Trade Show Exhibit Marketing Tips and Advice

How to ruin a good trade show display

Posted on Tue, Sep 30, 2014

What’s the number one cause of a negative impact on your brand at your exhibition booth? Clutter! Clutter happens at a trade show almost by accident. It can happen when one of your staff carelessly drapes a jacket over a chair, leaves a notebook on a counter, places a coffee cup on the display or ignores the scatterings of literature or products by visitors.  It all produces clutter which in turn affects visitor’s perception of your corporate professionalism. In the 1960’s psychologist Albert Mehrabrian stated that 55% of a person’s opinion of the people they meet comes from what they see. It is a safe postulation that the same judgment comes from your booth presentation.

If your display is large enough to have a full-time person dedicated to ensuring that everything is where it should it would be a worthwhile investment. However, this is costly and many trade show budgets are already stretched to the limit.  Here are a few tips that you can take to eliminate unnecessary clutter in your booth.

Create dedicated space

When you plan your booth you consider such things as signs, graphics, product displays, demonstration areas, traffic flow and so on. All of these elements are important but also remember consider what happens when it’s populated by staff and visitors? Here are some of the questions that need to be answered:

  • Where will staff leave jackets, coats and personal items?
  • What is the policy around food and beverage?
  • Is there dedicated space for business related items such as extra literature, promotional items, business cards, Mobile device chargers, staplers, pens, etc.?
  • Have you allowed easy access for repairs to technology, lights, and movable product displays?

Delegate responsibility

Whose responsibility is booth maintenance and appearance? The quick answer is everyone who is working the booth. Recently I was in retail; store and was greeted by a friendly woman. She welcomed me and asked which department I was looking for. She then said, “Let me show you the way.” On our walk she stopped once to pick up a piece of paper and a second time to remove a coffee cup on a display case. Both retrievals were done without comment or fuss. Keeping the store clean and neat was something that she knew was everyone’s responsibility. The same holds true for your booth. Whenever anyone sees something out of place it should be rectified on the spot - no conversation, no complaints, just a sense of pride in your organizations. This attitude of pride in the workplace needs to be communicated to everyone who works in the booth.

Be prepared

Accidents come in small and big packages. You never know which will affect your booth so the trick is to be prepared for both. Small incidents like a spill or smudge can be handled quickly if your booth staff has the necessary tools. Include in your planning such things as a broom and dust pan, glass cleaners and paper towels. For the larger and more serious occurrences where a quick fix won’t work then include the emergency number for the professionals who can best handle larger maintenance issues.

Train staff

Hopefully you will have a pre-show briefing for the people who will staff your booth. In this briefing you will include such things as a description of the show and its amenities, a statement of your objectives; a profile of the visitors, the skills needed to accomplish your goals and an explanation of the booth and its features. Here is where you should include one additional agenda item which is aesthetics. You need to reinforce the importance of ensuring that the booth looks as good when it’s first put together as it does one minute before tear-down.  Let each person know what your expectations are and that no one is above stooping to straighten a display or pick up something from the floor.

You may have read this article and said, “That’s a lot of common sense.” If you did, you are right. But with so much to plan and organize, sometimes common sense takes a back seat.  Remember you can’t tell visitors about your professionalism and expect them to take your word for it. You have to show them.

Guest Blogger:  Barry Siskind of Siskind Training.  Barry is a trade show consultanttrainer, speaker and internationally recognized expert in trade and consumer shows.



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Topics: trade show display designs, Trade Show Marketing Tips, booth designs, custom booth designs, effective trade show business

Exhibit Design Planning Process: Five Steps to the Right Solution

Posted on Thu, Sep 25, 2014

Going through the five steps of the trade show exhibit design process can save you money on your booth design, as well as headaches and re-work down the road. And with the help of the right creative team and excellent show services support, you are guaranteed to have a great experience and an exhibit solution you love. This simple project plan has demonstrated that it works.

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Topics: Trade show booth designs, custom display designs, booth designs, exhibit designs, booth design Goes Mobile

Posted on Tue, Sep 23, 2014

CHICAGO – August 5, 2014 – The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group has updated its website at to be more user friendly for mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, allowing trade show managers and marketers to access their online trade show exhibit resources more easily –especially when they are on the road.

The Tradeshow Network has redesigned the site using  a content optimization system for inbound marketing, which allows the website to adjust to each visitor for personalized viewing, whether on a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. The content optimization system works with every marketing channel, incorporating The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group’s website, blog and social media.

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Topics: chicago trade show services, modular trade show display, exhibit designs, Rental

How can your trade show display stand out from the crowd?

Posted on Thu, Sep 18, 2014

There are hundreds of companies at trade shows vying for your audience's attention. They distribute branded items, talk about their products, and do everything possible to scan attendees' badges with lead retrieval scanners. Most companies use the same trade show tactics as each other, and attendees eventually forget who was who. But there are other, smarter ways to strategically approach trade shows that will make you stand out from other companies and competitors and stay on attendees' brains long after the event is over.

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Topics: prospecting at trade shows, custom booth designs, exhibit investment, booth design, custom trade show booths

Fabric Booths that are lightweight and eye catching!

Posted on Tue, Sep 16, 2014

Our custom dye-sub printed graphics that come with this wave tube display package pack a visual punch, while the curved frame adds depth & dimension to your display. A portable display may be the best option for a new venture, a company that needs to conserve expenses, or for use in smaller events such as recruiting events, supplier events and other one-day events where image is a factor. We can help configure and design portable exhibits that range from traditional to extremely creative, with custom enhancements for a unique appearance.

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Topics: fabric trade show exhibits, fabric exhibits, booth designs, custom trade show booths, 10x20 trade show display

Are Trade Show Events Beneficial?

Posted on Thu, Sep 11, 2014

I recently had a client tell me that his upper management team was thinking about pulling out of trade shows because they were not beneficial.  They have been attending shows for 2 years and feel that they have not obtained their return on investment of their booth and show space.  What we found out is that their average sale is about $100k - so ONE sale would absolutely make any trade show event a great deal (they currently obtain a 10x20 space at the events).  So my response to his question was the following advice: 

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Topics: trade show growth, generating leads at trade shows, marketing at trade shows, trade show investment, 10x20 trade show display

Gamify my Trade Show Booth

Posted on Thu, Sep 04, 2014

It used to be that a great personality was enough to capture the attention of a trade show visitor. But, what worked once may not be applicable today.  We are faced with a fast changing demographic of trade show attendee. The traditional baby boomers are quickly being replaced by GenXers and Millennials who are different in many ways from their elders. They are more demanding, more skeptical and more tech savvy. Attempting to capture their attention in ways that once worked for boomers simply no longer will work. One of the techniques that is growing in popularity is the use of games. While games such as a putting contest or a draw have been used for years, today’s visitors demand more from the activities that attract them. The rock group Abba said it best in the refrain to their hit song “The Name of the Game”.

  1. What's the name of the game
  2. Does it mean anything to you
  3. What's the name of the game
  4. Can you feel it the way I do

What Abba taught fans in the 70’s is still applicable to the use of games at a trade show booth. Here are some of the things you should consider as you Gamify:

1) Keep it relevant

When choosing a game make sure its challenging enough to keep the visitor’s competitive nature piqued. The first step is to understand the demographics of your visitors.  If you are noticing that you are attracting more GenXers and Millennials than check out the games they play. Ninety percent of apps are game oriented and that’s what your trade show game is competing with.

Your visitors can participate in a timed game where scores are compared to other visitors or they can play against an unknown competitor on the internet. 

2)  Make sure that the message matters

One of the problems many exhibitors have faced in the past is that the technology or in our case games can be so much fun and interesting that all the visitors remember is the game. Before choosing a game make sure you can articulate the message you want your visitor to walk away with.  The purpose of the game is to attract attention and engage visitors who you ultimately hope will become loyal customers. To ensure the message is received, the game should make reference your company and the features of your product. Perhaps you can have them move along an electronic corridor where every door features some product information. Or, if they are doing something hands-on like assembling a product and competing against other visitors, then the product needs to be one of yours.

3) Tie it into the show

Because shows are filled with interesting ideas you don’t want to confuse your visitors with ideas that add to the overload of information they already have. To avoid this simple tie-in your game to what’s happening at the show. Is the show themed? Who are the key-note speakers? What is interesting about the location of the show (city and country)? By researching all the stimuli the visitor is being exposed to you can reveal interesting ideas that you can use to Gamify.

4) Get inspired

The world is filled with wonderful ideas. When you are looking for something of interest tap into your past and present. Your past will include games that amused you as a child or young adult such as Monopoly, Etch-a-Sketch and Balderdash. Each of these games can be used as they were intended or in abbreviated forms. The present is filled with games and reality television. The Survivor series comes to mind instantly but don’t forget Storage Wars or The Bachelor. There are also countless game shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire that can be easily adapted into an interesting game. Don’t forget the world of digital games where you can find thousands of interesting ideas to tap into.   

5) Get your staff on board

One obstacle to the success of a game is your booth staff. They either get so involved with the game they forget why they are really there or ignore visitors who are waiting in line to play. The trick is training. Gamification’s success lies in a harmonious integration of the game and your human resources. Training ensures your staff knows why you have chosen a game, what you expect from it and what skills they need to ensure that your investment pays off.

6) Test before a major roll-out

Everything in marketing involves a gamble. We do our best to understand the demographic of our visitor and what will attract their attention. We make an educated guess then test the initiative to see if we are on track. Sometimes we hit the mark initially, more often our marketing initiatives need a bit of honing before they can be applied to our entire marketing program. The same rationale applies to the use of games. If you have an aggressive trade show program, try your game in one or two locations first. Then gather feedback on how well it was accepted by your visitors and make whatever changes are necessary before you roll it out to your entire program.

By ensuring that your game is relevant, staying focused on your key messages, tying your game into the show activities, getting inspired, training your staff and testing and you will learn what Abba taught us decades ago when they sang it’s “The Name of the Game".

Guest Blogger: Barry Siskind.  Barry is a trade show consultanttrainer, speaker and internationally recognized expert in trade and consumer shows.

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Topics: marketing at trade shows, trade show success, exhibit investment, trade show booth planning, trade show results, tradeshow success

Trade Show Exhibit Types Defined

Posted on Thu, Aug 28, 2014

If you’re new to the world of exhibiting (or perhaps even if you’ve been around awhile), you’re likely a bit confused by all the terminology, especially when it comes to the types of displays. Here are some simple definitions that are standard in the trade show display world. 

Table Top Displaystabletop trade show display

This small portable display fits on top of a six- or eight-foot table and is often the starting point for new exhibitors, especially those on a tight budget. It’s also a smart idea for a smaller show, like a local Chamber of Commerce expo. But just because it’s small doesn’t mean it can’t be creative and fun! Table tops have come a long way from what you may remember at school science fairs. Many of them now feature attractive curved elements, fabric graphics, lights, and even shelving – just like their larger counterparts. 

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Topics: modular display, modular trade show exhibit, booth designs, custom booth designs, portable trade show display, custom trade show booths

7 Trade Show Tips for Startups

Posted on Tue, Aug 26, 2014

So, you’re a new company, looking to expand your business and get your name out there.  You decided attending a trade show would be the best way to do this.  Exhibiting at a trade show is a fantastic idea.  Sales conducted on a face-to-face basis are still a very popular way to generate business, and a lot of it is done at a trade show.  Here are 7 tips to help take your company to the next level at a trade show.

1. Plan Ahead

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Topics: events in chicago, modular trade show booth, trade show costs, marketing at events, graphics for an exhibit

What came first…the drayage or the shipping?

Posted on Tue, Aug 19, 2014

So, what came first…the drayage or the shipping? It has been my experience in the Trade Show Industry that one of the most confusing services for exhibitors revolves around the handling of your materials. Let me start by explaining the difference between the two. Drayage (a.k.a. Material Handling Services) is the unloading of your exhibit materials at the dock, storage for up to 30+ days in advance of the show at an off-site warehouse, the transport of your materials to show site, the delivery of your materials to your exhibit space, the handling of your empty containers to and from storage, and removal of the materials from your booth to the dock for reloading onto an outbound carrierWith that said, the obvious answer would be that shipping gets the ball rolling, right? After all, you need to ship your materials first in order for the drayage services to kick in.

  • Shipping starts at Point A (i.e. your office, warehouse, display house, etc.). Shipping fees start here.
  • Then it’s transported to Point B (the advance warehouse or directly to show site). This is where drayage fees begin.
  • You will eventually return to Point A after the close of the event. Outbound shipping fees start here.

You will always incur two separate fees: one for shipping (to and from) and one for drayage (round trip). These are two totally different services and charges vary between the two. You may already have an in-house carrier that you have negotiated rates with and use on a regular basis. Most GSC’s (General Service Contractors) utilize a preferred carrier and can extend discounts to you for using their services. Obtaining an estimate to include in your event budget will assist you in allocating costs for the various services that you may need.

The following table is an example of how shipments are invoiced for drayage services:

Drayage charges can quickly escalate above what you budgeted for if you  don’t pay attention to how your materials are being sent. Just because your items leave your location in one piece doesn’t mean that they arrive that way. As the above illustration shows, shipment #1 left a location in ten pieces; however, they didn’t all arrive on the same day. Each individual shipment received is invoiced separately and this is where charges can really start to add up.

There can be a lot of “hidden charges” located within the fine print of these order forms. The drayage rate is typically published as a S/T fee; however, if the move-in/out occurs on O/T, you can expect a 25% surcharge for each occurrence   I decided years ago to assist exhibitors with this and make it easier: I published an all-inclusive rate to eliminate the guesswork and the slew of post-show  inquiries once they received their final invoice.

How can you avoid “surprise” line items for drayage fees from happening in the future?  Consolidate! I understand the need to sometimes send a second (or even third) shipment for one event. For example, you might have your promotional items and/or printed marketing materials coming from different locations. What I suggest that you do is assess everything ahead of time to see what is going to be most cost-effective.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1.  Are all of my materials shipping from a single location?
  2.  What is the advance order deadline for materials shipping to the advance warehouse?
  3.  What is the target date/time for items shipping directly to show site?
  4.  How many pieces/pallets do I have?
  5.  Your shipping charges will be based on weight or the dimensional weight, whichever is greater.
  6.  Do I have materials coming in from somewhere else (i.e. promo products, printed materials, etc.)?
  7.  Promotional items can be tricky and are often difficult to locate. I have witnessed countless times where the materials are often improperly labeled; therefore, making it difficult to deliver to the correct booth space. I suggest sending your provider a copy of the Advance Warehouse Shipping Label located within the Exhibitor Service Kit and have everything clearly marked for the exhibiting Company Name (not an individual) and your booth number.
  8. When is everything going to be ready for shipping?
  9. This will determine what destination you are shipping to (advance warehouse or show site) and what kind of service your materials need to be sent by (ground, 2nd day, overnight).
  10. Does the GSC offer a discount for utilizing their preferred carrier?
  11. What is the best shipping option?
  12. In my opinion, your best shipping option is to send your materials via ground and go directly to the advance warehouse. Your target ship date should be at least one week prior to the advance order cut-off date (unless shipping internationally, which requires additional time and clearance through Customs). If you have planned ahead of time and can consolidate all of your materials at your office, you can collectively send all of your materials as a whole. Some people think it’s best to ship directly to show site. Keep in mind that with this shipping service, the arrival time needs to happen within a specific window and that will affect the shipping rate.

Guest Blogger: Melissa Michel of The M Factor Inc. - based in Orlando, Florida, they offer comprehensive Trade Show and Event Management services nationwide.

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Topics: events in chicago, managing your trade show, show services, trade show booth planning, trade show services

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