Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Trade Show Marketing’

Trade Show Design Challenges in a Post-COVID World

October 15th, 2020 COMMENTS

How will Designers Design for Post-COVID Trade Shows?

The return of trade shows and exhibitions depends on the development of COVID-19 vaccines, but how exhibits will be designed has already started. At Classic Exhibits, our 3D designers are already working on both virtual and physical exhibits for our distributor’s clients. Those exhibitors have told us that they expect to participate in smaller shows in early Q1 2021 and return to larger shows as early as Q2.

No one knows precisely what to expect about booth design guidelines, such as whether show organizers and convention halls will have specific requirements for exhibitors or if standard North American Regulations will be revised. But you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Here are some commonsense suggestions.

Island Exhibit Designed for COVID-19 Safety Protocols

6 COVID Design Tips

Hand Sanitizer: Let’s start with the easy one. Yes, there will be hand sanitizer solutions both in the exhibit hall and in booths. Regardless of the booth size. However, you still have choices other than sticking an off-the-shelf stand in your booth. Consider how it can be integrated into the overall exhibit flow and graphics. While it needs to be there (and conveniently located), it doesn’t need to be a visual focus.

Tip: Consider jazzing up your sanitizers with custom colors, vinyl graphics, and counter-mounted dispensers.

Social Distancing: This topic is complicated. For your exhibit designer, it will affect every decision in your booth. How does the designer position meeting rooms, presentation areas, and demonstration spaces to be both effective and safe? Will the exhibit have seating? If so, how far apart do you need to place the furniture? Some areas may require dividers, such as acrylic partitions. Some exhibitors may decide on a larger space to ensure social distancing. Others may elect to remove items like counters, workstations, and storage.

Tip: Schedule demos and presentations by appointment only. You’ll be able to manage the flow and create a buzz before the show even opens.

Island Exhibit Designed for COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Traffic Flow: Even before COVID-19, exhibit designers obsessed about traffic flow and the efficient use of space. Layer on safety and it’s gotten more complicated. Post-COVID exhibit designs may require more area segmentation allowing booth staff to meet with attendees away from other attendees. Think multiple workstations or counters with similar/duplicate information and functionality.

Tip: Consider a designated entrance and exit to your inline and island booth with one-way traffic flow.

Storage: We love to touch surfaces, fabric, and screens. That’s not about to change. And for many exhibitors the ability for customers to touch products or navigate through self-guided presentations is critical. However, those items will need to be sanitized throughout the show. Convenient storage of disinfectant sprays and wipes will make that easier and minimize visual clutter in the booth.

Tip: Just as important as cleaning supplies are waste baskets. Discuss with your designer how to integrate them into the look of your booth.

Island Exhibit Designed for COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Technology: Expect QR codes, scanners, augmented reality, motion sensors, and LED screens to be more common in trade show booths. These technologies limit or eliminate touching a surface and many, like QR codes, allow attendees to use their own devices to gather information. How about printed media such as brochures, product sheets, and catalogs? Those will be exclusively digital, and the smarter exhibitors will have solutions to present and send that information in real-time.

Tip: Most lead retrieval systems are designed to do much more than just capture an attendee’s basic information. You probably already knew that… but may not have tapped into those capabilities in the past.

Hybrid Design Solutions: For the first time, exhibitors and designers will need to consider both a physical and a virtual booth. Should they be identical? Not necessarily. It’s much more important that there’s a clear marketing plan that addresses your goals. For most exhibitors, the virtual and physical goals will be the same so the branding, media, presentations, etc. will be identical. However, other exhibitors may decide to present a different message or experience for their virtual attendee vs. physical one.

Tip: Want to save time and money? Treat your Exhibit Designer like a member of your team. The more information they have, the greater the likelihood they’ll hit the mark designing your virtual and physical booths.

Virtual Island Exhibits

COVID-19 Preparedness & Safety Plan

Finally, the State of Nevada just published the Large Gathering Venue COVID-19 Preparedness & Safety Plan. While it doesn’t specifically address design issues, it does provide a detailed checklist of COVID-related safety questions to consider. Many (if not most) apply to exhibitors as they start the design process, develop safety protocols for their staff and attendees, and train employees on best practices in the booth.

Got questions? Contact us or a Classic Exhibits Distributor for more information.

Recent “Sharpen Your Skills” Webinar Recordings

April 27th, 2020 COMMENTS

You Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Hand Sanitizer

Cindi Cody of Xzibits, Inc. and Leanne Roberts of Wanderlust Marketing take us on a fun and informative tour of new promotional products. They share advice on what’s available and what’s appropriate for the COVID environment. It’s not just hand sanitizer and masks. There are a lot more options.

For more information, contact Cindi at https://xzibits.com/ and Leanne at http://www.wanderlustmktg.com/.

Display Supply and Lighting | Design Time

In this interactive webinar, Rob Cohen discusses the newest products from DS&L and how they are being used by clients. You’ll discover how lighting can impact designs ranging from trade shows to TV studios and from corporate environments to architectural projects.

See the WOW that can help your customers stand out from the crowd and achieve their goals. For more information, see https://www.dslgroup.com/.

CORT | Top Event Design Trends in a New World

Kevin Dana, Executive Director of Merchandising and Product Development at CORT Events, reviews the top trends in event design for 2020 and how they will be influenced by the new realities of the trade shows, meetings, and events world in a post-COVID environment.

He discusses how design trends can be applied to promote a sense of well-being and help reduce anxiety when people begin to meet again.

See http://www.cortevents.com for more information.

Ask Emilie Barta | Practical, No Nonsense Advice about Virtual Events

Do you have questions about virtual and hybrid events? Of course you do! In this informal Q&A, virtual event expert, Emilie Barta, answers your questions with practical, no-nonsense advice on the pros and cons of virtual events. Just because your in-person event was cancelled, doesn’t mean you should replicate it online.

See http://www.emiliebarta.com for more information.

Don’t Get Tripped Up! | Trade Show and Event Flooring Trends from Brumark

Are you thinking outside the box when it comes to flooring solutions? There are so many customizable flooring solutions that it’s never been easier to make your space a creative destination for attendees. In this video, Brumark shows you how to use multiple stock products or printable materials to create unique, lightweight designs in a wide variety of colors.

Presented by Stephanie Cochran, Alec Pierson, and Blaize Wheaton. For more information about Brumark, see http://www.brumark.com.

The Three Biggest Secrets to Communicating with Marketing

In this recorded webinar, Lisa Apolinski from 3 Dog Write discusses “The Three Biggest Secrets to Communicating with Marketing (Even with Economic Uncertainty).” With the current economic crisis, effective communication with marketing is more important than ever.

This communication can either be as a strategic partner to discuss how to proceed with upcoming or rescheduled shows, or an informational communication letting you know what has been decided.

Seek Help. Trust Me, You Need It!

December 9th, 2019 COMMENTS

topbanner

Do You Have a Plan? Probably Not.

Most trade show exhibitors don’t have a plan when it comes to exhibition marketing. They purchase a display, which they think is THE PLAN. So before I harangue you with the obvious suggestions, let’s talk. Really talk.

If you are reading this, you are probably a sales/marketing professional with a history of accomplishments. You got there by being persistent, creative, and organized. You rely on Act-On, Marketo, or HubSpot for automation. You use CRM software like SalesForce or Infusionsoft. You have a comprehensive email campaign strategy and track it with Constant Contact, Yesware, or MailChimp.

When you have challenging problems, you tap into consultants for lead generation, sales training, social media, and SEO. And, when it comes to advertising, you have a team dedicated to maximizing your spend and metrics. In this hyper-competitive marketplace, you need every advantage that money, strategy, and discipline can bring.

And Then You Wing It!

Do You Believe in Trade Shows? That’s not meant to be a loaded question. You either do or you don’t. There’s no middle ground because exhibitors who “waffle” when it comes to trade show marketing are mostly wasting their money.

That’s not to say that trade shows are the same as trade shows pre-Internet. They’re not. Trade shows are much more efficient than they used to be because most attendees no longer “walk” the floor. They “research” and “shop” the floor just like they would an online purchase. They’ve already decided which companies they’ll visit days, even weeks before their feet hit the aisle carpet. Getting them to your booth pre-show is more important now than luring them into your booth at the show.

stk313213rknDo You Believe in Metrics and ROI? Of course you do. Imagine conducted a sales/marketing meeting or presentation without metrics. You love numbers. You love studying and reciting them to others like parables from the Bible. You get visibly excited using a spreadsheet to compare the Toledo to the Albuquerque office.

But, when it comes to your trade show marketing, you are like a four-year old with blocks, relying on the # of leads to judge success. Sadly, you pat yourself on the back if the leads are electronic and not a roll of paper cascading off the counter. For most exhibitors, anything beyond that falls into quantitative voodoo. There’s no measuring costs per show, return on sales, or contribution margin per client.

Are You a Good Judge of People? You should be. It’s kinda required for anyone in sales and marketing. At every trade show, you are doing two things:  meeting with customers and suppliers and evaluating your trade show staff. Far too often, we are spectacular at the first and abysmal at the second. We view trade show staffing along the same lines as a wedding invitation — the more the merrier and we pray no one gets so drunk they puke in public. When we do hold staffers accountable, it’s condensed into a pre-show rally which includes 10 minute booth training. It’s a joke.

Are You an Expert in 3D Marketing? I won’t bother to feed your ego on this one. You aren’t an expert. Not even close. You may be an expert at banner ads or print advertising or closing techniques, but you probably don’t know squat about exhibit design and trade show marketing. How do I know? Experience working with exhibitors and walking shows. Now, don’t misunderstand me. You know marketing and you know sales, but you decided at some point to believe that trade show marketing is more of the same. It is and it isn’t, and you’ll blow a ton of money until you know what works and what doesn’t.

Take Some Advice from a Trade Show Professional

VK-5088aaI mean this literally. Take some advice from a trade show professional.

1. Work with your Exhibit House. Exhibit Houses and Distributors do much more than design and build exhibits. They work with exhibitors on strategy, show services, ROI tracking, booth training, etc. They see the painful mistakes that their clients make that cost them money and prevent them from succeeding at trade shows. Believe me . . . they want your trade show marketing to be wildly successful. That way you’ll add more shows to your schedule, you’ll purchase new exhibits, and you’ll tap into their services.

2. Work with Independent Consultants. Like any industry, the trade show industry has seasoned independent consultants who want to share their advice for a fee. Some are generalists. Others specialize in booth staff training or ROI measuring or social media marketing or lead generation or overall trade show marketing. They know their stuff. They are paid to know their stuff. Don’t know who they are? Ask your exhibit house or use this niffy tool called Google. That said . . . always get references and do your homework.

3. Become an Expert. You can either continue to whine or you can take classes at EXHIBITORLIVE. There are hundreds of classes each year on every imaginable topic related to trade shows and trade show marketing. The classes are a great place to meet industry professionals and share your successes and failures with colleagues. For such a big industry, it’s actually a very small community.

No one can know everything. And what’s true for marketing automation software or social media advertising is also true for trade shows. Know what you don’t know and for everything else, seek help.

Cheers!

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

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

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.


 

Download “What’s So Funny About Trade Shows?” — A New Book on Trade Show Marketing

December 4th, 2019 COMMENTS
What's So Funny About Trade Shows Book

We are delighted to announce the publication of “What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? A Humorous Guide to Effective Trade Show Marketing.” This guide takes a lighthearted approach to understanding the mysteries of trade show and exhibition marketing.

For most marketing professionals, trade shows represent one of their biggest challenges. Far too often, exhibitors waste a lot of money learning how to be successful at a trade show or exhibition. This book removes some of the mystery and pain. Sort of like getting a root canal while under the influence of laughing gas.

Tim Patterson of TradeshowGuy Exhibits recently reviewed the book saying, “As an introduction to tradeshow marketing, or as a refresher if you’ve been exhibiting for years, What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? is a great addition to any marketing library. Highly recommended!” Click here to see the full review.

Articles include:

  • What Zombies Can Teach Us About Trade Show Marketing
  • Dumb Stuff People Do at Trade Shows
  • What Not to Wear at a Trade Show
  • Your Trade Show Booth Staff Kinda Sucks
  • Plus 11 More Articles to Up Your Trade Show Game

What’s So Funny” is available as a FREE PDF download, and also for purchase via Amazon as a Kindle or paperback print edition.

What's So Funny About Trade Shows

Up Your Game Newsletter ~ October 2019

October 18th, 2019 COMMENTS

Now for Something Completely Different

Those with a few grey hairs will recognize this line from Monty Python as the abrupt, often nonsensical transition from one skit to another. In this month’s newsletter, we share videos, blog posts, and a 1960’s car ad from Classic Distributor Partners. In other words, something different.

We think you’ll enjoy how cleverly they market their exhibit companies. Are you promoting your company in creative ways? Please let us know.  

(2) Empire Display Solutions Videos

At Classic Exhibits, we rarely see show photos, let alone videos of the exhibits we design and build. However, Matthew Houck of Empire Display Solutions shared two professionally edited videos from Natural Products East.

The videographer is James Morano, and Matt and Aniyah Haynes narrate. Jeff Garrett and Alex Lebedev were the PMs and Kim DiStefano the Designer.

Both show how our collaboration with Empire Display Solutions resulted in two amazing custom exhibits.

See the YouTube previews below or click on these links: Threshold (20 x 30) and PICNIK Austin (10 x 10).

Tradeshow Guy Blog Posts

One of the best bloggers in the trade show industry is Tim Patterson, aka The Tradeshow Guy. He posts, on average, about three blogs a week, including his weekly Monday Morning Coffee video and podcast. His trade show marketing advice is consistently practical, personal, and fun to read.

I’ve learned a lot from Tim over the years and often give his books to new Classic employees as an introduction to the industry. Although we don’t agree on everything, like whether “trade show” should be one or two words, we do agree that trade show marketing is a craft learned from skilled professionals. Below are some recent blog posts.

USA Exhibits and Gear – Jim Munro

This has nothing to do with trade shows, but a lot to do with marketing, creativity, and humor. Jim Munro owns USA Exhibits and Gear in Fresno, CA. Recently, he posted the following in LinkedIn about his dad.

In Jim’s words… “I wanted to share this piece of family history from the early 1960’s. My dad was a California auto dealer who specialized in sourcing and selling specialty, hi-performance cars that were popular during this period. The following is a clip from our local newspaper, The Fresno Bee, in 1963.

I know there are some Gearheads out there that will appreciate the creative descriptions. Yes, he was quite a character!”