Trade Show TalesBlog

How to Win the Hearts and Minds of Trade Show Attendees

May 29th, 2019 COMMENTS
Wining the Hearts and Minds of Any Trade Show Attendee

Trade shows can be brutal for attendees and exhibitors alike. Just consider the intensive planning, travel, installation, and long hours before, during, and after the show hours. It’s a big commitment, both physically and financially, so smart trade show marketers look for creative tricks to entice attendees to visit their booth

Of course, there’s no substitute for the basics of pre-show marketing, exhibit design, branding, and staff training. That goes without saying. Beyond that, many exhibitors neglect to create an environment where attendees feel comfortable and want to spend time. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to win the hearts and minds of potential clients. Feed them. Give them a place to relax. And get them charged up!

The Five Essentials

1.  Food/Candy. If you have ever attended a European trade show, you know that many exhibitors have (at the very least) cheese and crackers in the booth. Unlike in Europe, serving food can be problematic at most U.S. venues because the convention center has an exclusive contract on food and drinks. Which means being creative with the food you offer.

Most venues will look the other way if you are giving “selective” guests candy, protein or breakfast bars, or even bagged cookies. More elaborate promotions like ice cream sundaes or taco bars require show approval, but smaller items are rarely a problem if handled discretely. Trade show attendees welcome munchies after strolling the floor for hours, especially if it’s presented as a special treat unavailable to the general public.

The 5 essentials to any trade show booth

2. Water. Like food, most venues are very protective of drinks since the markup is so lucrative. However, many exhibitors pack cases of water in their crates for their use during setup and for the staff during the show, which they keep in the storage closet or counters. You certainly don’t want someone fainting in your booth from dehydration, so having some spare water is probably a good idea as long as it’s not being handed to every attendee passing by your booth. Wink. Wink.

Here’s an idea you might consider. Eco-systems Sustainable Exhibits, a designer and builder of eco-friendly trade show displays, brings branded boxed water to their events. Boxed water is more eco-friendly than plastic bottles and is more efficient to produce and ship. Plus, it’s unusual and rarely identifiable as water by the show halls. Click HERE to learn more about Boxed Water. 

3. Entertainment. Face it… you yearn to be entertained at a trade show. If there’s a magician, you stop and watch. Same with virtual reality demos. Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive, and it should never be a distraction from your messaging. But there are always ways to intertwine your message with a simple game like electronic darts or Wack-a-Mole or golf. The key is to attract the right attendees, not just anyone bored and eager to win a prize. If you don’t feel you have the time or the creativity to create and manage the entertainment, work with your exhibit house. They know lots of companies dedicated to matching your show objectives with targeted entertainment.

4. Comfortable Furniture. EVERY ATTENDEE appreciates comfortable chairs or loveseats in a booth, regardless of the booth size. Furniture encourages clients to linger so you have time to assess their needs and suggest solutions. Thankfully, modern rental furniture comes in a wide variety of styles and colors to match most exhibit designs and colors. As an exhibitor, you need to decide if you want private or semi-private meeting spaces, whether you need tables, and how you need to structure the space. Keep in mind, you are not creating a lounge for everyone to plop down, answer emails, and check their social media. It’s for business and business conversations.

BTW – Don’t let anyone tell you that booths should never have furniture because it will encourage your staff to sit and do nothing. That’s a not a furniture issue. It’s a training issue which indicates that the booth staff doesn’t understand your company’s trade show goals.

Charging Stations for Trade Shows and Events

5. Power/Charging. Why fight it? Everyone has a smartphone. Some have several, plus a tablet or laptop at the show. And even with the improved battery life of most devices, we’re all power nomads searching for an electrical oasis on the show floor. Be smart. Give them what they want with charging stations. Thankfully, modern charging solutions don’t have to look like something you stole from the airport. There are contemporary bistro, coffee, and meeting tables along with standalone charging kiosks. All with branding options that complement your overall graphic theme. Many include both USB and wireless charging options. Many are available for purchase or to rent. See a wide selection HERE.

Gone are the days when you exhibitors could rely on bold graphics and an attractive exhibit to draw attendees into their booth. Trade shows are more competitive and complex than ever before. You need to understand today’s attendees – what they want and expect and how they decide which exhibitors to visit before and during the show.

Nothing is more important than quality touches with a potential client on the show floor. Creating an atmosphere that’s welcoming, inviting, and entertaining is a step in the right direction to win the heart and mind of your next big customer.  

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, custom, rental exhibit solutions. 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.

Trade Show I&D Tips: Wasting Time = Wasting Money

May 29th, 2019 COMMENTS

Guest Post by Jamie Edwards, Director of Marketing, Momentum Management

Trade Show Installation and Dismantle

As your National Trade Show Labor Service Partner, Momentum Management wants to help you save money during your trade show or event installation and dismantle. When it comes to saving money, it comes down to “time used” or “time wasted.”

Some Tips to Save Money

Items to consider for Labor Service Estimate – It is important to provide the most accurate information possible in order to avoid additional costs that weren’t factored in at the time the estimate such as:

  • Will there be hanging signs?
  • Any specific equipment needed?
  • What are the booth materials?
  • Who will install your flooring?
  • Will electric need to be installed?
  • Is there furniture to be assembled?
  • Who will provide the supervision the show floor?

After the estimate is complete, place your order early – Many show cities have multiple events going on simultaneously. The sooner you submit your order, the sooner Momentum can identify the best labor.

Installation and Dismantle on the trade show floor

Shipping Direct to Show or Shipping to the Advanced Warehouse – If timing permits, it is almost always best to ship to the advanced warehouse. Your freight is more likely to be in your booth space by your targeted move-in time. When shipping directly to the show, there can be extensive delays due to the truck driver having to check into the marshaling yard, getting the paperwork, and waiting to be called up to the docks to unload. Always delay your labor start time by at least 4 hours after your target time to allow your freight to make it to the show floor.

Scheduling Dismantle Start Time – When scheduling with your labor and shipping companies, always take into account the entire move out schedule to avoid delays. The return of empty freight can take a long time based on the size of the show, so it is often safest to schedule labor for the next morning and your shipper for that afternoon. Please note:  there are many shows that require the floor to be cleared by 12 pm the next day. In this case, you may want to schedule your labor a couple of hours after the show breaks. While this will add some additional over-time vs standard-time, it will save money compared to having your labor waiting on the freight to return.

Momentum Management is happy to help you save money on Labor Services, and we welcome the opportunity to work with you on your next project.  Momentum Management has been a national provider of outstanding installation and dismantle labor for over 25 years.

20 Clues It’s Time to Check the Meter on Your Trade Show Display

May 22nd, 2019 2 COMMENTS

Several years ago, I wrote “What’s the Expiration Date of Your Trade Show Display?

Recently, I decided to update it, but after re-reading it, I decided not to make any changes since it still makes me smile. I know… that sounds egotistical, but the line “It smells like the Pennsylvania Convention Center and even Fabreze can’t kill the odor” makes me laugh.

Instead, we give you 20 MORE Reasons to Check the Meter on Your Display. Enjoy and please add to the list. 

20 Clues Your Exhibit Has Expired

  • Your last legal source for halogen lights is now a frozen yogurt store. Your next option is the dark web from a dude with the handle — NotWearingPants.
  • Your 19” flat screen monitor was made by Magnavox. Or Zenith? Or RCA?
  • Six months ago, you bought a display from a company that specializes in imprinted coffee mugs and key chains. Surprise, surprise it’s time for a replacement.
  • EXHIBITOR Magazine included your exhibit in the recent History of Portable Displays article, circa 1995.
  • Your repair kit is a shoebox with zip ties, Velcro, duct tape, a box cutter, Tylenol, a hammer, lipstick(?), and fifty mousepads.
  • There’s a COMDEX label on your crate.
  • Your logo hasn’t been that color since the Bush administration. The FIRST one.
  • Jimmy, your 72-year old labor guy at Moscone, remembers setting up your booth at TS2. Whenever he wants your attention, he says, “Hey Whippersnapper!”
  • Two (very painful) words… Foldable Truss
  • You put your glasses on only to discover that your graphics are even fuzzier.  

  • “Parts and pieces” means something different now than when the display was new.
  • You think SEG stands for “Some Extra Gravy.” Which makes you very happy whenever someone asks you if you want more SEG.
  • Your colorful 1997 rainbow theme confuses attendees, especially since you’re business is a fishing lodge in Manitoba.
  • Show organizers keep suggesting space near the restrooms because of “all the extra traffic you’ll see.”
  • You play “Eye of the Tiger” in the booth and your hanging sign announces you are “Risin’ Up to the Challenge of Our Rival.”
  • Your exhibit house stores your crates near the fire escape. They’ve stenciled a skull and crossbones on all four sides.
  • The manufacturer had to entice Eddie the Machinist out of retirement with three bottles of Jack Daniels to fulfill your order for replacement parts.
  • The storage closet smells like Becky’s cologne, and she quit 11 years ago to find herself in Jamaica
  • Your portable display case has more stickers than the VW van of a Grateful Dead groupie.
  • Your colleagues are always busy whenever you ask for volunteers for a January trade show in Las Vegas or Orlando. And your company is based in Fargo.  

Bonus: When You Bought Your Display…

  • You were addicted to TAB, even if it tasted like bilge water.
  • You paid a bribe to get your kid a Teddy Ruxpin.
  • Your new car came equipped with ashtrays and lighters and flipping the windshield wiper switch on and off was intermittent wipers. The high-beam switch was on the floor (where it still should be!).
  • Your iPod Shuffle held 120 songs!
  • You had 12 magazine subscriptions.
  • You dropped your film off at a FOTOMAT in a Woolco parking lot.
  • Danielle Steele and Stephen King had only written 50 books between the two of them.
  • You had a MySpace account
  • Zombies were a musical group.
  • “Sustainable” meant making it through an 8-hour shift on the tradeshow floor after partying with Mikey and the guys until 5 am.
  • Mr. Coffee was all the coffee you needed.

How do you determine the expiration date of a trade show display? Please share. 😉

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, custom, rental exhibit solutions. 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.

SEGUE Sunrise Simple Summer Specials

May 17th, 2019 COMMENTS

Occam’s Razor states: “The Simplest Solution is Almost Always the Best.” The SEGUE Sunrise Simple Specials. See all 12 portable kits on Exhibit Design Search. Valid until 6/28/19

SEGUE Sunrise Trade Show Exhibit Specials

Modern Smartphones and 21st Century Trade Shows

April 30th, 2019 1 COMMENT
Modern Smartphones and 21st Century Trade Shows

You probably don’t consider smartphones and trade shows as having much in common. After all, one is small enough to hold in your hand, and the other is a large attractive display in an exhibit hall. However, you might be surprised at how similar they really are.

9 Ways a Trade Show is Like a Modern Smartphone

1. Videos. After Google.com, YouTube is the most popular site on the web. We love watching videos on our smartphone whether for entertainment, education, sports, or news. We are equally captivated by videos on the trade show floor, and the rise of large format LED Video Tiles has turned the typical show floor into a walking YouTube with real people who greet you and answer questions about the video. This trend will only continue as the prices of video tiles comes down, and even smaller inlines start to take advantage of the benefits of video.

2. Alerts and Notifications. Smartphones are like a clingy girlfriend or boyfriend, always wanting your undivided attention. What’s new? What’s next? What’s happening? Smart trade show marketers know that attracting your attention is critical — before, during, and after the show. Exhibitors can’t rely on you randomly wandering into their booth at the show. Smart exhibitors spend significant marketing energy notifying and alerting you to visit them on the show floor.

3. Apps. There are apps for just about everything from shopping, exercising, nutrition, cooking, home improvement, and even the handy flashlight (that you probably can’t imagine not having). Apps are our handheld experts on every topic. You have your own experts in your trade show booth, namely your employees. Your knowledgeable employees are essential since attendees expect exhibitors to answer their questions about your products and services. Nothing is more frustrating to an attendee than an exhibitor who can’t answer basic questions, or when the “expert” is unavailable.

Trade Show LED Video Wall

4. Operating System (OS). Whether your smartphone runs on iOS, Android, or some obscure operating system, you rely on it to keep your phone running smoothly. Every successful exhibitor needs their own booth operating system, one that handles traffic flow, presentations, lead retrieval, and a myriad of other essential show tasks. And just like an OS, it doesn’t have to be the latest version. It simply has to work for your team.

5. Social Media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn – Your smartphone is undoubtedly your go-to device for social media because it’s convenient and easy. Think of a trade as a live version of Social Media, where you post news, updates, and share stories about your company or your team. What could be more social than chatting face-to-face with someone? Consider the booth an extension of your existing social media campaign before, during, and after the show. Use social media to create a buzz, drive traffic, and create conversations in your booth about your company.

6. Fully Charged. Face it. You’re a very happy camper when your smartphone is fully charged. The possibilities are endless, whether you want to watch hours of videos, exchange text messages, or navigate around town using GPS. At a trade show, staying upbeat and charged can be challenging after several long, grueling days on the show floor. However, most exhibitors have stories about meeting that perfect client on Day 3 at 4 pm in the booth. Those once in million customers are as likely to walk in your booth on Day 1 as Day 3 – and you better be prepared. Those golden opportunities don’t close into deals when you’re operating at 25%.

7. Photos.  Smartphones changed photography forever because it allowed us to capture memories effortlessly. Think about how often you share those photos with friends and family, and how just scrolling through your phone’s photo album reminds you of those moments.

Think of photos like leads in your booth. Imagine taking that same time, attention, and energy to capturing the details of meetings with clients in your booth. Those details are invaluable when following up with the prospect after the show. Specifics make it easier to address their needs quickly without stumbling through an awkward re-introduction.

Trade Shows and Smartphones

8. Service. We all have our preferred cell phone provider. Sometimes it’s because they have a stronger network where we live. Other times, they have pricing and plans that meet our needs. Or, they have proven time and time again that their customer service is superior to their competitors. It’s easy to forget that customer service is important in your trade show booth. Whether it’s existing or new clients, they are judging your customer service at the trade show. Critically. They expect you to be at your best… and yet, many companies stub their toes by “going through the motions” in their booth.

9. It’s Just a Tool. Smartphones are essentially a communication device, a way to stay connected with others. But as we’ve learned, they’re not a substitute for face-to-face human interaction which we all want and crave. For twenty years, “experts” have predicted the demise of trade shows, and yet, trade shows and trade show attendance continues to grow. Why? Because shaking someone’s hand matters. Because looking someone in the eye as they explain their product or service has value.

Like smartphones, trade shows are a tool that allows us to communicate with others. It’s how we use it that gives it meaning in our lives and adds value to our lives both professionally and personally.

So, at your next trade show, whether as an attendee or an exhibitor, be sure to bring your smartphone. Not that you need permission. But remember to occasionally glance up from the screen from time to time. You just might discover there’s another human eager to talk to you. Not through email or text or Skype, but in person and face-to-face. Who knows, you might just meet a new friend or a supplier or customer that will change your life. Happy Exhibiting!

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, custom, rental exhibit solutions. 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.