TRADE SHOW TIPS
Capturing the Right Trade Show Visitor
Stop Spending Time with Every Trade Show Visitor!
Some exhibitors have a hard time understanding that every trade show visitor is not a good lead. There are three types of prospects and treating each one correctly can save you and them time.
- Customer A. Ready-to-buy or order now.
This is why you are exhibiting at the show, spend quality time with them.
- Customer B. Have an interest, but need more information.
You want to convert these people to Type A. Try to discover who they are. You will be able to do more with them than just giving them a product brochure that they won't read later.
- Customer C. Do not have an interest.
They either do not want or need your product, or at least think they don't. Don't spend time with them - try to avoid them. An exception is if your booth is overstaffed and people need to look busy. If that's the case - send someone home!
Start by attracting the right prospects into your booth.
- Display good signs and/or graphics.
Get their attention by providing clear descriptions of who will benefit and why. This gets people to ask themselves, "Is that me? Maybe I should talk to someone."
Avoid standing in the aisle dragging people into your booth - it rarely results in more sales.
- Effective Presentations
Good presentations in your booth will draw crowds. By sprinkling trivia about the industry or your product category within your presentation, your audience will come away feeling they've learned something in addition to your product details and benefits.
Provide two important options at the end of the presentation, such as where they should go next: the order desk or to a company representative for more in-depth discussions.
Customer C prospects viewing your presentation can usually determine what they may need from you. If they learn something during the presentation, it will leave them with a good feeling about your products and your company. Maybe offer them a small giveaway or company brochure. Avoid the urge to go after them. If they are going to become customers, you'll get them later.
Advice from the experts
The Mississippi Business Journal sought out ESP CEO Sandy Flom for expert advice on using graphics in a trade show exhibit.
By BECKY GILLETTE
MBJ Contributing Writer
Exhibitors at events such as the Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO can get more mileage out of their investment by setting clear goals and personal standards for their participation in the trade show.
"Some companies have very specific services and products to present," said Robbie L. Bell, special events director for the Mississippi Business Journal. "Others, such as financial institutions or medical facilities, have an enormous range of services. Each exhibitor needs to interview attendees briefly to determine why they have come to EXPO and what they might gain by doing business with that exhibitor. This is a good aid in establishing a working relationship that might evolve into solid benefits for both the exhibitor and attendee."
Bell said each person who works a trade show should have personal standards, in addition to those set by the company.
"I've been impressed most by the way people dress to man their booths," Bell said. "The first goal should be to present a professional image. The second should be to stand and attempt to make eye contact with as many people as possible when they pass by the booth. I know that I feel compelled to walk into a booth and introduce myself if that exhibitor has made eye contact with me. When a booth worker is sitting down, looking away or otherwise occupied, it's much easier to walk on by."
The EXPO is a great place to launch new products. Bell said many companies coordinate releases of new materials with their annual EXPO appearances.
"Veteran attendees have learned to watch for these new launches and get ahead of the competition by implementing new technology," she said.
She adds that the EXPO is also extremely valuable as an image builder and public relations tool. Some exhibitors find that business networking helps put a personal face on their companies and gives the business community more confidence in them.
Exhibitors can get more out of the EXPO by spreading word of the event beforehand. Each exhibitor receives a large number of admission tickets to EXPO.
"Most exhibitors do a great job of distributing them to clients and prospects, along with letters and even e-mail reminders to visit their booths," Bell said. "Some exhibitors advertise in the EXPO edition of the MBJ to invite folks to come by their booths."
Bell said a friendly appearance encourages people to stop and talk. Giving several door prizes each day gets the exhibitor some good attention, because each time a winner is drawn, that company's name is announced over the public address system.
"Remember the blue-light special?" Bell asks. "Everyone knows and remembers the companies whose names they hear the most."
Each exhibit should clearly demonstrate the mission of that company. Exhibitors should keep in mind that attendees may not work for a company that needs their particular services immediately.
"But that attendee might know someone else who DOES need to talk to this exhibitor," Bell said. "This is the beauty of networking. It's that all-important ripple effect. People share information of all types at EXPO."
Since literal sales are not transacted on the EXPO floor, the greatest objective is generally to collect as many qualified leads as possible. Then comes the all-important follow up.
"The exhibitors who are most on-the-ball will promptly mail letters out to the attendees they met," Bell said. "Then they will follow up further with a phone call or e-mail. It's a huge waste of the exhibitor's time and money to be there if the follow-up is not thorough. Likewise, the attendees should also organize the business cards and literature they collect at EXPO and make contact with the companies that most impressed them. Good follow-up is definitely the key."
Bell advises that attention to the set-up of the booth itself is also very important. Many exhibitors order plants or flowers, balloon arrangements or have other interesting and eye-catching decorations to attract the attention of attendees.
"We encourage exhibitors to go the extra mile in making their displays eye-appealing," Bell said.
Debra Miller, an exhibit design consultant with Skyline Gulf Coast, LLC, in Richland, said it takes more than a pretty exhibit to succeed at trade shows.
"It also requires that you understand several key facts of trade show marketing and master the proven methods in executing a trade show program," Miller said. "The first step in planning your trade show success is to set effective and realistic trade show objectives and measurements for them. Effectively planning your show's objectives allows the rest of your show to fall into place. Choosing the right measurement tools enables you to draw the correct conclusions following your trade show performance.
Sandy Flom, CEO of Extraordinary Show Productions Ltd., says graphics are critical to the power of a trade show display. Flom said effective graphics are persuasive and have the power to draw potential customers into your booth, differentiate you from the competition and quickly and clearly communicate your marketing message.
"Powerful graphics are easily seen from a distance," said Flom, whose business based in San Diego, Calif., specializes in trade show displays and services. "Large photographs of people using or benefiting from your product or service sent the strongest message."
Flom recommends that you emphasize your logo or brand by using large signage prominently positioned in your booth.
"Impactful graphics are not cluttered with information that overwhelms," she said. "If your graphics are loaded with specifications and every detail there is to know about your company, product or service, they will not likely be effective. Rarely does anyone stand in front of a graphic to read details. Even if they do, they won't remember everything they read and they can't take the graphic with them. Therefore details should be reserved for brochures and flyers and spec sheets that they can take with them or that you can send to them later."
To make a lasting, positive impression, Flom recommends making the company name and/or name of a recognized product highly visible, and using large colorful graphics for maximum visual impact.
"Light products and graphics to significantly increase awareness," she said. "Along with your company identification, these are the most important aspects of your exhibit - make them stand out. Invest in a display system that gives you a professional look. Curtain backwalls and draped tables can look cheap and make you look less than serious. A manufactured display shows permanency and is more likely to capture attention."
Color is Primary in Trade Show Booth Design
The importance of color in the design of a trade show booth and its graphics cannot be over-emphasized. Color appeals to emotion, creates feelings, and causes humans to react in certain ways - whether obviously or subliminally.
Here are some basic colors and how they affect us - and thus how they affect trade show attendees when they view your trade show booth and its design:
Red - an emotionally charged color that encourages fantasy; women are drawn to blue-based red while men prefer yellow-based red
Yellow - the number-one attention grabber that if over-used can cause viewer crankiness
Green - makes people comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings and is associated with nature and money
Blue - provides a calming effect and encourages fantasy; not good for a high-powered campaign that needs to generate energy
Black - represents power
White - portrays purity and honesty
Grey - encourages creativity but can be perceived as dirty
Brown - construed as informal
Silver and Gold - indicate top-of-the-line products
Trade show tactics for portable and small modular displays
Small But Mighty!
Small does not mean insignificant. You can make a lasting impression with a display of any size. Be sure that impression is a positive one.
Consider these trade show tactics:
- Make the company name and/or name of a recognized product highly visible. It should be as large as possible, as high as possible, and always consistent in its use. Make it memorable so it will be recognized again and again.
- Use large colorful graphics for maximum visual impact. Photographs of people using your product attract the most attention. Keep text to a minimum and of easily readable size - details belong in brochures. People will not stand and read graphics and they can't take them with them. The graphics will get them into your exhibit booth space, the brochures will give them the details.
- Light products and graphics to significantly increase awareness. Along with your company identification, these are the most important aspects of your exhibit - make them stand out with front or back lighting.
- Invest in a display system that gives you a professional look. Curtain backwalls and draped tables can look cheap and make you look less than serious. A manufactured display shows permanency and is more likely to capture attention.
- Theme your display based on the venue or time of year - a beach theme in San Diego, a fall colors theme in New England. Themes always grab attention and usually make people smile.
- Don't clutter or create barriers to your display with too much product, literature, or too many giveaways. Don't put a table at the front of the booth space and stand behind it - it's a barrier that says "don't come in". Make your display area open and inviting.
- Make eye contact, smile, stand, and look like you're interested in and proud of your company and products. Don't sit and read a book or sit with crossed arms and watch people walk by. These actions send the message that you aren't interested and they aren't welcome in your booth space.
- Save money and add value to your brochures, giveaways, and samples by saving them for those genuinely interested in your product or service. Everybody loves free stuff but if you lay it out for them to simply grab and walk away - they won't remember you or your company. And it could easily end up in the trash before they leave the exhibit hall. It was free, so who cares?!
International Trade Show marketing/Global exhibits
Hello - Goede dag - Ni hao - Bonjour - Kon-nichiwa - Ciao - helo - Hola - Zdravstvuyte
It's a small world after all...
The world is becoming smaller and smaller at an ever increasing speed. International exhibiting is more and more an integral facet of exhibit marketing programs. It is the fastest growing segment of the industry.
Globalization has caused many companies to seriously evaluate their international trade show marketing programs. Those companies who have historically left international trade shows in the hands of their field offices are finding it necessary to move that responsibility under the corporate umbrella to achieve successful global branding.
What's so different about Global Exhibiting?
In the U.S., trade shows are viewed as a place to gather a lot of information very quickly and visitors do not typically spend much time at any particular exhibit. Outside the U.S. it is quite the opposite. Trade shows attract higher-level attendees and serve as a venue for holding high-level meetings and negotiating major contracts. Visitors spend significant amounts of time in the stands which creates the need for private meeting and hospitality areas.
Trade fairs, as they are known outside the U.S., are a highly respected marketing medium with a much longer history. Shows often run longer in hours each day as well as in the number of opening days. Shows are frequently much larger - filling many halls - and visitors need more time to cover the physical area.
Many trade fairs are open to the public for a day or more - usually at the end. The public can include children and students with teachers - and they often come in droves.
Exhibition centers in some countries are almost like small cities with banks, shops, restaurants, and even train stations. In major cities, particularly in Europe, the exhibition center is usually a large complex with multiple buildings. The halls are literally separate structures connected by walkways - indoor or outdoor.
Facilities can range from being quite modern to having questionable floor load capacity and erratic electrical supplies especially in developing countries.
The normal process is for the exhibitor to apply for their preferred exhibit booth space size and when all applications are in, the show organizer fits everything together. The awarded stand (booth space) size may be slightly larger or slightly smaller than requested. The hall floor plan will not be available until the show manager has drawn it based on space requests by exhibitors.
There is no pipe and drape and because space sizes can vary widely, exhibits are frequently custom-built in the show hall and used only once. This type of exhibit fabrication is often used for very tight budgets and is not conducive to maintaining a consistent image from show to show.
Just as in the U.S., exhibit regulations vary between venues as do ceiling heights, floor load capacities, and layouts. In general, stands are more enclosed or have enclosed areas for private meetings or hospitality. Many inline stands have side walls that are 2.5m (8'-2") high all the way out to the aisle. There may be setback rules that require any exhibit component or structure higher than 3m (9'10") to be set back 1m (39") from the aisle. It may be required that all stand designs are submitted to the show organizer for approval regardless of size, height, or location in the exhibition hall.
Regulations on using fireproof or fire resistant materials can be very stringent - particularly in Europe. The Fire Marshall is ever present during the installation phase and it would not be unusual for him or her to use a cigarette lighter to test fire resistance of exhibit materials - particularly Plexiglas and fabric. France does not allow Plexiglas because it can burn and release toxic fumes. In Germany, two story exhibits often require fire extinguishers.
Some countries also have strict environmental regulations and may charge a fee for any waste left behind. Germany is particularly tough and charges by the cubic meter. If such a fee is to be charged, it will likely be noted in the exhibitor manual.
As in the U.S., it is critical to know show regulations.
Preparing for international exhibit project or programs usually requires more time than for a similar domestic program. Starting a year in advance of the conference is not uncommon and is more likely to ensure the desired program result. Even in the electronic age of communication, time differences as well as cultural differences might imply slower responses. The U.S. is unique in its quest for "same-day service" and many cultures and countries do not share the same sense of urgency.
Planning your booth or exhibit
Planning an exhibit marketing project or program at international venues often requires more lead time than for a similar program in the U.S. Starting a year in advance of the trade show or trade fair is not uncommon and is more likely to ensure a successful outcome while minimizing stress and uncertainty.
As in the U.S., exhibits designed for international markets must meet the corporate objective. They must also be appropriate for the local culture as well as accommodate the values, cultures, and expectations of the international audience attending the trade fair.
- Physical characteristics of the people which could affect demo station heights or positioning of video equipment
Be aware of the meaning of color. In China, red signifies good fortune but white signifies mourning. Exhibit design and colors used must be appropriate for the market and the culture.
Because of the length of trade shows in days and hours, it is not unusual to have an enclosed area for staffers to sit and work or rest.
Since pipe and drape are almost never used, a hard wall of some kind is usually necessary at least for the backwall of a linear or peninsula style booth space.
An exhibit designed in the U.S. can easily be fabricated in another country. Even though building methods are different, quality can match U.S. standards. The same materials may not be as readily available, but acceptable substitutes can usually be found. If not, there is always the option of shipping materials from the U.S.
Graphics can be produced either in the U.S. or locally. For exhibits fabricated locally, the basics such as Corporate ID and vinyl copy are probably best produced locally. Specially designed visuals are probably best produced in the U.S. for quality control and to assure that final output meets your expectations and fit your trade show booth design.
Raised floors or platforms are commonly used to accommodate utility line distribution throughout the stand. The main reason is the prevention of multiple speed bumps. Since carpet padding is not typically used and carpet is often of low quality, electrical wiring, computer cabling, and especially plumbing cannot be effectively hidden.
A typical rental carpet consists of ½-m square carpet tiles. While rolled carpet is available, it is usually low pile and similar to what would be considered indoor/outdoor carpet by U.S. standards.
As the world continues to grow smaller and more U.S. companies take their corporate images overseas, the international exhibit industry has felt the influence of U.S. standards. Therefore, higher quality carpeting and carpet padding are now available in other parts of the world - particularly in Europe.
Remember - planning ahead will pay off in the end!
Outside of North America, the predominant measuring system is Metric.
|To Convert||Into||Multiply By|
|Square Meters (m2)||Square Feet||10.763|
Trade Show booth logistics
Planning and coordinating logistics for your trade show display in another country is frequently more complicated requiring a good deal of patience and flexibility. Communication is challenging due to extreme time changes as well as language and cultural differences.
Although English is spoken at most international venues, and even if your show management contact person speaks what seems to be perfect English, there can be misunderstandings. Be sure to follow-up with a letter or an e-mail to confirm any verbal agreements made by telephone or in person regarding your booth space or any services or rental items for your trade show booth.
International Trade Show Services
Typically trade show services must be ordered from several providers. Individual contacts and order forms are included in the exhibitor manual. Quantities are often limited so ordering early is always advisable.
There are very few unions, if any. While the main booth power supply or plumbing connection still must be ordered from the trade show organizer, most, if not all work within the stand (booth space) can be done by the stand (booth) builder. This includes utility wire distribution (electrical, phones, computer networking); plumbing; and hanging graphics.
Although some tradeshow venues seem to be catching on to U.S. methods, drayage is still basically an unknown. Typically, if your booth ships from the U.S., the freight forwarder handles the offloading, delivery to the stand, and booth crate storage during the trade show. If the exhibit is being provided by a local display house, they handle the offloading, delivery to the stand, and booth crate storage.
There are many variations in power supplies. Electricity can be alternating current (ac) or direct current (dc). Frequency can be 50 or 60 hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Voltage also varies - even within the same city or country. Finally, there are 12 types of attachment plugs in use around the world and several countries use more than one type.
Electrical equipment or lighting shipped with your exhibit from the U.S. will likely need transformers or converters that can be very expensive to rent. It is usually simpler to rent equipment locally - especially office equipment such as fax machines, copiers, and computers. Shipping a U.S. exhibit with multiple electrical requirements can be a budget buster due to the high cost of renting transformers.
Inadequate or improper power supply can spell disaster for products and demos.
It can also interfere with the proper operation of lighting fixtures.
Electrical power to your booth may not be available 24 hours a day and may even be shut off at show closing. This means that computers and other sensitive equipment must be powered down before the show closes each day.
Booth Audiovisual Equipment
Ship from the U.S. or rent on-site? While cost comparisons should be considered, perhaps a more important consideration is compatibility. If renting on-site, U.S. videos probably need to be converted to local color standards. If available, multi-standard video players should be rented locally. Once the specifications of the country are determined, a U.S. video production house can handle the conversions.
Booth Installation and Dismantle
Rules differ from country to country. Many countries do not have unionized labor and some may not even offer services that require skilled labor. Usually the display house that provides the exhibit also provides I&D labor including hanging graphics and connecting electrical outlets, lights and plumbing within the booth space.
Trade show move-in and set-up times are usually longer - typically a week. Work ethics vary and people usually work at their own pace taking time out for tea breaks, naps, or even beer breaks. It is important to respect the work ethic. Attempts to speed up the process may result in a rebellion against the pushy American.
Even if forklifts are available, local culture may dictate that more traditional methods be used such as manual labor to move and position exhibits. At the end of the trade show, it is not unusual to work through the night to break down a show and move it out.
While tools and methods may be significantly different from what we are accustomed to in the U.S., the job always gets done.
International shipping is certainly more complex and can be very expensive - especially air freight. Ocean freight takes time and requires pre-planning. Additional documentation is required and proper and complete documentation is critical. Language differences, political considerations, and cultural differences can affect shipments. Some countries require payment of high import fees even if the exhibit will be exported following the show. Shipping costs and import fees frequently make it far more economical to build a booth locally.
Shipping Lead Time
Ocean - 3-4 weeks
Air - 7-10 days
Surface - depends on distance from port of entry to destination and time required to clear customs
International freight forwarders are specialized service contractors who transport freight from pick-up point to drop-off point. They also act as general customs brokers and insure that either the freight is on an ATA Carnet or a Temporary Import Bond has been posted. They also typically handle the on-site work that drayage companies in the U.S. handle (offloading, delivery to the stand/booth space, removal and storage of empty crates, etc.).
Because this is a critical role, it is very important to work with a freight forwarder that has credentials and is experienced. They need to be familiar with the country's customs procedures as well as freight facilities at the exhibit hall and on-site storage.
Documentation & Approvals
With longer lead times, it is essential to document meetings, discussions, approvals, and action items and their owners. It is important to follow time lines and due dates established by the trade show organizer. Approvals for conceptual design, physical construction, and fire and building codes can take several weeks. Allowing sufficient time and providing detailed drawings are critical and help avoid last-minute or on-site changes to the exhibit due to non-compliance with codes and regulations.
Never assume anything | Proper pre-planning is critical
Ask questions | Submit requests well ahead of time
Read the exhibitors manual | Don't be caught by surprise
Buying vs renting your trade show display
To buy or rent? That is the question.
In times of tight budgets and an uncertain economy, a rented trade show display could make a lot of sense by saving you money while still providing the image you need.
So how do you decide which is better for you -- buying trade show displays or renting? By comparing the benefits and disadvantages of each and determining which option best supports your trade show marketing goals.
Consider these benefits and disadvantages of buying vs. renting your trade show displays:
Benefits of buying
- Custom exhibits, modular exhibits, and portable displays can all be designed to your specifications with anticipated reconfigurations in mind
- An owned trade show display provides a consistent look from show to show - particularly important for branding your company name or product
- The display belongs to you and is therefore always available when you need it
- Graphics and banners can be integrated into the design and used repeatedly
- As an asset, the cost of a purchased trade show display can be depreciated
Benefits of renting
- Lower upfront cost can help you achieve your trade show marketing goals on a tight budget
- An opportunity for a new trade show marketing program to test trade shows and determine which provide the best ROI
- An opportunity to determine if a particular booth layout will be effective for presenting your company and demonstrating your product or service
- Great for one-time or limited use requirements such as overlapping or back-to-back trade shows
- Rental displays can often be customized to your requirements
- You are not responsible for long term storage, maintenance, or inventory management costs of rental displays
- You can save the high cost of shipping your booth from coast to coast or to an international venue by renting a trade show display locally
Disadvantages of buying
- Higher initial cost to purchase exhibit booth properties
- Long term costs of ownership such as storage, maintenance, refurbishment, inventory management, and eventual disposal of a worn-out trade show display
- Limited flexibility to fit unusual booth space configurations unless planned for in the initial design, construction, and packaging phase
Disadvantages of renting
- Usually on a first-come-first-serve basis, rental displays may not be available when you need them
- Graphics may not be reusable - particularly if produced to fit specific rental display components
- The cost of a rented trade show display cannot be depreciated
- Difficult to maintain a consistent look from show to show unless you have a contract to rent the same structure repeatedly
A good rental trade show display does not look like it is rented. There are many methods and materials to customize rental booth properties to present your company's best side on the trade show floor. It simply takes a bit of creativity and an open mind.
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