Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Exhibit Marketing’

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, 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


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

10 Steps to Trade Show Success (Infographic)

August 20th, 2015 COMMENTS

Some infographics can be confusing… But not this one! An outstanding infographic from Bags of Ideas, a promotional products company in the UK. This is one worth printing or forwarding to your tradeshow clients. Bags of Ideas — A pat on the back for this clever and practical message. Well done!

10 Steps to Trade Show Success Infographic
Bags of Ideas – The Promotional Bag Specialists

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid 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


Hot Hot Hot!: Word on the Street — August 4th thru August 8th

August 9th, 2014 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Summer Business

There is a heat wave in the Pacific NW. I mean HOT . . . at least for us. Mid-80’s to mid-90’s kinda HOT. Which if you have ever lived or visited here, you know we don’t get that very often.

Now for the cheesy segue. All this HOT weather has me thinking we are living in the Islands, and wouldn’t you know it, we are building and quoting A LOT of islands right now.

We usually have a nice mix of inline vs island orders, but the increase in island builds and quotes this summer has been noticeable. Exhibitors, namely your clients, are stepping back into island footprints after some trepidation during the recession. With the advent of more islands, there comes a clear sense that tradeshow programs have taken a step forward in many marketing plans.

I mention programs because with all the island work and quoting, it’s not like 10 x 10, 10 x 20, and 10 x 30 displays have slipped. Quite the opposite actually. They too are on the increase this summer. So it appears that clients, while still a little cautious, are planning more program additions to their tradeshow marketing this fall. A great sign!

It's Bigger This Summer

It’s Bigger This Summer

One clear indication is the workload. This is the first summer in 6-7 years that our entire shop crew worked full-time in June and July. And that really says something, considering we have two shifts. It’s a great feeling and nice indicator of where we are headed as an industry.

In past years, I have written in early August blogs about how it’s hard to get back into the full swing after the slow summer months. This year, there are no cobwebs, since we haven’t had the traditional summer lull. As a matter of fact, July was our second largest booked sales month this year. That is a sentence I NEVER EVER expected to write.

How has the summer been for you? I can predict many of the answers based on our conversations, but I am curious nonetheless. PLEASE SHARE what your summer business has been like and your outlook on business this fall.

Hope you had a great summer weekend with your family.

Be well.



What is Your Most Powerful Trade Show Tip? (Excellent Discussion in Linkedin)

October 15th, 2013 3 COMMENTS

I’m a Linkedin fan. Mostly I read the discussions, but occasionally a topic or a discussion prompts me to contribute. Oddly enough, I often find the most interesting discussions about trade show marketing are in marketing groups, not trade show groups.

Recently, in the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Network, Vicki Judge of Judge Advertising, posed the question — “What is Your Most Powerful Trade Show Tip.” I’ll share a few of the 63 responses, but I would encourage you to read the entire discussion thread. Excellent stuff.

Sharon Gee
CEO & CMO, Circle Dot Marketing, LLC

A big part of the success of a tradeshow is to make sure you have abundant communication regarding your presence at the show in the form of media relations, social media, and internal and external partnership communication. Pre-show blogs, press releases, social media posts, email campaigns, internal motivation communication pieces, and more help spread the word that you’ll be in attendance at the tradeshow.

Pierre-Antoine Thiebaut
VP Field Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

I think the “WHY question” is the major criteria of the GO/NO GO decision.

My personal experience and most important tip: Don’t waste your time, money and energy if your Sales teams are not fully align with the decision and if you don’t have their total involvement (with their own blood) to make this event a success.

Tim Hill
Marketing Consultant/Owner; Lexington Young Professionals Board Member

Once you’ve found the right trade show for your company, I would advise to be a consistent exhibitor every year and also join whatever association is hosting the show. I’ve gotten more business for my clients from exhibitors and attendees outside of the show than at the show. For small to medium size businesses I would suggest to look bigger than you really are. Have professionally designed displays, handouts, brochures, business cards, and swag and not something that was put together by a secretary with MS Paint. Sometimes it’s the little details that can cause a potential customer to notice you over your competition.

Craig Lindberg
Digital Marketing Executive-Inbound/Social/Integrated

A lot of excellent advice here already so what I would suggest is to put the trade show in the context of a larger prospect/client engagement process. Use it as a reason to engage before and after the event; make a pointed effort to get on the schedules of those you most want to meet with either at the booth or offsite. Make the overarching theme of your presence complimentary to your brand to continue building equity and mindshare, re-purpose event content for incorporation into your inbound program including CTAs to measure response and interest before, during and after the show. Use the actual event as topic for blogging, video and post show topics of interest that are tethered to your lead nurturing.

Scott Yaw
Competitive Business Strategy

Having an established set of objectives (plan A) for what you need to achieve and the flexibility to vary it (plan B) when things don’t go your way.

Steve Reichenstein
CEO, Biomart Global Technology Transfer

Trade shows are about access … access is 2 way. Show them senior management commitment by showing senior management.

Traci Browne
Trade Show/Expo Consultant, Freelance Writer and B2B Storyteller

In my experience the number one place companies screw up the show is in the booth staff selection. I don’t care how much strategic planning you do, how great your booth looks. Your staff is the single most important component to your success. Yet what do companies often do? They send people who don’t want to be there. I will never understand this.

The other thing I will never understand is why companies waste so much time and money on terrible booth staff training. If your training program involves 90 minutes of booth etiquette your wasting everyone’s time. If your training involves 10 minutes of booth etiquette your wasting everyone’s time. Booth etiquette can be covered in a short email. There are so many more important things you should be doing with you booth staff that will ensure they are prepared and motivated.


–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid 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



Your Exhibit Success Challenge Series

August 5th, 2013 COMMENTS

Let the Challenge Begin!

Today begins three weeks of education and inspiration to spur your exhibit marketing plans forward for this fall’s shows and beyond.

8/6    Katina Rigall from Classic Exhibits Inc.:  “Design Trends for Memorable Exhibits”
8/8    Simon Harrop from BRAND Sense:  “Incorporating Multisensory Marketing”
8/13  Heidi Thorne from  “Creative Ideas for Promotions”
8/15  Steve Lager from AudioVision Productions:  “How to Use Video to Promote & Engage”
8/20  Marlys Arnold from Exhibit Marketers Café:  “Who’s the Face of Your Exhibit?”
8/22  Siobhan Connellan from Experient:  “Lead Management Secrets”

How to Participate

Each week during the Challenge, you’ll receive an e-mail with links to the expert interviews as they’re available (scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays). You’ll have until Sunday night that week to listen before the replays go away.

Also each week, we’ll be issuing a Challenge related to that week’s topic. While it will require some thoughtful consideration, it won’t take a ton of time for you to complete. And keep in mind that these Challenges are ultimately designed to move you forward in your exhibit marketing strategies!

Your Reward

Complete all three weekly Challenges and you’ll have the opportunity to pick my brain … for free! Simply submit a short form each week to share your ah-ha’s from each speaker and respond to the Challenge. I’ll send you an invitation to a VIP call in September where you can ask me anything. (And yes, that will be recorded as well.)

Bonus Goodies

Just because this is a virtual event doesn’t mean you can’t have some goodies for your tote bag! So here’s my first bonus gift for you: An excerpt from Build a Better Trade Show Image on setting goals (PDF)

For more great exhibiting strategies, join us in the Exhibit Marketers Café — It’s the place to get what you need to nourish and refresh your exhibit marketing program.

See you in the Challenge!
Marlys Arnold

P.S. Want to recommend the YES Challenge to someone? Please don’t forward this e-mail, but instead send them to (And of course sharing that link on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn is also appreciated – Thanks!)