status: do you already have a booth and simply want to upgrade, or are you starting from scratch? Do you want to move up from a small 10×10 or 10×20 inline booth to a larger island? While you intuitively know where you are, the first step of the process is to take a few moments and write it all down. Share it with all team members. You may want to do a full Request for Proposal from potential new exhibit houses, or you may be comfortable with your current vendor and simply want to communicate the desire to upgrade to them.

In any event, make and share the assessment with those that will be involved.

One Year Prior to the Show

If you’re essential starting from scratch, you should probably look at the entire project from the 30,000 foot level about 9 months to a year out from the show date when you’ll want the new exhibit. This gives you a chance to determine a comprehensive and detailed budget. Having this budget document that includes all related costs such as storage, potential shipping, set-up costs and so forth will reduce the element of surprise for you and management once the project is officially under way.

This early discussion should also look at the main shows that you’ll be using the new booth at. Some companies have large booths that are used only once or twice a year, while they use smaller inline or popup booths at smaller shows. Look at things such as show goals and objectives, audience, traffic flow, etc.

Provide your exhibit house with a design brief detailing all of the elements of your new exhibit: size of booth, show goals, meeting spaces, storage, demo areas, branding elements, etc.

Six Months Out

Bu now you should be starting regular conversations with your exhibit house in earnest and their designer should be working from your design brief.

Your booth builder will want to have as much information as you can provide about the show such as dates, location, and other details. You may even want to provide them with your show marketing strategy and details so that they are aware of how you will promote your show appearance.

Four Months Out

You should have reviewed at least one or two designs and walked through any revisions with your 3D booth designer. You’re in the stage of finalizing all of the details prior to fabrication.

Graphic designers will have received graphic placement details and graphic dimensions from the booth designer and should be developing graphics in conjunction with the marketing team.

Reach out to I&D companies for early estimates and availabilities for set-up of the new booth, if it’s a larger booth that requires a set-up team.

Sometime in the next few weeks, depending on your exhibit house’s capabilities, the booth will go through fabrication.

One Month Prior to the Show

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A walk-through with a booth set-up will be arranged and all graphics will be completed and placed. Any final items that need to be changed will result in a punch list that will need to complete by the exhibit house prior to crating and shipping.

This is when you’ll make final arrangements for shipping, I&D and storage if they haven’t been made yet.

Small Booths

Smaller booths, such as modular, kit or pop-ups don’t follow the longer timeline that custom island booths demand. Many can be chosen from a catalog and ordered quickly once graphic files are completed and are often capable of being shipped in less than a month, and depending on the complexity of the booth, in just a week or two.

At the Show

You have a great booth! Set-up was flawless because your exhibit house furnished thorough and easy-to-follow instructions for the I&D team. Your job is to work the show, talk with visitors and generate new business!

 

 

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“Tradeshow Success” Book Released

This week is the launch of my new book “Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level.” I’m doing a lot of the normal launch things an author would do: sending copies to industry media and bloggers, along with industry colleagues. Creating a list of clients and potential clients that I’d like to get the book into. And much more!

Beyond that, I’ve created a series of 14 videos, with each one relating to one of the chapters in the book. Those videos are appearing, about one a day, at my YouTube Tradeshow Marketing channel. Check ’em out!

So what can you do? If you want to purchase the paperback, here’s the Amazon.com page. You can also buy the Kindle version for about half the list price of the paperback.

You can also read the book for free here at TradeshowSuccessBook.com. You’ll be asked to opt-in to a mailing list (which, if you gotta, you can always unsubscribe from).

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What do you get in the book? As mentioned in the subtitle, I’ve detailed 14 steps that are critical to tradeshow success. Not every successful tradeshow marketer uses all of these steps with utmost efficiency, but most of them make very good use of many of the steps.
So what are the steps?

Let’s take a look at the 14 Steps:

  • Step One: Going with or without a Map? Are you doing enough planning and organizing around your tradeshows?
  • Step Two: Dollars, Pounds, Euros: How Much Do You Really Need to Make This Work? A breakdown of the budgeting process for tradeshows and what it takes to budget for a new exhibit.
  • Step Three: Getting Ready for the Big Dance: Pre-show planning and marketing.
  • Step Four: Did You Come to the Right Dance? Just make sure that your target market is at the show you’re going to dump all of that money into.
  • Step Five: Home is Where the Booth Is: Booth design essentials, including function, traffic flow, graphics and more.
  • Step Six: Is Your Frontline Team Up to Snuff? Booth staff training!
  • Step Seven: What Do I Do With All of These People in the Booth? Now that you’ve drawn a crowd, what do you do with them?
  • Step Eight: Tweeting, Posting and Instagramming Like a King or Queen: Putting social media to work for you in a creative way.
  • Step Nine: Who’s Keeping Track of Those Damn Tweets? Someone needs to create videos, blog posts, tweets, etc. Here’s a great look at some online content ideas.
  • Step Ten: Got a Stack of Leads: Now What? Lead generation and follow up.
  • Step Eleven: Becoming the Zen Master of Stats and Records: Record-keeping is the secret sauce to tracking your success.
  • Step Twelve: Stirring the Public Relations and Media Pot: Working with industry media.
  • Step Thirteen: Do QR Codes Still Kill Kittens? And Other Tech Questions: A quick examination of technology in tradeshows.
  • Step Fourteen: Out Of Your Nest: Time to Fly! Your call to action!

Want to grab your own copy? Use the links above to own your own. Or if you want the digital version (PDF download), try this:

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

Why Get a Charging Station for Your Booth?

Mel and Kevin of Classic Exhibits take some time to answer questions about the very popular charging stations. There are a lot of reasons to consider adding a charging station – and maybe you’ve thought of a few. But what about customization, set-up, packing and shipping and more? Check out this interview and then take a look at our online catalog selection of charging stations here.

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Essentials of Tradeshow Booth Design: Slide Deck

If you got a chance to see the webinar I did recently with Handshake, thanks! I hope you got something useful out of it. I’ve had a handful of requests for the slide deck so people can review it closer. Here’s the deck:

If you’d like to see the replay, click here.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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