Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for the ‘Business Tips’ Category

Before the Show Opens. After the Show Closes.

August 10th, 2018 2 COMMENTS

Yes… Even More Trade Show Planning

There’s no shortage of articles about pre- and post-show trade show tips. Follow those tips and you’ll not only have more qualified leads, but you’ll turn them into sales by roughly a bazillion percent. Check the research at CEIR and let me know if I’m wrong about that statistic.  

Even if you maximize your pre- and post-show planning, it’s possible to miss potential sales because your planning didn’t include right before the show opens and right after the show closes. Every day. On the morning of the show, especially on Day #1, we are nervous, tense, and uncertain about what the show will bring. So we clean, vacuum, organize literature, drink coffee and eat giveaway candy. That’s not to say those aren’t important. They are. But there are other trade show tasks that need to be accomplished before that first wave of attendees descends on your booth. As a solid Type-A exhibitor, you’ve already had multiple meetings with your team before the show. That’s what makes you wonderful and a pain in the ass. It’s now one hour before the show opens, not just on Day 1 but also on Day 2 and Day 3. It’s time to:

Trade Show Planning and TrainingBefore the Show Opens

  • Review the show goals for the team once again. 
  • Remind everyone how “we” plan to meet and exceed those goals
  • Discuss roles. Do those roles need to change from Day 1 to Day 2 to Day 3? 
  • Equipment. How does it work, who has the login information, who is the “Oh Shit” expert, and what’s the backup plan?
  • Who is expected in the booth today? Are they a customer? A prospect? What’s the plan?
  • Did anything happen during dinners, meetings, conference gatherings that the team needs to know? 
  • Does the “message” need to change based on conversations with attendees or announcements from competitors? 
  • What’s the break schedule?

Good job! You scheduled a team meeting each day with a specific agenda to review. Your team knows what to expect, has answers, and is prepared for another successful day on the show floor. 

Four to five hours later, the show closes for the day. You and your team are exhausted. They are ready to relax, have a drink, and leave the show hall. BUT… you’re not done yet. It’s time to review what happened that day. Resist the urge to do it in a bar, restaurant, or in the hotel lobby. Do it now. In the booth:

North American Trade ShowsAfter the Show Closes

  • Review the leads and determine next steps and priorities
  • Add notes to the leads (while they are still fresh)
  • Discuss any missteps and changes for the next day
  • Share critical news from attendees, clients, competitors, and suppliers
  • Cover plans for dinners, meetings with clients, and conference events
  • Lock-up and store any valuables
  • Is anyone leaving to return home? How does that effect staffing and roles for the next day?
  • (On the next to last day) What’s the plan for disassembling and shipping the exhibit after the show? Does any rented equipment need to be returned to the show contractor? 

Now, that wasn’t so hard. It just took a little planning, patience, caffeine, and the promise of food and alcohol.

What did we miss? Please let us know in the comments. Thanks.

**********************************************

Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

How to Convert Trade Show Visitors to Customers

August 6th, 2018 COMMENTS

Guest Post by Johanna Cider

Trade shows are a great way to get your company’s name out there and to network with potential customers or clients. If you are planning to start trade show marketing for the first time, you’re probably wondering:  What are the best ways to turn visitors into paying customers? Try the following tips to show off your business in the best light and attract great, loyal customers like bees to honey.

Trade Show Marketing

Image Source: Pixabay

Identify your target customers (and send invitations in advance)

Depending on your industry, you may already have a contact list of potential individual or business clients. Send a quick, professional e-mail to this group, letting them know that you’ll have a booth at an upcoming trade show and would love for them to visit and test your product.

You may try offering an incentive for the first twenty or fifty visitors (depending on the size of the show). Something like a discount voucher on your product or a promotional item can work wonders if you’re trying to attract visitors. If presented in a warm, friendly manner, these gifts may even leave your customers subconsciously wanting to buy something in return for your generosity.

Create an attractive booth space

Your booth is a big piece of tangible advertisement, so entice your visitors by creating an attractive, eye-catching booth. Consider sizing – you’ll need room for all of your equipment and ensure that visitors can easily enter and leave. Choose the right colors to match your business theme and the mood you intend to portray. Keep your booth’s decorations tidy, smart, and simple so they don’t overwhelm visitors on sight alone.

Trade Show Marketing

Image Source: Pixabay

Make it interactive

Telling visitors about products isn’t always enough to sway them. What better way to show visitors your product’s value than to let them test it themselves? It’s normal for customers to have some hesitation when buying a new product, especially if it’s expensive.

Ease their fears and allow them to try your product under your supervision and answer any questions. Don’t be tempted to crowd your visitors: there’s nothing wrong with pointing out your product’s features – but allow your visitors to discover your product’s worth in their own time, so they don’t feel rushed.

Staff your booth with well-trained employees

Your visitors are much more likely to become customers if they’re convinced that your product is worth purchasing – and the people in charge of this critical task are your most well-trained staff. For many customers, your booth will be the first point of contact with your company, so don’t let inexperienced employees ruin their perception. Ensure your staff are confident and compassionate, ready to address any queries that your customers may have.

Tradeshow Marketing

Image Source: Unsplash

Follow up with your visitors

Remind your visitors about your product by sending them an e-mail or two after the trade show has finished. This might be in the form of a survey about their experience or an invitation to take part in a competition. You could also request the e-mail addresses of potential customers during the trade show, asking them if they would like to be added to your mailing list if you wish. Just ensure they know what they’re signing up for beforehand, as there’s no quicker way to alienate potential customers than by sending them e-mails that look like spam!

Choose a strategic place for your booth

Find out as much as you can about the trade show venue, and see whether there are different zones in the grounds that cater to different types of businesses – e.g. outdoor vs indoor, near windows or natural light, close to plug-in power connections, etc. If you are allowed to choose the location of your booth at the trade show, be strategic. Studies show that when people try to remember a group of items or names, they can usually recall the first and the last ones they heard or saw – so if your booth is near the entrance or exit, visitors may be more likely to remember your company’s name or booth when they reflect on their experience.

Converting visitors to customers at a trade show doesn’t require a miracle. If your company is prepared and willing to adapt, you’ll be sure to succeed.

Johanna Cider is a New Zealand-based writer who has published work for hospitality sites such as Strata. An artist as much as a wordsmith, she loves honing her skills at creative workshops and scouting the latest design trends at trade shows in her city. Discover more about Johanna and her work on Tumblr.

Gravitee One-Step Modular System vs. The Holes

August 3rd, 2018 COMMENTS

THE GRAVITEE ONE-STEP™ MODULAR SYSTEM

We are often asked, “How is the Gravitee One-Step™ Modular System different from those other modular wall systems? Specifically, the wall systems with holes.

While there are many differences, including easier SEG fabric graphic installation, unlimited angle connections, and rental and purchase options, the key advantage is how the Gravitee System assembles. Unlike most existing modular wall systems, Gravitee doesn’t rely on loose bullet connectors to attach panels, either vertically or horizontally. Instead, Gravitee connectors are built into the panels. No need to wear an apron to hold bullet connectors while assembling the system. And no lost parts and pieces to replace after the show. The Gravitee Systems assembles fast meaning lower labor costs, whether the exhibit is an inline or island. Fewer parts and pieces also translates into lower material handle charges.

See why the unlimited design flexibility of Gravitee makes it the best choice for your next trade show exhibit. Purchase and Rental options are available, including mixing and matching the two for maximum flexibility.

For more information, visit the Gravitee webpage.

7 Tips to Working with an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)

July 31st, 2018 1 COMMENT


Guest Post by Rick Bellerjeau, Momentum Management

I am often asked, “Why use a Trade Show Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)?” Perhaps we should start with some simple definitions. 

General Contractor (GC) vs Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)

The official show contractor is typically known as the “General Contractor.” Exhibitor Appointed Contractors, on the other hand, are many of the professionals who service the exhibitor community on the show floor prior to, during, and after the show, such as the floral companies, audio-visual providers, rental furniture companies, labor contractors, and photographers. If a service provider is not named in the show kit by the General Contractor, then the service provider is considered an EAC (Exhibitor Appointed Contractor).

To work with an EAC, the exhibitor (or their exhibit house) must complete forms for the General Contractor or show organizer identifying the EAC. This informs the General Contractor that the EAC will be on the show floor during installation and dismantle. If that wasn’t confusing enough, sometimes a general contractor, like GES, may be EAC when they are not the general contractor. Admittedly, it can be confusing, but the tips below will clear up some of the confusion. 

For our discussion, let’s focus on companies that set up and take down the exhibits for exhibit houses and exhibitors across the country. These labor service providers offer the expertise necessary to get shows up on time and on budget. While these providers are typically known as installation and dismantle companies or “I&D” companies, I&D doesn’t fully describe what they do for exhibitors. For anyone who’s ever had issues on the show floor, you know that the EAC’s “labor services” far exceed installation and dismantle. 

Exhibitors have several options when assembling their exhibit on the show floor, depending on the city and venue. Some choose to assemble the exhibits themselves. Others hire the general contractor to do the work. A better option for many exhibitors is an independent EAC. But how do you choose the right one? Here are 7 Tips to Working with an Independent EAC… particularly for exhibit houses.

1. Don’t underestimate the scale necessary to stage a show

Every day, thousands of people work to ensure that “the show goes on without a hitch.” All are dedicated to making the experience a positive one for everyone involved. 

Someone has to make sure that you and your exhibit do not get lost in the sea of people scrambling to get the show up and down. Who is responsible for what? The show contractor or general contractor has a staggering number of responsibilities. Including you. But how do you get answers and break through all the noise if you don’t know the terrain? You need an advocate. At large shows, you will often find it difficult to get your issues heard above the thunder and chaos. Seeking help from companies who are designed to cater to you and your clients’ show experience is why I&D, or labor services companies, exist. It’s about focusing on what you need done now and efficiently. 

EAC (Exhibit Appointed Contractors) -- Labor Services

2. Look around the city before making your decision

In major trade show cities, such as Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and New York, you will NOT be the only show in town in most cases. This applies to the week you’re headed into the city as well as the one before and after your show ends. It’s about supply and demand. 

The more shows the greater the demand for the services necessary to manage the show, especially by the General Contractor. All that translates into the more demand on the people who put shows into the city for a living. And the need for additional professional providers.

This challenge happens in every city hosting a trade show. For the exhibit house and exhibitor, consider what company can fulfill your needs most effectively when the heat is on. Who is going to go the extra mile? 

3. Remember what you’re buying

Exhibit Houses offer their clients an amazing array of products and services to exhibitors to ensure their trade show marketing programs are successful. The culmination of these services spells one word — experience. They are assuring their clients that their trade show experience will be not be just OK or good, but GREAT. Smart exhibit houses rely on partnerships that help them deliver a great experience for their clients, period. The cost of retaining or finding a new client is simply too high. Knowing your suppliers and having a long-term relationship with them means you understand one another and are committed to the same goals for your clients. 

4. Who loves you?

What does your EAC partner do to earn your business? What makes them capable of delivering their share of an amazing show experience”? Can they extend your business and help you keep your promises? Your partner ought to be able to articulate how they do that for you.

You want an EAC that can lift the weight of labor services “fully” off your shoulders allowing you to focus on your core business. Finding a partner who truly knows you and your customer’s expectations is key to scaling your business. They should have the reach and scale so you’re not constantly seeking a new solution in every city. 

Momentum Management LaborServices

5. Size and scale matters

There are many labor service companies to choose from in every city. And while there are many local labor provides, there are very few national providers. Opening a local EAC labor services company is not difficult. With a few signatures, perhaps a check or two, and a trip to The Home Depot, one can show up on the show floor with newly minted matching shirts open for business. Small EAC labor providers can take care of those first few clients often with a little help from the union work force. But scale matters in our business. Problems arise when the size of the show, or shows surrounding the city, scale past their ability to deliver. 

It’s all about supply and demand. The talent on the trade show floor in terms of craftsmanship is extraordinary. Couple that with the pace and stamina that these professionals must possess is truly amazing. If we assume there are the “best guys” in a city, any city, we have to assume there are also the worst. Professional EACs with a solid history and consistent work attract the best and most talent laborers. 

We also have to assume, often because there is so much going on in a large trade show city, or there is a city where shows seldom happen, the labor is going to get “tight.” Is the EAC willing to support the city with additional support from other markets? This can only happen in cities where you have union relationships that allow this to happen of course, but this discussion should happen with your EAC.

6. What to look for with your EAC labor services partner

What is their “go-to market” strategy? Who makes up the bulk of their customer base? Are they working with everyone, or do they have a targeted segment of the industry? Whether they’re selling to exhibit houses or the exhibitors, the types of service requirements differ greatly. The strategy will drive where employees focus their attention and loyalties reside for any company. For exhibit houses, aligning with EAC whose primary client base is exhibit houses will make the job easier. For exhibitors, seek companies that have built their expertise servicing your needs directly. EAC’s that juggle these two strategies send a mixed message and that mixed message can often lead to conflict.

What is the EAC’s core business? Look to companies that aren’t in other businesses or offer products or services unrelated to the offering you’re seeking. A “pure play” labor service provider gets up every morning looking to get better at servicing their market segment with better labor services. Not only do they not get distracted, they also are constantly making improvements to their core business. 

Trade Show Labor Services, Exhibit Appointed Contractors 

7. Planning for success requires a time investment

Your labor partner needs to think with you long before the show ever opens. A successful EAC labor service provider encourages you to communicate early and often. Agreeing on decisions like, “The brochures need to be stored in closet #2 in the back left-hand corner” with your partner are vital. It may be the difference between a great experience and one that missed the mark. Your partner ought to dig into the weeds with you to make sure the nuggets that make up a “great show experience” for your client shine. Make sure they have a process for uncovering those nuggets with you and for you as well.

Oops, it’s show time. Enjoy it!

Rick Bellerjeau, General Manager
Momentum Management
http://www.momentummgt.com

How to Make Your Itsy-Bitsy Company Look Like a Really BIG Company

July 26th, 2018 COMMENTS

TIm Patterson -- TradeshowGuy

Right Sizing Your Company

Let’s say you are a small company. Whatever that means. But you want to appear bigger because bigger is better, right? How do potential customers perceive you when they see your website? What clues do you leave that tell your story and let customers know you are big enough to handle their business, yet still small enough to build a good working relationship?

Why would you want to appear big? Not everyone does. Many entrepreneurs position their company as a boutique business that specializes in working with a very specific type of client.

Perhaps the question isn’t that you should look bigger, but to ensure the right companies find you. Not so long ago, prospective clients would judge you based on size of your brick-and-mortar store and zip code. Then they’d gauge your ability to handle their needs. Sometimes a small neighborhood hardware store with personal service will serve a customer better than a big box store.

Looking Bigger and Attracting Crowds

Perception is everything, especially in the beginning. I’m guessing that 98% of your potential client’s first interaction will be online, even if they’ve gotten a referral. They type in a search term in their browser, look through the first 5 or 6 results, click one, and begin eyeing your website. All assuming you appeared in those search results. Or if they have your company’s name, they’ll search directly for you.

When I first started my website many years ago, I chose not to go the pay-per-click route. Instead, I wanted to share my tradeshow knowledge and the knowledge of others online. Yes, it takes more time, but the results won’t disappear if I don’t feed the PPC meter.

Crowds at a Trade Show

Blogging

One way to appear bigger – to show that you have a larger reach than bigger companies – is to blog. And to do it consistently. Hundreds of people come to my blog, TradeshowGuy Blog, through random searches. The most popular might surprise you. For instance, one of the most-viewed this year is a post on how a SWOT Analysis applies to tradeshows. Yes, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A good 50% are folks outside the USA. Interesting.

The next most popular post is Skills a Tradeshow Manager Needs. Following that is one on how to replace paper at tradeshows using digital technology (a guest post from 2015). Followed by How to Build a Tradeshow-specific Landing Page. Notice anything unique. All are geared to teach specific skills.

With over 700 posts in the past 9+ years, the search engines have archived them all, so random tradeshow-related searches will find them.

Many years ago, I made a commitment to post regularly on a variety of industry topics. The goal was consistency. Write one or two a week and see if it leads to more opportunities. And, it did.

Vlogging/Podcasts

TradeshowGuy Mnnday Morning CoffeeEach week, I publish the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee vlog/podcast. While individual podcasts aren’t in the Top Ten, the category is in the Top Five most-viewed. Which means that a specific podcast might not get a lot of views, but people are searching to see what’s been posted recently. Together that tells me three things:  the podcast is gaining traction, the time investment is worth it, and each interview builds relationships with interviewees, who are mostly in the tradeshow industry.

Someone once asked me, “Does blogging, podcasting, publishing a weekly newsletter, posting videos on YouTube channel and spending time on social media actually result in more business?”

In 2016, 66% of our business at TradeshowGuy Exhibits came from people who found me online. In 2017, it was less than ten percent. In 2018, frankly it’s a bit fuzzier. But, when I communicate with potential clients, through cold calling, email, or simply reaching out to folks I know the feedback is always positive when they receive a link to specific post, video, or podcast.  Just experiencing the extent of the posts (video, audio, photographic, lists, etc.) provides me with instant credibility. They realize I’m offering expertise and solutions, not just a product.

YouTube Videos

I’ve had a YouTube channel for almost a decade. In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing other than creating a few how-to videos and tradeshow advice. I didn’t post regularly, and the views were limited. In a sense, that’s still the case, although I create a video version of my podcast and post it as another way to share content.

I believe that creating good content makes the TradeshowGuy Exhibits look bigger, and putting it online makes it easier and more likely for potential customers to find me.  

Trade Show Exhibits

Exhibit Design Search

Frankly, so does Exhibit Design Search (EDS), which is a branded search tool that looks like it’s part of our websites. EDS is the work of our main design and fabrication partner, Classic Exhibits, and we use it all the time. When we send ideas from EDS to potential clients the reaction is often “Wow! I had no idea you could do all of that!” Aligning yourself with a company that offers great tools expands your virtual heft.

We also have a handful of other URLs that are used for various purposes. For example, TradeshowSuccessBook.com is a landing page that offers a free digital download of my first book in exchange for subscribing to my newsletter. TradeshowSuperheroes.com is a book-specific page solely for promoting and sharing information on my second book. TradeshowExhibitBuyersKit.com is a landing page to promote a package of tools for potential exhibit buyers. And TradeshowGuyWebinars.com is a collection of helpful webinars.

Two Things

So, what’s important to me? When I consult with clients and prospects, I want them to know two things:

  1. When you work with TradeshowGuy, you’re always working directly with me or someone with the same expertise. We’re small but with big resources.
  2. Our success is tied to your success. If we make a company’s tradeshow manager look good — by doing a great job, by providing an excellent service, and by designing and fabricating an exhibit that gets noticed on the show floor –we’ve done our job. If we make you look good, we feel good. It’s as simple as that. And if looking big makes us a better, more approachable partner, then that’s a great byproduct.

Tim Patterson (Guest Post)

************************

After 25+ years as a radio on-air personality, Tim Patterson became the TradeshowGuy. He blogs regularly at TradeshowGuyBlog.com and is the host of the weekly vlog/podcast TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. After spending 9 nears as VP of Sales and Marketing at Interpretive Exhibits, Tim is currently owner of TradeshowGuy Exhibits in Salem, Oregon.  His company works with exhibitors to improve their tradeshow marketing presence and bring in more qualified leads. Find him on Twitter at @TradeshowGuy and on LinkedIn @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothypatterson/