Alexis Exhibits

Know your Trade Show Terms

It’s hard to walk the walk, when you can’t talk the “talk” of the trade show world. We’re making it easier on you by creating a free downloadable glossary of terms, containing all the terms you need to know to look like a pro at your next trade show.

Here are just a few of trade show terms you’ll need to know to feel and sound like a real trade show insider:

Advanced Order- An order for show services sent to the contractor before actual move in.

Baffle- The partition to control light, air, sound or traffic flow.

Bill of Lading- Document or form listing goods to be shipped.

Blanket Wrap- Non-crated freight shipped via van line covered in protective blankets or padding.

Bone Yard- Equipment storage area at an exhibition hall.

Chevron- Type of cloth used for backdrops.

Consignee- The person to whom goods are shipped.

Corkage- The charge placed on beer, liquor, and win brought into the facility but purchased elsewhere. The charge sometimes includes glassware, ice, and mixers.

C.W.T.- Hundredweight- A measurement of the weight of exhibit freight. Usually 100 lbs.

Drayage- The unloading of your shipment at an exhibit hall, transporting it to your booth, storing and returning your empty crates and cartons, and reloading your shipment at the close of the show.

Duplex Outlet- Double electrical outlet.

Floater- Worker(s) used by a foreman to help assigned labor for short periods of time.

Foam Core- Lightweight material with a Styrofoam center used for signs, decorating, and exhibit construction.

Four-Hour Call- Minimum work period for which union labor must be paid.

I & D- Install and dismantle.

Infringement- Use of floor space outside exclusive booth area.

Marshalling Yard- Check-in area for trucks delivering exhibit material.

Pegboard panel- Framed panel of perforated hardboard. Pipe and

Drape- Tubing with drapes that separate exhibit booths.

Pro-Number- Number assigned by the freight forwarders to a single shipment; used in all cases where reference is made to the shipment.

Staging Area- Area adjacent to main event area for setup, dismantling, and temporary storage.

Stanchions- Decorative posts that hold markers or flags to define traffic areas. Ropes or chains may be attached.

Union Steward- On-site union official.

WARP, WEFT, & BIAS- The three ways fabric stretches, length, width and diagonal.

Yaw- Key stoning effect on a projection.

But wait, there’s more. For a complete list of terms to know, download the FREE Glossary of Trade Show Exhibit Terms!

Developing an Effective Tradeshow Marketing Strategy

Establishing an effective marketing strategy for a trade show is essential to converting the money spent on exhibits, booth space, and the travel expenses to increased sales. Companies must plan and begin executing their trade show marketing strategy before the show begins and continue after the tradeshow until the last lead has been followed up.

Once a strategy has been devised and bought into by upper management; it’s time to get a plan in place to deploy it. Make sure that your marketing goals are easily measurable so you can easily assess the effectiveness of your plan after the show and determine the role trade shows will play in your future marketing plans.

Here are a few things that can help you develop and deploy an effective trade show marketing strategy so that you can be the “talk of the show.”

Before the show

Trade show organizers will supply you with a list of ppre-registeredattendees. Use this list to contact registrants via phone calls, written invitations to promotional events at the show, direct mail, and emails. A teaser that gives attendees a reason to stop by your booth (free giveaways, enticing entertainment, etc.) can help boost traffic. Well before the show, be sure and add sections to your website such as forums, event calendars, and newsletters to reach a large portion of customers and leads.

During the show

These marketing activities include live demos, in-booth entertainment or attractions, audiovisual programs, tradeshow giveaways, and free food and beverages, if permitted.

Effective marketing during the show is contingent upon having a well-trained and professional staff manning your booth. Getting attendees to stop by the booth will only get you so far. After that, it’s up to your employees to welcome them, introduce themselves, and give them a quick overview of your company and its products or services. Be sure that booth workers take notes and obtain contact information along with information specific to that person that might come in handy when contacting them after the show.

After the show

This is where many companies fall short. If you want to convert sales leads into actual sales, this needs to be an essential part of your marketing plan. Thanking attendees and following up with them is important if you want them as future customers. Follow up within a week of the show by sending a personalized note, along with any marketing material you deem appropriate for that particular prospect.

In the weeks following the show, attendees will be besieged with emails, sales collateral, and sales pitches via social networking sites from exhibitors. Set your company apart from the sea of competitors by making personal phone calls to promising sales prospects. This extra effort confirms your company’s commitment to service and establishes a pathway to building a relationship with a future customer.

All these marketing strategies should be built around establishing and reinforcing your company’s commitment to quality and customer care. Implementing a trade show marketing plan that focuses on relationship management and personalized attention to prospects as well as current customers will go a long way towards growing your business and increasing sales.

Trade Show Exhibit Strategies: Be the “Talk of the Show”

Become the “Talk of the Trade Show”

Every show has that one exhibitor that everyone talks about – the “Talk of the Show”. It is not always the biggest or most expensive booth, but it is often the booth that has the best marketing idea. Here are some ways that unlikely exhibitors became the “Talk of the Show”:

  1. Rare autographed merchandise that appeals to the target customer.
    Pick the right item and the right celebrity for your target customer and, if used as part of a themed exhibit and contest, your exhibit could be a show standout. Select a rare, one-of-a-kind item to be used in a prize drawing, add some related, less expensive items to make the contest more exciting. Then come up with a themed contest and exhibit to make the entire concept and booth an entertainment event.
  2. Film a live show and make attendee the stars.
    Most people love to see themselves on camera. Set up a Live Cam and Web Cam from the show floor and put on a show. Broadcast your “show” on monitors so people can watch their colleagues be stars. At one trade show, an exhibitor created a talk show set and broadcast live at the trade show and online. They had a “band” with a couple of musicians and recorded music, a show host and invited attendees to be their guests on the show. Guests could be interviewed about the product or sing favorite songs with modified lyrics that integrated the featured product. The program got the highest ratings at this show.
  3. A housewares magic act.
    Many exhibitors hire magicians or entertainers to attract exhibit traffic, but every now and then a company comes up with an act that breaks out of the ordinary. A ceramic knife manufacturer took a knife throwing act to a new level – pitting their ceramic knives against the competition. The knife throwing act demonstrated that while some ceramic knives shattered easily, the company’s knives were truly shatter resistant and could survive even knife throwing.
  4. Extreme Demos.
    If you have an extreme product, consider having an extreme demo. At one trade show, Taser offered to shock attendees, and hundreds took up the offer and ended up on the floor.
  5. Great food.
    If you are exhibiting at a non-food show, think about offering a crowd-pleasing, made-to-order food item. The trick is to avoid the commonly offered freshly baked cookies and coffee drinks. For example, at a tech show, Fios, Inc. of Portland offered smoothies – and had people lined up for hours. While attendees waited for their smoothie, the booth staff scanned their badges and introduced attendees to Fios e-discovery legal support services and software.

There are many ways to attract attention – prizes, demos, entertainers and free food are common – but when done in an unexpected way, it can make your booth the trade show exhibit that everyone talks about.

Shine Like a Star at Your Trade Show by Scheduling a Book Signing

Schedule a book signing at your next trade show

Our clients are constantly looking for new ways to drive more traffic to their trade show exhibit. One very effective method to accomplish this is to schedule a book signing.

Most industries have some well-recognized experts who have written books or white papers on subjects directly related to the show and to exhibitors’ products or services. The opportunity to meet and talk to one of these experts as well as walk away with an autographed copy of a book can be a very compelling attraction.

This type of promotion works particularly well in medical, scientific and technical shows. The authors are very often participating in the show as speakers or presenters so the cost of having them in a booth can be quite reasonable. They are often willing to work the booth for just the cost of the books.

Be sure to hype the book signing with preshow emails to attendees. Develop a lead card that gathers all of the information necessary to turn the lead into a sale. The attendees should be required to complete the lead card in order to receive the book.

Consider controlling traffic by making it a “by invitation only” event in your pre-show promotions.

Trade Show Secrets to Success

For small businesses, trade shows can be a great opportunity to reach out to a targeted audience and deliver your marketing message. The goal, of course, is to ultimately convert potential sales leads into satisfied, happy customers.

Despite brutal economic conditions, trade shows still offer a significant payoff for small businesses. Even in today’s business world of websites, social media, emails and voicemails, trade shows still offer one of the best opportunities for companies to build relationships with face-to-face contact.

Let’s take a look at some trade show secrets (shhh, don’t tell anyone) that could help your company succeed in the trade show world, regardless of your budget.

Pick a show in a vertical, niche market. Instead of exhibiting at a trade show at which all your competitors will be, fighting to gain the attention of the same audience, pick an offbeat, smaller show. Every business has smaller, vertical markets in which they would like to gain a foothold. The advantage is these shows typically will cost less, and you can focus on delivering your message to a new audience, not on besting your competitors’ efforts.

Don’t listen to the hype. Instead of relying on the word of salespeople desperate to sell you a booth, talk to other exhibitors to find out what type of experience they’ve had not only working with the exhibit management but also the results they have experienced from exhibiting.

Attend the event first. If you’re considering exhibiting at a really large (read: expensive) trade show, attend it first. Walk the floor and ask both the attendees and the exhibitors about their experience at the show. Find out whether they felt attending or exhibiting was worth their time and money.

Skip new trade shows. Don’t invest in unproven commodities, especially in these tough economic times when even the larger shows can struggled for survival. Save your trade show budget for shows with a proven track record of success that you know can deliver the ROI you need to justify the expense.

Speak up. If you’re a small business with limited resources, exhibiting at trade shows might be beyond your economic means. That doesn’t mean you can’t add trade shows to your marketing mix. Contact the show management and inquire as to any possible opportunities to be a speaker or panel expert.

Get them while they’re hot. After the show is over, don’t let months go by before contacting sales prospects. Follow up with those attendees who took the time to stop by and hear your company’s pitch within two weeks of the show.

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.