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.

Do Tradeshow Logistical Costs Influence the Decision to Exhibit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Trade Show Planning: Creating a Timeline

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

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

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

12+ months out: Determine your objectives

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

Conduct research on what shows will best achieve these objectives.

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

9-12 months out: Initial planning mode

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

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

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

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

6-9 months out: Fine-tuning your message

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

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

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

4-6 months out: Tying up loose ends

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

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

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

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

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

Launch pre-show marketing initiatives.

1-3 months out: Check and double check details

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

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

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

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

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

One week out: Crunch time.

Wrap up staff training of booth personnel.

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

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

Goal Setting – How to Evaluate a Successful Tradeshow

As corporate tradeshow marketing professionals, justifying participation in trade shows is one of the most daunting tasks that we face. The competition for every penny of your marketing budget is fierce and very few executives are in love with tradeshows.

How can you convince others in your organization that shows are a good investment? How can you say that you had a successful show when there was never any measurement technique established? Like any other investment, it must start with goals. When the decision is made to exhibit in a show, you and your team need to produce a written set of measurable goals that everyone buys into.

These may include a number of completed lead sheets, meetings with certain key prospects, the number of individual demonstrations, etc. This list, created well before the show provides a very effective guide for exhibit design, graphics, booth staffing and show activities. Everything planned for the tradeshow must be done with your goals list in mind.

During the show, you can assemble the data to report which goals were achieved and which were not.

A team meeting 2 weeks after the show will allow you to share your results and will clearly demonstrate the value of the show. This then becomes a procedure that is done for every event.

A lack of goals leaves the future of your tradeshow program totally to chance. Need help establishing your goals? Our exhibit management is based entirely on strategic planning. Let’s Talk.

How Tradeshows and Social Media Co-exist

There is Still a Place for Trade Shows in Your Marketing Mix

Talk to anyone who sends more than 2 texts a day and they will tell you that the only way to market products and services is to use Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or search engine optimization. They consider face-to-face marketing to be an antiquated form of communication and that the days of tradeshows are numbered.

Those of us who make our living producing trade shows get the opportunity to see things in a different light. Walk the aisles at the consumer electronics show and watch buyers from all over the world making deals with major manufacturers. Go to the HIMSS show and see hospital administrators finalizing plans for purchase of their new IT infrastructure. Attend the American College of Cardiology meeting and listen to heart specialists discussing the advantages of various new instruments with the inventor. This type of important business communication can only be done face-to-face and the most cost- and time-effective way to do this is at a tradeshow.

Social Media Should be an Important Part of Your Tradeshow Promotion

The fact is, social media can and should be an important part of tradeshow promotion and communication. The ability to reach out to potential customers before, during, and after a show using this technology can greatly increase tradeshow ROI. Just like any other marketing project, exhibitors should enlist the assistance of a person or group that has experience with the most popular networks, explain their goals and put together a plan for your tradeshow.

Keep an open mind. Don’t expect overnight success. Continue to review and improve your approach to both media and the results will come. Let’s talk.

Chasing Tradeshow Cost Savings?

Many exhibitors are being forced to find ways to reduce the cost of participation in tradeshows. The most common way this task is approached is to look at each cost line item and see what can be done to save money.

The common first step is to contract for a smaller booth space. This not only saves on the cost of the space rental but also provides an across-the-board cost reduction. The downside of such a reduction? You may have to settle for a less than desirable booth location and you’ll also need to make sure your display properties will fit in the smaller format.

After booth space, the likely second step is to look at each cost category for the show and try to determine which costs can be reduced. This is a very time-consuming process, and usually entails trying to find out how much your exhibit weighs and how long it should take to set up. This information is not always easy to get your hands on, and when you do, there are always a slew of variables that can affect the final cost of the show.

In my opinion, however, the best first step to take is to contact your exhibit supplier (assuming they store and manage your display) and lay your cards on the table. Explain to them that you have been asked to cut 25% off the cost of last year’s show. Ask them to provide recommendations. Remember, they do this for a living! They are not likely to be overly excited about this mission, but they should support you through good times and bad.
If they can’t or won’t provide you with some good ideas, you should probably consider finding another supplier.

Thinking about changing exhibit companies? Let’s Talk.

Ten Tips for Better Trade Show Exhibits

Trade shows can be one of the most cost-effective ways for your company to reach qualified prospects. And with a little bit of planning you can dramatically improve your results.

  1. Start planning as soon as you know you will be attending the show. Make your booth space reservation as far in advance as possible so you can select the best location and size.
  2. The majority of trade show attendees plan their trade show exhibit visits before the show. 75% of buyers arrive with pre-set purchasing objectives. A pre-show marketing campaign is essential to making the most of your trade show exhibit investment.
  3. Most trade shows are covered by local and industry media. Before the show, invite local media contacts to visit your booth. Find out if there will be any trade press at the show and set up a time to meet.
  4. Promote the shows your company will be exhibiting at and your booth location on your company website, Twitter and Facebook pages.
  5. Avoid printing anything at the trade show or at a hotel business center. Ship copies from your office or a printer to the show.
  6. Put together a comprehensive inventory list before you ship your exhibit. This will make check in and out-bound shipping more efficient, and better ensure that any missing items are identified rapidly.
  7. Bring more sales collateral and business cards than you think you could possibly need. You cannot afford to run out and it is inexpensive to ship it back to your office.
  8. Bring backup copies of all multimedia presentations on CDs just in case you have an issue with your laptop. You can also store copies of presentations online so that you can access them and download if needed.
  9. Organize your trade show leads in the downtime during the show and start to follow-up even before you leave the exhibit floor. Send the contact information for prospects to your office from the show and have someone send out requested collateral material to these prospects so it is waiting for them when they return to their office.
  10. Put together a trade show exhibit emergency kit: packing tape, scissors, pens, epoxy putty, a small trash can, power strips, extension cords, USB flash drives, cutting tools, and a tool kit. Add in anything that you might need for small emergency booth repairs and replacement parts for anything that can wear out or burn out like light bulbs.

Trade show exhibits are a big investment. Just a little bit of planning and a few tips from the pros, and you are well on the way to having a less stressful and more successful trade show exhibit.

Trade Show Planning Tips – Develop a Timeline

Doing Basic Planning Makes Participation in a Trade Show More Profitable and Less Stressful.

First ask yourself, what do you want from the show?
As you begin your planning process, be sure to understand why your company is spending the money to rent a space in the first place. Who will be attending? Which attendees are important to your company and why? What products do you have to show? What do you want to say to visitors to your booth? Gaining a clear understanding of these “strategic” goals is vital to helping everything else fall neatly into place. As such, decisions on design, graphics, product placement, staffing, etc. should all be made based on your overall show strategy.

Next, develop a timeline.
Most show manuals include a timeline or schedule of events. This is helpful for dealing with the logistical details, but you need to make a personal timeline to guide your planning. You will also need to deal with your tradeshow display, all graphics, literature and premiums, room and dinner reservations, the list goes on and on. The only way to keep all of this organized and still be able to sleep at night is to start with a timeline. The first one that you make will be very difficult and time-consuming, but with the groundwork laid, subsequent show timelines can be as easy as cut and paste.

Get some help.
Your exhibit company should be able to take most of the display issues off of your shoulders, but it is best to confirm things with them from time to time to make sure that they are on track. This will allow you to focus on the things that are more difficult to outsource.

Be sure to set internal deadlines.
Make sure that things that must be done internally are listed on your timeline and communicate deadlines well in advance to everyone involved. Often, one of the most difficult things for trade show managers to do is to get their own trade show booth shipped to the show on time. With that in mind, sometimes it makes sense to set an internal deadline that leaves you a week or so fudge factor just in case.

Brochures need to be ready to go well in advance. It may make sense to send your boxes of literature to your exhibit company so that they can ship them to the show with the display. This will allow you to check one more thing off of your list, and as an added benefit, it’s one less shipment you’ll have to track down on-site.

Develop a trade show timeline, check it several times a day, and work well in advance. It’s not as easy as it might seem, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

Need trade show advice? Let’s talk.

How to Order Tradeshow Electrical Service

Ordering electrical service is one of the most difficult aspects of tradeshow preparation. Just when you think that you have watts figured out, the next electrical form wants you to order amps. Volts seem easy enough, but what the heck is 3 phase? How about 24 hour power? Seems like a good idea, but it doubles the cost of each connection.

Trade Show Electrical Service Preparation

For the vast majority of tradeshow exhibits, the electrical requirements are pretty straight-forward. For a 10’ backwall exhibit, one standard minimum service outlet placed behind the booth will be all that is needed. If the plan includes a reception counter or table on the aisle, another minimum service outlet nearby will be handy to provide power to a lead retrieval device or laptop. As tradeshow displays get larger and more complex, it is advisable to have an electrical drawing. This is usually a simple display floorplan that shows exact placement of all electrical outlets and the required watts or amps for each. It is best to provide as much detail as possible. Most exhibit companies provide this service as part of their preparation procedure.

electricianOnce you have the electrical diagram, you can simply count the service outlets and fill out the form. Make sure to submit the form early enough to take advantage of any discounts.

Heavy duty electrical service such as 220 or 440 volts is used to power machinery. This type of service is very expensive and the order should be placed by someone who is very familiar with the equipment. Most convention centers turn off electrical service to displays at night. If you have equipment or computers in your exhibit that should not be turned off, or if you have refrigerators or freezers in your booth, you should consider ordering 24-hour service.

You will also need to provide the electrical diagram to the show electricians. They will use your electrical order and diagram to route extension cords on the floor to the locations specified. The diagram is normally sent in with the electrical order. If things change, be sure to provide the updated electrical drawing before you go to the show. The electricians typically go to work right after the booths are taped out on the floor.

A word about safety… One of the most common complaints heard from exhibitors is that they have to pay an electrician $90.00 to plug in their lights. While the cost does seem high, there is a very good reason for an electrician to make the connection. This process ensures that the electrician has an opportunity to inspect the wiring in your display. This may seem like a hassle, but keep in mind that on the night of January 16, 1967, while the biggest tradeshow of the year was hours from opening, a fire that was later traced to faulty wiring in an exhibit, burned Chicago’s McCormick Place to the ground. One person died and economic loss included the building, all of the exhibits and products.

I’m sure you can agree, it’s much better safe than sorry.
Does your exhibit company provide electrical service as part of their preparation procedure? Need help? Let’s talk.