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Trade Show Tips

Impact Displays Best Trade Show Tips and Best Practices to make your next trade show or event a huge success.

We have assembled the following trade show tips and best practices about trade show displays and trade show success based on years of helping our customers have great trade shows. We update it constantly and would love to hear from you if you have a tip. Otherwise, print it, save it, share it - it's your to help in whatever way it can. Good Luck!


TRADE SHOW TIPS - CHOOSING THE RIGHT DISPLAY

Once you’ve set your objectives and your trade show calendar for the year, the next step is to choose a trade show display. The exhibit decision should be based on your specific show objectives, your company's budget, and your branding goals and guidelines. Companies with larger budgets and the goal of being seen as an industry leader can consider larger booths like truss displays and modular displays. Companies with smaller budgets and less ambitious branding goals may opt for a trade show display rental or the purchase of a pop up, fabric display or banner stand to attract trade show visitors.

Pop up display are the most popular booth option for 10X10 spaces and for sales events and conferences. There are a broad range of pop-ups available today - from standard (convex) shapes to fabric pop ups displays. Some of the key factors to look at in selecting a pop-up are durability, ease of setup, availability, fabric colors, and warranty. Pop-ups can be complemented with shelving, peninsula counters, backlit endcaps, literature displays, and other Trade show accessories which can convert an ordinary pop-up into a stand-out trade show display!

Panel Displays are an alternative to pop-ups, and, depending on their quality and counter top options, can provide a higher end look than a pop-up. Panel displays generally hold more weight than pop-ups so they can work well if you have heavier products to display or a number of computer monitors. Panel displays also have options for counters and cabinets, which can be convenient if your company needs to store or present a lot of products. Panel displays are particularly popular with companies that have a retail focus, since they can be designed to look like a retail display.

Modular exhibits are higher end exhibits that provide a custom look but can still be setup in a few hours and can be shipped in standard rotomolded plastic cases. Modular exhibits generally use higher end materials including tension fabric graphics, extruded aluminum frames, high end composites and laminates, and innovative bold designs. Modular exhibits will hold more weight and can also be used to hold large plasma screens and LDC panels. These displays also have the capability of supporting a broad range of workstation, cabinet and counter options. Finally, most modular displays are easily reconfigured, so that a 10 x 20 display may become (with some small modifications) 2 separate 10 x 10 displays.

Truss displays provide a bold, innovative, and unique look to a display. They are also excellent functional components that can be used to mount lighting, projectors, and Plasma or LCD panels. The high weight bearing capacity of truss systems also makes them great for displaying heavier weight products. They also have a distinctive design aesthetic that works well with certain target markets. Truss displays are often used in conjunction with other displays like pop-up displays and panel displays.

Custom displays  provide the ultimate in branding and high impact. They are completely custom built so they can be designed to meet very specific show objectives and may include elements like rotating towers, theater spaces, conference areas, and numerous product/service display stations. Given the higher cost of design, construction, shipping, and install and dismantle (I&D), these exhibits are best suited for companies willing to spend $40,000 or more for their display. The payoff in a custom exhibit can be huge since it sets you apart from the competition and creates a locked in memory of industry leadership.


TRADE SHOW TIPS - TRADE SHOW GRAPHICS

Designing great graphics for your booth is critical to setting yourselves apart from the competition. Some important tips to keep in mind are:

Graphic imagery tends to be more compelling than a lot of text.

Use logos or text sizes that can be seen clearly from 20 feet away - remember, the goal is to bring them into your booth.

Don't try to get all your benefits on the graphics - that's what you're there for, after all. Be brief.

Emphasize a theme that will be consistent in all the graphics.


TRADE SHOW TIPS - CHOOSING THE RIGHT SHOW

With so many shows and conferences to choose from, exhibitors need to determine which trade show will best meet their objectives. To choose the trade shows that best meets your marketing objectives you’ll need to do some research.

- If it is a new trade show, check with your suppliers, competitors and customers to see if they are supporting it

- Ask the organizers about the attendees and visitors - how many they are expecting, how many are from your target market, and what mix of job titles and responsibilities are represented.

- Check out the current list of exhibitors - are your competitors there?

- Understand your total costs. What are the costs of the booth space and what is included; booth hardware and lighting, flooring upgrades, lead retrieval equipment, trash cans, carpet cleaning, etc.

- Examine the show organizes. how long have the organizers been in business, what other shows do they run, and how long have they been running those shows?


TRADE SHOW TIPS - OBJECTIVES

Written objectives are the foundation for a successful show. Successful exhibitors set multiple objectives before reserving a booth at a trade show. Use SMART objectives that are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related.

What do you want to get out of the show or event? 

Do you expect to sell a particular amount of inventory at the trade show, or expect to become known to a certain number of wholesale suppliers? Are you focusing on promotion or hoping to launch a new product?

You can have more than one goal, of course, but the point is that you need to be clear about what your participation in the trade show is going to achieve.
Next, determine which visitors/buyers will help you to achieve your objectives and talk to trade show organizers to find the right show.

Written objectives will help you decide on the right size booth and the number of booth staff required. For example, if your objective is to obtain 200 top-quality leads, how many visitors would you have to meet to find the right potential buyers of your product. If one out of every four visitors, was a potential buyer, then your booth should be big enough to accommodate 800 visitors during the trade show.

Objectives will also help you determine the right pre-show promotions to build qualified traffic to your booth, plus the right products and display to appeal to your target market.

If you don't have the budget for a big booth, with lots of staff, then reduce your objectives accordingly and consider a more affordable alternative like a pop-up display that still gives you a presence at the show. Written objectives allow you to determine the cost-effectiveness of exhibiting compared with other marketing medias.


TRADE SHOW TIPS - INTEGRATED MARKETING

Successful exhibiting incorporates other marketing communication elements like print, advertising, direct mail, PR, corporate communications and the Internet. When used together, the combined efforts of all marketing tools produce better results than when they’re used individually.

When trade shows are integrated into the annual marketing mix, far better results are achieved.


TRADE SHOW TIPS - CHOOSING THE RIGHT BOOTH SPACE

If you have formulated trade show objectives, then you will have already established what products you will be promoting at the show, how many visitors you expect at your booth and the staffing required. Next, consider seating, hospitality, demonstration, office, storage areas and in-booth promotions. Allow floor area for everything, which will drive your booth size requirement.

Visitors enter an exhibition and turn right, because we drive on the right. Therefore, if you want visitors to see your display first, then the right-hand side of the exhibition is best. Corner booths and those fronting major features like the entrance and restaurant, are the most visible.

Your total exhibit budget forms the basis of the decision to exhibit. The show organizers will allow you to place a hold on the selected booth, that places neither party under any legal obligation. Once the hold is placed on a booth, then the other associated costs can be calculated, allowing you to judge the expected expenditure against the expected results.


TRADE SHOW TIPS - PRE-SHOW PROMOTIONS

Research reveals that exhibitors who undertake pre-show promotions, to build quality visitors to their booth, improve results by 300%. Study your written trade show objectives and determine who you would like to visit your booth, then aim all pre-show promotions at them. Numerous promotional media options are available, depending on your objectives and budget:

INVITATIONS - the organizers will supply you with complimentary invitations to the trade show. It is recommended that these accompany your pre-show mailers.

FEATURE/SHOW SUPPLEMENT - many organizers arrange a show supplement in the National press and this is a good place to advertise or place editorial, as it reaches the widest audience.

COMPETITIONS - launch a competition where buyers have to visit your booth, to enter. 
FREE SERVICE - offer a free service to all show visitors, which the organizers would be only too happy to promote, as it adds value to an trade show visit.

INTERNET - most organizers have a web-site for their trade shows and if it includes an exhibitor listing, is a great way to build visitors to your company home page.

DIRECT MAIL - Include a show special offer, a buy-one-get-one-free offer or a giveaway that they can collect from your booth. The quality of the data-base is the most important factor in gaining the best response from direct mail.

All pre-show promotions should create a benefit for the prospect, whether or not they visit the trade show. Remember to include a complimentary invitation to the trade show.


TRADE SHOW TIPS - IN-BOOTH PROMOTIONS

The most successful trade show booths include demonstrations. Every product or service can be demonstrated. Buyers visit trade shows to see products in action, which they can't get from advertisements and other one-dimensional media.

The value of pre-show promotions is to build qualified traffic to your booth rather than just hoping that good prospects will happen to walk by. Giveaways in the booth are also useful since they create a lasting impression.

TRADE SHOW TIPS - EFFECTIVE BOOTHS
The booth is a tool to draw trade show attendees to your booth, project and reinforce your corporate branding, and help your sales staff sell.

Various display options are available which include renting a booth, buying a booth or display system, or customizing the shell scheme provided by the trade show organizers. If you exhibit even once a year, it might be worthwhile to purchase a display system which is portable, re-configurable, and which can be put-up and taken-down by your own staff.

Every display should have good graphics which clearly state who you are, what you do and key product selling points, and clear concise benefit statements. Keep wording to a minimum as visitors will walk past your booth in seven seconds and in that time should know who you are, what you are selling and what the product can do for them. 


TRADE SHOW TIPS - BOOTH MANAGERS

Successful exhibitors appoint a trade show booth manager who has prior experience, management support, and the necessary authority to work with all departments in your company regarding the show strategy, staffing, promotions, and procedures. 
Booth Managers should be involved in your trade show participation from the formulation of written objectives, right through to the processing of leads, after the show.


TRADE SHOW TIPS - LEAD MANAGEMENT


Your pre-show and on-show promotions and display are all aimed at generating the greatest number of quality leads but without a plan for managing, processing and converting those leads to orders, the benefits of the trade show would be wasted.

Ideally, the manager’s responsibility should be extended to monitoring lead processing since casual handling of show leads is the most common reason for poor results from trade shows.


TRADE SHOW TIPS - BOOTH STAFF

Booth staff are a vital ingredient to a successful event. If you think of the venue as the theatre, the show as the play, the display as the performance space and scenery, then your booth staff are the actors - and we all know how bad actors can ruin a good play! Therefore, careful staff selection is vital for successful booths.

The sheer volume of visitors at trade shows, makes staff rotation important. Booth staff should not work longer than 4 hours before having, at least a one hour break. Uniforms for booth staff are professional and identify them as company representatives who are willing to meet and assist show visitors.

It is important for booth staff to share your commitment for maximum results. The best way is to create a contest or financial motivation scheme that rewards the number of leads gained or orders placed. A good incentive scheme can improve performance by 200 - 300%

All information for booth staff, like hours to be worked, uniform to be worn, financial motivation, lead management procedures should be put in writing, to avoid any misunderstandings. 


TRADE SHOW TIPS - THE SHOW

The decision to participate in a trade show should always be based on the numbers; what it's going to cost against the benefits you expect to receive. 
Once you have formulated your trade show budget, stick to it ruthlessly and do not be panicked into last-minute additions. Successful trade show participation takes time, so start early and return all forms to the organizers, by due date. 
Before the trade show opens, prepare your first direct-mail piece for new prospects, to be posted immediately after the show. 
The real work starts once the trade show has closed, as you start processing the leads gained.

 

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