Alexis Exhibits

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.

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.

Design Effective Tradeshow Graphics and Maximize ROI

Graphics Are the Most Important Design Element of Your Trade Show Display

For the vast majority of tradeshow displays, the graphics are the most important design element. No matter how beautiful a display is, if you hang poorly designed graphics on it, it just looks awful. And attractive graphics aren’t enough – they must be effective as well if you want to get the maximum ROI on your tradeshow dollars. In order to get the best graphic design results, you should start by carefully considering your objectives and how your tradeshow display’s graphics might help you achieve them.

Too often, companies choose to just blow up their logo and a few of their magazine ads or a page from their website, stick them on the backwall and call it a day. People who view a web page or magazine ad spend considerably more time reading and also expect to get complete information from this type of graphic. Tradeshow graphics, on the other hand, need to be read and understood in the 3 seconds that it takes an attendee to walk past your booth.

Let’s consider the graphics on a standard 10-foot backwall display. The normal way to arrange graphics is to put your company’s name and logo on a large sign at the top. This is just fine if your company is Coca-Cola, or Nike, but lesser known brands might want to add a few words that describe what the company does or maybe a bold statement that grabs the attention of the visitor.

Design Graphics to Support Your Sales Presentation

The balance of the graphics in a small booth can be used to create an atmosphere, list features and benefits of products or show products in use. I prefer to design graphics that support a sales presentation. Once a prospect has stopped at your booth, the booth staff can easily do a brief sales presentation using the graphics as visual support.

Once you have established your objectives, it makes sense to take advantage of the experience an exhibit designer brings to the table. Share with them your goals and allow them to provide input on graphics that are going to be displayed.

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.

Trade Show Exhibit Design: Tension Fabric Displays

Tension fabric displays have many advantages; they are portable, easy to set up, affordable and inexpensive to update. Many exhibitors have switched to fabric graphics because they eliminate the possibility of glare or scratched, marred finishes. Other exhibitors appreciated the contemporary look that can be achieved with fabric graphics. With all the advantages of using tension fabric, it is no wonder that it has rapidly become commonplace. Unfortunately, commonplace can also become boring on a trade show floor.

Designers get creative with Tension Fabric

The typical tension fabric display is constructed of anodized aluminum tubing covered with a stretch fabric that has been printed with graphics. Most often, the exhibits using tension fabric basically replicate traditional trade show display forms. But now, a few exhibit designers are starting to explore the real potential of lightweight framing, tension fabric, programmed lighting and new printing technology to create some innovative new trade show exhibits that were not possible with traditional materials.

Lightweight framing offers new design freedom

The advent of lightweight aluminum framing means that designers can more freely incorporate tall structures and ceiling-hung elements in booths to increase visibility. It also has enabled designers to cost-efficiently create new freeform shapes and elegant, curved structures. These materials offer almost endless shape and size possibilities. Some designers have even created soaring three-dimensional structures that attendees can enter and be immersed in the brand experience.

Fabric graphics offer versatility

fabricFabric graphics offer more versatility than laminated panels, and can be produced in varying textures and opacities. Fabrics can be used to add movement and elegance to banners, and hanging elements. And translucent fabrics printed with opaque ink and illuminated with backlighting can be used to add more dimension to the design.

Graphics can be printed on fabric with either a dye sublimation process or a direct ink jet printing process to achieve different effects. Dye sublimation is a continuous-tone printing technology that very closely replicates a chemical photograph and is the best way to reproduce photographs.

Direct ink jet printing produces sharper, brilliant images and is the best choice for highly graphic images. And, with recent advances in high-resolution ink jet technology, high-quality photographic images can be produced with inkjet printing. This printing method can be used on both synthetic and natural fabrics, and allows designers to create fabric graphics on silk, cotton and fabric blends.

Limitless design possibilities

Fabric is a durable, lightweight, versatile, and affordable medium for trade show exhibit design. It provides designers with countless ways to create fresh and up-to-date displays that can make a trade show exhibit stand out at even the most competitive show.

DOs and DON’Ts for Effective Trade Show Booths

So in the past few weeks we’ve talked about a myriad of trade show topics: how to entertain attendees, how to develop an effective trade show marketing strategy, tips on how to work your booth, how to reduce costs, and ways to plan before leaving for your trade show. Let’s take a few steps back and determine what are a few of the DOs and DON’Ts of pulling together a successful, enticing tradeshow exhibit.

doanddontPreparing for a trade show, especially for small companies, can be a daunting task. Deciding what to include and how to set up an actual exhibit/display is one of the fundamental decisions you’ll have to make. First step is to contact the show managers and find out the size of the booth you will have, whether there is a wall space for your company sign, if there are electrical outlets available, and any other small items that you might be responsible for supplying.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when creating your exhibit:

DON’T overstuff it. Product managers might want to display things that represent every brand or product your company offers. Partners might want their logo splashed all over your booth. Keep in mind that sometimes simpler is better. Booths overcrowded with displays, products, stands, etc., turn off prospective attendees and prevent you from quickly communicating why attendees should visit you.

DO simplify your message. Many exhibitors make the mistake of bombarding their booth visitors with marketing slogans. Instead choose the one core message you want to impart to potential customers and stick to that in terms of graphic presentations. Displaying fewer, but larger visual elements in your exhibit will reduce clutter and better garner an attendee’s attention and create a lasting impression.

DO focus on the cream of the crop. Instead of hauling your entire product line to a tradeshow booth and again cluttering your display, overwhelming visitors, and diluting your marketing message, showcase only your new and top-selling products.

DON’T rely on static displays. Any type of motion captures people’s attention as opposed to static displays. You can take advantage of this by playing a looping DVD on a widescreen TV or make use of a rotating display.

DO maintain a small, private area. If your booth is big enough, it’s nice to have a quiet, private area with a table and a few chairs to take attendees or promising prospects that might like to sit down and discuss your company and its product and services in more detail.

DON’T scrimp on carpet. This might sound silly, but after a long day of walking miles and miles on the unforgiving floors of huge exhibit halls, visitors will appreciate booths that have plush, padded carpet. And, so will your booth workers.

Trade Show Design Secrets: Keep It Simple!

What stands out at a major trade show or fair? Bright colors, bold designs, and simplicity. This is not news, yet trade shows remain filled with booths that are too complex and too cluttered – booths that attendees do not recall seeing because they make no impression.

The most common cause of a cluttered booth is trying to accomplish too many objectives. Generally, if you are overly ambitious, you will end up falling short on every goal. But if you are willing to make some choices, your exhibit can be brilliant. Check out Trade Show Exhibit Design: The Creative Brief for some valuable planning tips that will help you to make an impression.

A focused message

focusedtradeshowmessageThink about what you really want to communicate with your booth display and write it down. If it is one, focused goal, then you are on the right track. Once you have a singular mission, work with your design team to bring it to life. Focus on your one main message. Carry that message into everything you present at the trade show – your booth, collateral, merchandise presentation, sales pitch, staff clothing, everything.

Keep your booth open and inviting

Eliminate anything and everything that creates a barrier to attendees or will overwhelm them with unnecessary information. A few examples:

  • Be clear and straightforward about your company. Don’t tell your complete corporate history – only what is needed to make the sale.
  • Present a few products merchandised to showcase your most important products. A booth packed with a deep product assortment will just become clutter.
  • Banner graphics can be great unless they are filled with complex graphic images or too many words and logos. If you want people to actually read what is on your banners, limit the amount of information you put on them.

It all sounds so simple, but choices are always difficult.

To create a singular, power statement you have to be willing to make some hard choices. I usually start with an empty space and challenge myself to only put in what is essential. Maybe the product display should only include your newest products. One large multipurpose element can often replace several small elements and eliminate a lot of clutter. Look for ways to build in storage to hide extra sales literature and other supporting materials.

Be remembered.

Your trade show exhibit will be more effective and more memorable if it makes a clear statement about your company and your products. Question everything and, if something does not support your core message, do not let it into your exhibit.

If you want your trade show booth to be the star of the show, you have to have one message and it has to have a chance to be seen.

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.