Trade Show Display Marketing Tips and Advice

Your First Trade Show......

Posted on Tue, Jun 25, 2019

Your company has asked you to be their representative at a trade show event - you are feeling relaxed and confident. Before you hit the floor running tomorrow morning, there are key pieces of information you may have overlooked. Use this as a guide to help prepare to be an exhibitor or to attend the show like a pro.

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Topics: trade show plan, Trade Show Planning, trade show booth planning, tradeshow planning, event planning, marketing effectively at trade shows, trade show effectiveness, virtual reality for trade show events

How to Make Your Trade Show Efforts Pay Off

Posted on Thu, Dec 03, 2015

Trade shows have a lot of competition when it comes to allocating marketing budgets. Internet advertising, social media and inbound marketing to responsive websites have been gaining a lot of marketing attention and money. The recession took a big hit on trade show budgets, too. But despite the bumpy roads of the past few years, trade shows keep going strong. Of course, it isn’t enough to just put up an exhibit. You need to take a strategic approach to ensure that your trade show efforts will pay off in solid leads and sales.  See how we view the trade show world and how you can make yours pay off!

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Topics: trade show tips, trade show booth planning, trade show exhibit budget, trade show display budget, trade show exhibit planning, trade show booth budget

Spring Cleaning for Exhibitors

Posted on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

As the weather warms and flowers begin to bloom, there’s often an urge to do spring cleaning around the house: garage, closets, front yard, you name it. But what about your exhibit marketing program … have you thought about giving it a thorough spring cleaning as well?

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Topics: Trade Show Ideas, marketing at trade shows, trade show booth planning, effective trade show business, marketing at events, Trade Show Budget

How to Profit from Due Diligence on Trade Show Planning and Budgeting

Posted on Tue, Mar 17, 2015

Exhibiting at trade shows is a big investment of time, effort and money. It needs to pay off in measurable results.  What makes trade shows so appealing as a marketing tool is the ability to conduct face-to-face marketing, to design a display that reflects well on your brand image and to staff your exhibit with your best representatives. Where else can you find so many potential customers in person in one place?

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Topics: trade show trends, planning for a trade show, trade show investment, trade show booth planning, booth for a trade show, trades show results, tradeshow success

Give attendees what they want

Posted on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

When planning your upcoming trade show exhibits, how much do you think about what attendees at that show want … or are you simply including all the things you (and others who have a say within your company) want to show off?

Perhaps you’re not even sure what attendees want in the first place. That’s where studies done by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) come in handy. Earlier this month, they released a report titled “Quick Guide on Attendee Preferences by Industry Sector”which includes answers from 421 respondents in 14 industries. And while the ranking of answers may vary somewhat by industry, the top two shopping-related reasons attendees go to trade shows are consistent across the board:

  1. See new technology
  2. Ability to talk to experts
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Topics: trade show leads, generating leads at trade shows, trade show booth planning, effective trade show business, marketing at trade show events

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

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

Are You Attracting Attention … or Just Clogging the Aisles?

Posted on Tue, Jun 18, 2013

No matter how great your product, if no one is attracted to your trade show booth, you won’t have much success at a show. You’re just one of dozens (or in some cases, hundreds) of exhibits in that show hall. How can you possibly stand out?  Actually, there are numerous ways to gain attention, and many of them are not expensive or complicated. As an added bonus, be sure to promote your attraction ahead of time in all your pre-show promotions and advertising.

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Topics: managing your trade show, marketing at trade shows, custom exhibits, trade show tips, custom trade show displays, trade show booth planning, custom displays, trade show displays, custom booths

Top 12 mistakes you can make in your trade show booth

Posted on Tue, Jun 04, 2013

There are a lot of mistakes that can happen on a trade show floor with your booth, the trade show services you obtain, graphics, and your people.  With all these factors involved it behooves you to sit down and document your plan.  Here are some mistakes that we have seen our clients make in the past - do not fall into this trap!

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Topics: marketing at trade shows, custom booth designs, trade show booth planning, custom 10x20 displays, effective trade show business, custom trade show display, Rental booth

What to do before, during, and after a trade show event

Posted on Wed, May 15, 2013

According to a CEIR report - 40% of B2B Marketing Budgets are spent on trade show events, 52% of exhibibitors rarely provide trade show booth planning to their employees, and the top four reasons an attendee stops at a particular booth is because of email, word of mouth, exhibitor website, or a personal invite to the trade show exhibit booth.  So what are YOU doing to make sure your budgets are used wisely and you get the right audience to stop by your booth?  Here are some thoughts for BEFORE, AFTER, and DURING a trade show:

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Topics: marketing at trade shows, planning for a trade show, trade show booth planning, trade show consulting, trade show results, trade show budgets

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