Alexis Exhibits

Get An Apples-to-Apples Cost Comparison on Your Tradeshow Exhibit

Thinking About Changing Exhibit Companies?

Feel like your current tradeshow exhibit service company is holding you hostage? Are you getting the level of service you deserve at a reasonable cost? Is it time to look into a new provider? The most common way to start this process is to do some research, contact a few companies, and request some proposals. The problem, however, is that when the proposals come in, none of them end up looking alike. How are you to compare?

When looking for a new tradeshow booth or services provider it is important to seek out “apples-to-apples” pricing: competitive quotations that are all including the same types of services.

Request an Apples-to-Apples Quotation

There are many different ways a tradeshow exhibit services company can write a quote, which can make comparing them difficult. Also, depending on the company you are dealing with, there can also be many different ways to hide costs that come after everything is said and done. It is important to make sure that all of the quotes you are comparing include everything you need. Otherwise, you may choose what looked to be the most inexpensive quote, but when your tradeshow ends, you can find yourself looking at an invoice with thousands of dollars you were not expecting to have to pay.

The best way to make sure that you are getting an apples-to-apples quotation is by sending companies a format for their proposals. All you have to do is take a current tradeshow exhibit services invoice and copy the descriptions of each line item and ask prospective vendors to fill in their prices for the same items. This way they know exactly what services to price and the final product will be quotations that you can easily compare. You can also learn a great deal about each bidder by seeing how willing they are to participate and how well they follow your directions.

Once you have the numbers, make sure to review each proposal for disclaimers and fine print. Once you’ve narrowed the field, interview each company that is being seriously considered and check their references.

These kinds of apples-to-apples quotations will save you time, and quite possibly a great deal of money.

Extraordinary Trade Show Displays: How to be Best in Show

The fundamentals of effective trade show displays boil down to your story, your staff, and your execution. Before and during the show, there will be plenty of distractions or gimmicks at other booths, but if you relate to your audience and to the context of the broader show, you won’t get lost in the din of the event.

The Best Story

The best trade show displays tell a story—your story—clearly and engagingly. Vagaries, misdirection or over-generalized displays won’t do you or your brand justice. You have to assume that visitors have already been annoyed by other booths that take too long to understand. This doesn’t mean that you have to be boring or robotic in presenting your brand, but it should be relatively straightforward for people to ascertain your basic mission and offerings in about a minute. A clear and upfront story buys you time to expound on your latest projects, rather than clearing up confusion over the basics.

The Best Staff

Send some members of your staff around the show floor to explore other trade show displays. In this way, you’re taking advantage of your presence at the trade show by learning things you can only learn by actually being there. Pay particular attention to your competitors, of course. It’ll make the investment in the show that much more valuable.

When you’re knowledgeable about other displays, you can also anticipate visitors’ reactions, preempt their questions and explain how your services are different or superior to those of others on the floor.

The Best Technology

Remember that a trade show is powerful, old-fashioned, offline interaction. Even if you decide to use screens, computers or other gadgetry for demos, the particular presentations should be unique and unlike anything that a visitor can easily view online at home. At the same time, visitors to your display should be eager to go home and check out your site. The show doesn’t end when you pack up the display. If you present yourself right, it’s only the beginning.

How to Attract Your Ideal Visitor to Your Tradeshow Display

Attracting the ideal visitor to your trade show displays begins well before the day of the show. With a few proactive initiatives and show-day follow-up, you can leave less of your booth attendance to staff and start attracting potential customers.

Preshow Marketing

Preshow marketing can be an effective way of driving interest in your company. Many trade shows today have Twitter hashtags, for example, to which you can refer when making Tweets about your upcoming trade show displays.

Starting conversations on social media sites or joining existing ones in anticipation of the show can help you isolate potential visitors and learn something about them and their interests before show time. At the show, you’ll match a face with the name and, because of your previous discussions, will be more likely to earn a visit.

Game Day Face-Time

Remember, your trade show displays’ best asset is the face-to-face sales time you have with potential clients. Once you’ve attracted your ideal visitor you don’t want to lose them too quickly to another booth or distraction. Do some research and know as much about your ideal visitor as possible. Study the show program and know what education sessions will be popular. Be aware of keynote speakers so that you can initiate a timely and interesting conversation with prospects.

Other staff tips for engaging and retaining visitors:

  • Have a few introductory questions prepared that cannot be answered with yes or no.
  • Remember that each visitor is important and should be treated as such. If, for whatever reason, a discussion has to be cut short, offer to follow up and do so.
  • Standing staffers are better than seated ones. Standing allows for more engagement and mobility while generally showing more interest in your visitors unless, of course, they can pull up a seat next to you.
  • Breathe and stay relaxed.
  • Smile. (Let’s hope you don’t have to teach your team this technique.)

Do you need help with your trade show strategy? Let’s Talk.

Vacuuming Is Not Something to Overlook at Your Trade Show

It is no secret that exhibiting at trade shows, while widely considered the best dollar-for-dollar marketing investment, are chock full of costs. When it comes to saving money at shows, the devil is certainly in the details. Sometimes you can grossly over pay for services you might not think about until you even get to the show.

When exhibiting, people are going to be coming and going in and out of your booth all day for as many days as you are exhibiting. If you have carpet, you are probably going to need to think about vacuuming if you want to keep your booth presentable. If you are not careful, this can result in major costs for you once you get on the floor.

One of my clients, a software company based in California, was exhibiting at a five-day show in Chicago. They had a carpeted 20’ x 40’ booth, so they knew they were going to need some vacuuming services. When they requested this service, we looked into the hall for vacuuming prices. Having the booth vacuumed once every night by the hall would have cost our client over $1000!

Most trade shows will allow you to vacuum your own booth, but if you want someone else to do it, you must use the designated contractor.

Instead of having our client pay such a ridiculous price for something that one of their staff members could do in less than 10 minutes we came up with a solution. We simply made space in one of the shipping crates and included a vacuum cleaner that could be assembled on the floor and then stored in their trade show booth. Their carpet was swept every day for the show, they got the word out about their new products, and the show was a success.

Do You Have The Best Spot at Your Trade Show?

Establish Goals and a Strategic Plan Before the Trade Show

I believe that the best way to choose a spot is to take the time to study the likely behavior of the attendees. At medical shows, there are normally a large number of educational sessions and the path that the attendees will follow will be into the exhibit hall directly from the meeting rooms.

Certain other attractions for attendees are worth considering, if there are large dominant exhibitors in the show it may pay off to be close to these booths. Close proximity to catering, lounge areas, restrooms or association booths could also be considerations.

Marketing executives, who have experience in retail, often opt for “end cap” or peninsula booths. These spaces normally have very restrictive rules pertaining to exhibit design that can turn out to be a disadvantage. Sometimes high volume traffic is undesirable. Too many “tire kickers” can distract the booth staff and allow the real prospects to get away.

I have read about a study conducted at a major national show where RFID sensors were placed in the badges of attendees so that traffic patterns and time studies could be analyzed. The area that got the most traffic and held the exhibitors for the longest time was an area just right of center and just a little farther than halfway into the exhibit hall.

In summary, there is no one answer to picking the right spot. You need to establish goals and a strategic plan and then carefully study the entire show/convention schedule to maximize your return.

Attitude is Everything at a Tradeshow

A Positive Attitude Makes a Difference to the Exhibitors

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to supervise set up of an exhibit for one of my clients at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Now this is not a large show, and the exhibits aren’t massive, but the show was pretty cool.

The products that were being shown were very interesting in their own right, and the fact that the show was held at the Broadmoor Hotel (a world famous 5-star facility) also contributed to the experience. I don’t think the Broadmoor hosts very many trade shows, but in any case, this one has got to be the largest one they do host. The attendees are predominately military or government employees. The exhibit space is spread across two halls, but naturally, all of the exhibitors all want to crowd into the main exhibit hall.

While the hotel and the view of Pike’s Peak is beautiful, in my opinion the most impressive thing about this show was the attitudes of the people working on the showfloor. As set up began, we were all crushed into the main hall. Moving a crate to get to the lid meant moving several crates. The general services contractor (Freeman) struggled to get crates delivered and empties removed. Even in the face of all these difficulties, there was very little stress. I had a problem with the rental carpet that caused a minor delay, which was corrected immediately. The spirit of cooperation and productivity was amazing. Everyone worked hard, was courteous and friendly, and offered to help without being asked no matter which company they were working for.

No one was walking the aisles telling us what we were and weren’t allowed to do. The entire workforce seemed to be thankful for the opportunity to have the work and helped out whenever possible.

I am not sure why attitudes seemed so upbeat, but I can tell you that it makes a big difference to the exhibitors. As cities like Chicago try to find ways to retain trade shows, perhaps they should consider what they can do to change the attitudes of all workers on the show floor.

Tradeshow Lessons from the Mall

It seems like every time my wife and I go shopping at the mall, I get a reminder of what it takes to make exhibiting at a tradeshow a great investment. I think we have all had the same experience – I’m not talking about the big department stores or even the smaller shops that take up most of the space at the mall. I’m referring to the little carts that sit out in the open.

Most of these tiny stores (or kiosks) are staffed by one young person who spends most of their time talking on their cell phone, texting or chatting with friends who stop by. Just like most companies that exhibit at tradeshows, these small businesses are depending on the visual appeal of their products to attract potential customers. While I have no firsthand knowledge of how profitable these carts are, I think it’s safe to say their owners would be thrilled if they could increase sales by 10 – 20% each day.

The exception to the rule are the carts that are selling jewelry or eyeglass cleaner. As you walk by, you will almost always be approached by someone who asks, “Excuse me, ma’am, would you allow me to clean your rings?” or “Excuse me, sir, can I clean your eyeglasses for you?.” I would venture to say that the people that work these carts have been given some training and some incentive. Not only that, I’ll bet that they sell much more of their product than the carts staffed by distracted teens.

My personal favorite is the one demonstrating and selling the foam airplanes that come right back to you when you throw them. Usually, two young people are constantly throwing the planes and they always come right back to them. Just the activity alone makes you stand there and watch, which greatly increases the chances you’ll buy something.

So how does all of this relate to trade shows?

Even though the situations are completely different, there is one common factor. The buyers in each case are human beings. Most human beings respond to similar stimulus. Get the people that work your exhibit to approach prospects with as much energy as the people selling jewelry cleaner. Have some activity in your booth like the people throwing foam airplanes. I’ll bet you’ll see a big improvement in your trade show ROI.

Scheduling Tradeshow Staff

Scheduling and keeping track of booth staffers is a vital bit of information that should not be overlooked during tradeshow preparation. Planning should begin well in advance of the show.

A master schedule binder should be created that includes:

  • All planned meetings in the booth, including times and attendees
  • A list of booth staffer responsibilities, assigning tasks, and a designated time to perform tasks
  • A detailed log of times staffers will be in the booth, on break, or dining.

This binder will be most useful if it is kept at the main reception counter for any staffer to view. A master log of meetings should indicate who the attendee plans to see, and what will be discussed. If a private or semi-private meeting is in order, a conference room or sit down area should be available for guests and staff. Log these times accordingly, and block out conference rooms for this time slot. Some exhibit managers will even go as far to know the potential dollar amount in revenues each and every planned visitor could mean to the company. This is incredibly valuable information to share with all booth staffers, so when an important guest walks in, they are treated cordially and respectfully.

Use your schedule to make responsibilities clear to all staff. If a different group of staff is assigned to setting up, or prepping the booth prior to the show, demand that they be there on time. During the show, indicate who will lock up, power down laptops, and secure valuables at the end of the day. Make sure everyone knows who has locking storage keys, and where they are to be found. Have a crew come in early on days two and three, to power-up, check that everything is working, clean-up, and wipe down any dirty areas. Make sure that the booth is absolutely “show ready” ten minutes prior to the show floor opening.

Have a master phone list available in your binder as well. All staffer phones and emails should be easily available to any and all people in the booth. Include arrival/departure times for each staffer, hotel lodging information, and an emergency contact for each staffer. Be sure to have staffers notify someone if they are running late, or may miss a meeting. Someone else may need to cover for them in the event they cannot make an important meeting, otherwise, an attendee may be put-off and not return. Make sure to include anyone hosting or attending a press conference, and, if it is off location, indicate where and in what rooms. It is critical to know where key people are at all times.

It may sound like a bit of extra work prior to the show, and your schedule can be as simple or complex as you choose, but the time spent is well worth the investment. You will find that adding this level of organization will result in a more organized, responsible, and thoughtful staff, better prepared to meet any challenges on an oftentimes hectic show floor.

Top 10 Tradeshow Display Design Fundamentals

  1. Study the show’s attendees – know how many are expected and which ones represent prospects for you.
  2. Know your position in the convention center – the location of your booth as related to the main entrance, the largest exhibits, food and beverage areas or anything else that is likely to impact attendee behavior.
  3. Think about both long and short range corporate identification – how will prospects find you, and how will they know who you are when they are standing in front of your booth?
  4. Consider an activity to attract attention – live demonstrations, presentations or other booth activities will cause people to stop and watch.
  5. Imagine an important prospect approaching your booth – What will they see? How will they be greeted? How much time will they want to spend with you? How will you record their information for follow up?
  6. Think about the sales process – your booth graphics can be arranged to assist and guide the sales presentation process.
  7. Consider the image that you want to project – make a list of adjectives that describe your corporate image.
  8. Think about the practicalities – presentation stations, storage of briefcases, utilities, meeting areas, video, etc.
  9. Come up with a budget – Not only a number but also what it should include.
  10. Look for photos – Find some images that are examples of booths you like. Be sure to indicate what it is you like about each particular photo.

Thinking about and preparing these things before you contact an exhibit designer will make the process much easier and more efficient. Best of all, with the right preparation, you’ll end up with a design that fits your style and meets your needs!

Trade Show Success: Integrate Live Online Video

Trade shows have always been great PR opportunities because they get press coverage. For decades, companies have used trade shows to make major announcements or introduce new products. Usually, these announcements get more press coverage than they would ordinarily get because reporters covering the shows are looking for news.

For the past few years, companies have been extending their news reach by using social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram to provide live online video of company announcements, news conferences, trade show product demonstrations and other events directly from the trade show floor. All of these platforms incorporate live chat that can be used for “Q and A” sessions between company representatives and reporters, bloggers or the general public.

Now, some companies are cleverly reversing their trade show live streams to bring their entire company to the trade show. Some connect trade show attendees to company executives or technical representatives for live chat events. Other exhibitors are incorporating live feeds of their manufacturing facilities or service centers into their exhibits. The variety is almost endless.

Be Creative

Don’t limit your imagination about how to use live online video. Live video streams can be a great way to promote your exhibit before the show. It can be a great way to present highlights of a show when it is all wrapped up. Live video of product demonstrations and testimonials from the trade show floor can be powerful at generating online sales while the show is going on. If a company representative is making an important presentation at a show, consider how you can use online video of this presentation to promote your company and products.

Consider providing a show cam to your entire team “back at the office” or in the field

Live video can keep your entire company involved with the show. Think about running a daily live stream program from the show just for your company’s staff. It can be as simple as a daily wrap up of the big events from the show and observations of what the competition is up to.

Don’t push the boundaries of the technology too far

Technology can be great but it is no substitute for the live one-to-one contact that trade shows make possible. Make sure that your company is well represented by the people staffing your exhibit.

Plan for everything to go wrong

Live online video can be great but it is not always reliable. Make sure that you coordinate any live stream plan with the show staff and your tech support team. Test everything in advance, and then test it again. Make sure you have a contingency plan and that the live video broadcast is just a plus to your overall promotion and PR plan. The best way to have things go smoothly is to plan for problems.

Have you ever incorporated a live streaming video into your trade show sales effort?