Alexis Exhibits

Ways to Slash Trade Show Costs

Trade shows are excellent forums to showcase new products and reach customers and prospects with your marketing message, but they are expensive. Cutting trade shows out of your marketing budget entirely, however, is pound-wise and penny foolish. cut-trade-show-costsLet’s take a look at some ways you can shave costs out of your trade show budget without sacrificing the impact of your exhibit.

Rent instead of own. Some companies get weighed down by the expense of owning their own exhibits; not just the initial expense but the costs associated with storing, shipping, prepping, maintaining, as well material handling expenses once it has been received at the show site.

Bring your own supplies. Renting supplies at a trade show can put a serious crimp in efforts to reduce costs. Though it might seem more cost-efficient to avoid the costs of shipping things such as tables, carpet, chairs, etc., the reality is that you can save by shipping and reusing your own.

Leverage tradeshow materials for other uses. Banners or posters used at trade shows make great visual advertisements in the front window of retail stores. Brochures not given out at shows can double for customer/prospect mailings.

Get handy. One way to save big is to bring your own tools and put your booth staff to work setting up everything that’s not mandated by trade show labor rules.

Negotiate booth rent. Exhibition companies have been hit pretty hard by the recession. What’s bad news for them could be good news for exhibitors. If you’ve exhibited at the same trade show for years, try and renegotiate your booth rent with the tradeshow organizer. Agreeing to sign a multi-year contract might help hasten a deal as organizers are looking to keep you as a long-term exhibitor.

Go smaller. Booth rent accounts for approximately 20% of your total trade show costs, so reducing the size of your booth can have an immediate and big impact on your bottom line.

Ship early. If you are shipping your exhibit or supplies to a show, be sure and plan to ship well ahead of time so you can send all items in the slowest, least expensive way possible. Also, check out whether you can ship some items locally instead of from your location.

Top Ten Tips – How to Work a Tradeshow Booth

Your company has invested a great deal of money into a beautiful tradeshow exhibit and you’ve been selected to work the booth. How do you prepare yourself to make the most of this opportunity?

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Create a preshow plan. Profile the type of prospect you wish to attract to better focus your efforts. Get a preregistration attendee list and contact as many of the suitable prospects as possible before the show. Extend a personal invitation to your tradeshow booth and give the attendee a reason to stop by – something new for them to see works well. You should contact any very important prospects to try to set up an appointment at the tradeshow.
  2. businessman_handshakeFamiliarize yourself with the entire convention agenda. Be aware of keynote speakers, educational sessions, and social events. Prioritize them and make sure to attend. Be prepared to discuss these sessions with prospects who come to the booth.
  3. Study the design of your exhibit. Read and understand the graphics. Have a plan for giving the prospects a quick tour of the booth and recording lead information for follow-up.
  4. Develop a plan to deal with current customers efficiently so that they do not monopolize precious prospecting time.
  5. Memorize a few greetings. Try not to ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Your goal should be to encourage the prospect to talk about themselves or their company so that you can tailor your presentation to their interests.
  6. Be approachable. Refrain from eating in the tradeshow booth, checking your Blackberry, or holding extended conversations with coworkers. It is human nature not to be rude and interrupt people and it will make your tradeshow exhibit seem uninviting.
  7. Be sure to have a disengagement line or two. The best one is “thanks for stopping by”, but if you are talking to an important prospect it might be better to say “where do we go from here?” or “how would you like me to follow up?”
  8. Take notes. There are so many people and so little time. Brief notes will help you to be more effective with your follow-up.
  9. Try to schedule breaks throughout the day to deal with voicemail, email, and just catch your breath. Remember, quality is more important than quantity.
  10. Follow up in a timely manner, meaning the next day. Don’t risk letting your prospect forget you.

Are you interested in exhibit management for your entire tradeshow program? Our exhibit management is based entirely on strategic planning. Contact us today if you are in need of trade show help.

In a Blink of an Eye, a Trade Show Decision is Made

Swarms of attendees are in the aisles, but who will come into your booth? Is one of the attendees your next big prospect? They could be…

The bestselling book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell, informs us: eye“A person watching a silent two-second video clip of a teacher he or she has never met will reach conclusions about how good that teacher is that are very similar to those of a student who has sat in the teacher’s class for an entire semester. That’s the power of our adaptive unconscious.”

Considering the implications of this in trade show terms, here are some items to be aware of in working with buyers and prospects in your exhibit and creating the best possible impression.

The snap judgments derived in those seconds will determine whether someone perceives you worthy of their time. And whether they will move towards any type of engagement.

When you are creating your booth property you must remember that it will be placed in a sea of other sights and sounds. How do you create a physical structure that is welcoming and delivers your core marketing message to the trade show audience? Not an easy task.

Can your booth live up to its marketing potential? Here are a few questions your team should consider as you prepare for the show.

  • Will a person who is unfamiliar with our company know who we are and what we do via our graphics?
  • Do we clearly communicate our solution message in our booth in images and text?
  • Is your booth open and inviting so that someone is drawn into it?
  • How can you tactfully interrupt someone who is walking the aisle and engage them with video, music, graphics, a demonstration, etc.?

We know that most attendees come to the show with an agenda, and use the time to evaluate vendors before making a final decision. When a buyer is in the information gathering mode, as is generally the case at an event, there is a relatively small window of opportunity to grab their attention. What happens is they use this time to count in and leave out suppliers based upon their experience in the booth with them.

Starting the Conversation with a Prospect

Let’s assume that your booth has caught the attention of someone walking the aisle. The first step in any engagement process is a conversation. It is conversation which is focused on the attendee, not you.

Do not start the conversation with, “Can I help you?” This is an immediate turn-off! Use open- ended questions to probe if this person is a prospect at all.

The best booth personnel don’t sell, instead they “gather” the information on what type of prospect they are engaging. Gathering information is the opposite of selling.

Start the conversation with a “pick up line” that will solicit a thoughtful reply, like one of these:

  • What conference session has been the best one, thus far?
  • Wasn’t the [keynote speakers name] funny, entertaining, etc. What did you think of him/her?
  • What booth on the floor has been the most compelling for you?
  • What’s the best thing you’ve seen at the show?

What are the qualifying questions that let YOU determine if they are a prospect for you? If you get these questions answered, then you know where to take it from there!

Once you have the conversation started, then you can ask other open-ended questions which can help you qualify them. Here are some examples for you:

  • What’s your biggest challenge this year?
  • What did you hope to find at the show?

Now that you have their attention…are they someone you want to talk to? Ask a question about THEIR responsibility at the company. Like:

  • “Are you responsible for _________”
    If no…ask “who is?”
  • “Are you involved with _________”

They may be a source of information about potential projects. If they are not the right person, don’t waste another second with this person while potential “hot” prospects are walking by the booth. Escort this person out of the booth quickly and politely so you can engage with the right prospect.

Now if you find a decision-maker for your target company-type…take it a step further and find out if a project is on the horizon by asking:

  • “Is your company planning a __________?”
  • “Have you chosen a vendor?”
  • “When will you make that decision?”
  • “What are the criteria for ______?”
  • “What is the budget for ______?”

The questions you are asking should match the lead gathering device the booth personnel have. You could be using a lead card, an electronic device, or a handheld smart phone to capture relevant information. Make sure all members of your booth team know what pieces of information you want gathered and someone is monitoring for quality.

By gathering as much information and recording it on the show floor, it will make the follow- up process more robust. In a future post we will discuss several proven follow-up activities that can separate you from the competition and move the prospect along the sales funnel.

Trade Show Preparation Checklist

Things to do before leaving for a trade show

Create a trade show project timeline. Take a look at the show exhibitor manual that is available online. Many show manuals include a chronological list of deadlines that make an excellent starting point for your personalized project timeline. Things that you may add to this list include: preparation and shipment of your products and literature, making your travel arrangements, hotel accommodations for your staff, making arrangements for activities, dinners, etc. during the show.

tradeshow_checklist

  • Make a folder or binder to contain all of the confirmations and show services forms that you have submitted.
  • Create a list of important telephone numbers. These are specific to each show. This can be done electronically or manually but should be something that you have with you at all times in the trade show city.
  • Check the weather in the trade show city. Make sure that you bring the right clothes for the climate and keep in mind that the convention center might not be heated or air conditioned during installation and dismantling.
  • Take a good digital camera to document things. Cell phone cameras are getting better but the best results can be expected if you use a decent quality portable digital camera. You will want to photograph your display to reference for future show planning. You may need to document damage to items during shipment. You may wish to take some shots of competitors’ displays or other exhibits that you find attractive.
  • Plan how you will evaluate the show and collect the necessary information.
  • Make sure that your booth staffers are aware of the show hours and when they are to work the booth.
  • Plan a booth staff orientation meeting in the booth before the show opens on the first day to make everything work smoothly.
  • Think about dismantle. Where and how are your materials being shipped after the show? Have labels and paperwork filled out to eliminate unnecessary confusion during dismantle.
  • Leave yourself sufficient time to catch your plane. Dismantle will go much better if you are not in a rush to get to the airport.

Do you need trade show help? Click here for a list of services Alexis Exhibits provides to make sure everything goes according to plan.

Good luck with the show!

Make ’em Laugh: Ten Ways to Entertain Trade Show Attendees

Use Entertainment to Increase Trade Show Booth Traffic

You’ve spent the money on your booth. Your booth staff have been well trained to deliver persuasive sales pitches. Your displays are in order; your brochures are neatly stacked. Your badge scanner is on the ready. Now, you just need to get the attendees in your booth so those employees can get to work generating the leads and sales needed to justify the expense of the tradeshow.

Sounds easy, but on a busy, chaotic tradeshow floor there’s a lot of competition for the eyes and ears of potential customers. So how do you pull attendees away from competing booths? For one, you need to deploy a creative strategy that sets your company apart from the sea of competitors and increases booth traffic.

Let’s look at ten ways your company can use entertainment to increase booth traffic:

  1. magicianMagicians. It’s more than Abracadabra and Hocus-Pocus. There is something about magicians that brings out child-like awe in everyone, including your most sought-after sales prospects. Well-trained magicians can weave the wonder of magic with your company’s vital marketing messages, providing both entertainment and education.
  2. Interactive games, such as putting competitions. For many, golf is somewhat of an addiction. This is why attendees won’t be able to resist taking their chances to sink the most putts, land a coveted hole-in-one, or beat their colleagues in the lowest score of three shots competition. Add prizes with your company logo to up the ante.
  3. Sports simulations and virtual, computer-enhanced experiences. Immerse attendees in a custom-branded, virtual reality (VR) entertainment experience to not just lure them into your booth, but to captivate them. Choices include baseball, Indy and NASCAR car racing, golf, flight simulators, laser shooting galleries, and motion thrill rides.
  4. Money-blowing machines. This might sound cheesy, but in today’s dismal economy, nothing grabs people’s attention like the potential to win money. Attendees can win a chance to spend a minute in the telephone-size cube to collect as many prizes (cash or customized coupons for your company’s products or services) as they can.
  5. ATM Money Machines. Following along on the previous idea, this relatively new promotion draws attendees in for a chance to use the ATM machine, which dispenses real coupons, prize vouchers, gift certificates, and customized bills good towards purchases from your business.
  6. Live entertainment. These can include comedians, circus performers, tribute bands, and dance troupes. Great at garnering people’s attention who might want to watch or interact with an entertainer. Make sure the performers are well-versed in your company’s products or services and have the skills to disseminate information or sales messages to draw attendees into your booth to hear more.
  7. Customized Event Photography. Thanks to computer software, attendees can have their 15 minutes of fame by seeing photos of their faces on various unique backgrounds (Sports Illustrated cover, standing behind a presidential podium, posing with the Queen of England, etc.). Incorporating your logo somewhere on these unique, unforgettable keepsakes —one which attendees will likely not throw away—ensures the longevity of your marketing message unlike most tradeshow, throwaway gimmicks.
  8. Celebrity Look-Alikes. Try as they may to deny it, people are naturally drawn to celebrities, even when they aren’t the real deal. Add a photographer and nearly everyone will stop to get his or her picture taken with a “star.”
  9. Psychics and fortune tellers. Why not everyone is a believer in psychic powers, having a psychic or fortuneteller in your booth to do Tarot card and palm readings or handwriting analysis is a fun way to attract people to your booth. Good ones, who work the professional trade show circuits and often double as motivational speakers, are able to not just stop traffic, but deliver professional, informative and memorable messages about your company and its products.
  10. Caricature sketch artist. An oldie but a goodie, a cartoon sketch artist can be a very effective trade show booth secret weapon because it packs of double punch: it helps “draw” people into your booth and creates a memorable giveaway for attendees. Make sure that all caricature sketches have your logo on them somewhere to ensure longevity of your marketing message.

Increase Trade Show Booth Traffic with Basic Promotion Tips

Tradeshows represent a big investment. The cost of the exhibit and related services and utilities are just the beginning. Travel and lodging costs for staff will often double the total cost.

Optimize your return on investment with some supporting promotion.

graph_increaseAt a major show, the average trade show attendee will spend more than 2 minutes in just 26 booths. There are in excess of 1000 booths in most major shows!

You should do everything possible to increase the chances that your booth will be one of these 26 for your most important prospects. Some promotion is easy, and also either cheap or free! You should touch every base for every conference where you exhibit.

  1. Modify your email signature
  2. Contact all of your prime prospects to set appointments
  3. Put a notice in every shipment
  4. Mention your booth number in your ads
  5. Put a banner ad on your own website
  6. When you invite people to your booth, tell them what’s in it for them
  7. Take the time to fill out the show’s exhibitor profile
  8. Take advantage of any publisher-offered opportunities for pre-show publicity
  9. Wear your logo shirt or badge at all times
  10. Use Social Media to create excitement about your booth

Following these basic promotion tips will attract the most important prospects! Let’s Talk.

Win Over Your Prospect Before Giving Away Literature at a Trade Show

Should I Give Away Literature at My Trade Show?

This is probably the most common strategic question that an exhibit marketing professional faces. When asked for my opinion, my reply is “reluctantly”.

brochure_stackThe biggest problem with literature in the booth is not the cost, weight or other logistical problems, it is that the “do you have any literature” line coming from a prospect is the worst blow off that a booth staffer can get. Once the literature is handed to the attendee, it is very difficult to keep the conversation going. What’s more, a large portion of the literature ends up in the convention center trash cans.

You do need to have some literature available in the booth but you can extend a conversation and gather much more critical information from the prospect by offering to deliver or send the literature after the show. You come away with a completed lead card and have the opportunity to schedule a follow-up call or visit. Providing literature in the form of a DVD or other digital media has more perceived value and is more likely to be taken back to the office than traditional printed pieces.

Using this approach reduces costs in shipping, drayage, rental of literature racks and helps the environment by reducing the amount of brochures in convention center trash cans. We can help! Let’s Talk.