Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Trade Show Marketing’

Never Eat or Drink in Your Trade Show Booth. Seriously? Dude, It’s 2018!

November 2nd, 2018 1 COMMENT

Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Displays

You Know the Rules:

#1. Never eat or drink in your trade show booth and

#2. Don’t stare at your cellphone while on the show floor.

It makes sense, mostly. But you, me, and the guy with the taped together pop-up across the aisle all ignore those rules. We want our coffee in the morning, and we’re going to check our emails from time to time. It’s all a matter of degree. Don’t chow down on Kung Pao Chicken or obsessively check your text messages. Basically, act like you want to be there. 

It’s 2018, Dude. There’s gotta be a middle ground, and your display should facilitate it, whether you view it as a necessity or a necessary evil.  Think of Classic Exhibits and the Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Display as your personal bad-habit enabler. The Updated Sacagawea System includes two features not found on any other portable display and rarely seen on far more expensive exhibits: The Hostess Shelf and USB Charging Ports

Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Display, Hostess ShelfHostess Shelf

Most portable displays have limited shelf space. That shelf or shelves are typically used for laptops, tablets, literature, or product samples. Not your beef burrito or latte. But, what if there was a small, less obvious shelf that didn’t interfere with your presentation but was readily accessible?

On the Sacagawea System, any kit that includes a backwall workstation counter includes (1) Hostess Shelf. The Hostess Shelf is perfect for your morning coffee or danish. It’s discrete, sitting below the larger workstation counter. Where there’s a workstation counter, you can add another Hostess Shelf so Ronnie in Sales has his own personal pantry on the show floor. The shelves are laminated so that nasty coffee ring can be wiped clean with a quick spray of Windex or Formula 409. 

Enjoy your caffeine fix my friend, guilt-free. Just be sure to set it back on the Hostess Shelf before you shake hands with the prospect you’ve been calling for 3 years. She just step in the booth. 

Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Display, USB Charging PortsNew USB Charging Ports

Benjamin Franklin may have discovered electricity, but you know there’s more to power than a kite and a key. And just like you need caffeine, your phone needs juice during a long day on the show floor. Who wants to be Magellan circumnavigating the hall looking for an elusive electrical outlet? You’re better than that, and you belong in the booth talking about the revolutionary EN4CX-1287 industrial sump pump. It’s awesome!

The Sacagawea Portable Hybrid has your back. Two USB Charging Ports are included on any kit with a workstation counter. You don’t even have to share with Polly in Product Development, who’s still using a Nokia flip phone with an annoying “Welcome Back, Kotter” ringtone. Whether you need a full charge or just a quick top-off, the USB ports are always there. Safe. Dependable. Satisfying. Need more ports? No problem. Additional USB ports can be added when you add another workstation counter.

BTW, did we also happen to say that no other portable display offers this indispensable charging feature? Well… we did now. 

If That’s Not Enough…

  • Easy Knob-Assisted Assembly
  • Numbered Components and Detailed Setup Instructions
  • Vibrant 5K Dye-Sublimated Fabric Graphics
  • Adjustable Workstation Legs for Stability
  • Lightweight Engineered Aluminum Extrusion
  • LED Stem Lights
  • Portable Roto-molded Cases with Wheels
  • Jigged, Reusable Packaging
  • 100-Day Return Guarantee
  • Made in the USA

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

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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.

The World of SEG (As I See It)

September 11th, 2018 2 COMMENTS

Guest Post by Dave Brown, Optima Graphics

When Neanderthals Walked the Earth

My first exposure to Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG) was in 2002. At the time, we (Optima) were using a foam/rubber gasket to finish fabric graphics. The gasket (similar to screen door material) was an aesthetic step forward from Velcro since it helped to remove ripples and waves in a fabric graphic, but it was not a viable long-term solution. In early 2003, Optima was approached by AIT. They were promoting an improved graphic attachment using a stretchy silicone material that could be tucked into a channel or systems groove on an engineered aluminum frame, like Octanorm or MODUL. I vaguely recall that they were selling frames as well, but don’t quote me on that.

During that same time frame, several truss suppliers were offering a “truss clip” option where an 18” section of aluminum channel would snap onto the individual truss rails. A magnet was sewn to the graphic, so it could be secured within the truss clip. There was nothing special about the magnet other than its dimensions were perfect for sewing it to the fabric and then tucking it into the truss clip. Functionally a shim. However, the magnet was impractical for shipping purposes.

With the ever-present desire to cut exhibit program costs, many “early adopter” exhibitors and exhibit houses were looking to fabric graphics as an option. Fabric or dye-sublimated textile graphics had two immediate advantages:  they reduced the overall weight of an exhibit and they could be folded for compact shipping. But the Velcro and truss clip option each had aesthetic and practical flaws.

The Rise of SEG

Entering 2005, Silicone Edge Graphics were moving more mainstream, and our very own Mary Mueller coined the term SEG. Heck, we even tried to trademark it, but the US Patent Office claimed it was too generic (but “three peat” could be trademarked. Hmmmm?). By mainstream, I mean that SEG was being incorporated into display hardware, wall-mounted frame solutions, and custom exhibits.

As time progressed, SEG became a true building material, and fabric now clads the exterior of exhibits in the same way Canyon Blue Formica or Tempo loop did in the early 90’s. Customers want their visual message and presence maximized in their exhibits, and as dye-sublimation has progressed so has the boundaries of SEG. It is not uncommon to see a single 10’ x 20’ SEG fabric graphic whether backlit or non-backlit that’s as stunning and real as a Lambda print. A handful of companies have incorporated machinery that will produce a single graphic that’s 15 ft. in width, and the industry has been the beneficiary of R&D from many different perspectives. For example:

  • Backlighting. At Optima, we have launched three different backlit materials in the last 11 months, and our suppliers keep sending us a steady stream of potential new materials to test.
  • Opacity. Fabric may have been great for packing and hanging, but prior to 2013, there were functionally no opaque options. The blocker game is over because numerous opaque options exist and are ideal for trade show graphics. Eliminating blockers reduces installation time and cost. We can all cheer for that!
  • Stretch / Pliability. Installing SEG is, good bad or indifferent, a bit of an art form. A material that stretches east – west vs. east-west and north-south is a big deal because the added pliability reduces the artistic install talent needed by the end client or hired labor. “I have done this a million times” does not perfectly translate to “You are really good at it.”
  • Wrinkles. Let’s not mince words, Wrinkles suck! I get it. Paying as much as $250 an hour for Sunday OT steaming is unappetizing to any exhibitor.Here’s a snippet from an actual conversation I had this spring, “Sorry I am late. My shirt was a mess from packing, so I had to touch it up with the iron.” Fast forward to, “We arrived at the booth and one of the graphics was all wrinkled, so we had to steam it. Why do we need to do that? We should not have to do this” Logically, you know that a shirt (piece of fabric) needs to be ironed to eliminate wrinkles, but a fabric graphic should be impervious to similar wear and tear. Trust me, the holy grail of dye-sub fabric graphics is a 100% wrinkle-free material. This is and has been a R&D priority for years.
  • Flame Retardant (FR). Optima and many other high-quality providers will not sell an SEG dye-sub fabric graphic that is not FR. However, the FR treatment can increase the wrinkle factor or wrinkle-ability. Selling a NON-FR fabric is just plain stupid. Can you imagine ALL the instances where exhibitors are informed that all their fabric graphics need to be removed because they are unable to supply a FR certificate, and/or the material fails an onsite test? That is the stuff of lawsuits. It’s not worth it. Yet, there are instances where low-cost providers take that risk without informing the customer.

The Future of SEG

If the key ingredient in SEG is simply the attachment element (various rubbery / reasonably stretchy / reasonably firm 2.3mm x 7mm x 1mm-ish strips), then the sky is the limit. We have already progressed through print clarity (print resolution, density, color gamut via equipment and print technology), textile opacity, textile transmissiveness (backlighting), and ideal size of material.

A Prediction:   LED incorporation into the textiles will progress from experimental to routine and full digital textile is only a few years away. Envision a wall frame with an SEG monitor installed at any size you want. A 10 x 20 inline that conveys your client’s dynamic message, creates and morphs from one environmental engagement to the next, and during breaks on the show floor – you can watch your favorite Family Guy, episode. AND the whole thing fits in a single airline shippable case.

It’s coming sooner than we all think.

Dave Brown
dsbrown@optimagfx.com

Dave Brown is the VP of Sales at Optima Graphics. We all know and love Dave, so a long, detailed bio isn’t really necessary. And, yes, we all have a memorable Dave Brown story.

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.

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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.

40 Things You Do @ Trade Shows (You Would Never Do Anywhere Else)

July 24th, 2018 17 COMMENTS

40 Things at a Trade Show

We are all members of specialized sub-groups, each with its own rules and etiquette. Think quilters, railroad model builders, woodworkers, or even college sports fans. Trade shows are no different whether you are an exhibitor, attendee, or an industry insider. While many behaviors might seem normal to you as a member of the trade show community, others are downright bizarre to those who rarely set foot in a trade show hall.

With the assistance of my colleagues, I’ve compiled a list of 40 Things You Do @ Trade Shows You Would Never Do Anywhere Else. It was actually much longer, but this is a PG-rated blog.

Drinking doesn’t count. We know you drink. You just don’t always start at lunch. And for the sake of discretion (and possible litigation), we’ve ignored trade shows in CO, WA, OR, and now CA. Don’t pretend you don’t know why. 

Feel free to contribute via the comments section. And enjoy!

40 Things You Would Never Do Anywhere Else

  1. With zero guilt, throw trash in the aisle and expect others to clean it up
  2. Spend $8.50 for a 12 oz. bottle of Aquafina
  3. Bribe someone to look the other direction. Brag about it later
  4. Have Accounting panic because you just max-out your credit card on one transaction (drayage perhaps?)
  5. Wear matching polyester clothing 
  6. Steal anything that appears to have a value of less than $10 (candy, hats, pens, mugs…)
  7. Share “steamy” industry gossip with competitors
  8. Chat with 500 strangers in 72 hours
  9. Gush about the double-padded carpet in booth #1108
  10. Buy a gaudy new belt in the casino shop for $165 (after forgetting to pack one) 

Vacuuming at a Trade Show

  1. Party until 3 am with Steve in Accounting, Larry in HR, Melissa in Engineering, and Rebecca in Quality Control
  2. Bum breath mints from strangers
  3. Arrive at work at 11 am. Leave at 3:30 pm
  4. Get agitated when someone walks across the corner of your booth space
  5. Take a Lyft to Lowe’s or Best Buy at 9 am/pm
  6. Pretend you don’t smell that awful face-melting smell
  7. Debate the existential meaning of portable, modular, and custom
  8. Act interested in (insert topic)
  9. Complain about how much it costs to vacuum 400 sq. ft. of carpet. Vow to do something about it
  10. Allow strangers to take your stuff without a receipt for three days and not know where it is, how it’s getting stored, and that you have zero ability to get it back early. Or if it will be returned undamaged

Badge Scanning at a Trade Show

  1. Let someone point a scanning device or smartphone camera in the general vicinity of your chest and crotch. Repeatedly.
  2. Be convinced a 15-minute conversation will lead to $500,000 in new business
  3. Assemble a 3D structure that costs somewhere between a used car and a McMansion… only to disassemble it three days later
  4. Spend 20% of your entire annual marketing budget over five days. Never calculate the ROI
  5. Compare the work ethic in Philadelphia, Boston, NYC, Chicago, Orlando, Anaheim, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to the work ethic in your hometown. Vow to do something about it.
  6. Hang your dress shirt in the bathroom with the shower running for 30 minutes to steam out the wrinkles  
  7. Explain, once again, to your family and friends that it’s a “business trip” and not a vacation
  8. Get visibly excited about the phrase “traffic congestion”
  9. Guard your giveaways like a momma bear (Day #1). Beg show labor to take them in bulk (Day #3)
  10. Sneak off to the bathroom just to find a quiet place to work

Finding a Quiet Spot to Work at a Trade Show

  1. Hide in a storage closet to scarf down a Starbuck’s scone, while dusting your co-workers coats, purses, and briefcases with gooey crumbs
  2. Judge people based solely on their name badge 
  3. Convince your boss that the 300 fishbowl leads are new clients clamoring for your product (and not the iPad giveaway)
  4. Pretend the President’s son is not still drunk. Allow him to talk to potential clients and competitors (I know I said I wouldn’t include drinking but this one was too good to exclude) 
  5. Spend 3 days with 100 of your best friends and not speak or see them again for 362 days
  6. Fly from the Midwest in January to Las Vegas, Orlando, or New Orleans and NEVER leave the hotel/convention center complex
  7. Reintroduce yourself to the same person three times. Act embarrassed 
  8. Toss the sales literature you carefully collected over three days so there’s more room for tschotskes. Pretend it’s for your children 
  9. Be REALLY, REALLY EXCITED to leave Las Vegas or Orlando!
  10. Finally… Wonder (after scanning the room and mumbling quietly to yourself) why the Federal Government hasn’t filed RICO charges against certain segments of the trade show industry. Vow to do something about it. 

That’s it. Please share your “Trade Show Things” below. And thanks for playing along.

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

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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.