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

Booth Design

Lifecycle of a Tradeshow Booth

Where are you in the life cycle of your tradeshow booth? What impact would it be to your company to upgrade at this point vs. waiting another year or two?

The life of a tradeshow booth generally goes something like this:

  1. Realizing your company has outgrown the old booth and making plans for a new one.
  2. Designing a new booth based on current company needs.
  3. Brand new booth and loving it!
  4. Year 1 – 2: It doesn’t exactly fit your needs but you’re still doing fine.
  5. Years 2 – 4: Making small adjustments and liberal use of on-site repairs. You feel like MacGuyver.
  6. Making bigger adjustments and repairs as time goes by. The thing is starting to rival Frankenstein’s monster.
  7. Realizing that you’re about to outgrow the booth in so many ways, like that old bathing suit from when you were a teenager.
  8. Finally putting a budget together for a new booth.
  9. Repeat every 5 – 7 years.

Admittedly, every company and booth experiences the booth lifecycle in its individual way. Some companies want a new booth every couple of years, and others are proud that they’ve used the same booth for nearly twenty years! True! I’ve talked to them!

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Once the booth crates or cases make it to a floor, they run into hundreds or thousands of other companies trying to setup their booths as well. Forklifts run wild. Ladders fall. Screwdrivers are dropped. Graphics and other pieces don’t fit as advertised and are hammered into place.

You can see why, given the somewhat destructive nature of how a booth ‘lives,’ it’s no surprise anyone that they need constant attention, repair and TLC.

So how can you extend the life of a tradeshow booth and when can you tell it’s time to move to something completely new?

One simple recommendation is to update graphics regularly. Refreshing the look of a booth with re-skinning it with new graphics is an economical and quick way to makeover the booth. The skeleton, or the main structure, of the booth, usually is good for five to seven years. By dressing the skeleton in new clothes regularly, the life cycle of the booth can be extended.

If you purchase a booth that’s designed to be expanded by using modular components, it doesn’t take much to expand that 10’ inline booth to a 20’ or 30’ or even a 20’ x 20’ island. That way you aren’t really buying a new booth, you’re just adding to your existing property. A good exhibit house will discuss these options with you when you first consider a new booth. That way the initial investment is a part of the booth as its given new life.

Maintaining longevity means being flexible. It means being willing and able to adapt to changing needs in your company. If you purchase a 10’ x 30’ booth that can also be setup as a 10’ or 20’ inline, you have the flexibility to attend several different shows with different layouts. If your designer is aware of your long term needs (any good designer will be by asking good questions before starting a design concept), flexibility will be built-in from the very beginning.

Add to that flexibility by adding and subtracting items such as counters, iPad kiosks, workstations and more depending on the needs of a specific show. Change out fabric graphic panels, add wings to the walls or a swoopy thing here and there to draw attention.

Getting the most out of your investment is key to increasing the usability and life cycle of your booth, not to mention increasing the overall ROI of your investment.

Tradeshow marketing takes place in a challenging environment. The more you can plan and prepare for the longevity of your booth, the further you’ll extend the dollars you are investing.

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Expo West 2015: Blisters, Wacky Booth Awards and Show Reflections

After 62,219 steps, a couple of achy legs and a few foot blisters in four days of Expo West, it came to me: “Tradeshows ain’t for wimps!” Certainly not if you’re walking the floor, nor if you’re an exhibitor who’s shepherding a booth (and staff) from the home office location to the show floor, through day(s) of set-up, three days of visitors, then dismantling and shipping it back. Thanks to Fitbit’s tracking device that’s 28.96 miles, give or take…

Tradeshows ain’t for wimps. I know it, and every year I say the same thing: I should have gone into training for this about six weeks ago.

Depending on whom you listen to and believe and what rumors are flying, this year’s Expo West, held at the Anaheim Convention Center, drew around 80,000 visitors, a one-third boost from last year. Or, as one exhibitor confided, a New Hope rep told her that the total attendance (attendees and exhibitors) was north of 110,000 and growth was so substantial that they were looking to demand some more space and concessions from the convention center, or within a few years it could be ‘Sayonara, Anaheim, hello Las Vegas!’

Like I said, rumors.

Flash Drives: @Tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit

The @tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit
The @tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit

My calling card this year wasn’t a card; it was a flashdrive that contained a lotta stuff to help exhibitors.  I took six dozen and they all found a home, except for the one that stayed in the bottom of my backpack. I loved that they were quite well-received by those I offered them to: “You’re showing me how to bring home more leads, get more PR and have a better-trained booth staff? I’ve been waiting for this!” Did you get one? Would you like one? It’s available now online: download your toolkit here.

Social Media

As always, I keep abreast of happenings on the show floor via Twitter, and, increasingly, via Instagram. It’s easy to post photos to either, but from the Instagram platform, you can also post directly to Facebook and Twitter, so that makes it an easy choice to start there. Loads of exhibitors and attendees are hanging out on both platforms, and it’s easy to follow them by tracking the hashtags #expowest and #expowest2015. Hey, I got some freebies this way, and also entered a few contests that I previously would not have run across. (Hey NutraSumma, call me when I win that mountain bike, okay?)

Booth Awards

This year’s show was, as usual, quite the extravaganza. And the booths (and attendees) ranged from ghastly to elegant to stunning. Let’s hand out a few awards, shall we?

Coolest Interactive

While there were certainly a lot of companies looking to find ways to get visitors to interact with their booth, the So Delicious booth found a nice way to get people involved by ‘sharing the love’ with chalk on a large chalkboard at the back of their booth.

 

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Most Unsubtle Header

Boomchickapop decided to go all in. I can hear the discussion now: “Hey, let’s take the name of the product, make it as big as possible and add a lot of PINK! Whaddaya say, gang?” Well, it works. It gets you to stop, take a look and see what they’re all about.

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Most Iconic Cut-Outs

A year or two ago, the new Pope was featured in a cut-out. I didn’t see him this year, but I did see Will Ferrell, The Queen of England and Dr. Thayer. I probably missed some others.

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Big Ass Colorful Graphic

Natrol’s booth sat up front at the entrance to the hall, and to grab people’s attention, they installed a graphic that must have measured about 8’ x 30’. Big. Colorful. And not the only one. The booth had big ass graphics on all sides, so you couldn’t miss ‘em.

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Biggest Coconuts

A large pair of coconuts on the back wall of Zico’s booth caught my eye and drew me in for a taste of chilled juice blend.

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Biggest Boobs

A tough battle between Bamboobies (the girls with the pink hair) and the giant walking boobs of milkmakers, who were promoting their product with the hashtag #hoorayforboobies, and I think the boobs from milkmakers won out.

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Best Stairway to Heaven (or at least the second floor)

Nature’s Path showed up with a clever booth that showed a layered look from the floor to the 16 foot level, including a stairway up the middle to a private meeting area.

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Busiest Graphic Backwall

Not always a good award to win because people don’t often stop to read the whole damn thing; nonetheless, this one from Powercrunch was arresting.

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Best Iconic Brand Knockoff

While Beyond Meat will never be mistaken for McDonald’s, they did work hard to pull the look and feel of Mickey D’s into their booth to show how their meatless product compares. Nicely done!

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Most Elegant Look

Simplicity and function are their own reward. This was accomplished by the designers of the new booth for Portland’s Pacifica.

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I look forward to Expo West every year; this was my 13th consecutive year at the Anaheim gathering. It’s had astonishing growth in that time (and it was big back then!), and it appears to be anticipating even more growth in the next half-decade. The Natural Products Industry has done well of late with healthy and intriguing products, dramatic competition and an increasing market for those products.

Our company, Communication One Exhibits, has about a dozen current and former clients at Expo West this year, and we’d love to add more. Want a booth for your next show? Click here. We love making you look good, whether it’s at Expo West or any other show.

How to Issue an RFP for a Custom Tradeshow Exhibit

When it comes to sourcing a tradeshow exhibit builder for a new custom booth, you can do a number of things, such as ask colleagues who they have used, ask exhibitors at shows who built that booth, search online or perhaps pull out your tarot cards. No doubt there are hundreds if not thousands of exhibit companies eager to take your money and build you a fabulous booth.

Custom tradeshow booth from Bob's Red Mill
Custom tradeshow booth from Bob’s Red Mill

But how do you determine which builder is right for you?

If you’re starting from scratch and want to review the capabilities of several tradeshow exhibit builders, you can contact a half dozen of them and ask for a statement of capabilities, or you can go whole hog and issue a Request for Proposal.

The RFP is meant as an introduction to your company and your specific requirements and asks companies to respond with detailed information as to their capabilities and experience.

So how in-depth should it be? Let’s take a look at what you might want to include.

Start with a profile of your firm, including your target market and major competitors. Describe your products or services, your brand(s), and any industry trends that might be important.

Next, describe your objectives for your tradeshow marketing, making sure to identify specific goals for major shows. If the RFP is for a specific show, detail the size of the show, dates, size of your booth space and other pertinent information.

Describe any functional needs of your booth. It may be helpful to include photos of previous booths and include any comments you may have that describe the pros and cons of those booths.

Detail any brand basics along with guidelines and history if pertinent.

Include any show service needs you’d like to be a part of the RFP, such as I&D (installation and dismantle), carpeting, electrical, and on-site management.

Want any in-booth activities to show off your products and services? Be sure to include these if you want the tradeshow builder to consider providing these show marketing services. If so, describe the best outcome you’d like to achieve.

Finally, include your budget for the booth; let the respondents know if it’s all-inclusive or if some costs, such as space rental, are handled separately. Finally, include the dates of the show(s) that you need the booth and services.

In a nutshell, you’re describing your company’s background, show services requirements, booth design and functional requirements, budgeting and timeline.

Finally, be clear if this is a design competition. Some companies have the ability to easily spend a week or two on a spec design and others are not as well equipped, even though they may be able to build a stunning booth. While a design competition is a great way to see what the companies are capable of producing on short notice with no conversation, realize that the best design does not always equal the best end result. However, it is great to see the various ways a half dozen companies approach your booth needs.

Finally, don’t skimp on information. If you can’t decide whether to include something, you might err on the side of leaving it in. Seriously, it’s hard to include too much info in an RFP.

Tradeshow Marketing Analysis, Part 5: The Booth

This is number 5 in a series. Check the previous articles here:

  1. Where to Start
  2. Budgeting
  3. Pre-Show Preparation
  4. Which Shows to Attend

Let’s tackle the BIGGEST part of your tradeshow strategy – at least in terms of potential cost.

The BOOTH.

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We can agree that booths come in all shapes and sizes. We can also agree that they usually cost a LOT MORE than you anticipated, right?

Let’s leave the cost and size up to your particular company’s available budget, goals and marketing presence. For some companies, a 20×30 booth would be a huge investment, more than they could possibly justify. For others, a 70×100 might be smaller than they’re used to. So for now we’ll dispense with the actual size and cost and focus on other important elements.

Let’s start with the BRAND. Your booth should convey, at a glance, the look and feel of your brand. For some, that’s a natural wood look. For others, it means a high-tech look straight out of Star Trek. That doesn’t mean that a rootsy, earth-mama brand couldn’t get away with an aluminum structure with fabric graphics. Those decisions are typically made through long and detailed conversations with a 3D booth designer, the company’s marketing team and a booth fabricator. But still, the goal should be that when a visitor sees the booth and the company’s name, it evokes a FEELING that is in congruence with what the company wants the visitor to feel. If not, somebody messed up.

Secondly, your GRAPHICS MESSAGING should be planned so that a visitor’s eyeballs will follow it to its proper conclusion. Usually this means the hierarchy works like this:

  1. Company Name or Logo
  2. Positioning Statement or Bold Challenge
  3. Supporting Statement

However, if your company is not well know, this typical hierarchy might change a bit:

  1. Bold Statement or Challenging Question
  2. Company Name or Logo
  3. Supporting Statement

And on somewhat rare occasions, the company name might drop all the way to third place, if it’s an unknown company or if the company name is really insignificant:

  1. Bold Statement of Challenging Question
  2. Supporting Statement
  3. Company Name or Logo

If your company name is unimportant in the sense that a product or brand is important or more recognizable than the company name, that might go first:

  1. Brand
  2. Tagline or Positioning Statement
  3. Supporting Statement

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for graphics on tradeshow booths that covers all companies or situations. Instead, your goals, products and objectives should help determine how the graphic hierarchy is displayed. The main thing to keep in mind is that visitors pass by booths quickly and they all become a blur. Imagine your booth is a freeway billboard and you have 2 – 3 seconds to catch someone’s attention.

Next up: BOOTH FUNCTION.

From a 10×10 booth to the larger island booths, the function of a booth must be carefully thought out and discussed, and it will be determined largely by your show goals and objectives, the number of booth staff and how you want to interact with visitors. If you’re doing product demonstrations, for example, you’ll need to make sure the booth is big enough to accommodate the presenter or demonstrator and a small audience. If you’re sampling edibles, perhaps all you need is an easy-to-reach sampling table.

Every booth is different, every show is different and every company’s goals and objectives are different. Other questions to settle: Do you have enough storage? How many meeting areas do you need? Should the meeting areas be completely private or only semi-private? What products and/or services are you promoting at this show? Do you need video monitors, or an iPad kiosk to help visitors interact?

Take the time to address all of the functions that your booth needs. Those needs can be determined by the experience you’ve had at past shows as well as conversations with company staff that are involved.

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And no matter what functions you detail and prepare for in your booth, chances are good that once you’ve lived in the booth for a few days, you’ll notice things that need to be changed for the next time. For example, one of our clients wanted a meeting space for their clients in a 20×30 booth, so one end of the booth – about a 10×20 space – was covered and mostly inaccessible to the casual visitor. However, after 2 – 3 times exhibiting in the booth, it became apparent that client meetings didn’t happen as often as they thought, and booth staffers found it to be a quick and easy place to hide out. So the covered meeting space was removed and the space was better utilized as product display and visitor interaction.

Of course BOOTH FUNCTION also includes things such as storage, meeting areas and traffic flow. While planning a booth you’ll want to take into account these three critical things. Not to say that they’re often – or ever – overlooked, but it’s not out of the ordinary for them to be miscalculated. For instance, traffic flow: do visitors have easy access to the booth? Or do you even want them to have easy access? Some companies design booths so that only desired visitors are allowed inside, limiting access to casual passers-by. Others want any and all visitors to step inside the line.

Storage needs to be considered: personal items (coats, purses, laptops, briefcases, etc.), products so samples can be replenished and more. Do you have enough space? Make sure you have enough, but try not to overdo it: space is at a premium at tradeshows and every cubic inch needs to be considered.

Finally: meeting areas. How many staffers will be meeting with clients or media types at the booth? How often? How many meetings are already scheduled ahead of time? How many do you anticipate to happen randomly?

Truthfully, it’s quite possible that the needs of each show will shift slightly from previous shows. The best approach seems to be to pay attention to how the booth is used at each show and make adjustments as budget and goals shift.

Finally, let’s touch on LOGISTICS, SET-UP AND DISMANTLE. In recent talks with a new client, they first mentioned the most important aspect of their new booth: it HAS to ship in a case small enough to go by UPS of FedEx. The large 4x4x8 wooden crates were a big NO-NO. So every possibility that came up from then on had to ultimately meet that objective.

To them, set up meant having a couple of booth staffers arrive a day or two early at the show, set it up with a minimum of fuss and tools, and avoid the double-whammy costs of pre-show staging and arrival at the advance warehouse, and having to hire show help to set up the booth.

Other companies don’t mind the extra cost – they try to minimize it, of course – but it’s more important to show their audience a great booth. Even if it means the booth is a 40×40 that requires a day to set up with hired help, and takes a dozen crates to ship.

Any good company will be aware of your desires in these areas, and determine what’s most important.

Best Case Scenario: having a booth that a) immediately conveys your company’s BRAND, 2) your GRAPHIC MESSAGING is clear and relates to this show’s goals and objectives, 3) is built to FUNCTION properly with room for meetings, storage, product/service display and 4) meets your company’s objectives when it comes to SET-UP and DISMANTLE.

13 Common Trade Show Mistakes (part 1)

Guest post by Mel White, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits

In Pieces (An Auditory Experiment)

Mistakes happen whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned trade show veteran, but you can avoid the 13 Most Common Trade Show Mistakes by following this advice. So, let’s take a few minutes, while your competitors are reading about Lindsey Lohan or watching reruns of Jersey Shore, to super-size your trade show marketing skills.

1. Going Too Big

We all want to think we’re the big dog on the block, but we’re not. If you’re new to trade show marketing, starting with an inline 10 x 10 or 10 x 20 may make more sense. You learn what works — from graphics to display configurations — before investing in an island exhibit. For example, you’d be surprise how many folks think they need an enclosed conference room only to discover that their clients are more comfortable with an informal meeting area.

Most organizations participate in multiple trade shows each year. There’s usually a pecking order to those shows where some are more important than others. It may not make sense to “go big” at the secondary trade shows, when you could invest that money in your main show (where you’ll generate more leads and kick the bejesus out of your competitors).

2. Going Too Small

In general, smaller exhibits get less traffic than larger exhibits, if for no other reason than location. Bigger exhibits typically are centrally located, closer to the entrance, and along the main aisles. However, the largest benefit of bigger exhibits is square footage and height. Island exhibits can include presentation area(s), multiple kiosks, seating areas, ample storage, large format graphics, overhead signage, product displays. While these are still possible in inline displays, the space limits how much can be done.

There’s a school of thought that says, “At the very least, match the square footage of your main competitors.” Here’s another idea . . . determine what you want to accomplish at the show and what it will take to exceed those goals, and then design a booth that achieves them. It’s not rocket science folks.

3. No Specific Goals

For whatever reason, some companies are on autopilot when it comes to their trade show marketing. If you ask them what they want to accomplish, their response it usually “increase sales” or “generate more leads.” Really? If those are your only goals, then you might as well toss in “World Peace” and “Ending Global Hunger” too.

Chances are your trade show goals coincide with your overall marketing goals. The skill to execute them in a 3D face-to-face environment. That’s where working with a knowledgeable exhibit professional makes all the difference. Just because you are a superstar at marketing, it doesn’t mean you know diddly about trade show marketing or exhibit design. A smart trade show professional will spend much of their time asking you what you want to accomplish.

4. Cluttered Graphics

Think back to the bulletin boards in your elementary school classroom. Does that memory make you smile? That’s very sweet . . . now do exactly the opposite for your trade show graphics. All that clutter may have been perfect for developing minds hyped up on Elmer’s glue and Crayola crayons, but our older brains can’t process that much information in 3-4 seconds. We need clear, straight-forward messages. That doesn’t mean your graphics can’t be colorful, witty, and creative. They just can’t be thematic chaos. The message should state who you are, what you do, and what problem you are solving in less than 4 seconds. Everything else is just pretty paper on a package. We like the pretty paper, but we like what’s in the package a whole lot more.

5. Giveaways for the Sake of Giveaways

It’s funny how free pens, stress balls, and rulers can give us an inferiority complex. They have them. We don’t, so we feel like a second-class citizen on the trade show floor. At the next trade show, we have trinkets, and we spend half our time giving them away just to justify having them in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. I like free stuff. But the free stuff better have a purpose. A bank that gives away nifty calculators. Smart. The chiropractor who gives away a pen shaped like a spine. Also smart. But when a software company gives away plastic water bottles. What’s the point?

The same rules apply for prizes or drawings. The drawing should create a buzz at the show, and should serve as a mechanism to engage potential clients in conversation. Fish bowls where attendees drop off business cards to win an iPod attract leads, but not quality leads. Do you really want a stack of unqualified leads for your sales team to sort through? Probably not.

6. Booth Staff Not Trained

I know you’re telling yourself, “My staff knows the products and they know the company, why should I have to train them?” True. Now recall the last time you went to the mall to shop. Those employees knew the products, and they knew the company. Did you feel like you received exceptional service. Did they approach you promptly, ask you open-ended questions, listen, and show you exactly what you wanted? Probably not.

Training before the show and before the show opens each day ensures that everyone understands the mission, that everyone knows their role, and that everyone gets their questions answered. Think of a trade show as a job interview. Every person who walks in the booth is deciding whether to hire you (or not). Can you really afford to lose a sale?

Stay tuned for the rest coming up next week!

(previously published at Tradeshow Tales, the blog of Classic Exhibits, and re-published with permission)

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photo credit: dusk-photography

Trade Show Booth Flooring – A Key Consideration

Guest Article by Jules Sowder

Long parquet tiles inside exhibition

Trade show booth flooring is often overlooked as an important trade show accessory. Yet, your exhibit area floor covering can play a vital role in furthering your company brand image, enhancing the overall booth design, and creating a welcoming environment that draws prospects into your booth.

Consider that you have invested a tremendous amount of time and money producing a beautiful, high-impact display. This includes carefully selecting your display layout and graphics, lighting, accessories, and promotional item to help ensure you maximize your effectiveness and achieve your objectives from show participation.

Rather than work with the concrete or other plain utilitarian flooring most exhibit halls feature, it will serve you well to go the extra step to design and order custom flooring that complements your exhibit. Your flooring contributes to making an impression that reflects the quality of your product, as well as plays a role in attracting visitors who want to learn more about your products.

For example, custom carpet with your logo sends a strong message of professionalism and character. Beautiful area rugs create a warm, inviting atmosphere that emanates comfort and service.

Bold colored carpets depict strength and cool colors like blue and gray create a professional and crisp environment. Your flooring also can be crafted with color changes and lines to help the traffic pattern in your booth.

Another consideration with your flooring is the padding beneath your carpets. A good pad adds comfort and makes it less tiring to be on your feet for hours at a time. While attendees may not notice, those working the exhibit will feel the difference and see the difference in the number of leads that are generated from your efforts.

This article was written by Jules Sowder, an executive marketing adviser. For more information, visit her online tradeshow guide designed to help exhibitors maximize success: http://www.Trade-Show-Advisor.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jules_Sowder

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photo credit: Horia Varlan

Perception is Reality

Interior Macro-isity

Perception is Reality, right?

What do people see when you send out a tweet, newsletter, blog post; put up a tradeshow booth…what is the perception of what people see?

Are you seeing through the eyes of your visitors, or through your eyes?

It’s not an easy question to answer as we all have our own vantage points. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t completely get outside of ourselves and see things objectively. Especially if we had a hand in creating the sales tool.

But it’s a good question to ask – and to try and find an answer. Or two, or three: what do other people see when they look at your ‘stuff?’ Do they see what you want them to see or do they see something else?

If your goal is to get a tradeshow booth visitor to see that you’re a fun company with an engaging product, is that coming across? If your goal is to get a visitor to see your company as conservative in your approach to the marketplace with your offerings, is that what they’re really seeing?

When you start peeling back the onion of your marketing message, it may take the eyes and ears of a third party – an ad agency, a colleague – to help you see things more clearly. And it may take the services of a professional to craft that message in a way that resonates with your visitor.

Creating the marketing message with the help of an experienced pro may be the best money you’ve ever spent. She might see things that you’re blind to. She can help with a subtle nuance in your message that makes a big impact.

On the other hand, no one knows your company, product or service quite like you – especially if you created it and live it on a daily basis. Even if you’re ‘just’ a tradeshow marketing manager, you still work and live and breath the company’s culture everyday, which gives you insight and a bird’s-eye seat into how you can reach your customers. In a perfect world, the collaboration between you and a professional (writer, designer) will result in a message that touches your potential customers in ways that move them to action.

The most successful tradeshow booths are the result of collaboration between several people, giving each person a stake in the message, but not surrendering to the whim of an individual. But committee meetings can only go so far: any successful message has to have a passionate advocate who has an understanding of the product/service and the impact that a customer feels when they commit to your company by pulling out their wallet.

So. Get a second opinion. And a third. Feed their comments and opinions into the hopper, chew them over and let them inform your creation, but not control it.

And remember it’s all fluid: markets, products, people. What works today may not next year. Or vice versa.

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photo credit: LadyDragonflyCC – Home from Vacation

Banner Design Ideas for Trade Shows

Guest post by Danny Jessen

Being involved in the retail and trade show display business and seeing pull up banners go out to customers on a daily basis, I think I have a  good feel of what makes an effective banner design. And when you consider that the artwork and graphics are the very element that will “make or break” your banner display, you may want to read on!

Colours are King

Though you may feel limited to a particular colour palette that compliments your corporate colours and logo, great results can be achieved using colours that create strong contrasts. Whether its light on dark, or dark on light, or colours at the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, contrasting colours are very effective at catching the viewer’s eye. So be bold in your use of colour, but don’t over-do it. Try using just 1, 2 or 3 strong, contrasting colours – any more and you’ll start losing impact.

Artwork: Sometimes Less is More

It can be tempting to try and get the most value from your trade show banner by loading it with images and artwork. Despite the temptation, I find that the vast majority of the time, one large image is more effective that a number of smaller ones. Multiple images act to dilute the visual impact of your banner as each image competes for the viewers’ attention. On the other hand, having one large, primary image creates a strong focal point that is very effective in the kind of open trade show or retail environments in which banner stands tend to be used.

Keep it Short and Keep it Sweet

In both trade show and retail environments the key function of a banner’s design is to grab the attention of the people passing your store or exhibition stand and entice them to approach. Bearing in mind that you may have just seconds to achieve this, large amounts of written information are most often counter productive. Keep your message short and simple by using large text, bullet points and images where possible. A clear “call to action” can be effective in having people approach, upon which a staff member, some printed material, or both can leave them with more detailed information.

I guess in summary, you could say that when it comes to trade show banners, simplicity is the key: Simple yet bold use of colour, clear and strong images to create a focal point, backed up with some brief written information and a “call to action”.

Effective banner design is not rocket science, but unfortunately more often than not, trade show and retail banners end up being less than effective. But now all you’ll need to do is follow these 3 simple rules to good banner design and you’ll be sure to get the most from your next banner stand investment!

Do you have any more ideas for producing effective trade show banner designs?


About the Author:

Danny Jessen is Marketing Manager at Slimline Warehouse Australia a trade show and retail display company, specialising in
Pull Up Banners.

Introducing Interpretive Exhibits Design Search

As a long-time distributor of the Classic Exhibits line-up of tradeshow products, it’s great to see that there is now a ‘deep-well’ way to search out one of their exhibits for your specific exhibiting needs.

Exhibit Design Search (link here and also on the navigation bar above) takes you to the database of hundreds (if not thousands) of varieties of exhibits. These range from small accessories such as round graphic stands (definitely cool!) to large island exhibits – and everything in between.

To use Design Search, just click on the link and head to the site. Here’s where you’ll find the opening page which is designed to let you intuitively and quickly find what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for it’s a great browsing tool.

Along the way you can view the Top 12 exhibits, catch a Photo Gallery, see what exhibits can be quickly shipped if you’re in a hurry, check out the Specials and even browse the dozens of Tradeshow Tip articles.

Beneath each exhibit rendering you’ll see a link labeled “Add to My Gallery” – when you click that you start to create your own line-up of favorites or exhibits you want to save and review closer later. It’s a great way to share with other team members to get their feedback.

The drop-down menus allow you to filter your search using price points, booth size and lead times – as well as give you the opportunity to do a text search.

Now all of that by itself would be pretty damn cool. Almost awesome.

But here’s what takes the Design Search tool to the next level: the burgeoning P_5_D photo gallery. P_5_D stands for ‘Past 5 Days’ and it is an on-going stream of photos of exhibits that go out the door.

Not only does this let you see what other clients are interested in (and have put $$ down on), it allows you to see how each one of them has possibly made adjustments and alterations to a standard exhibit. A great way to help generate ideas, eh? Plus: each photo is of something REAL that was actually created – not just a computer rendering of what something is SUPPOSED to look like. Getting a chance to see the real stuff shows you how it would look in your booth.

And if you check the drop-down navigation under the ‘View By Week’ tab you’ll see that the photo albums go all the way back to late 2006 – almost four years of product that has gone out the door to happy customers.

All in all, Exhibit Design Search is a fun way to waste a bunch of time AND look like you’re working at the same time. So if your boss comes in you can tell her that you’re researching the company’s new exhibit possibilities.

And hey, chances are pretty darn good you’ll find something that will exactly fit what you had in mind!

Green Tradeshow Booth Materials

So you’re ready to move into getting a new custom-built booth. But one of your main concerns is the type of material that will be used to fabricate the booth.

Of course, your exhibit company should be up-to-date on all of the latest materials available. So be sure to raise the question of sustainable materials with your booth fabricator. Some of the materials that might be considered include bamboo, FSC certified wood, recycled metal, low VOC, organic or recycled latex paint, or tension fabric (low weight which cuts down on shipping costs and the carbon footprint of the shipping).

Many booths may be made with re-claimed materials, which can often be sourced locally. If those materials can be sourced locally, they need less transit time and cost. Plus for each dollar spent locally, three dollars stay in the community so spending locally reduces carbon usage and helps sustain the local economy.

It’s true that many sustainable choices are not cost-neutral, and in fact may bust your budget. When one client of ours constructed a new booth a few years back they explored a variety of materials options,. Even though they wanted to use those sustainable materials, it turned out to have enough impact on their budget that the decision was made to use more typical materials for fabrication. Beyond that it didn’t give them a look they were comfortable with. The financial and aesthetic considerations outweighed the desire to use sustainable materials.

There’s no wrong answer and each project requires its own examination – but one worth pursuing, as there are new material choices coming to market all the time.

© Copyright 2016 | Oregon Blue Rock, LLC
Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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