Alexis Exhibits

Trade Show Strategy: Plan it Like an Expedition

I like to think about a trade show like an expedition. I’m headed off to some exotic land in search of treasure. I will be deep in the jungle, cut off from civilization for days. It will be hard to get supplies. I know that my team should expect no outside help. The fate of the entire expedition rests in the hands of the people I choose to man the booth, careful planning and how well equipped we are to meet the expected – and unforeseen – challenges.

The treasure is, of course, new customers and sales. And getting those new customers requires an action plan.

Plan your targets in advance

About 75% of show attendees plan booth visits and meetings before the show starts. Review the attendee list in advance of the show. ID your targets. Start to invite people to visit your booth a few weeks before the show. Personal phone calls are most effective and harder to ignore than e-mails and mailings. Think about pre-show communications that will create anticipation of your booth – it can feature a special promotion or some buzz about a new product release.

Make sure you and your team are outfitted for this adventure

Select clothes that look professional or that support the theme of your booth, but also make sure that everyone will look great all day. Plan on it being either too hot or too cold – attire with a jacket that can be removed is a great choice. And wear comfortable shoes. (One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was wearing beautiful, brand new shoes that were not a great fit to a trade show.) It is almost impossible to really smile if you have been standing for 6 hours and your feet hurt.

Have enough staff or find a partner

Ideally, you will have enough staff in your booth to meet with prospects and give your team breaks. If you have limited staff or have only one person at the booth for a show, find another larger company to partner with. It is best to do this before you select your booth location so that you can be located next to each other or share a larger space.

Pick the right team

Who you pick for this “expedition” is essential to making it successful. Fill your team with high-energy people who have an upbeat attitude. And make sure that everyone who is representing your company has deep product knowledge.

Plan your sales material carefully

People who attend a show are bombarded with information and the best way to be remembered is from your sales literature. Make sure it is easy to carry and packed with valuable information – your goal is to make sure people take your material back to their office. If you have a really valuable prospect, make sure to get their contact information and send material to them after the show.

Carefully select your bait

Over 90% of exhibitors bring a premium or free sample to give away at a trade show because offering an attractive free gift is great way to attract people to your booth. You will be the best choices and can usually save money if you plan this in advance.

What do you do before a show to make it more successful?

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?

Create Exhibits with Curb Appeal

Trade shows are by nature quite chaotic. Attendees bustling from booth to booth while exhibitors fight to garner their attention and interest in their companies’ products or services. Studies have shown that a tradeshow display typically has about three seconds to catch the attention and communicate to a potential customer passing by a booth. To makes things even harder, your booth is competing with possibly hundreds of other displays for attendees’ attention.

So, exhibitors have a matter of seconds to grab attendees’ and potential prospects’ attention and make an immediate impression. Eye-popping, colorful graphics in tradeshow booths are an excellent way to do just that. Graphics in tradeshow booths can include booth signs, displays, banner stands, and even table cloths. So what makes one booth an attention-grabber and another one that’s easily passed by?

Here are some things to think about when you set about creating the graphics that will hopefully deliver a powerful visual punch and grab the attention of potential prospects.

Pick a good color. The right color can help you both convey a message and stand out amidst the sea of competing booths. Warmer colors, such as red, orange and yellow attract more attention than cooler colors, such as blue, green and white.

Keep images simple. Simple, bold and clear images are the most effective in conveying your marketing message to attendees. The more ornate and involved the graphics, the more you risk confusing, overwhelming and distracting booth visitors. If possible, choose just one simple image.

Headlines are key. So put a lot of thought into writing them! Choose your words very carefully and keep it simple, clear and short. This might be the only shot at grabbing the attention of attendees who are giving your booth at most a passing glance. A crafty, compelling headline may be what brings them in to hear more about your company. Also the shorter the headline, the bigger it can be, increasing visibility.

Keep it light. Lighting is very important to helping draw the attention of attendees and in creating a welcoming atmosphere. Be creative with lighting; choose to spotlight a new product or use warmer lighting to create an inviting environment.

Choose a message that packs a punch. This is a tough one. You already know you have to keep it short and sweet with simple imagery. The things that you must communicate are: who you are, what your business does, and what separates you from your competition.

Theatrical Trade Show Booth Lighting

Theatrical lighting in a trade show booth can add dramatic effect to almost any display property on the show floor. Different lights and lighting effects can be used to enhance color, create a mood among attendees, focus an attendee’s view to a feature area, and create visual texture, all enhancing the attendee’s experience.

However, the budget for theatrical or moving lights can quickly escalate. That’s why, when a company sets out to build a new booth or rent a property, lighting is often the last thing considered, and even more often, the first thing cut back. So how and why should you keep lighting in your trade show budget?

Consider the basics when creating a trade show exhibit lighting package:
  • What is the effect you wish to achieve?
  • What is the benefit of that effect on the attendee?
  • How does that relate to the attendee’s impression of your exhibit?
  • What is your budget, and how much of it do you wish to allocate to the lighting package?
“HEY, LOOK AT US!”

Amid the wide expanse of the show floor, a static booth with little or no lighting easily gets lost. However, an exhibit with good lights screams, “Hey, there is something exciting over here!” The result? Attendees come to see what it’s all about. Once the attendee is near or in the booth, colored and moving lights add life to an otherwise static display. The colors and moving “textures” can create a mood of peace, elegance, or an over-all feeling of warmth that can make attendees more at ease, and more likely to stay around.

The additional benefits of trade show booth lighting are simple:

Use lighting to draw attention to areas within the booth you wish to feature. Well-positioned lighting can help your graphics and equipment “pop” amidst the yellowish-hazy hall lighting that tends to be rather drab. Full-color graphics show more color, equipment can appear even more shiny and polished, and the everyday background canvas of the booth fades even further into the background, highlighting the items you really want attendees to focus on.

What will you need to include, and what effect will lighting have on cost? First, the overall cost of your electrical order will increase. To create the lumens required just takes more juice. You will also typically need a distribution panel to distribute the electrical. In most cases, this will go on the floor, somewhere in a dedicated space; a safe estimate of space required would be around 100 square feet. In addition to the panel, moving lights may need a lighting board (a sort of “brains,” if you will), to control the intelligent lighting. You will need a technician to program the lights and get the board up and running prior to the show. A good technician, with availability during the show, is likely to be more expensive, but is a good investment. The price may be a little higher, but peace of mind can be priceless, as any mid-show hiccups can be quickly dispelled.

With a well-planned lighting package, your tradeshow ROI can increase traffic and improve attendee perception.

Trade Show Strategy: Quality Displays Matter

When you exhibit at a trade show, the quality of your display really matters to increase booth impact. A brilliant concept or a great design will fall flat if the booth is poorly designed, manufactured from inappropriate materials or poorly constructed. Smart exhibitors establish very specific quality criteria before they start to work with a design company on their booth.

How do you define quality?

Quality can be the combination of many factors: design, durable materials, craftsmanship, use of innovative technology, low environmental impact, and so on. Quality is based on your needs, your company’s or organization’s goals and your target customers’ values.

Here are a few things to consider when you develop your exhibit quality criteria.

  1. Quality Graphic Design
    Great graphic design is critical if you want to present your company in the proper light. No matter how much you spend on booth production and construction, if the graphic design is not first-rate, it will not matter.
  2. Specify Quality, High-impact Materials
    You may not be able to specify exact materials for your exhibit but you can require that the materials used are high-impact materials that are suitable for the handling, wear and tear you expect for the exhibit.
  3. Review Sample Work to Evaluate Potential Firms
    Look at samples of design firms’ work to evaluate each firm’s production quality and attention to detail.
  4. Everything in the Exhibit Deserves Consideration
    The quality standards should apply to every part of your exhibit: displays, sales collateral, premiums, even the exhibit staff’s apparel.
  5. Structural Integrity
    If your booth exhibit incorporates large, constructed elements, make sure that they are properly engineered to eliminate any risk of structural failure.
  6. Installation and Takedown
    Poorly managed installation and dismantling can undermine every investment in quality you make. Make sure you have a professional managing both installation and takedown.
  7. Quality Packing and Shipping
    If your exhibit is poorly packed, it is more likely to be damaged in transit. Think about including quality crates or cases in your budget. With proper packaging, your booth will be properly protected when shipped and you many actually save money in the long run by reducing operating labor costs.

Why You Should Replace Traditional Graphics With Flat Screen Displays

Situation: You are getting ready to exhibit at your most important show of the year. You pull your exhibit out of the warehouse and realize that the graphics and entire exhibit looks outdated and tired. You need to update, but your budget is limited. You can’t afford to replace your entire trade show booth – you can’t afford to fade into the background at this show.

One Solution: Replace your exhibit graphics with flat screen display monitors and a media player.

There are many ways to update and refresh an outdated trade show exhibit. Increase booth impact by replacing graphics with digital displays will add a high-impact look to your display and help bring it up to speed with newer, more high-tech exhibit properties.

Converting your graphics to flat screen digital displays can involve greater up-front costs than just replacing the graphic panels, but you will be building longevity and flexibility into your exhibit. Plus, adding digital display monitors has other benefits:

  • You may be able to save on graphics production unless you create very elaborate digital presentations.
  • You can create attractive dynamic signage that will attract attention and draw more people into your booth.
  • You can quickly update your messaging by creating new content.
  • You can affordably adjust your brand presentation and featured products for each show’s specific market.
  • You can create presentations that will help customers visualize what you can do for them.

Updating your trade show booth with digital display monitors and a dynamic presentation can help you attract trade show attendees and encourage more of them to buy your products or services.

Need help with updating your trade show display? We can help. Let’s talk.

Putting your Best Face Forward: How to Staff your Trade Show Booth

You can spend lots of money creating an eye-grabbing, elaborate trade show exhibit, but lose potential customers if your booth personnel are not well trained and prepared. Make it an essential part of your pre-show strategy, right along with pre-event marketing and demo preparations. Keep in mind that these people will leave a lasting impression, good or bad, on your attendees and potential customers when they leave your booth, so pick the best and brightest to represent your organization.

Here are a few more tips on how you can ensure that everyone in your trade show staff is show-ready:

Make sure they are well versed. This is particularly important when using temp workers. These people need to know detailed background about your company, its mission, goal, target audience, products or services, as well as your sales and marketing message.

Practice makes perfect. Establish a pre-show training session and conduct them before every show. Prepare a list of objectives and make sure everyone is aware of their role. For example, some people might be assigned official greeters, while others might be reserved for fielding more detailed technical questions.

friendly tradeshow staffChoose friendly folk. This might seem obvious, but the more outgoing and friendly a person is, the better they will be at engaging prospects.

Stick to the script. Training booth personnel should include a well-practiced script that includes a quick introduction of themselves, a one-minute overview of your company and its products; a few questions to qualify the attendee as a potential prospect; and a request for contact info for effective follow-up after the event.

Dress the part. Make sure that booth staff understands what is expected of them in terms of how to dress, proper etiquette (no gum chewing, eating, etc.), the importance of arriving early and being prepared, and how long they are expected to be on duty.

Don’t overstaff. It’s human nature to avoid excessively crowded spaces and nothing is more intimidating then walking into a booth and being besieged by a throng of over-eager salespeople. Proper staffing will depend upon the size of the actual booth.

Put sales staff on the front line. Even if you rely on temporary help at trade shows, it’s vital to have salespeople in the mix and preferably taking the lead in greeting visitors and doing demos.

Listen more, talk less. Companies can learn more about potential customers and how they might be able to help them by taking the time to listen to their needs, pain points, issues, etc. Booth staff should adhere to the 80/20 principle: listen 80% and talk only 20%.

Tradeshow Booth Staffing Tips

Hiring tradeshow talent and booth staff can provide an exhibitor much better returns on investment than in years past, providing that one understands the need, and seeks the most qualified candidate(s) to fill that need.

Pre-Qualify Prospects: Trade Show Talent Acts as an Ambassador for Your Booth

Browse the internet for convention and tradeshow models, and you’ll find that there are hundreds of agencies providing this type of service. With so much to choose from, where to begin? First, prioritize your needs as an exhibitor. The early days of car show models & booth babes have expanded into tradeshow talent that can not only greet attendees but also demonstrate products and engage attendees in conversation. When considering hiring staff, be sure to consider what the role of this hired talent will be.

When Hiring Talent for your Tradeshow Booth, Find a Reputable Agency

tradeshow_presenterIf you expect superior communication skills, good eye contact, and a witty personality, then you shouldn’t just go online and start looking for price quotes. You’ll want to start by finding a reputable agency, preferably one recommended by a display house, that has numerous testimonials and references. Furthermore, you will want to outline, in writing, precisely what you will expect from your hired tradeshow staff. They are, after all, an extension of your sales staff, as the CMT agency states on it’s website “More important than just being attractive, they know and exemplify the fact that being outgoing, friendly, engaging and professional are what matter most on the tradeshow floor.”

Base your search for hired staff on your written outline of criteria. Speak to the agency about the qualifications and experience of each booth model. Ask the agency the tough questions, don’t be afraid to shop around. You will find that some agencies book superior talent, far beyond what might be considered standard or acceptable, including interpreters, product presenters, costume characters or entertainers. Find some talent with more than just a pretty smile. You might find that a well-qualified presenter just happens to be available during your show days, and needs the work. Why settle for a bikini model when you can have an excellent ambassador in your booth?

Include Tradeshow Booth Talent in Your Booth Staff Training

Before the show, outline a plan for your hired staffers. Share it with them well in advance so they may ask questions and get clarification. Expect them to show up well before the show starts each day, and have a briefing about expectations and or goals. INCLUDE THEM IN YOUR BOOTH STAFF TRAINING! You will want to emphasize the importance of pre-qualifying prospects, a major part of booth staff training. At the end of the day, have a wrap-up meeting, and again, include them with your staff. You are, after all, paying a premium – so why not demand a little more? If you make your staffing choices well, you can not only increase traffic and lead generation, you will also ratchet up tradeshow ROI.

How to Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out

Exhibiting at a trade show is a marvelous way for your company to capture the attention of its target market in order to introduce a new product or service, generate valuable sales leads, get media attention, or sell products. Garnering that attention, however, can be tricky when your booth is amid hundreds of competing booths, each staffed with eager employees trying to grab the often-fleeting interest of passing attendees.

standoutSo how do you make your exhibit stand out? Research shows that exhibitors have mere seconds to grab the attention of attendees, often weary and overwhelmed by the vast number of booths. You can’t meet your tradeshow objectives unless you get those folks in your booth to hear your pitch, so exhibitors must always be on the lookout for new and creative ways to make their exhibit stand out.

One way is to walk the show floor and take note of what other exhibitors are doing with their trade show exhibits and displays. Notice what types of marketing strategies they are using to attract booth traffic. Also, pay attention to what booths seem to be drawing in the largest number of attendees. Is there an enticing giveaway drawing in hordes of people? Ask attendees that have stopped in your booth which exhibitors’ booths they were most drawn to and why.

Leverage your relationship with your display provider as well. They often can offer specific expertise on what has proven successful for other customers as far as boosting traffic. It is their job to stay on top of the latest in exhibit design, event strategies and promotional trends.

Another potential source of innovative ideas are trade show associations and industry consultants. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (www.ceir.org) is another great resource for ideas on how to increase your tradeshow exhibit’s visibility. Once you have developed some new strategy ideas to boost booth traffic, lead generation and possibly sales, just make sure they all align with your company’s brand positioning.

Here are a handful of promotional ideas to draw in visitors to your booth:

Entertain them. Magicians, caricaturists, and celebrity look-alikes are sometimes cheesy but often effective in grabbing the interest of attendees, giving your booth staffers an opportunity to strike up a conversation.

Photograph them. Take a digital photo of visitors and superimpose them on unique backgrounds, such as magazine covers to create a memorable takeaway. Or use the image to perform a virtual makeover, so visitors can see what they would look like in various hairstyles or clothes.

Let them play. Provide a chance to play virtual sports, such as golf or baseball using simulation software systems. Winners take away balls with your logo printed on them.

Feed them. Weary and often hungry trade show attendees tend to flock to booths offering free food, coffee or beverages. While they are munching or sipping, make sure your booth staffers introduce themselves and give them the two-minute pitch.

Reward them. Offer an incentive to stop by your booth. A creative giveaway— with your logo and marketing slogan on it—could include tote bags, laser pointers, memory sticks, apparel, golf tees, pens, coffee mugs, etc.

Give us the opportunity to help you find the best way to stand out on the show floor, among other things – we are confident that you’ll respond in much the same way as these happy clients attest.

Let’s talk.

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.