Putting Attendees in the Driver Seat

The expression “in the driver seat” originated with car salesmen who discovered the value of putting their customers in control of the vehicle. These salesmen discovered that potential customers were much more likely to close the deal quickly when they were allowed to experience the car to the fullest extent. The experience of being behind the wheel of a car is more powerful for the potential customer than anything a car salesman can say.

If a sense of control is important to creating confidence in a person who is looking to purchase a vehicle, how can we apply this principle to the trade show environment? The answer to this question depends on the type of products and/or services you are selling, but one fact remains consistent: You need your potential customers to experience your product first hand. Simply describing it to them or providing information about your product will not be as effective as putting the product in their hands and under their control.

If you sell software or web-based computer applications, allow your customers to use the full version of your product at demo stations within your booth. By letting them experience the interface of your product first hand, they are much more likely to make a purchasing decision on the spot. Even the most effective brochure or sales pitch will leave the potential client with questions and doubts.

If you sell physical products (such as machines, gadgets, tools, or equipment), allow your potential customers to hold the product in their hand. If possible, allow them to use the product in an application similar to the way they would use the product in the real world. The tactile sensation of handling your product and using it in a practical application will reinforce a purchasing decision in your customer’s mind.

Trade shows are so successful because they afford companies the opportunity to meet their customers and potential customers face to face. If you only provide brochures, sales pitches, and branding material, you are not taking full advantage of the face to face interaction. You can send your customers brochures, sales pitches, and branding material by email, so why do that in person? The best way to take advantage of direct marketing is to put your products in the hands of your potential clients. You will be amazed with the results.

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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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Motivating Your Booth Staffers

If your booth staffers are not driven to succeed, even the best trade show marketing strategy in the world cannot save your company from a disastrous exhibiting experience. At business to business trade shows, the people who man your booth will be the single most important factor in determining the overall success of your marketing program. Booth staffers should be outgoing, friendly, and professional, but never pushy or long-winded. They should recognize that everything about their appearance, demeanor, speech, and body language will reflect directly on your company’s image, and that creating a great image is what trade shows are all about. So what can you do to motivate your booth staffers to be top-notch exhibitors?

1-  Take care of their most basic needs. Nothing breeds frustration among employees more quickly than being undercompensated on their trip. If you put your employees in a cheap hotel room and give them a meager stipend for food, they will be less likely to perform at their highest capacity on the trade show floor.

2- Offer incentives for gathering leads and making sales on the trade show floor. It is always much easier for people to work hard for their own benefit than for the benefit of their company, so offering incentives is an easy way to improve the performance of your booth staffers.

3- Take care to pick the right booth staffers in the first place. Although senior members of your sales staff may love to travel and exhibit at trade shows, they may be less motivated to do well than a young, ambitious sales person who works hard to impress. In addition to the fact that younger, more ambitious sales staff usually do better at trade shows, it will cost your company less money to send employees who earn less per hour.

4- Allow your booth staffers to be a part of the exhibiting process from the beginning. They will be much more comfortable working within the confines of your trade show exhibit if they played a role in the planning and development process. Who would want to be a part of a marketing campaign that they don’t believe in?

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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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Consistency and Longevity in Marketing

Building brand awareness can take decades, especially if your company operates within a small niche. Consistency and longevity are important for any marketing professional, as they show your customers and competitors that you are dedicated to meeting your long term objectives. Strong, enduring companies pace themselves and only take on the challenges that they can adequately handle, which allows them to keep their brand in front of customers consistently over a long period of time.

How many times have you witnessed a strong company aggressively take on more marketing challenges than they can handle? Inevitably, they run out of motivation, manpower, or money; and their short term approach fades into oblivion. If you know that your advantage over your competitors is your dedication and determination, you can actually force your competitors into this position by making them compete on your terms for market share.

Trade show marketing is no different. Many companies exhibit in large spaces, and wind up spending much more on their trade show booths than they budgeted. Their large exhibit space looks under-staffed and inadequate for the space, and the event winds up being a disaster for the exhibitor. It is always better to pick a small niche where you know you can be the best than to try and keep up with your larger, more capitalized competitors. Reserving a small exhibit space will allow you to outfit and staff your space properly, and may end up driving more traffic to your booth than an underfunded space.

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Exhibit Showcase: Week 4

Posted by Andy Keeler on October 13, 2008
Exhibit Showcase, Trade Show Accessories, Trade Show Displays / No Comments
  • Display Type: Tension Fabric
  • Booth Size: 20′ x 20′
  • Special Accommodations: N/A
  • Price Range: $20,000 – $50,000
  • Turnaround Time: 7 business days
  • Setup Time: 2 – 4 hours

MarketStar Tension Fabric Booth

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Top 5 Trade Show Marketing Mistakes

Despite what industry professionals would have you believe, trade show marketing is not rocket science. If you apply common sense to your exhibiting program, you can avoid some common mistakes and pitfalls that plague exhibitors and cost companies money. If you are looking to improve the return on your investment at your next event, you can start by avoiding the following mistakes:

Mistake #1 – Failing to follow up with potential clients after the event.

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, almost 90% of the leads generated at trade shows are never followed up. This number is absolutely astounding when you consider the massive revenue that trade shows generate. You can immediately multiply the results of your marketing efforts by 9 simply by following up with potential clients after the show. For this reason, failing to follow up with clients is the single biggest and most common mistake in trade show marketing.

Mistake #2 – Failure to differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors.

It’s important for your company to stand out and make a memorable impact upon visitors and attendees. Unwilling to take a risk, many companies simply blend into the background and make no effort to positively impact attendees. This is a huge mistake. Before you can differentiate yourself from your competition, you need to understand what makes your company special. What makes your customers purchase from you instead of your competitors? Where exactly does your company fit into the market? What advantages do you have over your competition? If you can answer these questions, you already have all the tools you’ll need to set yourself apart at your next event.

Mistake #3 – Failure to offer incentives to lure potential clients to your trade show booth.

Trade shows are entirely different today than they were 10 years ago. Although you are likely to get some serious foot traffic even without incentives, every visitor counts. Incentives are a great way to garner extra foot traffic without much additional cost. High quality trade show giveaways and other trade show attractions will bring visitors into your exhibit space, but you need to be careful to avoid gimmicky or deceptive incentives, or you may ruin your marketing efforts.

Mistake #4 -Failure to choose the best possible trade show to exhibit at.

If you exhibit at a trade show and you generate very little interest in your products and/or services, chances are good that you chose your event poorly. The ideal place to exhibit is an event that is swarming with people from your target market and free of your competitors. Successful trade show marketing specialists look for these types of events by thinking creatively about their target market and the best way to reach them.

Mistake #5 – Failure to design a high-impact trade show display.

Designing trade show display graphics can be a daunting task, even for an experienced and qualified graphic designer. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of passing visitors and attendees, and a properly designed trade show exhibit can make a huge impact on potential clients. Your trade show display should serve as a jumping off point for your booth staffers to begin the discussion about your products/services and what makes you different from your competitors. If your exhibit does not stand out in the fast-paced trade show environment, you may be sacrificing valuable foot traffic and losing touch with potential customers.

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Your Trade Show Budget

Every exhibitor wants to maximize the return on their investment, and many exhibitors cut costs by carefully analyzing their trade show budget and removing unneeded expenses. You should never make a budget cut that will be detract from the overall quality of your marketing program, but there are many ways to reduce your expenses in ways that are largely invisible to visitors and attendees to your trade show booth. No matter how you choose to cut your budget, it’s important to keep the return on your investment in mind as the overall goal of your campaign. That being said, here are a few discrete ways you can reduce your costs:

  • Take time to figure our exactly how much space you actually need before you register your space. It’s always better to exhibit in a small space that you can properly outfit and staff than to exhibit in a large space that you are unable to properly outfit and staff. Booth registration fees often represent over half of exhibiting expenses, so choosing your space wisely can save your company a lot of money.
  • Keep your eyes open for discounts on show services. Electricity, water, and internet services are not free when you exhibit at a trade show, and you can often save over 50% by signing up for these services early (usually up to 30 days in advance).
  • Order promotional products and trade show giveaways in bulk. Most companies use promotional items in a number of different contexts (not just trade shows), and ordering in bulk can earn deep discounts for your company.
  • Avoid companies that charge rush charges for printing and exhibit services, as this can drastically cut into your trade show budget if you’re crunched for time. At MODdisplays, our model is simple: If we can possibly get it done for you, we will. We never charge rush charges no matter how tight your deadline.
  • Review your invoices after the show is finished. It would not be unusual for event planners to confuse your service orders with those of a neighboring booth and charge you an exorbitant amount. By simply reviewing your invoices, you may catch a number of errors and save your company hundreds of dollars.

When you are able to keep your exhibiting expenses low, you gain an advantage over your competitors that will help you to make a bigger impact at your show. MODdisplays understands the needs of exhibitors, and we work diligently to stay within the tight budgets they have. If you have any questions, please give us a call at 877.663.3976 or email sales@moddisplays.com.

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What Attendees Want

Posted by Andy Keeler on September 01, 2008
Business Information, Trade Show Information, Trade Show Marketing / No Comments

Exhibitors invest huge sums of money every year in their trade show marketing programs, but it is important to remember that attendees (and the businesses they represent) also invest a great deal in trade shows. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, and meals are just a few of the expenses that a typical attendee will need to pay in order to visit an event. When a company has invested thousands of dollars to have its employees attend a trade show, the best thing you can do as an exhibitors is to give them what they want. So what do attendees want?

  • Attendees want to find products and/or services that they are interested in. If you are exhibiting at the wrong event, chances are you will probably have to deal with a lot of frustrated attendees. Conferences are usually targeted at a particular industry, so visitors typically come with a game plan in mind. This game plan may only consist of a few simple goals, but more often than not attendees come with a fully-loaded itinerary. If your booth is out of place at the show, you are going to have trouble attracting qualified visitors.
  • Attendees want a clear, concise description of who you are and what you do. Even if you have beautiful graphics, your trade show display will fail in its purpose if it does not clearly relay your company name and a short positioning statement. Your exhibit should serve as a jumping off point that starts a discussion between your booth staffers and attendees. Attendees want just the right amount of relevant text.
  • Attendees want promotional products and free giveaways. Everyone loves to get things for free, and attendees are no different. Be sure to brand your trade show giveaways clearly with your company name and positioning statement, and be sure you have a virtually unlimited supply on hand (giveaways always vanish much faster than you expect).
  • Attendees want a place to sit down. After 8 – 10 hours on the trade show floor, visitors to your booth may be exhausted and frustrated. If you can provide them with a comfortable place to sit, they’re much more likely to stick around in your booth and hear about your products and/or services. Plan to purchase at least a few pieces of trade show furniture if you have the space, as this will make your exhibit area more inviting to tired attendees.

Pleasing attendees is not complicated once you know what they’re looking for. Remember that the typical attendee has spent almost as much time, money, and energy as an exhibitor to get to the event, so do your best to make it worth the investment.

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