A guest approaches the reception desk at a hotel and says to the desk manager, “Hi. I’d like a room for a week, perhaps longer.”
“Sure,” replies the desk manager.
“Will it be a single, double, or suite?”
“A single is fine.”
“Great. For a week, the price is $17,000. You’ll
have access to the room for 8-10 hours per day. ”
“Pardon me?” says the guest. “I don’t think I heard you correctly. I can only use the room for part of the day? What’s that all about? And what’s the deal on the price?”
“The price is the price. It’s non-negotiable. For security reasons, we limit access to your room. You wouldn’t want someone wandering into your room when you are not there.”
“Aren’t there locks on the door?”
“Oh no!” explains the desk manager.
“You can lock your valuables in the dresser or closet, but the room
doesn’t have a door.”
“Odd,” says the guest, “but I’ll take
“Do you have any luggage?”
“Of course. It’s outside. I’ll go get it.”
“That’s not allowed!” shouts the desk manager. “We have a contractor who does that. They’ll get your luggage, bring it to your room, and remove it when you leave. It will cost between $3000-$15,000 depending on how much luggage you have and how much it weighs. Please pay the contractor directly for this service. Not me.”
“Anything else?” says the guest.
“Of course. Sheesh! It’s like you haven’t stayed at a hotel before. We have several contractors who specialize in unpacking and packing, including assembling your bed. You can choose the contractor you prefer. I’m assuming you’ll want electricity, a television, Internet, water, and cleaning services. Those are all separate fees from separate contractors.”
“So, the room doesn’t have a bed?” asks the
“Don’t be silly,” says the desk manager. “How would we ever know what type of bed you want? Only you know that. Although we’re happy to rent you a bed that’s been used by other guests for years. For all the services listed, you can expect to pay an additional $36,000.”
“To be honest with you, I thought this would be simple.
I have a big deal to close this week, so I guess I don’t really have much of a
choice. Does the hotel at least have a morning breakfast?”
“Absolutely. Here’s a menu and price list.
Please note that bottled water is $8, a large cup of coffee is $12, and a
sausage biscuit is $20. Also, if you bring any food to your room, we’ll charge
you a fee.”
“Well, I’m here so let’s get started,” says
the guest. “By the way, if I decide to stay another week, when do I need
to let you know.”
“Well, that’s complicated,” responds the desk manager.
“We only rent the property for a week. Then another company rents it next week. It changes all the time. You’ll have to start the process all over again if you decide to stay longer.”
“To be honest with you,” says the guest. “From the perspective of the customer paying the bill, this seems like a crazy way to run a business. And insanely expensive! Why would anyone stay at a hotel more than once?”
“Habit mostly. Guests who understand the process start by creating goals and a strategy for making money while they’re here. Others, like you my friend, arrive without a clue and probably will never come back. Which is fine. There’s always someone who needs a room for a week, even if they don’t know why. May I have your credit card? You may want to give me two or three since we’re likely to hit your limit.”
Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufactures portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including Symphony Portable Displays. 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 booth staffing should be easy. Tell the sales team to go to the show. Then invite someone from marketing or perhaps a go-getter from customer service. Ignore accounting, engineering, operations, and senior management. Easy peasy. And yet…
Consider this. Trade shows are expensive, chaotic, overwhelming, and confusing. They’re also an excellent venue for introducing products and services, meeting new clients, and generating business. Getting it right requires setting goals, creating a strategy, completing a list of tasks, and bringing the right team. The team matters.
Unfortunately, most trade show booth staffers don’t have a clue why they’re spending 5-6 hours a day for three days in their company’s exhibition booth. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to create an All-Star Booth Staff. It simply takes planning, communication, and discipline.
Key Considerations for Trade Show Staffing
Trade shows are a battlefield with winners and losers. On that battlefield, strategy and implementation outperforms brute strength every time. What are the goals? Is everyone clear about them? At a minimum, there should be a strategy and planning “booth camp” meeting before the show. Then, there should be alignment meetings every day before the show opens. Some companies even have meetings after the show hall closes to review leads, answer questions, and prepare for the next day.
When it comes to your trade show staff, you get what you tolerate. When you expect more, your team will rise to the challenge. Set clear expectations, communicate your goals, plan your strategy, and manage the environment, the days, and your post-show communication. It’s not easy, but your team (and your boss) will sing your praises when it’s “Go Time!”
8 Key Responsibilities for Any Trade Show Booth Staff
Promote Your Brand
Improve Customer Service
Create a Positive Reputation
Learn about Customers, Competitors, and the Industry
Trade Show Booth Staffing Rules
Rule #1: Knowledge
Not every booth staffer needs to know everything. Collectively, however, the team needs to know everything and know who’s the expert about every subject. The expert should be able to answer questions about that topic, as well as explain the features and benefits of your products or services.
Rule #2: Goals
Set clear goals for your booth staff. What do you hope to achieve by participating in the trade show? Then provide your staff with training on your products or services. This should include a thorough overview of your offerings, as well as any recent updates or changes.
Rule #3: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
Provide your staff with feedback throughout the training process. This will help them to identify areas where they need improvement and make sure that they are on track to achieve their goals. Pre- and post-show staff meetings keep the team focused on the goals and address any concerns.
Rule #4: Explore
It’s not just about what’s happening in the booth. Give them time to explore the show floor, check out competitors, discover new suppliers, and meet with attendees at social events.
Rule #5: Have fun!
Attending a trade show should be fun, and trade show booth staff training should be a positive experience for everyone involved. Make sure to create a relaxed atmosphere where your staff can learn and grow.
What to Look for in Trade Show Staff
Who should be there? That’s easy. Bring employees who know the products or services, who have charismatic people skills, who are personally invested in results, and who participate in pre-show planning or post-show implementation. Two out of four doesn’t cut it. A trade show isn’t a vacation. It’s a strategic investment. Your sales team may check all those boxes, but don’t be afraid to look for superstars in other departments who want to be at the show, understand the products and services, and will WOW! attendees.
In any pack, there are always the stragglers, the injured, and the just plain stupid. You can ignore them and allow them to be food for your competitors, or you can deal with the problem. The staffer who arrives late sweating tequila and lime, reeking of three cups of espresso, better have a good reason, like entertaining your key client until 4 am. Same with Susie Smartphone or Standing-on-the-Sidelines Sam. This isn’t a soccer tournament for 8-year-olds where everyone gets participation ribbons. It’s a competition where sales, money, and jobs are on the line. Everyone has to pull their share. At tough love companies, the Susies and the Sams get sent home via Greyhound with loose change for vending machine sandwiches.
Trade Show Event Staffing: How to Prep Your Team for Success
What they know is important. What they do with that knowledge is critical. You want the information dream team in your booth. Whatever the question, there’s someone there who has an answer, can get an answer, and lives to share that information.
Just knowing stuff isn’t enough. Each staffer must capture every sweet, savory nugget of information the attendee shares. Everyone thinks they’ll remember that game-changing conversation from Day 1. By Day 3, they couldn’t tell you their own spouse’s middle name even if you gave them the first three letters.
Trade shows are exhausting physically and mentally. There is zero chance you’ll remember the details even if you have an eidetic memory. Honestly, the lead retrieval system doesn’t matter. What matters is having a system your group understands and follows. You can’t be a namby-pamby about this. There should be consequences for not adhering to the information capture process.
Trade Show Staffing Strategy & Consulting with Classic Exhibits!
Booth staff training is an important competitive advantage. Yet, most companies ignore it or simply go through the motions. It’s not automatic. The same energy that went into designing the exhibit, creating the graphics, completing the forms, and arranging the travel and lodging should go into training. It doesn’t happen on its own and well-prepared exhibitors will always own the show floor over their lazy competitors.
Classic Exhibits has been designing and building solutions since 1993. We’ve been honored as an Exhibitor Magazine Find-It Top 40 Exhibit Producers and an Event Marketer Fab 50 Exhibit Builders multiple times. Along with numerous Portable Modular Awards. With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative close by to assist with any project. Contact us today whether you need an inline rental display, a double-deck island exhibit, or a contemporary kiosk rental. At Classic, we’re not just different. We’re better.
Exhibit Leader Insights, an Exhibitor Insights Report in partnership with The Exhibitor Advocate, Explori and Exhibitor Group, is a report based on a survey sent to exhibitors working currently in a range of industries with the aim of understanding:
The decision-making process for exhibitors: when planning their events program
How trade shows are perceived – and valued by exhibitors and their companies
How external and internal factors are shaping events programs, both now and in the future
According to the report, “Trade shows continue to provide value to exhibitors both as marketing and sales channels, and their worth is generally recognized by senior leadership teams – perhaps more so than before the pandemic.
However, there are some warning signs. Cost concerns cast a long shadow over the research. Exhibitors are clearly feeling squeezed by rising exhibit-related costs, and they are likely to attribute this to hikes in venue, organizer and contractor fees – rather than factors beyond the industry’s control, such as costof-living effects and broader economic forces.”
Download the Free PDF
To download the FREE Exhibit Leader Insights Report, click HERE. Below are select pages from the report.
Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufactures portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including Symphony Portable Displays. 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.
When it comes to trade show display design, six trends have dominated over the past 5 years both for inlines and islands.
Large Tension Fabric Graphics
LED Lightboxes with Backlit Fabric
Rental Inlines and Islands
With the exception of basic portable displays, modern trade show exhibits are bigger, brighter, and curvier than ever. Even traditional square and rectangle booths have gotten more upscale as customization has gotten easier and more affordable. Rentals included. Gone are those basic and battered booths so common in the past from show organizers. Now, it’s nearly impossible to tell a purchased booth from a rented one from most exhibit houses. In other words, contemporary exhibit design, construction, and ownership are more flexible and beautiful than ever before.
Getting Started with Trade Show Booth Design
Every perfect trade show booth design starts with identifying your audience, marketing goals, and trade show budget. Exhibit designers use this information as the first step, then they’ll ask additional questions to fine-tune the booth to your specific requirements. For example – they’ll identify whether you need storage, meeting areas, overhead signage, and accessories like monitors, literature trays, charging stands, etc. They’ll even determine if you’ll need rental furniture like office chairs, sofas, and end tables and suggest styles to match your graphic design.
The 15 trade show booth design examples below show recent design trends in custom, modular, and portable displays, along with sustainable exhibits and rentals. Don’t be afraid to drill down on what works (and doesn’t work) for your booth design vision. Then share them with the exhibit designer.
A well-designed trade show island exhibit should be attractive, inviting, informative, and practical. The GK-5153 does all that… and more. It combines a casual meeting space with functional counters for product samples. The design includes a reception counter, also with locking storage. Throughout the island, there are large graphic opportunities at multiple angles to attract attendees from every aisle, including a 16 ft. tower.
Many of the flat panels are from the patented Gravitee System, which connects without tools or loose parts, making assembly much easier than traditional panels. The Large Aero Overhead Hanging Sign pulls it all together with internal and external graphics.
It’s the complete package. The GK-5147 island maximizes the available space with double-sided curved panels. The design includes iPad workstations, monitor mounts, and a presentation area. There’s an attractive custom reception counter with a backlit graphic and LED accent lights. In addition, the islands have multiple seating areas all with USB charging ports so your clients can charge their phones and tablets. All the curved panels are from the patented Gravitee System, so individual panels connect without tools and there are no loose parts or pieces.
An island exhibit doesn’t have to stand tall or be overly complicated. It simply has to fit your tradeshow marketing needs… and get noticed. The RE-9091 rental island has two eye-catching double-sided SuperNova lightboxes. These lightboxes assemble quickly and are always the star attraction in any booth space. The RE-9091 has a large full-size closet along with storage in each reception counter.
In addition, the closets do double duty, serving as lightboxes on the two longer sides and supporting a monitor in the lounge. High above, there’s an Aero Triangle Hanging Sign so you’re sure to attract attention from across the show hall.
The RE-9139 Rental Island goes way beyond a pretty picture. We’ve incorporated key features such as large graphics, private and semi-private conference rooms, towers with locking storage access, and workstations and reception counters with secure storage. Not enough? Then add product shelves, large and small monitors for presentations, a variety of light fixtures, and hanging signs for high visibility from anywhere on the show floor.
Looking for a big bang on a modest budget? Plus a sustainable design? The ECO-4094 doesn’t disappoint with (3) double-sided backlit towers, fabric graphics, ample meeting space, and an amazing reception counter with locking storage. The open format allows for multiple entries into the booth, which can often be a challenge for an island exhibit. The 12 ft. tower can support a large monitor and there is enough space for presentations. All that and built with eco-friendly materials.
The ECO-4100 Sustainable Exhibit takes a traditional square design and transforms it into a more inviting space with curves. There are two demo stations facing the aisles, a backlit counter with storage, and a cozy lounge in the middle. The large overhead attached sign ensures you’ll be seen from any angle on the show floor. You go to trade shows to be seen… so be seen with the ECO-4100 20 x 20 island booth.
5 Custom Trade Show Booth Ideas
1. Travel Portland Custom Booth
A city known for its vibrant culture, arts, food, bicycling, festivals, and nightlife, Travel Portland wanted to present a multi-sensory experience of the city. This island exhibit needed to flex for use at three shows per year in a 20×20 or 20×30 configuration. One requires an informational experience, one focuses on setting meetings with destination planners, and one is focused solely on the attendee’s sensory experience. The ability to change out graphics easily for each show was paramount. Travel Portland requested lightweight components to reduce shipping costs and a modular structure that was easy to assemble and easy to reconfigure between 20×20 and 20×30.
2. Google’s Custom Booth
Google wanted a fun, creative, almost childlike atmosphere in their island exhibit, similar to the vibe in Google offices around the world. Google had a long wish list of functional requirements: multiple seating areas, interactive spaces including a selfie wall, storage for swag, a tall visible structure, a distinctive hanging sign, a prominent reception counter, and strong digital moments. All of which had to fit in a 20×20 space without feeling cramped. Finally, the 20×20 had to be easily reconfigurable into larger booth sizes at future shows.
3. Custom Booth for Slate
Slate wanted a welcoming, attention-grabbing, and professional atmosphere that incorporated a Seattle theme where the event was held. They needed multiple meeting spaces, product demo workstations, and large-scale eye-catching graphics. They reserved a unique 20×60 space that spanned the windowed atrium between the two show halls. Slate’s nature-themed design in the arched atrium complemented the space and appeared to extend far beyond the 20×60 footprint it occupied.
4. Home To Go Custom Exhibit
As a first-time exhibitor in the US market, Home To Go wanted an impressive presence at their industry’s largest event. Throughout the year, they exhibit in 10×30, 10×20, and 10×10 shows, requiring their exhibit structure to be flexible yet visually consistent. Home To Go’s strategy for increasing visibility was to “glow.” They chose an expansive 30 ft. back wall lightbox with a surrounding wood frame. The outside of the frame is covered in a dark woodgrain laminate, and the inside is laminated with Home To Go’s signature purple, which further reflects the light from the backlit graphic.
5. Custom Booth for Odyssey Foods
Odyssey Foods wanted attendees to sample their unique products in an intimate yet approachable experience that mimics an authentic Seattle bistro. An effective chef demo was critical, including seating for buyer conversations and a large menu board to showcase recipes being prepared. This demo area needed easy access to a private prep and storage area. Additionally, the client required real and engaging display areas to showcase the array of Odyssey products. The ongoing menu and product updates required multiple large areas for signage that could be easily changed.
No corporate exhibitor wants a generic exhibit. They want a modern display tailored to their message and tradeshow marketing mission. The GK-1013 is ideal for serious exhibitors who want to show products and big images. The exhibits include shelves, monitor mount, and storage, including both walk-in and counter storage.
The Gravitee One-Step back wall assembles quickly with modular panels. Graphic choices include tension fabric or direct prints depending on your preference. Best of all, the 10 ft. inline can be expanded to a versatile 20 ft. display.
Striking the right balance between aesthetics and performance is crucial for any trade show display. The VK-1354 blends them two perfectly with bold graphics, backlighting, practical features, and convenient storage. This exhibit offers a large backlit graphic for high impact along with direct print headers. In addition, there are shelves to showcase products and back wall storage with an internal shelf.
The VK-1354 includes the MOD-1702 backlit counter with storage… There’s no question . . . this exhibit will be the star of any trade show.
Clean, dynamic, inviting, and practical. The VK-4030 strikes the ideal balance of large backlit graphics, tablet/monitor(s), and casual seating, all in well-defined spaces with appropriate social distancing. The large backlit fabric graphics create a seamless visual presentation whether in the 10 or 20 ft. inline configurations.
The individual sections work as modules, allowing exhibitors to grow or adapt to their changing trade show schedule. In addition, there’s ample locking storage and optional charging stations built into the counters and tables.
Get comfortable with the VK-2979 Series. They feature large, bold graphics, curved structures, and casual seating for 10-12 in the island version and 6 in the 20 ft. inline version. While relaxing your guests can charge their smartphones or tablets with the MOD-1430 coffee table charging stations.
Each charging station can be branded and comes with an attractive LED perimeter glow. You also find ample storage with a full-size closet and a reception counter with a locking door and shelf. Not enough? There are monitor options, downlighting, and uplighting.
For too long, portable displays have sacrificed elegant design for visual simplicity. Not anymore. Introducing Symphony, the first portable/modular display to blend easy toolless assembly with elegant design and clever accessories.
With Symphony, there are no compromises and no tradeoffs. Simply a beautiful upscale display at a price that’s thousands less than most custom modular exhibits.
You want a distinctive custom design, easy to assemble (without tools), lightweight construction, and modular reconfigurability. Welcome to Gravitee! The RE-1060 Rental Inline Booth features panels that connect without tools or loose parts, SEG or fabric graphics, fully assembled flat or curved panels, and a wide range of accessories, like lights, shelves, and monitor mounts. The entire display packs in a fabric-lined, fully jigged custom crate. Each component is numbered for effortless assembly.
Lights combined with colorful graphics may be the single most important key to attracting attention on the trade show floor. The RE-2124 turns the table on traditional lightbox designs by “stepping” (5) 4 ft. x 8 ft. individual lightboxes. The stepping creates visual depth and interest while allowing an exhibitor to tell a compelling story through a sequenced graphic presentation.
The design includes ample room for a casual meeting space (which can be a challenge in an inline) and the charging table with LED accent lights creates a casual yet business-like setting. The RE-1567 reception counter has attractive backlit graphics and locking storage. Plus, the RE-2124 assembles quickly and packs flat in a wood crate for convenient shipping.
A well-designed inline exhibit maximizes the overall space. The 20 ft. RE-2129 rental does all that and more. It includes multiple counters and workstations, all with locking storage and LED perimeter lights. For additional visual “pop,” there are (3) double-sided SuperNova LED lightboxes with fabric graphics. The back wall has (4) monitor stations for demos. There’s even a small bistro table with wireless charging for casual meetings with potential clients.
Many exhibitors prefer an island peninsula configuration with three-sided entries into the booth (rather than four in a traditional island) The RE-9165 Peninsula Rental comes with a 12 ft. H x 9 ft. W storage tower with graphics and a 12 ft. archway and graphic header. It includes (4) double-sided SuperNova lightboxes with SEG fabric graphics. There are 5 monitor mounts, one each on the lightboxes and one on the tower. There’s a walk-in closet storage and (4) laminate counters and (1) reception counter all with locking storage. For casual meetings on the show, there are also (3) bistro charging tables with LED accent lights.
Occam’s Razor states: “The simplest solution is almost always the best.” The RE-9162 Island manages to be both beautiful and welcoming while maximizing the 20 x 20 floor space. It features multiple large format graphics and an overhead hanging sign to draw attention from across the show hall. There are several open entrances along with a contemporary curved reception counter (with branding). The two counter/kiosks stations are perfect for sales presentations, and the large comfortable lounge and charging table makes it easy and convenient to relax with clients. It’s simple, straightforward, and inviting.
The ECO-1127 Sustainable Exhibit offers exhibitors an upscale presence on the show floor with a booth built with eco-friendly materials. This includes a lightweight aluminum frame, green printing materials, LED lights, and FSC wood construction. Features include a large monitor mount, shelves, a curved canopy, a reception counter, and locking storage.
The individual components are numbered for easy assembly and the booth ships in a jigged crate with numbered components. All that and a contemporary modular design that can be expanded to a 10 x 20 display.
Does your company have a green sustainability initiative? Consider a modern ecoSmart trade show exhibit. The ECO-2060 is built with an aluminum frame and green fabric options. It includes (3) monitor mounts for demos and presentations, cabinets with locking storage, LED lights, and frosted ECO-Glass accents.
The step design provides both stability and privacy. Plus the open floor plan is ideal for meeting space with rental tables and chairs.
The ecoSmart Inline Displays are design-driven, reconfigurable, and user-friendly. Using the most sustainable materials on the market, these displays prove that you don’t need to look green to be green, and you don’t need to spend more either. You’ll always get the best of both with an ecoSmart. The ECO-2054 features large backlit LED light boxes and fabric graphics with a curved header. Accessories include literature holders and (2) modern counters with locking storage.
Looking for a big bang on a modest budget? Plus a sustainable design? The ECO-4094 doesn’t disappoint with (3) double-sided backlit towers, fabric graphics, ample meeting space, and an amazing reception counter with locking storage. The open format allows for multiple entries into the booth, which can often be a challenge for an island exhibit. The 12 ft. tower can support a large monitor, and there is enough space for presentations. All that and built with eco-friendly materials.
The ecoSmart Island Exhibits are design-driven, reconfigurable, and high-impact. The ECO-4100 Sustainable Exhibit takes a traditional square design and transforms it into a more inviting space with curves. There are two demo stations facing the aisles, a backlit counter with storage, and a cozy lounge in the middle. The large overhead attached sign ensures you’ll be seen from any angle on the show floor. You go to trade shows to be seen… so be seen with the ECO-4100 20 x 20 island booth.
For too long, portable displays have been both perfectly functional and perfectly boring. Not with the Symphony Portable System. Choose from 8 SEG frame shapes and 17 distinctive accessories to create an elegant portable display that assembles without tools. Best of all, the modular designs lets you reimagine your trade show marketing from show to show. Personalize your Symphony Display with attractive counters, workstations, floating graphics, iPad clamshells, and monitor mounts. Add floating graphics for additional visual layering and branding.
The affordable Sacagawea Portable Hybrid is a contemporary display designed with lightweight engineered aluminum and vibrant tension fabric graphics. Using knob-assisted assembly, the Sacagawea sets up quickly, typically in less than 40 minutes for a 10 ft. display. All components are individually numbered and packed in durable roto-molded cases with custom die-cut foam packaging. Options include workstations, pedestals, fabric canopies, headers, iPad accessories, and monitors.
Not all lightboxes are the same. SuperNova Lightboxes are brighter, bolder, and more durable. When combined with our HD fabric graphics, no lightbox is more vibrant or attracts more attention. The VK-1960 is an attractive, practical, and portable lightbox display designed for the serious exhibitor. It includes SEG fabric and direct print graphics, shelves, and a monitor mount.
Symphony is the first portable/modular display to blend easy toolless assembly with elegant design and clever accessories. With Symphony, there are no compromises and no tradeoffs. Simply a beautiful upscale display at a price that’s thousands less than most custom modular exhibits. Unleash the designer within you. Create the perfect 10, 20, or 30 ft. display by selecting from stylish back wall shapes and distinctive counters and workstations. The mix-and-match flexibility encourages unlimited design possibilities.
Considering a lightweight portable display, then consider the toolless SEGUE Sunrise with fabric graphics. The Sunrise offers all the advantages of a portable display — affordability, ease of set-up, and a large graphic – with the benefits of a large format tension fabric graphic, durable aluminum frame, and no-tools assembly. Assembly takes less than 20 minutes for most kits. Best of all, the 7 ½ x 7 ½ silicone edge graphic guarantees a perfect fit every time, and the fabric graphics mean worry-free performance from show to show. You can even wash them. Made in the USA. Lifetime warranty on workmanship.
Trade Show Booth Design with Classic Exhibits
Many new exhibitors don’t know where to start with exhibition booth design. Fortunately, Classic Exhibits has a vast library of past projects and contemporary exhibit designs to jumpstart the process. Sometimes the ideal booth has already been designed and built and only needs a few tweaks to match your vision. Other times, exhibitors will select ideas from multiple exhibits to create their perfect display. Either way, we’re ready to lend a hand and turn your vision into a reality.
Sasquatch is no seven-foot dummy. He (she) has a brain to match that brawn. Bigfoot understands marketing, knows PR like a Madison Avenue insider, and can out Kardashian the Kardashians without taking a step outside the Pacific Northwest. Here’s what our ancestral brother from another mother can teach us about trade show marketing.
1. It’s Possible to be BIG and Still Not be Seen.
All too often, exhibitors are told that an island exhibit will get them more leads, more traffic, and more attention. But a poorly executed island with bland graphics and a confusing floor plan is much worse than a well-designed inline.
2. Mystery has Its Allure.
Bigfoot knows the benefits of the tease. Revealing teaser information before the show about a new product or service creates anticipation from customers and the press. Apple is the master of this technique. So is Bigfoot. Being coy with a well-crafted marketing campaign before the show has its benefits.
3. Tap into Your Followers.
You won’t see Sasquatch sending press releases or typing a Twitter message. His followers do all the work. They have websites, Facebook pages, and a television show that keeps our big hairy friend in the news. Occasionally, a rogue “fan” will damage the Bigfoot brand name with a silly stunt, but that’s an acceptable risk with any loosely organized group. Even then, the real followers rally around the brand and repair any damage.
4. Spend Your Marketing Money Wisely.
Technically, Bigfoot doesn’t spend any money, at least that we know. But that doesn’t prevent him from getting maximum exposure. He’s got a TV show (Finding Bigfoot) and a website (www.bfro.net). Your trade show marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Planning is crucial. You can maximize your marketing by working with those who have a shared interest. For example, team up with other exhibitors on a prize that would be too expensive for one company, but not for five or six. Then create a theme or event that gives everyone more foot-traffic and exposure.
After all these years why hasn’t a Sasquatch been captured? Training. There are no unprepared Bigfoots. They know how to respond to nearly every situation, whether it’s a sudden encounter with Boy Scouts or a deer hunter. Exhibitors who “arrive” at their booth without adequate training and who do not know how to respond to most show floor situations will fail. Unfortunately, it’s the most controllable part of any trade show marketing program . . . and most exhibitors simply “wing it.”
6. Leave Your Mark.
What’s the point of participating in a trade show if you don’t leave your mark? Bigfoot routinely leaves the big three: foot prints, hair, and scat. It shows he’s been there and people take notice. No one is advising you to leave the “big three” at your next show, but making a lasting impression is critical to your company’s success. Is your message clear? Does it show how your company can solve a potential client’s problem? How do you engage the attendees in the booth? And, finally, are you following up on all leads after the show?
7. Smells that Linger.
Bigfoot sightings often include a description of an unpleasant acrid or skunky odor. That’s not good, but no one expects our tall friend to bathe with Irish Spring. You, on the other hand, should do the following:
Clean that suit, sport coat, or jacket once in awhile. Just because it doesn’t look dirty doesn’t mean it doesn’t reek of B.O., Subway $5 foot-longs, and Vegas casinos.
Coffee Breath. No one’s telling you not to have a latte, cappuccino, or Dunkin’ in the morning. Drink away. But for goodness sake, don’t assume that your breath will smell like rose petals after five cups. Free Tip: Breath mints are every exhibitor’s best friend. Take several. Rinse and repeat.
Perfume and Cologne. We aren’t living in 17th Century France where the aristocracy used fragrances to mask bad hygiene and a fear of bathing. If you insist on smelling like Jennifer (A or L), Antonio, Beyonce, Britney, or Paris, a little goes a long, long way.
How often do you hear of Bigfoot sightings where the dad, mom, and kids are strolling through the woods or frolicking in a stream? Never. Being Bigfoot is serious work and families can be a distraction. No one is telling you not to bring your family to the industry trade show. After all, it’s in Las Vegas or Orlando or San Francisco. If you are serious about maximizing your trade show investment, you already know that trade shows are not a vacation. Not only are you on your feet at the show all day, but there’s also meetings before and after the show with suppliers, clients, and coworkers. There’s the pressure of responding to emails and calls while away from the office. And nearly every show has non-stop educational and social events.
9. The Brand is Important.
You already know this, but occasionally, marketing managers think they can treat branding at a trade show the same as branding in a magazine ad. 3D marketing has a unique set of challenges which only advice or experience can teach you. Rely on your local trade show professional to guide you. You’ll save money, time, and headaches. There’s a reason the Lock Ness Monster is no longer in the news. Poor branding. That’s not a mistake Sasquatch ever plans to make.
Learn from the big guy and you too can maximize your trade show marketing potential.
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 www.classicexhibits.com.