Alexis Exhibits

Watch Out For End Cap Booth Spaces At Your Next Trade Show

In a grocery store or other retail shops, it is very desirable to have your product placed on an “end cap” (the very end of an aisle). This position provides a great deal more traffic, keeps you from being right next to your competition, and has been proven to increase sales.

Many marketing managers take this experience in retail and put it to use in selecting exhibit space at a trade show, choosing “end cap” spaces, or “peninsula booths” in trade show jargon. This is not always a wise decision. If you look closely at the floor plan of a trade show, you’ll see that the vast majority of these spaces face cross aisles. Most cross aisles are not a great choice for traffic. Attendees typically use cross aisles to get from one main aisle to another, which means they are looking towards their destination and may completely miss your display.

Another consideration is the display restrictions that apply to peninsula booths. Most of these spaces are 20′ x 20′. Standard tradeshow booth space rules provide for a 5′ line of sight area along main aisles. This means that you cannot install displays over waist high within 5 feet of an aisle that is adjacent to another exhibit. In the case of a peninsula booth, you will lose about a quarter of your exhibit space because of this restriction. This needs to be considered as you design your booth and may mean that you will be unable to use some or all of your existing display.

The best thing to do is to carefully review the tradeshow rules before selecting an exhibit space. In my experience, you should select a space based on where you think you’ll get the most traffic, and while it might, the end cap doesn’t always come out on top.

Tradeshow Exhibit Packaging 101

Tradeshow exhibits can be packaged in a variety of ways including:

  • Crates
  • Skids or pallets
  • Molded plastic cases
  • Or no packaging at all, (pad wrapped)

Crates

The vast majority of custom or modular trade show exhibits are packed in crates. Properly constructed crates reduce the likelihood of damage and can greatly enhance the useful life of the display. The downside of crates is the cost (usually around $1,500 each for average sizes) and the weight of the crates (around 300 pounds each). While properly designed crates will take full advantage of the space in a truck, their weight will add cost to shipping (if based on weight) and material handling. Crated displays can usually avoid the “special handling” fees charged for material handling.

 

Skids or Pallets

Skids are essentially crates without sides or a top. They are easily moved with a forklift and are commonly used when the items are too big or bulky to fit in a crate, e.g., structural beams, truss, furniture and rolls of carpet and padding. The disadvantages to skids are that they are difficult or impossible to stack, increasing storage and shipping costs, and they do not afford the protection that crates do. Skids do reduce shipping weight when compared to crates.

Molded Cases

Manufactured exhibit systems and portable displays often pack in molded plastic cases. In some instances, the cases are compartmentalized to secure the individual parts of the display. Manufactured displays break down into smaller pieces that lend themselves to being packed into these pre-engineered containers. They are much lighter than crates and are very durable. Some displays that are packed in multiple molded cases are then stacked on skids for ease of handling on the show floor.

Pad Wrapped

Some exhibits are shipped as individual pieces without crates or skids. The items are wrapped with packing pads and loaded into moving vans just like household goods are handled. This process adds considerable time to the packing, loading and unloading process and increases the likelihood of damage, but might be worth considering in some cases.

Trade show display packaging is not as simple as it might seem, as there are many variables involved in deciding which method will be most cost-effective. Your exhibit supplier should be able to describe how your exhibit is going to be packaged and why. A detailed cost comparison of each option, accounting for all potential areas of impact on cost, might be of value before you make a decision.

How to Make Exhibits Eco-Friendly

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), trade shows are the #2 producer of waste in the U.S., following the construction industry, a dubious honor indeed. So what can you do as an exhibitor to be more environmentally responsible? Though it would be difficult, if not impossible, to have a tradeshow exhibit that’s is 100% sustainable, the goal of many companies is to move more in the “green” direction. Doing so might not be as difficult as it once was as many exhibit companies are now offering more and more sustainable exhibits.

What makes it eco-friendly? Good question. Let’s take a look at some of the options for companies wanting to create eco-friendly exhibits.

One way to reduce waste is to choose exhibits made from materials that are eco-friendly, meaning they are made of renewable, recycled and sustainable materials. The frames of exhibit systems can be made out of aluminum, which is 100% recyclable. Substrates, panels, banner stands can be constructed out of other recyclable materials, such as Sorghum, bamboo, PET plastic, cardboard, and biodegradable foam board.

Another huge energy waster is lighting. Choose LED lighting instead, which reduces energy usage by 90%. Exhibitors can even go green on the printing on displays by using low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) inks and eco materials.

Lest we forget shipping, many exhibit companies are offering shipping cases that are made entirely of recycled plastic so the entire case can be recycled. These are also often very lightweight, again reducing the amount of energy, or carbon footprint, associating with shipping it.

Tradeshow Display Lighting – Is LED the Way to go?

Trade Show Display Lighting Can Make Your Booth Stand Out From The Competition

The explosion of LED lamps and fixtures onto the trade show display scene has changed the face of lighting going forward. Ten years ago, lighting companies’ could not produce enough lumens from an led, whereas today, certain types of LED lamps and fixtures rival traditional incandescent in light output. Although this might be a reason to consider using led over traditional lamps, and, aside from their “green” technology for the “sustainable” people out there, there are just as many cons to consider.

If you don’t pack extra LED lamps and fixtures in your set-up kit, it might be very hard to replace them if something breaks. Sure, a local contractor or hardware store might have something similar, but with all of the product lines, and the variety of manufacturers out there, getting an exact match will be tough on the fly.
Advice: Pack an extra box of lamps, and a spare fixture if using LED.

It’s amazing the reduction in energy consumed by LED over traditional incandescent or arc lamps. Couple this with the promise of “long Life” and you have what would seem to be an environmentally friendly “green dream” come true. Beware, all that glitters is not green. Or rather, all that is green does not glitter, at least not for long. What’s this? Well, certain 100,000-hour lamps have a tremendous amount of light degradation over the life of the lamp. What “popped” and rendered beautiful color new, will fade and dim over time. So even though it may last 100,000 hours, you will certainly not want to use it after 40,000 as the lumens emitted fall, and the color rendering degrades dramatically.
Advice: Do a little homework, and don’t buy the cheapest lamps.

There are many uses for LED lamps in a booth, however, understand, throw distances are still limited versus traditional spot or flood lamps. If you are lighting a jewelry case, or smaller product from a close distance, LED may work just fine to add that extra “pop”. However, attempting to get a full wall wash or focus a spotlight from a distance will be tough if you try to wing it with LED. Understand the throw distance for a particular lamp before you specify it in a booth. Throw distance is the distance from the face of the lamp, to the item you are attempting to light. Also taken into consideration, should be the width of the lighting pattern, and light lost over the throw distance.

Advice: Don’t just use LED thinking it is the panacea for all things green, understand what you are trying to light, and the impact LED may, or may not have.

Do Tradeshow Logistical Costs Influence the Decision to Exhibit?

In difficult economic times, companies look closely at every expense.

When money is tight, they must decide whether it is still wise to allocate resources to areas that may have been a “no-brainer” in stronger markets. Naturally, marketing expenses are no exception, and trade show exhibiting can be a large portion of many companies’ marketing budgets. The cost of logistics for tradeshow exhibiting (freight, drayage, setup, electrical, etc.) can be substantial. As a result, it will almost certainly be a candidate for the chopping block when executives start cutting back.

However, the decision to exhibit in a show is seldom based entirely on logistical costs. As long as advertised attendance figures are favorable, and the following items are true of a show, a company will find the funds to exhibit.

  • The company has something to show it’s customers, both current and potential.
  • Their competitors will be attending.
  • Their biggest customers will be attending.

They may scale back their exhibit space, look at alternative ways to make a presence, or just complain about having to spend the money, but one way or another, they’ll be there. It’s a difficult reality, but in business, perception is important. When a company doesn’t attend a major show, the first thing attendees think is that they must be either in dire straits financially, or that they had nothing to show, and therefore are not worth considering as a vendor. Companies must carefully consider all the potential areas of impact before deciding not to attend a show.

Looking for areas to trim your tradeshow exhibiting budget? Let’s Talk.

Tips for Designing Effective Exhibit Graphics

Exhibit design is a powerful reflection of your brand and, in fact, part of your branding. Trade show booths involve your company logo, products and employees. They serve as giant, interactive business cards.

So, even if you’re not making a huge investment in exhibit design, it’s worth revisiting the core elements of your branding to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Here, we’ll take a quick look at graphically and lyrically spicing up your exhibit booths.

Trade Show Graphic Design

A competent exhibit company should be able to provide you with exhibit designs that effectively communicate your brand. You may even wish to incorporate into this process your in-house or consulting graphic designer.

  • Embrace your three-dimensionality. Most of your branding materials are probably flat, “conventional” pieces. Graphic designers jump at the opportunity to work with exhibit designers to breathe fresh life into larger, 3D displays.
  • Maintain focus. While it’s tempting to incorporate every bell and whistle within your budget, visitors will lose interest quickly if they can’t figure out what’s going on. Speak to your specific offerings and value-added features relatively early in the engagement process.
  • Consistent with the 3D theme, reach out and grab your audience’s attention. You’re not only trying to engage people at your booth but those down the aisle and across the room.

Trade Show Custom Copy

A bit more innovation is possible with your written materials than with your brand graphics. While you can’t and shouldn’t change your logo for every trade show, show-specific copy is an excellent idea.

Written materials can be customized–partially, at least–for each trade show you participate in. Keep everything as short and concise as possible. Making sure that the information is timely will help you to stand out from the crowd, especially if your competitors’ materials have gone stale. Engage your customers and support your sales and marketing strategies with a custom trade show booth.

Is Your Trade Show Exhibit a Good Investment?

Many marketing executives can’t completely answer this question. They essentially repeat what was done in previous years with slight variations in execution. Taking a moment to analyze your trade show goals and results can help you find new ways to acquire more customers and make your trade show investment really pay off.

Trade shows are expensive, but they can also be one of the best sales and marketing investments your company makes. Trade show exhibits provide unparalleled opportunities to forge stronger customer relationships, win-back old customers and acquire new, high-value customers. But you should expect this effort to deliver more.

Maximizing your Trade Show Exhibit investment

  1. Incremental sales and profits
    Track your results and determine your Trade Show ROI. More information about how to calculate your Trade Show ROI.If your trade show ROI is not acceptable, then look for ways to make improvements. First, look for gaps in sales and customer tracking to ensure that the data is accurate and complete. Next, make sure that the shows selected were good choices and had significant attendance from your target customers.

    Then look for marketing gaps: ineffective or no lead follow-up, insufficient planning, staffing issues or other reasons that the shows were not productive. Once you identify an issue, you can adjust your strategy and improve results.

  2. Improved competitive position
    Did your company strengthen relationships with current customers, increase brand awareness, launch a new product that differentiated your company, expose your company and products to a new market? Generally, did your trade show investment help position your company for future sales gains and market share increase?If your trade show exhibit doesn’t improve your market position, then carefully evaluate your strategy. How can you adjust your trade show marketing plan to outdo your competition?
  3. PR and Investor Relations
    Did you generate meaningful press coverage? Did your company’s trade show presence result in improved perception of your company in the investor community? Do you get any significant consumer education opportunities from the show?If your trade show attendance has not been a PR opportunity, it is a promotional gap that should be evaluated for potential for your company.
  4. Market intelligence
    Trade shows are an excellent way to gain competitive intelligence. They also can be used for market research and provide an excellent opportunity to gain customer insight.If your trade show isn’t providing your company with market intelligence, develop a plan to maximize this unique opportunity to gather both the latest competitive info and to learn more about your customers.

Have you analyzed your trade show investment? Are you satisfied with your results?

Marketing Strategy Session: Tracking Trade Show ROI

Today, I read a survey and was shocked to learn that fewer than 20% of trade show exhibitors track the ROI (Return on Investment) from their trade show campaigns. After I thought about it a moment, however, I realized that this is not that surprising. Most sales and marketing activities are not carefully evaluated so why should a trade show be any different?

Why track Trade Show ROI?

Trade shows are one of the most productive ways to reach new qualified prospects and generate significant incremental sales. If you do not track and measure the success of the show, your company may make the decision to eliminate a critical trade show event and loose sales without ever knowing it mattered. Beyond this, there are other reasons to analyze trade show results and determine how successful you are. An ROI analysis can provide you with information about the most productive elements of your trade show campaign and help you optimize future trade show efforts.

How to measure Trade Show ROI

The first step is to gather the data needed to calculate the ROI.

  1. Determine the total costs of trade show and directly associated events. This is the Trade Show Marketing Expense. Include everything include staff, travel, collateral material and follow-up sales and marketing expenses.
  2. Estimate the Total Incremental Sales from the show. This is… Total show sales plus New leads in the pipeline and expected sales from these new leads usually based on historic conversion rates plus Incremental sales from existing customers that are the result of the trade show effort.
  3. List the other benefits of the show, including:
    Strengthening relationships with current clients.
    Increasing brand awareness.
    Consumer education efforts.
    New product introductions.
    Investor relations and improving perception of your company in the financial community.
    New market introductions.
    Public relations including editorial coverage.
    Competitive intelligence.
    Customer insight and research.

Once the data is collected it is simple to calculate the ROI.

Total Incremental Sales times Net Margin Rate = Net Margin Dollars
Net Margin Dollars less Trade Show Marketing Expense = Profit Contribution
Profit Contribution divided by Trade Show Marketing Expense = ROI
(typically expressed as a percentage.)

So, for example if…..

Total Incremental Sales = $3.5 million
Net Margin Rate = 16%
Trade Show Marketing Expense = $230,000

Then the ROI would be…..

Net Margin Dollars: $3.5 million times 16% = $560,000
Profit Contribution: $560,000 less $230,000 = $330,000
ROI: $330,000 divided by $230,000 = 143%

So in this example, the trade show marketing ROI was 143% plus any other benefits like those listed in #3 above.

What’s your tradeshow ROI? Have you tracked it? Do you plan to?

Trade Show Planning: Creating a Timeline

Organizing your company’s participation in upcoming trade shows can be stressful and requires precision and strong organizational skills. To make it a tad less stressful, prepare a timeline of things that must get done and when they must be accomplished. This alone can help you stay on track, reduce some of the nail-biting and prevent missed deadlines that can cost you down the road in lost discounts, rush fees and missed opportunities.

There are deadlines for choosing an exhibit space, for ordering show services, and for creating your exhibit. There is no one right way to create a timeline, as they can be organized in a myriad of ways (deadlines, tasks, etc.). However, once you come up with one that works for you, use it as a master template for creating timelines for all future shows.

Here are some general guidelines to help you in your planning:

12+ months out: Determine your objectives

Identify the role that trade shows will play in your overall marketing and sales plan. Will trade shows be primarily used to generate sales leads and prospective customers?

Conduct research on what shows will best achieve these objectives.

Determine a budget and project your return on investment (ROI).

9-12 months out: Initial planning mode

Compile a list of specific objectives for each show, such as number of leads, number of products sold, amount of publicity sought, etc.

Identify the booth size needed and type of display, along with marketing collateral and promotional items.

Register for the show and reserve your space with show management and request full details of exhibit requirements (deadlines, shipping information, etc.).

Create a trade show marketing plan that uses a mix of promotional methods to reach sales prospects.

6-9 months out: Fine-tuning your message

Develop your sales message that will communicate a compelling story and deliver the key points you want to make in as short a time as possible (preferably less than 30 seconds).

Choose an exhibit company to help create and deliver an exhibit that will fit your needs and budget. Research their capabilities, experience, and design talent, and be sure and check references of past clients.

Determine what promotional strategies, such as giveaways and attractions, you’ll use to draw attendees out of crowded aisles and into your booth.

4-6 months out: Tying up loose ends

Order promotional items (giveaways, takeaways, prizes, etc.)

Confirm delivery dates with your exhibit company to assure your display will be ready on time.

Determine who will be staffing your booth at the show, develop schedules, and plan training sessions.

Make travel and hotel reservations, if you haven’t already.

Determine how your exhibit and accessories will be shipped to the show.

Launch pre-show marketing initiatives.

1-3 months out: Check and double check details

Assemble packets of information for post-show marketing follow-up.

Contact show management for any last-minute details, changes, etc.

Finalize production of display, promotional items, and marketing materials and confirm shipping date.

Schedule dinners, briefings, or other meetings with customers, media, or sales staff.

Re-confirm hotel and travel arrangements. Last minute snafus are costly and can be eliminated by doing one last review of all your staff’s travel plans.

One week out: Crunch time.

Wrap up staff training of booth personnel.

Confirm shipping arrival dates for your display, marketing materials and promotional items.

There’s always going to be that one thing that completely slips your mind, however, having a timeline can help you stay focused, and more importantly, stay on schedule.

Choosing a Tradeshow Display Shipping Carrier

When shipping tradeshow displays, you generally have two types of carriers to choose from:

  1. Van lines like Atlas, Bekins, United, Allied, etc. who also do moving of high-value products and household goods.
  2. Motor freight companies who move commodities, manufactured goods, etc.

If your exhibit is palletized or crated, you have the option of shipping via van lines or motor freight. If your materials are not crated (also known as “loose” or “pad wrapped”) you must go with a van line.

Motor freight companies operate on a hub system very much like the airlines, so displays that are loaded on a truck at your facility may be transferred one, two or even more times before reaching their final destination. This extra handling exposes your materials to more wear and tear and greatly increases the possibility of damage. Motor freight shipping costs are usually calculated by weight, although larger, lightweight items may be subject to a different cost calculation called “dimensional weight”.

The advantage to van line shipments is that the trucks are usually going directly from your warehouse to the convention center, so materials are less likely to be transferred from one truck to another. Moving vans use air ride trailers that cushion bumps along the way. Van lines almost always charge by the amount of floor space in the trailer that your materials require.

Total shipping cost can vary a great deal. It is generally assumed that motor freight is less expensive but that is not always the case. Check with your traffic department to see what kind of discounts your company gets from various carriers, make sure that your carrier has tradeshow specific experience and request quotes.

Make sure that your chosen carrier provides you with a way to track your shipment and verify delivery. Last, but certainly not least, be sure to ask your carrier about insurance coverage. The standard coverage that they provide is usually less than $1.00 per pound which won’t even cover the replacement of the crates, let alone the contents.

Do your homework and you can minimize cost. Or, leave the homework to us – we’ll take care of knowing where your tradeshow display is, where it needs to go, and getting everything shipped on time. With our national network of facilities and climate-controlled environments, we are always close by, so shipping your tradeshow exhibits is never a problem. Let’s talk.