Plan and Measure

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Tips for Creating Your Trade Show Strategy

trade show strategyAnyone who has been to a trade show knows this familiar scene: one booth is vibrant and bustling with a crowd, while the booth next to it doesn’t draw a single person except a few bored looking employees staring into space. What gives? The answer is a bit more complicated than having the right product or a good display – it’s all about finding a successful trade show strategy.

Participating in a trade show is an investment, taking up a large portion of most company budgets. If you’re going to do a trade show, it’s important to do it right – and that starts with an excellent strategy. Planning your approach is absolutely key to making the event as effective as possible. Here are a few tips for developing the right strategy so your trade show is worth the investment.

Plan & Prepare

Trade show regulars will tell you that it’s important to register for a trade show far in advance to guarantee a good spot. While this is definitely true, don’t make the common mistake of registering and forgetting. Companies frequently do this, pushing all prep until the last minute and throwing together a so-so trade show.

Your prep should begin right after you register. Start with setting goals: What do we want to accomplish at this trade show? What is our purpose for being at this trade show? Who do we want to talk to at this trade show? Be as specific as possible so your employees have a clear idea about their mission. Everything you do at your trade show should tie back to your original goals. And don’t forget to book flights and hotel rooms for your employees! Waiting until the last minute will usually drive up costs for less-than-ideal options.

Spread the Word

Get the buzz going! Let your current contacts and prospective customers know about your upcoming event to get people excited. With the internet and social media, doing this is easier than ever and almost always free. You could host a webinar on Facebook live, tweet updates on your progress, send out a promotional email or write some exciting new blog posts. The goal is to give your network a good reason to show up to your booth. Hone in on what’s exciting and new about your event that customers shouldn’t miss.

Booth Design Is Key

The last step in preparation couldn’t be more crucial – booth design. Start by making sure you get a prime location at the trade show. While these spots usually cost more, they are also larger and in high-traffic areas. Obtain the exact dimensions, lighting access, and other information pertaining to your space, as this will determine the design of your booth.

Once you’ve got your space locked down, focus on creating a design that will draw people in instantly. You only have a few short seconds to show customers who you are and what you offer, so use your space wisely. Eye-catching graphics, videos and demonstrations are just a few ideas. Avoid placing a table across the entrance to your booth as this tends to close people off.

engage at trade showsEngage, Engage, Engage

You made it to the trade show – congrats! Now it’s time to perform. It’s not enough to just have employees present at the trade show. Pick the friendliest, most energetic and most engaging people you have to work your booth. They should be eager to talk to attendees without being overbearing. Trade shows are stiff competition, and competing well is key. No sitting around or scrolling Instagram feeds. Again, this is a big investment of time, money and resources – every minute counts!

Follow Up

Once the trade show is over, you and your team are likely to be exhausted, but the work isn’t over after you’ve packed up your booth. If you want any of the leads you talked to during the show to become customers, you need to follow up as quickly as possible (ideally the next day, but at least within the week).

During the show, have your employees take brief notes on each lead. Chances are many other companies at the show are also following up with the same people, so it’s important to stand out. Including small personal details from your notes (without seeming creepy) will go a long way. Try to make an impression – maybe even make phone calls instead of sending out emails! These follow-ups are essential to making the most of your trade show.

Great trade show strategy isn’t just about what you do at the actual event. It’s about your preparation before, action during and follow-up after the event. Each of these phases is crucial to the other two, so don’t cut any corners! Follow these steps and you’ll be amazed at just how effective your trade shows can be.

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4 Common Trade Show Mistakes To Avoid

trade show mistakesWhether you’ve grown up attending trade shows your whole life or haven’t experienced a single one, putting on a trade show of your own is a lot more challenging than it appears to be. With everything from coordinating whom to hire to finalizing displays, the planning alone may feel a bit overwhelming. Luckily, learning from the mistakes of others is one of the best ways to get on top of your game. If you’re not sure how to make your tradeshow an absolute hit, take care to avoid these four common trade show mistakes:

1. Choosing the wrong show

One of the most common mistakes that people make is that they either choose the first trade show they see that’s somewhat related to what they do or they sign up for every show on the list. When mapping out which trade shows to attend, remember: quality is always better than quantity. Sure, any show can help you stand out, but you probably won’t have much success getting people interested in your custom BBQ sauce if it’s a trade show focused on improving the environment.

The same goes for attending the biggest and most popular tradeshows. If your company is on the small side, a top trade show could get your name out there. However, your name could also get lost among the big box companies. Before choosing the first trade show that pops up, research which other companies are attending. You want to make sure the trade show is going to directly help your business goals and not waste your time and resources.

2. Hiring the wrong spokespeople

The people manning your booth are responsible for not only selling your product but also for representing your brand. Whom you choose will directly impact how successful your trade show experience is. One of the best ways to make sure that someone will represent your brand well is by choosing someone who knows a lot about your business/product – and truly believes in it.

A common mistake that most people make when hiring people to represent their company is that they simply go with the people with good communication skills. Although communication is very important, finding someone who loves your business/product ensures their pitch won’t sound fake or rehearsed. In a place where everyone is trying to sell, authenticity will go a long way and help you stand out from the others.

3. Talking more than selling

Building relationships with customers is a big part of running a business – but keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to get people to believe in your product. It’s easy to get caught up in creating relationships with consumers, and it’s not necessarily a waste of time; just make sure those relationships include your products or service. At the end of the day, the consumer should feel a genuine connection with the company as a whole.

4. Not having a definite goal

Another big mistake in preparing for a trade show is failing to make a concrete goal. Whether it’s setting a number for the email addresses retrieved or reaching a certain number of social media follows, deciding on a clear goal is a critical component of having a successful trade show. Simply setting a vague goal such as “increasing customer base” or “improving brand awareness” without attaching measurable metrics to it is not very effective.

Having a specific, concrete goal will not only motivate the company to strive for an actual number but also allow you to target certain areas in your business model that you want to improve. For example, if there’s a lack of awareness about the function of the product, it would be a good goal to have a certain increase of viewers on your YouTube channel for demos. That way, your goal can help tackle the root of the problem. The data you collect during the show will determine what was accomplished – and what to work on improving for your next show.

When it comes to having a successful trade show, there are a lot of things that could go wrong. However, by coming in fully armed with a good sense of what to do and what not to do, you’re setting yourself up for success. Now that trade show planners know what not to do, you’re already one step ahead of the game.

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How To Efficiently Integrate Business Cards Into Your Tradeshow

Business card hand-offWhile business cards may seem like an optional addition to your trade show, if done right, they can be very significant to your success at the event. This small detail can not only expand your business but also keep your company’s name at the top of potential clients’ minds. Whether you’re making your own business cards or having them made, make sure to read through these tips on integrating them into your trade show.

The Design

The key idea here is: the simpler the card, the better. More often than not, business cards are the last step to hooking a client to your company. Rather than being a promotional tool used to convince the potential customer to try out your brand, they are used as an informational note to help the customer reach out to your brand when they decide to do so. With this in mind, it makes sense that the best route to go when designing your business card is to make sure that it is clean, clear and easy to read.

What To Include

The best business card designs will have the least amount of information. Since most people just want to quickly find the information they need, a simple phone number, address and email in addition to your company name and logo should be more than enough. Anything else will just act as clutter, which may lead to people not bothering to read through the card at all.

Font

What you have to say is extremely important, but how you say it can make or break the success of your business card. When it comes to font, choose one that is clear and easy to read. While fancy cursive fonts may seem to be aesthetically appealing, unless the font is part of your company logo, we advise staying away from these types as they can be hard to read.

Color Scheme

When it comes to color, it’s best to stick to no more than two or three colors. Maintain a simple color scheme, in line with the simple design, to keep people from getting a headache. You may use color to emphasize certain bits of information on your card and to help it stand out from the others in your client’s stack.

Pictures

Pictures on a business card provide a visual for your company that people can later use to remember you and your business. While most attendees will have seen your logo, it’s easy for logos to blend together after visiting dozens of booths. A picture will provide more context and better differentiate your brand. Be careful when choosing a photo to include, as it will represent your brand when you’re not there to do so. The picture should be intertwined with either your brand name or the essence of your business for easy recognition.

The Presentation

While the design of your business card is a key component to its success, how you integrate it into your trade show is equally critical. You want to stand out from the dozens of other businesses that a person might interact with at the event. Your business card should be the link between the conversation you have with potential clients and their taking steps to follow up with you.

Hand It to Them

Although this may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many people just leave business cards on the table for others to grab. The truth is, it’s likely passersby won’t pick up your card for whatever reason. Get around this by putting the cards into their hands yourself so they’re more likely to associate it with the person behind it and not just a faceless advertisement for your business.

The handoff should be the closing statement to your pitch. Have a conversation with the person, and then present your business card as an invitation to reach out to you. By saying things such as “Don’t hesitate to call me for any questions” or “Here’s where you can find some more information,” it will make the customer feel as though he or she has the power to either begin or end this business relationship rather than being forced to listen.

Briefly Explain the Content

Accompany your handoff with a brief explanation of the information that is on the business card. Pointing to where the information on the card can be found will get the potential customer to actually look at the card itself, helping solidify the connection they make between it and your business.

Although business cards may seem like a thing of the past, they are in fact an important asset in creating long-term relationships with potential customers. A business card will not only provide a physical reminder of your company name, but it can also act as a personal invitation for the customer to get to know your brand. Even if it does end up at the bottom of a bag, at least you can say that you didn’t forget to hand out the invitation.

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Top Qualities To Look For in a Trade Show Host

Trade show hostWhile having the perfect trade show display is an important part of a successful trade show booth, the person inside the booth is just as integral. At the end of the day, this person is responsible not only for selling your product or service but also for representing the image of your brand. While most people love a good product or service, they may change their minds if they get a negative first impression from the person representing your business. If you’re not sure how to find your perfect trade show booth host, read on for some qualities you’ll want the person to have.

Confident, Articulate & Knowledgeable

While it may seem obvious, it’s critical that the person inside your booth is able to speak up. Many people will pass by a booth unless they’re approached first. In order to draw the consumers in, you need a representative who isn’t afraid to approach individuals and pique their interest. You never want the person manning your booth to be shy or hesitant to reach out.

In addition, the face behind your booth should be someone who is both confident and articulate. He or she needs to be able to get your message across quickly and clearly – so you’ll also want the person to have in-depth knowledge about your business and products or services. When people are well-versed in what they’re saying, they won’t be as prone to ramble on and on, losing their audience’s attention. While your booth representative may not have every answer to questions that arise from trade show attendees, if the individual is confident and articulate, he or she will be sure to get the message across and make a lasting impression.

Believes in the Product/Service

The most convincing people are the ones who use the product or service themselves. This is one of the most overlooked qualities when looking for someone to man a trade show booth. When considering your options, be sure to choose someone who not only knows a lot about what you’re offering but also can truly advocate for it. Many companies make the mistake of hiring the person with the best resume without considering his or her knowledge or beliefs regarding the brand. Nothing beats the passion behind genuine interactions. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective marketing tactics, so having someone with personal experience with your brand will make it that much more convincing, and his or her pitch will feel much more natural than a forced or staged speech.

Personable With a Sense of Humor

The truth of the matter is, what it takes to attract trade show attendees may be as simple as a friendly smile. The ideal trade show host should be personable and have a sense of humor. The individual shouldn’t simply come off as someone selling a product/service; he or she should feel like a friend who’s sharing the good news about a discovered brand. These charismatic people are exactly the type of people you want inside your booth.
The person you choose to man your trade show booth can have an enormous effect on the success of your business. Be sure to consider all your options, and think outside the box on who might best fit the bill. Keeping these qualities in mind when choosing your trade show staffing is sure to deliver a successful – and fun – trade show!

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3 Tips To Mastering the Art of the Trade Show Giveaway

TSGA1Trade shows offer a spectacular opportunity to get your business and message out into the public conscience. These events give you an incredibly personal way to interact with heavy users of your product category as well as influential voices within your industry. Having a promotional product giveaway at one of these trade shows is an even better way to capitalize on the attention you will already be receiving at the event. However, not all giveaways are created equal, and a poorly executed giveaway could be a waste of your marketing budget. There are a few simple things you can do before announcing your giveaway that are sure to generate the success and return on investment you are seeking.

Budgeting

Like any other sort of promotional spending, you want to make sure that whatever you are investing money in will have a tangible and measurable return on investment, whether in terms of company awareness, leads or actual sales. Fortunately, giveaways can be some of the cheapest promotional activities when compared with other marketing activities like traditional advertising. However, giveaways also represent a very special challenge when it comes to quality perceptions of your company. You don’t want to offer a giveaway item that is cheap as a way to save money. Even if the item is a fully functioning and quality prize, your audience will develop the perception that your company is cheap because you did not offer a more expensive item to give away. Further, you don’t want to give away a big-ticket item so expensive that the number of customer actions necessary to receive a return on investment is unrealistic.

Audience

As with any promotional activity, you will want to define who you are trying to reach with your giveaway as early as possible in order to tailor the event to them. You also want to make sure that whatever item you decide to give away is both relevant to what your company does and something your audience would actually want. So, for example, if you are a plumbing company giving away the brand-new iPhone at a trade show, you will definitely attract a huge audience who want the phone, but as soon as the giveaway is over, nothing about a new iPhone is going to make your audience remember your company or why they should become your customers. Vice versa, if you are giving away free plumbing parts, you aren’t going to attract a very big audience, no matter how closely related to your business these items are.

Goals and Measurement

Probably the most important piece of the tradeshow giveaway puzzle is identifying the specific goals you are trying to meet with this giveaway and the related ways that you will track these goals. You can’t begin to track and measure success if you haven’t defined what success looks like. Your goals might be to create greater awareness of your company within your desired audience and generate more leads for your products, or your goals could simply be direct sales. Whatever your goals are, you need tools both at the event and beyond that will track these metrics. These tools could be things like social media, web analytics, business reviews or a noticeable incremental sales lift after the giveaway.

As we said earlier, a trade show giveaway can be a truly valuable promotional tool and one that can provide an amazing return on investment if executed properly. If you are able to keep these three tips in mind when planning your next one, you are sure to see the success of your giveaway reflected in the increasing success of your business – and will gain a reputation for having the best trade show giveaways around. For all other trade show and promotional materials needs, TradeShowPlus, Inc. has your back.

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Types of Trade Show Booths

Trade show boothsTrade shows can be a great way to gain traction for your business. Whether you’re just starting out or are well established, there are many opportunities available at industry shows. Having a noteworthy presence is critical for a successful show, and the booth you choose is a large part of that presence.

There is a wide range of choices in trade show booths, and knowing the different types of booths that are available will help you narrow your options and choose what best suits your business and goals. The majority of marketers worldwide use one of six types of trade show booths, each of which is described below. As you read about each type, consider these points:

  • Eye appeal
  • Versatility
  • Durability
  • Ease of setup
  • Shipping costs

PANEL

Panel trade show booths consist of several panels linked together to form an enclosure or solid looking wall. Smaller panels can also be used as tabletop displays; larger sized panels can serve as the back wall of your booth.

Exhibitors who need to transport large booths from site to site often choose a modified type of panel booth known as panel and frame. These booths are more labor-intensive as they must be assembled.

Made of accordion-style panels, these booths are easy to set up and take down in that they simply unfold. Concealed hinges increase panel strength. Panel surfaces can be customized to suit your preferences.

TENSION FABRIC

Trade show booths with fabric images that can be stretched across a frame are known as tension fabric booths. These displays are often used as the back wall for trade show booths but can also be created in custom shapes for various purposes. Lightweight frames of aluminum or steel are preferred. Frame construction and methods of applying this tension vary.

One style uses base plates that hold upright posts. At the top of each set of posts is a cross beam for attaching the fabric. Fabric used in this type of assembly often has a pocket at the top so that the cross beam can be threaded through the pocket. Fabric ties fasten the fabric to the side posts.

Another style involves silicone edge graphics, or “SEG.” A thin strip of silicone stitched to the fabric’s edges enables the fabric to be inserted into framing grooves. When the fabric is stretched inside its frame, the graphic appears to be a giant photograph that does not reflect light. This makes your booth appear warm and welcoming. Installing SEG graphics is simple, and takedown is easy. This type of booth requires little storage space and costs less to ship than most other styles.

BANNER STANDS

Banner stands are a very popular display option and are available in many shapes and sizes. Banner stands are usually made up of a banner and one or two poles. Banner graphics might display a single message, or you can create a collage of banner stands to highlight various points of your marketing campaign. Most banner stands are retractable, making it easy to transport and ship them.

POP UP

Just like the name sounds, a pop-up display “jumps up” from its resting position to full size, either by a pulling motion or by fully opening the storage case. This pop can be compared to setting up movie screens or turning the pages of a children’s pop-up book.

Although a rectangular frame shape is most common, pop-ups can be customized to fit the needs of the exhibitor. Some pop-up frames are curved; others are triangular. Individual pop-ups can be combined to form walls or a series of interior displays.

Pop-up displays are simple to set up and take down and are made of lightweight materials that fit into their own carrying cases. The cases, usually made of sturdy plastic, are easy to transport, wherever your next trade show may be.

TRUSS DESIGN

The most prominent trade show booths usually utilize a truss design. Exhibitors preparing large indoor booths prefer truss design because it is durable and has interchangeable parts. The shape of a truss design booth can be reconfigured to fit into almost any space. Truss kits usually include all parts and do not require tools for assembly.

Exhibitors have a choice of steel, aluminum or plastic framework for their truss designs. Plastic is the least expensive. However, trusses of aluminum or steel are recommended for outdoor displays. Indoors, a plastic framework is a great option to support decorations or lightweight graphics. However, for shelving or holding heavy items, metal trusses are best. To make the biggest impact, you’ll want to choose a truss design booth.

HYBRID

Hybrid trade show booths combine building materials and incorporate various shapes and styles to create a modern looking exhibition. For example, one exhibitor might create the booth’s back wall from panels with aluminum framing and tension fabric. For special effects, the exhibitor then chooses banner stands and pop ups for the booth’s sides and adds a freestanding metal truss arch with lights as an entryway. The endless variety of ways to construct a hybrid booth gives every exhibitor the ability to create a trade show booth that is effective, affordable and memorable.

If you’d like to get started on creating a trade show booth for your business, check out the options offered by TradeShowPlus.com or call 800-419-3561. We’ve got all types of trade show booths with the features you need, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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Must-Have Objectives for Your Next Trade Show

You might go to the same trade show every year, but there’s no reason each visit can’t be more beneficial for your business than the last. For your trade show to be a success, you have to set objectives that are quantifiable. Goals help you focus the way you design, participate and implement your exhibit. It ensures that you gain a return on your investment and maximizes your brand’s exposure.

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Trade Show Shipping & Logistics 101

With so many items to ship before a trade show, it can be challenging to complete everything in time. Exhibitors often have in-booth advertising, brochures, booth linens and swag to ship to the trade show. To make sure that everything arrives in time, start planning the logistics of your trade show in advance. Meticulous management is necessary to make sure that all of the display components arrive on time for the start of the show.

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How to Choose Trade Show Giveaways Your Audiences Will Love

As you plan out your next trade show, keep in mind some of the giveaways that you plan on using. While company-labeled pens and business cards have been the standard offering for decades, there are alternatives that you can use. Unique trade show giveaways help to promote your company and generate leads. If the item has a high value, attendees are more likely to keep the item and see your business’s name or phone number regularly. When designed correctly, giveaways can boost your brand awareness, increase leads and educate customers about the business.

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The Ultimate Trade Show Planning Checklist

If you’ve followed along with our trade show planning infographic or ultimate trade show planning guide, you already have a great idea of the trade show planning process and when you should be tackling each step. It’s easier to keep track of your steps and collaborate with your fellow planners, though, when you have a physical list to reference.

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