Exhibiting Strategy

Hiring a Trade Show Specialist

Posted by Andy Keeler on July 07, 2009
Trade Show Information, Trade Show Marketing / No Comments

Navigating the complex world of event marketing can be a daunting task. Fortunately there are trained professionals who can be hired to simplify the process. Trade show specialists are trained professionals who understand the nuances of the trade show environment as well as strategies to help you make the most of your exhibiting program. If you are looking to hire a trade show specialist for your next event, here are some things to look for:

1- Depth of experience in the trade show industry. The most valuable lessons in trade show marketing can only be learned with time. If a trade show specialist has a wide range of experience related to trade shows, chances are good that the specialist will be a big help to your program.

2- Positive recommendations from past clients. If previous clients have been pleased with the performance of the trade show specialist, you will know for sure that they have something positive to offer to exhibitors.

3- If possible, the trade show specialist should have experienced working in your industry. If they have spent the majority of their career working in a particular industry that is unrelated to yours, you may find that their success was the result of their industry knowledge and not their knowledge of trade shows.

Trade show specialists can make a huge difference in the success of your exhibiting program, especially if you lack experience in trade show marketing. I highly recommend that you at least consider the possibility of hiring a trade show specialist before your next event.

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Maintaining Resolve and Improving Your Exhibiting Program

Posted by Andy Keeler on March 05, 2009
Business Information, Exhibiting Strategy, Trade Show Marketing / 3 Comments

Attendees will be drawn to your trade show booth if you consistently invest in improving your trade show marketing program year after year. Too often we find that companies are content with “just showing up”, and have all but given up on their exhibiting efforts. As a result, their exhibiting program performs more poorly each year until it is eventually removed from the company’s marketing budget. The lesson here is simple: showing up is not enough. It will be obvious to your attendees that you did not put in the effort needed to gain their interest, and your investment in trade show marketing will be worthless.

Successful exhibiting programs are usually operated by experts who understand the importance of consistency. Year after year, these companies find exciting ways to engage attendees, which keeps them coming back for more. Gimmicks and swag are not enough, you need to release new, substantive information each time you return to a show. Showing up year after year with the same product line, the same brochures, and the same ideas is a quick way to lose the interest of visitors. Each new year should maintain the overall branding message your company wants to send, but your exhibit graphics, trade show literature, and your general industry ideas should be new and fresh.

If you’re short on exhibiting ideas, one of the best ways to get your wheels turning is to attend events that are similar to the trade show where you will be exhibiting. Take special note of trade show displays that catch your eye, and try to isolate what specific features of the exhibits caught your attention. Look for ways to improve your existing booth without spending an arm and a leg. If you see graphics that catch your eye, would it be possible to re-skin your exhibit with new graphics? If a particularly well lit environment drew your attention, you could purchase additional trade show lights to spruce up your booth. Remember that the best improvements to your marketing program will be substantive improvements, not cosmetic improvements, so take particular note of exhibiting strategies or marketing programs that catch your eye, and try to glean what you can from them.

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Promotional Deals Expiring March 31, 2009

Shopping for trade show displays and exhibit graphics has never been more affordable than it is right now. In addition to drastically reduced prices for 2009, MODdisplays is offering additional savings in the form of promotions that are valid through March 31, 2009. Taking advantage of these coupon codes and special savings can help you make the most of your exhibiting budget.

  • Free shipping on hanging signs. When you purchase a hanging sign through our online store, use the coupon code “HS-SHIP” to receive ground shipping on your hanging sign at no cost to you.
  • Free carry bag with any Xpressions tabletop display. When you purchase an Xpressions tabletop display, receive a free padded carrying bag for a limited time. Call 877.663.3976 to redeem this limited time offer.
  • Free shipping on Entasi displays. Receive free shipping on any Entasi display by using the coupon code “ENTSHIP” at checkout.
  • Free banner stand light with the purchase of any Expand banner stand. For a limited time only, receive a free banner stand light with the purchase of any Expand banner stand. Please call 877.663.3976 to take advantage of this special offer.

If you have questions about any of our promotional offers, feel free to call 877.663.3976 or email sales@moddisplays.com.

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Using Cash Cubes at Trade Shows

Depending on the type of company you are promoting, cash cube money machines can be an effective way to attract attention to your trade show booth. Everyone loves to watch important business executives grabbing helplessly at dollar bills in a telephone booth, and there is no doubt that a money blowing machine will increase foot traffic. Before investing in renting or purchasing a machine though, you need to consider whether a money machine will attract the kind of attention you’re looking for.

If your company sells consumer goods, cash cubes may be a great investment. Consumers do not require serious courting from marketing companies. However, if your company deals in the business to business marketing environment, you may want to avoid money machines. Many business clients will be turned off by gimmicky promotions, and will require more serious trade show marketing strategies.

Once you’ve decided that a cash cube is right for your company, try to get an important executive in your money machine. If you can enlist a trade show speaker or an important corporate sponsor to stop by your booth and get inside your money machine, you have an excellent promotional opportunity that you can capitalize on. With the right pre-show marketing, you can be absolutely sure that attendees will flock to see the keynote speaker at your event grasping at dollar bills.

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Exhibiting 101

Posted by Andy Keeler on August 28, 2008
Exhibiting Strategy, Trade Show Information, Trade Show Marketing / No Comments

Exhibiting at a trade show can be a daunting challenge, but through the application of a few basic principles, the process can be very manageable. Even seasoned trade show marketing professionals struggle to manage every aspect of their program, and every veteran will tell you that there is no such thing as a perfect event. If you are in charge of the exhibiting program for your company, you should be focused on increasing the return on your investment through best practices in exhibiting, and some of those practices are listed below:

1- Plan well in advance. Flights, hotel rooms, and exhibit space are all less expensive when you book early. In addition to the huge savings, planning out your exhibiting program well in advance will allow you more time to detect and fix mistakes. The number of exhibitors who wait until the last minute to purchase their trade show display or promotional products is astounding, especially considering the fact that those who plan well in advance usually have a more successful exhibiting experience.

2- Work to attract attendees long before the trade show begins. A good part of trade show marketing occurs even before the event begins through pre-show mailers and press releases. It is important to let your potential clients know that you will be exhibiting as well as what products and/or services you will be marketing. Many attendees only visit booths that are on their itinerary (which they create before the show even begins). If you’re not on that list, even the best exhibit on earth won’t help you make a sale.

3- Train your booth staffers well. Your people will always be the focal point of your trade show booth from the perspective of potential clients, so you need to have knowledgeable staffers who understand your products and your brand. Many successful marketing programs have been ruined when booth staffers unwittingly sabotage relationships with potential clients. Carefully review the basics of your company’s marketing program including your best selling points, competitive advantages, and your branding basics.

4- Invest in a hybrid display with a clean, modern look. If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you know that curved popup displays dominate the landscape. Although popup displays are very affordable and easy to setup, they virtually guarantee that you will blend in with the crowd at your next conference, which is usually not the best idea. Most companies work hard to stand out and differentiate themselves from other exhibitors to attract the maximum amount of attendees.

5- Develop a strategy to collect and follow up on leads you generate at the conference. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, almost 90% of leads generated at trade shows are never followed up on. This means that by developing an effective strategy for following up on the leads you generate, you will increase the return on your investment by over 900% when compared with your competitors. A simple, focused approach to trade show marketing will take you further than the flashiest literature or the most well configured trade show exhibit.

Trade show marketing is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Through the application of these simple tips, you should see a drastic increase in the return on your investment at your next event.

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Solidify Your Branding Efforts

Before you take your first steps in the world of trade show marketing, you need to have a clear idea about what you want your company and your brand to represent to potential clients. Flashy graphics and slick marketing material won’t help you grow your customer base unless you have something to offer. Before you waste any energy designing marketing material or graphics, here are some things that should already be decided:

  • Type of products and/or services you offer.
  • Where you fit into the market (high-end or low-end, consumer sales or business sales, etc).
  • A slogan that describes your company in a clear but concise way.

Trade shows are crowded, confusing environments, and it is very important that you set yourself apart from the rest of the exhibitors and leave a memorable impression. However, many exhibitors remember to be unique but forget to tell potential clients anything about what they actually do. Potential clients are not interested in your eye-catching exhibit, they are interested in your products.

With years of experience in exhibit design and graphic design, the professionals at MODdisplays know what it takes to solidify your branding efforts.  Our professional design teams make sure that you end up with an eye-catching booth, but we also make sure that important information about your company is relayed to your potential clients.

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The Definition of Lead Management

Reports suggest that almost 90% of leads generated at trade shows are never followed up. This astounding statistic makes it clear that lead management should be a priority in your trade show marketing program. Many exhibitors focus heavily on their trade show display system and their promotional products, leaving little or no capital or energy to be spend on lead management training and tools.

According to Dave Bailey at TechTarget, the definition of lead management is “to increase the likelihood that a lead will convert into a new, satisfied customer”. This definition highlights an important idea about lead management, which is that every lead must be managed individually. There is no cookie cutter way to manage every lead that will come your way, your company needs to take a personal interest in every qualified lead you receive.

Lead management on the trade show floor should amount to more than business card swapping. Business cards contain contact information, not lead information. In order to collect leads, you need to know what the potential client is interested in, the nature of their business, their timeframe for purchasing, their budget, and some objective measure of the likelihood that they will make a purchase from your company. Without this information, your sales staff back at the office will be starting cold, which appears unprofessional to potential clients. When you have recorded all the information in an accessable way, your sales staff will have no trouble prioritizing which leads they follow up on and picking up where you left off at the conference.

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Entrepreneur Highlights Best Practices in Exhibiting

In a recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine, Nichole Torres highlighted a few of the exhibiting practices of Anna Sabino on behalf of Lucid New York Jewelry. According to the article, Sabino spent a good deal of time investigating effective trade show marketing techniques by walking other trade shows as an attendee. This experience gave her insight into what works and what doesn’t with regards to exhibiting and allowed her to make a big impression at her event.

According to the article, simple and clean exhibit design will help your company stand out in the clutter as opposed to busy and confusing exhibit design. Sabino “used mirrors and warm colors to create a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere” according to the article, which is textbook exhibiting practice. It is always important to make visitors to your booth feel welcomed and comfortable before you begin your sales pitch.

On top of all her efforts, Sabino offered a valuable service to her potential clients. She took the time to do the work for her distributors by creating an attractive display case and picking only her most popular and best-selling products so that her potential clients could easily imagine what it would be like to sell her products in their retail environment. According to the article, her sales exceeded $600,000 this year, which is great for a three-year-old startup company.

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Using a Loss Leader at Conferences

The goal of every exhibitor is to initiate contact with potential clients and continue to build relationships with existing clients. Offering a few of your non-core products at or below cost will attract the interest of potential clients who may not have otherwise been interested in your company. The concept of selling a product at or below cost to attract more new customers is foreign to many business-owners, and it certainly won’t work for everyone, but using a loss leader can be a great trade show marketing strategy.

When you sell a non-core product at cost, you leave your client with the impression that your company is price competitive in every area of business. When they suddenly find themselves in need of your core products, they will assume that you are the cheapest because your loss leader was so cheap. This perception needs to be reinforced in reality (i.e. you need to actually sell your core products at competitive prices) in order to keep the client happy with your company.

Here are some things to consider when selling products as a loss leader:

  • Your products should be related to what your business actually does. If you primarily sell office furniture, you could offer a few office accessories at or below cost. You want to avoid selling your core products at or below cost so that you do not confuse your customers and devalue your brand.
  • Your loss leader product should require little or no customer support after the sale. If you’re already selling a product below cost, the last thing you want is a customer service nightmare when the products break or become damaged weeks after the sale.
  • If your company does not keep detailed financial records, you will never be able to make an educated decision about when and if you can use a loss leader in your trade show marketing program.

If you choose to integrate a loss leader into your program, make sure it is well advertised at your event both on your trade show display and in your exhibit literature. If you forget to let people know about your special, you cannot properly evaluate its effectiveness on your target market.

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Interlocking Tile Trade Show Flooring

Interlocking tile trade show flooring has many advantages over traditional roll flooring. In the past, exhibitors would buy flooring in one large piece (10′ x 10′), and roll the flooring up to store it in a case. There are many problems with this type of flooring, and interlocking soft carpet flooring is a much better solution.

SoftCarpet Trade Show Flooring

The most obvious advantage is the savings in shipping. Interlocking carpet tiles break down into much smaller cases, which allows you to save money when shipping your carpet via UPS or FedEx. Roll flooring must be shipped in large cases such as the SmartPak, which can cost hundreds of dollars to ship across the country.

When your roll flooring arrives at the trade show, it will always retain at least some memory from being rolled up in shipping. This means that the corners of your booth will always curl up slightly, which is a very unattractive feature that can be easily avoided with puzzle flooring. Puzzle flooring ships flat, which makes curling a thing of the past.

If you damage a part of your roll flooring, you must replace the entire 10′ x 10′ section, which will cost you a small fortune. If you damage a part of your puzzle flooring, you only need to replace the damaged piece, which is much cheaper. Although interlocking soft flooring is relatively durable, the trade show environment will almost always produce damaged items, and it is important to know the replacement cost before you make an investment.

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