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Marketing Executives’ Outlook on Trade Shows and Events

by Gwen Parsons 7. August 2013 20:22

The Chief Marketing Officers Council and the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association recently partnered to benchmark the value of trade shows and events based on a survey of senior level corporate marketing executives. The results have been released in a report entitled “Customer Attainment from Event Engagement” and addressed in a symposium held last week. Here are some of my key takeaways:

Trade shows and events are core to the marketing mix

  • Exhibitions and events are viewed as a major source of new prospects and opportunities for gathering leads and meeting with customers.
  • Survey respondents rated conferences, conventions, trade shows, expos, and customer hospitality events as most important to their business development strategies. Online events, large event sponsorships, and dealer meetings were rated least important.
  • Forty percent of survey respondents are replacing big shows with more vertical market events that offer targeted audiences.
  • Forty-four percent are hosting their own customer events.

Marketing budgets remain steady

  • The CMO Council’s “2013 State of Marketing” study reported that an average of nine percent of the marketing budget is allocated to trade shows and another three percent to corporate events for an impressive total of twelve percent.
  • More than half of survey respondents said their budget allocation will remain the same next year.
  • One of the top challenges identified by marketers was managing escalating costs within their trade show budget.

Marketers anticipate increased demand for justification

  • In order to make a strong business case for trade show participation marketers are seeking front end and back office measurements to demonstrate event effectiveness.
  • Attendee mix and quality is the top criteria used by marketers to select events. Marketers expressed their need for reliable attendee information from show organizers - before and after the event.
  • In addition, the study revealed interest among marketers for show organizers to employ new technologies such as RFID badges, QR codes, and Apps to provide metrics such as booth visits, length of stay, and conference content access.

There’s room for improvement in the back office as well. Marketers continue to wrestle with how trade shows and events contribute to sales revenue. Only about one third of marketers feel their company does a good job converting leads into business opportunities. Although more than 40 percent of marketers say they have CRM systems they are happy with, they don’t have visibility into the sales funnel and conversion pipeline.

is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Nomadic Display. She is a regular contributor to the Nomadic Display Blog and can be found at Google + and LinkedIn.

 

Exhibit Design Tips for Maximizing Results

by Gwen Parsons 23. July 2013 19:07

Exhibit design is one of the most powerful and least understood elements of trade show marketing. A display is your ambassador, a temporary representative designed to communicate on your behalf and foster commerce. For this reason, the overall design should attract visitors, reflect your brand personality, and provide a platform for developing your business relationships. So here are a few trade show display ideas for creating a dynamic trade show booth design.

Use Height
Take advantage of the highest point of your display to place your company logo. Lightweight fabric structures in a variety of shapes may be hung above your display for visitors to locate your booth across the show floor and as they walk down the aisles. You don't have to spend a lot to maximize your space. Tall structures such as towers with signage at the top can create similar effects without the expense of ceiling rigging.

trade show exhibits

Draw Attention
Think of attendees as specialized and discerning shoppers that are influenced by what they see, hear, or smell. Motion can catch attendees' eyes while LED spot or backlighting can make your graphics pop. Use music and special sound effects to stimulate their curiosity and because smell is our strongest sense, use it to lure visitors in with fresh coffee brewing, popcorn popping, or chocolate chip cookies baking.



Open Up
Make your visitors feel welcome with an open and inviting floor plan. Encourage entry by offering easy access to your space from multiple points. To that end, think more space, less clutter. One general rule of thumb is to leave 60 percent of your space frontage open and at least 60 percent of the floor space unoccupied.

trade show display

Provide an Experience
Don't underestimate the power of face-to-face contact with your product. The number one reason people attend shows is to see new products. Nothing sells a product as effectively as a truly hands-on experience. Visitors look for opportunities to see and touch your products to learn about them. Integrate product display into the exhibit, distribute samples or conduct in-booth demonstrations.

For more tips on trade show design, download our special report "Exhibit Design Strategies that Maximize Results" today.

 

What Your Exhibit Designer Needs From You

by Gwen Parsons 10. July 2013 00:12

Exhibitors often ask what information is needed to start a new trade show booth design. Ideally you want a well thought out trade show display solution that will help you achieve your marketing objectives. Better quality input from you will produce better quality output from your exhibit designer.  So take the time to gather the right input.

1. Exhibiting calendar

Once you have selected your trade shows, create a list of each of the events you plan to attend and their space sizes. Based on the number of events and their space sizes, it may be worth considering a modular display that can scale to fit different change and adapt to each event and trim provide you with costs savings that may be applied across your trade show marketing program. If you have  a one off situation, it may be advisable to use a trade show display rental.

2. Concise design brief

Your brief should describe your marketing goals, how you plan to engage your visitors, explain your products/services that will be featured and demonstrated. Try to express the look and feel you want your brand to portray to potential clients.  Describe your plans for visitor interaction – touch screen programs, product sampling, small group meetings, live presentations, etc.  While you may not have every detail pinned down, document what is firm in your mind.

A brief is not only helpful to your designer, it can also help you evaluate the display design concepts they present. Download our Exhibit Design Strategies which contains a tutorial to help you write a brief.

3. Realistic budget

Be open about discussing your budget and any cost cutting strategies you want to pursue.  Designers do their best to create a design solution to fit your budget.  Prepare for the discussion by researching the size and type of display designs that fit the design brief you created.

4. Design tools

Design time is better spent designing than searching for materials.  Your designer will need to understand the corporate image guidelines for your brand, and have access to the logos, artwork, photos and/or graphic images you want used in your exhibit design.  You will need high quality images since they will be printed in large format. If you decide to have graphics designed by an agency, you will need to provide them with graphic file preparation instructions like the ones in our GraphicSource Guide.

5. Adequate time

Plan to provide a brief to your exhibit designer at least three to six months prior to your event.  You will receive a better thought out exhibit design with less stress for all involved.  Keep in mind the time required for decision-making by members of your organization.  Artwork proofing and exhibit build production times will vary depending on the size of your project.

 

Plan Now To Avoid Panic Later

by Gwen Parsons 28. June 2013 19:20

Fall trade shows and events are just a couple of months away so summer is a great time to get organized. Remember Bill Murray’s movie “What About Bob?” Richard Dreyfuss played his psychiatrist and the author of “Baby Steps.” The trick is to break big problems, like event planning, down into small steps so they can be accomplished in an orderly manner. The first baby step toward a Fall event is to create a checklist of activities and their due dates. Here are some tips on how to get started.
Promotion Campaign
Develop a marketing plan for the event. Consider all of the on- and offline opportunities to promote your presence at the upcoming event. Your plan may include advertising, sponsorships, free VIP passes, press releases, a banner on your website, email broadcasts, newsletters, social media posts, premium giveaways etc. Using target dates for release, you can estimate when to place orders and start the development of artwork. Ideally your messages will be carried through in graphics, presentations, and other materials at the event.
Inspect your display
Be sure your display is prepared to represent you. Shabby graphics will reflect poorly on your company so order replacements when needed. If you plan to purchase a new trade show display, it’s a good idea to draft a brief. Describe your marketing objectives, the products and services you want to push, and interactions you are planning for visitors. Get input, buy in or approval on the brief from appropriate managers. Gaining consensus at the beginning will help you avoid having to tackle internal obstacles at the finish line. The brief can help speed your request for design proposals and guide your evaluation of display solutions.

Show Services
By now you have, or will soon receive, your exhibitor service manual. As the official digest of everything you need to know about the event, it’s important to go through it carefully. Determine which show services you will need and add the early bird dates for form submissions to your checklist. By planning to submit your service orders by the early bird due date you accomplish two things. First, you get the best rates on the services you need, savings of as much as 50 percent. Second, if you miss an early bird submission date you still have time to meet the final advance due date and qualify for some savings.

Book your travel
According to Sean O’Neal of BBC Travel, the old rule of thumb – booking tickets three months ahead for the lowest prices – seems now to be out of synch with the latest research. Based on studies by Kayak and FareCompare, O’Neal suggests purchasing on Tuesday afternoon, about three weeks in advance for domestic US tickets and a little more than a month in advance for international tickets to get the best deal.

As for hotels, compare the rate secured by show management to online rates. I got lucky searching online one night and saved over $1,500 for my team to stay at an event’s host hotel.

Beware: dates on this calendar are closer than they appear. If you find you’re already near a due date, don’t be discouraged. You’ve completed your first baby step!

 

Why Fans are Flocking to Tension Fabric

by Gwen Parsons 19. June 2013 16:56

Whether it’s an event or trade show, graphics digitally printed on tension fabric can be seen on everything from hanging signs to counters.  Rapid growth in the popularity of tension fabric displays in recent years is likely due to key advantages like these:

  • Fabric graphics deliver high quality, continuous tone images in a vivid range of colors.
  • Fabric graphics are less expensive than rollable magnetic graphics.
  • Fabric graphics are more durable and easy to maintain. They don't ding or dent. They are fade resistant and also machine washable.
  • Fabric graphics are lighter in weight and ship compactly which helps reduce storage, transportation and handling (aka drayage) costs.

For a purely graphic backwall, nothing beats combining fabric with a pop-up for the ultimate in portability and speed. Our popular FabriMural™ display offers lightning fast set-up because the tailor-made fabric graphic travels pre-installed on our Instand® frame. Just pop it up and its ready to show. The all-in-one convenience of our RollOne case allows you to ship FabriMural™ with a counter conversion kit featuring matching graphics. For a limited time you can have a fabulous FabriMural™ display for less with our current promotion. Download a discount coupon here.



Silicone edge graphics (SEG) enable fabric to be pressed into the built-in track of aluminum extrusions.  The result is a crisp edge-to-edge finish. Accessories may be added to fulfill both aesthetic and functional needs. Options such as fabric canopies in a variety of shapes and signage provide dimensionality and real estate for brand messaging. iPad mounts, flat screen monitors and product pedestals serve the functional requirements of a presentation.



Although fabric displays with SEG tend to be more elaborate they can still ship in a wheeled case and be simple to assemble. Our HangTen and Inspire fabric displays also include a folding step stool for those hard to reach places.  See for yourself how easy it is to set-up fabric displays with SEG by watching our installation videos.

Whether you choose the speed and simplicity of a pop-up or the upscale aesthetic of an extrusion based display solution, brilliant tension fabric will make you a fan too.

 

Promotional Products are the Gifts that Keep on Giving

by Gwen Parsons 6. June 2013 01:06

Swag is a staple at trade shows and events. Promotional items enable exhibitors to thank visitors for stopping in, and to extend the brand experience beyond the show floor. That’s because visitors keep their premium giveaways for an average of six months. Since your giveaway is the ad that keeps on giving, you want to choose wisely.

Ideally you want a promotional product that will not only reflect positively on your company’s brand, but that will also align with your marketing strategy and creative theme.  Whatever you select, invest in a giveaway that is durable and, most importantly, useful. Usefulness is the key reason recipients keep their promotional items.

The most popular ad specialties have a practical use. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute last fall, the ten most popular promotional items are:

 

1. Writing instruments
2. Shirts
3. Bags
4. Calendars
5. Desk/office accessories
6. Caps/headwear
7. Drink ware
8. USB/flash drives
9. Health and safety products
10. Outerwear

As you research promotional products, consider your target audience.  Some promotional items appeal more to certain demographics than others. A few interesting takeaways were revealed in the ASI study, for example:

*Younger consumers are more likely to have a branded item on their desks.
*Consumers over the age of 35 own more drinkware.
*Men are twice as likely as women to own a branded cap.
*Women are twice as likely as men to own promotional bags.
*Latino consumers are the most likely to own a promotional t-shirt.
*Asians consumers are most likely to own branded USB drives.

Swag is available at a variety of price points, and ultimately your choices will need to fit your budget. So you may want to consider having different promotional products for different types of visitors at your trade show display. For example, have a lower priced giveaway for most visitors, such as a clever writing instrument or LED-lit tumbler, but reserve a more expensive item with a higher perceived value, such as outerwear, for your current clients or best prospects. 

Remember that trade shows and events are about engagement, so while your giveaway should be practical, it can fun or humorous, too.

What was the best promotional product you ever got at a show and why?

 

How to Get the Conversation Started with Attendees

by Gwen Parsons 28. May 2013 18:52

All too often trade show booth staff don’t know how to engage attendees as they come down the aisle. They watch attendees walk by their trade show display, afraid to approach them because they are unsure of what to say or fear bothering them.  While some attendees will stop, what about the ones that don’t?  You're there to meet with attendees, so you need to get the conversation ball rolling.

First recognize that no one wants to interrupt trade show staff on their phone or huddled together chatting with one another.  They will think you're too busy to talk with them and continue on down the aisle.  Be present and make yourself available so visitors will feel welcome. Adopt a relaxed stance, smile and yes, by all means, step out into the aisle.

Next, you need to know what you're going to say to kick off the conversation.  "Hi there, can I help you with something?" or “Enjoying the show?” are uninspiring at best.  The most predictable response is likely to be "no thanks, I'm just looking."  End of conversation.  You need more engaging conversation starters, to get them involved immediately.

The best openers are often to offer something – a free sample, the opportunity to participate in an activity, or win a prize.  Formulate open ended questions that cannot be answered with a simply yes or no.  Think of questions that use who, what, where, when and how vs questions that use are, can, do, have, or will.  For example, "If you win the iPad we're giving away today, who would you give it to?".  Start off the conversation focusing on them, rather than the other way around.  Your opener should get them thinking, and regardless of what the answer is, it should draw them into a conversation about their needs, provide an opportunity for you to explain what you do, and determine whether you can help them.

It's important, of course, not to get discouraged.  No matter how great your openers are, not every person that walks by has a need for your product or service.  Keep in mind that if you're friendly, approachable, and have a great conversation starter, your chances for generating more leads will be greatly increased.

For more tips on successful exhibiting techniques, request a copy of our guidebook.

 

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Trade Show Tips

How to Prepare Your Trade Show Staff

by Gwen Parsons 15. May 2013 16:26

Alexander Graham Bell said “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”  So we asked Margit Weisgal – industry veteran, Certified Manager of Exhibits and past President/CEO of the Trade Show Exhibitors Association – to share her tips on how to prepare your booth staff to succeed on the show floor.

You have a kick-ass trade show display, targeted graphics, and a brilliant promotion plan to attract visitors. You’re ready for the show, right? Well, almost. Despite this, if you don’t have the right people in the booth, you may have wasted all your effort because it’s all about the people.

Your staffers are the ones who greet booth visitors, engage them, interact with them, position your product in terms of their needs and wants, collect contact info and, then, determine the follow up.

So to have a great staff, you have to have great preparation. Look at all the work you put in for your trade show display, graphics and promos. A commensurate effort should go into your people.

trade show staffing

Step by Step
Here are a six tactics you can employ to have a successful staff – and a successful trade show.

1. Explain why you exhibit.  You are immersed in trade show exhibit marketing and all its elements. But your trade show exhibit staff only does this for a few days (or maybe weeks) outside their regular jobs. They don’t really understand why you’re there and the inherent benefits. So take a little time and let them in on why this is an amazing sales and marketing medium. Here’s are some key phrases to use:

  • Trade shows accelerate the buying cycle. (Salespeople love this one.)
  • You meet with current customers to ensure you remain their preferred vendor. (Salespeople like this, too.)
  • You reach new, hidden buyers that haven’t been identified as potential customers yet and have an opportunity to educate them on why your product/service is the best choice.
  • It’s a more efficient use of their time to meet with many buyers at one location which also reduces the cost of a sale by as much as 75%.

2. Explain why you chose this show. You know the demographics of the attendees so inform the trade show staff of who will be there. Based on the pre-registration list, mention key customers and prospects by company.

3. Explain your goals. Each event is a platform to push or focus on a product/service/message. Share your strategy with the individuals who will be manning the booth and serve as your experts

4. Explain your promotional plan. Since these strategies will drive traffic to your trade show display, you’ll want them to know what’s going on in the background and bringing all the visitors to your space.

5. Explain the layout. Inform your staff how to guide visitors to right areas in your trade show booth – from the reception counter, to different product areas, special demonstrations, a stage – so they can get the most from the experience.

6. Explain their role: Trade show staff should qualify visitors using prepared open-ended questions. Most important, they should really, really listen. Attendees will often tell you what you need to know to sell them. If they listen, they’ll be great. And practice. Remember, they don’t do this all year round.

Anne M. Mulcahy of Xerox said, “Employees are a company's greatest asset – they're your competitive advantage. You want to make them feel that they are an integral part of the company's mission.”

You value your staff’s contribution of time, energy, time, and commitment to the company. Say ‘thank you;’ it goes a long way toward showing your appreciation.  Follow these few steps and you’ll have a great event.  See you on the show floor. Contact Margit at mbweisgal@gmail.com.

 

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Trade Show Tips

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Inline Trade Show Display

by Gwen Parsons 7. May 2013 18:57

Trade shows are investment of your time and money but well worth it when the end result is making a great impression on your clients and prospective buyers. Luckily, there are ways to do this even with a smaller footprint - here are five of our favorite tips.

1. Keep it clean and bold. Less really is more, especially with smaller exhibit spaces. A display with too much going on looks cluttered. Work with your exhibit designer to blend bold graphics with your products and digital media so they work together to promote your company to its best selling advantage.

2. Maximize your space. Eliminate as many barriers to entry as possible. Place draped tables to the side instead of out front. Place computer workstations and lockable counters against the backwall so visitors are comfortable entering your booth space to learn more. Split up the activities in a 20' space to spread out your visitor traffic. For example, place a conversation area with a table and chairs on one side and a demo area on the opposite side.

nomadic trade show exhibit

3. Make it bright. Visitors are drawn to bright displays like moths to a flame. Lighter shades of color in flooring and cabinetry can make you look larger. Use pops of color in signage or carpet to provide an element of surprise. Top it all off with halogen or LED lights and you'll glow on show floor.

4. Engage your visitors. Once you grab the attention of passersby, you need to give them a reason to stay. Attendees are at the show to learn so give them a way to see, hear, touch, taste or smell your products. Use interactive tools, hands on demos, samples, etc. that will involve your visitors.

nomadic trade show display

5. Get your tech on. New technologies have opened new opportunities for exhibitors to leverage smaller floor plans. Big screen motion graphics, touch screens, tablets, video badges, RFID and so much more. You don't have to use every technology, but try your best to take advantage of the trend.

Remember, its not the size of your trade show display or budget that determines how successful you will be.  Strong design, creativity, and good booth management are all major factors in trade show success.  Even those on lower budgets can create stunning displays that attendees will love, and the right combination can keep people coming back again and again.

For more design tips, download our Special Report on Exhibit Design Strategies.

 

What Attendees Want From Your Trade Show Staff

by Gwen Parsons 2. May 2013 20:55

A show executive recently shared with me that one of the biggest issues expressed by attendees is their disappointment in the staff manning the booth.  Many shows sponsor Best of Show awards which made me wonder about the criteria judges are given to evaluate trade show staffing.  Here are the top criteria from the judging forms I reviewed and pointers for how you can meet or exceed attendee expectations on the show floor:

1.    Is there adequate staff coverage?
The simplest rule of thumb is to have 1 of trade show staff member for every 50 sq ft of unoccupied exhibit space.

2.    Does the staff observe proper booth etiquette?
Studies show that 55% of the opinions people form are based on non-verbal cues such as body language. The staff manning the booth may be judged poorly if they display improper booth etiquette such as sitting, eating, chewing gum, drinking or talking on cell phones.

3.    Are attendees actively approached or do they passively wait for attendees to come to them?
There are 3 types of attendees your staff needs to know how to approach.

  • The Really Interested - They approach in response to an invitation or interest in our products and services.
  • The Curious - They pause and look as they walk past.
  • The Don’t Want to Knows - They walk past without breaking their pace or looking at your staff, even sometimes avoiding you.

Your booth personnel need to be proactive and confident about approaching them all.  Role playing may help your staff rehearse.

4.    Does the staff use effective conversation starters?
Your best sales people have the most experience with starting conversations that make a great first impression.  They understand that the key is to formulate questions that require a more complex reply than yes or no. So have them develop opening questions for all of your trade show staff to use.

5.    Does the staff qualify visitors?
Qualification requires your trade show staff to ask open ended questions designed to understand the problem the attendee seeks to solve, their role in the purchase process and their timeframe for a decision.  Then….wait for it….LISTEN.  I know it’s a lost art but your sales team needs to exercise patience before launching into “auto pitch”.

6.    Is the staff knowledgeable about the company and its products, well informed and helpful?
If not, they have no business manning the booth. The average attendee spends 8-9 hours on the show floor over a 3 day show.  Therefore, attendees are more focused, better prepared and time-driven. 

nomadic booth staffing

According to a research report by CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research)  “Exhibition Staff Practice Summaries” attendees place the highest importance on product knowledge and a willingness to provide information.  Attendees indicated they want to speak to the right person citing technical experts and those equipped to drive enhancements or changes.

People remember people - their appearance, behavior,  knowledge and attitudes, before they remember the company name.  CEIR estimates that 85% of the reason for a sale is the trade show staff. 

What suggestions do you have for improving trade show staffing?

 

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Trade Show Tips

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