Alexis Exhibits

The Key to Tradeshow Exhibit Success: Location, Location, Location

When you’re planning for the upcoming year of trade shows, it’s important to remember that the location of your booth at trade shows can be key to getting the maximum amount of traffic. Lots of traffic can equate to a higher number of qualified sales leads, which you need to justify the expense of attending these shows.

The first step is to plan for the trade show early. When you book early, you’ll have more options to choose from for your booth location. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll be limited to choosing from whatever booth spots are not sold. The only plus of waiting: you might be able to find out in advance who your neighboring exhibitors will be. If a show doesn’t sell out, by booking later, the show organizers might offer that accompanying booth—if vacant—for free or for a greatly reduced price just to fill it.

If a particular show is a success for you, sign up and reserve your spot for the following year’s event while at the event or shortly thereafter, which might get you a better location and better deal too. Keep in mind that if you are a returning exhibitor, the event management’s sales folks want you back. Use this as a bargaining chip in your negotiations for next year’s booth rate and location.

So what are the prime locations when choosing your booth location? Let’s take a look at a few of the primo spots that exhibitors crave.

Close to the exit from the restrooms. You might balk at getting seated near the restroom at a restaurant, but tradeshows are an exception. Everyone eventually has to go to the bathroom and as they leave, they are often in strolling mode and more likely to stop.

Adjacent to food kiosks and/or Internet cafes. Be the first booth they see after they grab that cup of coffee, eat that bagel or check their email. Once their hunger is sated or their caffeine withdrawal has ebbed, they will be ready to give you their full, undivided attention.

Close to the entrance/exit of the exhibit hall. It’s guaranteed that everyone will have to walk by your booth multiple times a day. Be the first booth they see when they enter the hall, before they are worn out from hours of schlepping up and down the aisles.

End of aisles or on back walls. People often look to see how long aisles are and stop to get their bearings before they embark down an aisle. Seize this opportunity to grab their attention.

Unleash the Power of PR at Tradeshows

One initiative often forgotten about at trade shows and conferences is public relations (PR). Obviously tradeshows are an excellent way to increase visibility of your company with a targeted audience of potential customers. Most companies are well aware of this and focus their efforts solely on garnering the attention of attendees in order to generate sales leads.

What many companies fail to recognize is the vast potential to also grab the attention of the media covering these events. Magazine editors, writers, consultants, and bloggers attend shows to gather information and become educated on what’s new in that particular industry. They want to know what products are being introduced, what new technologies are emerging, what companies are partnering together, and what new services are being offered.

In order to get their attention, companies must be proactive. Tradeshow organizers engage in promotional activities that include the media so be sure and look for opportunities to get your company included in any pre-show newsletter or press release distributed by show management. Contact the show’s PR staff and ask for any opportunities to contribute industry information or research, or provide industry “experts” at your company to participate in panel discussions, give speeches, or to teach product- or technology-specific classes.

Several months before the show, put together a press kit that includes: a one-page company overview; a press release on whatever you’re introducing at the show; product spec sheets on each product or service; case studies or user stories demonstrating the real-world benefits of your products or services; recent news articles; and a CD of images of your company’s products that the editors can use for publication. Also be sure and include the business card of the person within your company responsible for PR. Put press kits in the show’s media room, as well as in your booth.

A few weeks out, obtain the list of all members of the media who are pre-registered for the event. Contact the key members of the media and schedule a time for them to come to your booth and meet one-on-one with a company representative to get a demo of your product and an overview of your company. Make sure you have something newsworthy to share with them: research findings, significant new technology or products, market news, etc.

If you have significant news to share, you might consider holding a press conference. The show management can assist you in obtaining a room outside the chaotic show floor and can also help with preparations such as food or drink you might want to offer weary members of the press.

Keep in mind that good PR is about building relationships with the media and positioning your company as a thought leader in your industry. If an editor likes you—and as a result, the company you represent—he or she will be more likely to contact you for information or interviews with key personnel when they are writing an article on a topic with which your company can offer some expertise.

How to Choose Effective Trade Show Giveaways

When attendees at trade shows leave your booth, you would like them to leave with a great lasting impression of your company and its products. Giving them a great pitch on your company and an impressive demonstration of your products is an effective way to do that. Another way is to give them something to take home as a way of thanking them for their time and in the process something that will remind them of your company and its products.

These so-called “giveaways,” or promotional gifts can be super marketing tools when chosen carefully. Attendees love the idea of getting something for free, whether it’s a tote bag, a mug or a random ballpoint pen. Note: yes, attendees will take pens even when they are not intended to be giveaways. Gift giving can build goodwill, be an incentive, communicate a message, and create awareness.

Giveaways should be used to reinforce a company name, core benefit, and image, create a positive feeling, remind attendees of the company name, and to obtain contact information of prospects. Be sure that whatever item you choose as a giveaway, make sure your company logo or name is on it. Enhance your positioning strategy even more by including a branding message, slogan, and phone number as well.

So how do you choose the most memorable ones to use as tradeshow takeaways? One good way is to cross-reference your own promotional ideas with retail items that are trending high at the moment. Do this by surfing through gadget catalogs to see what’s being featured. Some item might be all the rage, and while your marketing budget might not be able to splurge on that actual item, popular accessories (a holder, portable speakers, etc.) with your company logo might be.

Also, keep in mind your objective and who exactly will be receiving the giveaway. Will it be used to enhance a theme, convey a specific message, or educate your target audience? Determining a purpose of the giveaway will go a long way towards helping you select the right gift. If you’re still stuck, consider consulting a promotional specialist to help you make the right selection.

Another important consideration will be your budget, as giveaway items will vary greatly in price, with quality, quantity, and special orders all impacting overall cost. Once you’ve determined how much you have to spend, you might also consider ordering the same item for several different shows, as the greater the quantity, the lower the individual unit price will be.

Unique trade show giveaways can help draw prospects to your booth, so make sure your sales prospects know about it in advance. Send them a teaser invite with details of the giveaway, or create a two-piece premium, sending one part out to key prospects before the show and directing them to collect the other half at your booth.

Best Lighting Solutions for Trade Shows

Proper lighting is an essential component of your tradeshow booth and can help increase traffic and create a favorable environment in which to pitch your company’s products. According to booth design expert, Bruce Baker, who’s published articles on booth lighting, a good lighting system that functions at peak performance will boost sales more than any other item you can purchase.

Your lighting requirements will vary depending on your specific promotional goals, display configuration, exhibit color and design, booth lighting fixtures, and space. To determine what type of lighting will best create effective, creative exhibit illumination, you must carefully consider the following questions:

  • What area or product in your booth will need to be the focal point?
  • What visual impact, impression, or message do you want to convey through lighting?

When you want to create a spotlight effect to highlight one particular area of interest in your exhibit, you might consider overhead truss lighting. If you’d rather create a more inviting, warm and welcoming atmosphere to make prospects feel more comfortable, you might select a soft lamp or ambient lighting.

Special illumination techniques can be used to create a more dramatic atmosphere that can possibly draw more attendees to your booth by setting it apart from competing booths. Determining the mood you want to create—exciting and dynamic or warm and inviting—will go a long way towards helping you determine the most appropriate lighting.

Other questions to ask when weighing your lighting options are:

  • What type of lighting is being supplied by the exhibition facility?
  • How much power will be available in your booth?
  • Would additional power be available, if your lighting needs require it?
  • How are light fixtures attached to your display?
  • How much can you spend on display lighting systems?

Once these questions are answered, you can go to your lighting supplier and find the best solutions for your particular needs. Good lighting can lead to increased booth traffic, additional sales leads, and possibly higher resulting sales, so choose wisely.

Trade Show “Power Graphics”

Graphics are a critical element of any trade show display. You could have the best promotion, best product and brilliant people in your booth but, if most attendees don’t notice your exhibit, it won’t matter.

There are many philosophies about how to create effective trade show graphics that persuasively break through the clutter. One solution is “Power Graphics” – singular images that have the “power” to make your exhibit stand out from your competition, attract your target customers and almost instantaneously communicate your key message.

What makes graphics powerful? Graphics that are singular and focused have power. Images and words combined to communicate your message and brand personality without needing translation have power. Graphics without unnecessary elements in the design, displays and sales presentations so that your target customers can actually experience your message, your brand and your products are the most powerful.

The images and words that you use depend on your marketing message but here are a few general guidelines:

  • Make sure your designers know everything that is important about your target customers – before they start work.
  • Select a design team that knows how to design exhibits. This is a unique design task and many great advertising designers have little experience with or understanding of trade shows.
  • If one image will communicate your message, don’t be afraid to let your designers build the exhibit around that one key image.
  • Keep it simple and uncluttered. The details belong in your sales material, presentations and interactive displays.
  • Make sure the key graphic can be easily seen from a distance. Avoid small or overly detailed images.
  • Think in 3-dimensions. Dimensional graphics create visual interest.
  • Incorporate words – in large, legible type. The most memorable images are often the combination of a few words and a graphic image.
  • Use lighting to make the “Power Graphics” the focal point of the exhibit.
  •  Avoid commonplace and generic images, for example, photographs of happy customers, standard product photography and stock photography that looks like stock photography.

Effective use of “Power Graphics” can make a meaningful difference in your ability to get the most out of trade show participation.

Deploying Online Marketing Strategies to Promote Trade Shows

The Internet is called the “Information Highway” for a reason, as it provides an easy way to quickly to find information on an endless array of topics. It also provides an ideal vehicle by which to educate and communicate with vast numbers of people. For all these reasons, the Internet is a great way to promote your company, its products, as well as its involvement in upcoming trade shows.

Deploying a web-based strategy can help you maximize the chances of trade show success by increasing your exposure and message frequency to your target audience. It’s important to integrate e-marketing techniques to promote trade show participation before, during, and after each event.

Before the Show.

Devote an entire section of your company’s website to highlight your participation in an upcoming trade show or event. Cross-promote this particular page and your site in traditional printed marketing materials, such as brochures, newsletter, or advertisements.

For people who are attending the show, provide an online form for them to fill out to schedule a demo, then follow up by phone to confirm the time. Have another form for people who are unable to attend the show—but are still interested—so you can provide them with information.

Contact the show’s management and seize any opportunities to utilize marketing vehicles it uses to promote the show, such as websites, publications, or newsletters. If the show has a website, look at web advertising, such as banners, links or any type of promotional copy, to lure site visitors to your site.

Generate some pre-show buzz by promoting a contest, quiz, drawing, game or other incentive on your website. Contestants should be directed to your booth during the show to receive their prize, find the answer, etc.

During the Show.

Promote your online marketing resources. Ask visitors to your booth for contact info so you can add them to your online distribution list for newsletters, e-zines, etc. These online resources provide them with helpful tips so be sure and present this as an opportunity for them to receive something of value, not just advertisements and junk email.

Give the winners of promotional contests or quizzes some face time on your web site. Highlight photos of winners collecting their prizes at the show. And, let visitors to your web site who were unable to attend the event register for contests, drawings, etc.

Update your web site with daily highlights from the show. Include news, product launches, customer interviews, speaker summaries, etc., to keep everyone who couldn’t attend the event up to date.

After the Show.

Update your web site immediately. Add streaming videos of product demos or customer testimonials from your exhibit. Your customers can often tell a more compelling and credible story than your sales people by explaining how your company’s product solved a problem for them. Prospective customers often can relate to your other customers because they possibly share the same problems, concerns, and issues that need to be resolved.

Integrate new prospect email contact info into your database to develop an ongoing web-based communications program that includes email, e-newsletters, e-zines, and other important corporate announcements.

Make sure your site is continuously updated and stocked with valuable, useful content for your existing users and potential customers. The web is an excellent place to gather information about new products and technology. Seize the opportunity to use your web site to position your company as a thought leader in its industry.

Choosing the Best Trade Show Display For Your Needs

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge into tradeshow exhibiting, the next question might be: what type of display or exhibit will we need? The answers will vary depending upon a multitude of factors. You’ll need to ask yourself some basic questions, such as: how large are the events you wish to participate in? What type of audience do you wish to attract? What location type (in-line, corner, end, island) and size of booth space are you considering?

Other questions in regards to the frequency of exhibiting and how you will transport your exhibit also need to be considered before you can determine which type of display will best serve your needs and meet your tradeshow objectives. Another important question is how much do you have to spend on a display. When you include the physical display itself, plus banner stands, lighting, and accessories, you could be talking anywhere from a few thousand to over $50,000 in costs.

Once you’ve determined all these things, it’s time to start evaluating the different types of displays. Let’s take a look at the various types.

Pop-up displays. These are made up of a lightweight, folding frame covered with magnetic-backed fabric, vinyl, or plastic panels. These displays are available in tabletop or floor versions.
Pros: Because they are lightweight, they are easily handled and less expensive to transport.

Truss displays. Structured around lightweight or aluminum tubing, these displays can be configured in a variety of shapes and sizes, from entire booths to special exhibit features, display walls, islands, and entranceways.
Pros: Highly configurable for added flexibility.

Panel displays. These displays are made up of fabric-covered rectangular sections that are connected to make a wall.
Pros: Also very flexible because they can be configured to fit different sized and shaped booths.

Table-top displays. This display type, which features a lightweight display that sits on top of a table, is ideal for small events. The displays typically have three panels with Velcro-attached graphics and headlines that can be easily changed and updated. Some come with briefcase-style cases for easy transport.
Pros: Least expensive option and more durable than pop-up systems.

Banner stands. These banner stands provide an easy, lightweight means to display your corporate banners or other signage. These are available in single, double or triple-sided models. You can use two placed together or separately in different locations within your booth. Some come with lights to enhance the image display.
Pros: They are lightweight, portable and durable.

Custom displays. Exhibit companies can help you design your own custom display in any size or configuration will fit your needs. You can also incorporate accessories, including cabinets, countertops, backlighting, and bridges. Most will also offer a no-obligation design and price quote for your proposed design, so you can weigh your options before committing to anything.
Pros: Designed exactly with your needs in mind.

Top Tactics to Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out

Every industry has its norms. At a medical industry show, the show floor will resemble a tranquil sea of blues and whites, colors that convey cleanliness and reliability. At technology industry shows you’ll see lots of bright colors, bold graphics and eye-popping presentations on flat-screen monitors. While every industry has its norm, the reality is that in order to make your booth get noticed by attendees, the last thing you want to do is to blend in with competing booths.

So how do you differentiate your exhibit so attendees will be captivated long enough for your booth staff to engage them and deliver your company’s marketing message? In order to successfully achieve your company’s trade show objectives, whether that is generating sales leads or educating a new market about your products or services, the first step is to garner the attention of prospective customers.

Many companies exhibiting at trade shows make the classic mistake of trying to fit in with other exhibitors. Perhaps it’s your company’s first foray into a particular market or event. You want your company to look like it can play in the same sandbox with other big players in the market. The problem is fitting in isn’t going to help your company stand out amidst its competitors.

Here are a few ways in which you can differentiate your company’s exhibit:

Color: Avoid the standard color palette of the industry. Choosing a unique color scheme for your booth is a simple way to visually set your booth apart from other booths. Be careful, however, and do your research before picking a color scheme. Different colors convey certain messages that might not align with your trade show objectives or your marketing message.

Structure: Be creative here, and don’t settle for a standard exhibit configuration. If your competition typically uses a booth layout with formal meeting areas/rooms, go for a casual lounge feel instead. If competing booths are very geometric and angular, go for a free-flowing, airy feel with a fabric structure featuring organic shapes and soft, curvy lines.

Lighting: One way to breathe new life into an older exhibit is to enhance or change up the lighting scheme. Be creative here as well. Colored lights can add pizzazz and be a real attention-getter. Soft lighting can create a calm, intimate setting.

Product Displays: Don’t overcrowd surfaces with product displays. Again, take note of what your competitors are doing. Use creativity to highlight your products in a way your competitors aren’t. Again, the purpose is to get your booth to stand out so attendees will pause long enough to notice your products and marketing message.

Booth staff: It’s important to put together a “front line” offense when it comes to your booth staff. Don’t staff your booth with temp workers or new employees. Bring out your “big guns,” which typically means your product development folks who can speak at great length—not just about your products, but those of your competitor’s and industry pain points as well.

Exhibiting at International Trade Shows

As a response to the US economy’s Great Recession and as protection against future bust cycles, many organizations are increasingly thinking global, looking to expand their businesses into emerging foreign markets. Exhibiting overseas is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to identify the best foreign markets for your company’s products and services.

Exhibiting internationally introduces many new challenges for organizations and requires thorough research to determine which ones will attract your target market. A good starting point is the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (FSC), part of the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

If you’re the person put in charge of exhibit management at your company, you need to do your research to make sure your company’s significant investment into international trade shows isn’t a waste of time and money. Tactics that have proven successful in trade show exhibiting in the U.S. might fall flat in another country.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when exhibiting internationally:

Hire a translator. Probably the most important step is to hire an expert (preferably native-born) translator who not only understands the language but the culture of the country and its people. This person will prove instrumental in helping fine-tune your company’s marketing message, slogans, and marketing collateral to assure that your message is effectively delivered to this new audience.

Hire a designer. It might also be a good idea to hire a local designer who understands how this foreign market will interpret the colors, design, symbols, logo, and look of your exhibit. For example, one color might be considered lucky or prosperous in one country, yet might symbolize something completely different or have a negative connotation in another.

Check on technical and safety standards. Before you commit to a foreign show, make sure your products comply with international technical and safety standards, which may vary slightly from those in the U.S. Another important consideration is power requirements. When exhibiting overseas, your electrical equipment might need to be adapted to different power voltage outlets.

When in Rome… Things are done differently in other countries. Be sensitive to how business is conducted and how decisions are made in the host country. Read up on proper business etiquette, how the sales process typically works, and the nuances of relationship building there. In Japan, for example, a handshake at the end of a business meeting is as good as a signed contract.

Exhibiting at an international trade show can bring big benefits and open up an entirely new market for your company’s products or services. A savvy planner, however, must do their homework well in advance.

Need Exhibit Management for your Trade Show? Let’s Talk.

The Low Down on Trade Show Exhibit Layouts

There are ins and outs and pros and cons to all the various types of trade show booth layouts, and determining which layout will deliver the best results for your company can be a difficult task. Evaluating your company’s needs and objectives will be your first step in determining which exhibit floor plans will work best for you.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the more popular tradeshow exhibit layouts and the pros and cons of each to make that decision easier. Keep in mind, however, that variables exist between each layout type. Exhibitors can change each layout’s components, size, and positioning and mix and match layouts and elements to suit different situations.

Classic Diamond.
Consists of a large, central structure with a series of independent elements (kiosks, demo stations, graphics, product displays) surrounding it.

Pros: This layout offers a strong visual presence, and its simplicity and lack of walls helps draw in visitors. Also works well for displaying multiple small products.

Cons: The layout’s central structure blocks view across the booth and offers only one spot for a single, high-impact statement or slogan. As far as traffic, this layout requires careful staffing to encourage visitors to explore the whole booth.

Centerpiece.
Typically used when one message or product needs to be featured; all other elements are directed toward one main focal point.

Pros: This layout offers easy access to focal point of booth and offers great impact for main marketing message or slogan. Allows easy access to main focus of booth.

Cons: This layout type offers little flexibility over time and single focus makes it hard to hold attendees’ interest for very long. Central focus of exhibit can attract so much traffic to cause congestion.

Theater.
The underlying purpose of this layout is to show some form of a presentation. Rather than walls, it uses dividers along the sides and demo stations or kiosks along the back.

Pros: Layout drives all attention toward presentation and openness encourages visitors who shun enclosed presentations. Allows strong medium for message delivery and partitions can display smaller, tangent messages.

Cons: Singular focus prevents highlighting multiple products. Offers no capture effect and quick exits after presentations difficult to prevent.

Club.
Also referred to as a closed exhibit, this layout type uses some type of material to create a fully or semi-enclosed environment within the booth space.

Pros: Interior offers quiet off-floor environment and exterior walls can attract attention and deliver messaging. Allows complete control over entry and exit of visitors. Exhibit walls offer lots of space for graphics.

Cons: Attendees can’t see main focus until they step inside and limited entrances discourage walk-up traffic. Main entrance clogs easily and confusion can result from too many messages.

Random Display.
This layout deconstructs formal floor plans in an effort to look unique and consists of an arbitrary arrangement of shapes, activities and elements.

Pros: Allows use of multiple products and presentation media. Permits many levels of messaging.

Cons: Prevents highlighting one central focus and multiple messages can cause chaos that work against proper message delivery. Confusing layout can be difficult to navigate and traffic can clog at focal point.

Plaza.
All large structures are pushed to the aisles to create an open, inviting environment in the center for casual conversation and product displays.

Pros: Offers open and inviting interior space that allows all elements to be seen at once. Openness encourages attendees to wander and explore; visitors are free to leave as easily as they enter. Allows placement of large graphic displays.

Cons: Doesn’t offer one main focal point. Central elements can draw too much traffic, causing congestion.