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5 Tips for Better Trade Show Results

by Gwen Parsons 11. March 2015 19:23

Exhibiting at a trade show can be one of the quickest and most exciting ways to grow new business opportunities. I frequently hear stories of companies that are successful at generating new business activity through trade show marketing. On the other hand I also hear about companies that exhibit with disappointing results. So the obvious question is what are these exhibitors doing differently?

The answer is often “you get out of it what you put into it”. Here are 5 points we can learn from the successful exhibitors that you can employ to maximize every opportunity at a trade show or event.

Promote Your Presence

While pre-show campaigns vary from exhibitor to exhibitor, the goal is the same - to contact as many attendees as possible and draw them to your trade show booth. You need multiple touch points to reach today’s time pressured attendees. A typical pre-show campaign consists of combination of tactics from print ads, direct mail, press releases, online ads, and emails to telemarketing, social media, sponsorships and promotions.

Make Room for Business

In a recent study, exhibitors cited booth layout as one of the top three factors that improved their show results. Specifically they noted more entry points, more open space and less clutter.

An open floor plan helps to create an approachable atmosphere. Current exhibit design trends combine open space, architectural simplicity and light color palettes to create a fresh, modern environment. Open floor plans also reduce barriers to entry and facilitate circulation within your space. As a general rule you want at least 60% of the frontage open and at least 60% of the floor space in the exhibit unoccupied.

If you plan to have a theatre-style presentation, hands-on demonstrations, or private meetings, make sure you book a space big enough to accommodate them.

Approach All Attendees

Trade show attendees are people genuinely interested in learning about new products, industry trends, and how-to solutions for their top of mind concerns. Some attendees will approach your trade show booth and easily cross into your space. Others will stroll briskly past focusing on something like their phone to avoid eye contact. More attendees will pause and look as they make their way down the aisle. Any or all of them may have questions they’d like to ask but don’t dare to start the conversation themselves.

The concept of approaching people out of the blue and instigating a conversation may feel uncomfortable. Yet your booth staff needs to be proactive about stepping into the aisles and approaching all attendees.

Here’s why. By starting the conversation, your booth staff instantly puts the attendee at ease. Your team should think of themselves as hosts and every passerby as a new guest. When an attendee feels welcome they are naturally more open to learning what you have to offer. All it takes is asking an open ended question to break the ice and start building rapport.

Not only will you collect more leads, more importantly, you’ll increase the chances of making the sale too. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research estimates that 85% of the reason for a sale is the booth staff. People remember people: their attitudes; behavior, appearance and knowledge, often before they remember the company name.

Stimulate Attendee Senses

Visitors are flooded by stimuli when they enter a show - lights, colors, noise, and crowds. It takes a visitor seconds to walk by and sum up whether or not to stop at your display. Ask yourself what you would stop for at a trade show exhibit. Your attraction may involve more than one of the five senses:

Sight – Visitors may recognize your brand or be intrigued by what they see in your trade show exhibit: Dazzling backlit graphics, big screen video presentations, product demonstrations or live presentations.

Sound – Visitors are attracted to sounds emanating from your booth whether its music, a presenter’s voice, or attendee laughter as they play an in-booth game.

Smell – It’s the strongest sense for triggering associations and memories. Good smells such as fresh coffee or familiar food scents like popcorn can reach out to visitors and lure them in from the aisles.

Taste - Offer light refreshments to entice visitors. It may help lengthen the duration of their visit. We recently celebrated our 40th anniversary at a trade show by sharing yummy treats with attendees. We served red velvet cake on day 1, cookies on day 2 and chocolate brownies on day 3.

Touch – Entice visitors with a tactile experience, the opportunity for true hands-on interaction.

Give Promotions that Offer Value

The right giveaway can promote your brand for months after the show. The best giveaways offer true value. See our post on promotional products to complement your trade show display for the items that offers true value.

Another very powerful technique is to extend an offer only for visitors to your trade show exhibit. You can use a discount or value add approach. Create a show special package with a discount price or give out a one-time promotion code to apply to an online purchase. Alternatively you could offer a free upgrade or a bogo (buy-one-get-one). Be sure the offer is available for a limited time only so recipients have a sense of urgency to act. If there is enough interest but the time frame is too short you can always extend the deadline.

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.


Newest Exhibit Innovation from Nomadic Wins Two Awards at Exhibitor2014

by Gwen Parsons 16. April 2014 21:01

Exhibitor2014 is the trade show for trade show and corporate event marketing professionals. The 25th annual conference offered 160 education sessions, an expanded exhibition hall and an inaugural Awards Night.

We premiered our newest trade show exhibit innovation, the DesignLine® Wall System, with a trade show booth design that received rave reviews from attendees. Visitors reacted with delight to our brightly colored graphics and variety of lighting options including backlit walls, LED color changing downlights and whimsical accent lighting.

The exhibit was so well received we generated an increase of 65% more visitors.

Floor to ceiling fabric graphics featured face-to-face conversations about what marketers need from their exhibit partner. Exhibit marketers adapt their programs to meet the changes their business undergoes, often with limited resources. Our presentation was designed to illustrate how Nomadic helps exhibitors turn change into new opportunities with modular displays that adapt to fit a new use or situation.

This short animation illustrates how Nomadic trade show displays
adapt, expand and evolve to meet your changing business needs.

Many thanks to everyone who visited our trade show exhibit. If you were unable to be there, you may enjoy viewing this short video.


Exhibitor hosted a gala Awards Night to present 2014 awards for exhibition excellence to winners at a dinner and ceremony. The Walton County Tourist Development Council exhibit received not one but TWO awards! Designed by Zehnder and Synergy Design Group, we produced the custom modular exhibit with our new DesignLine Wall System. A juried panel selected it to receive the Best 10x10 exhibit award. By popular vote, it also received the People’s Choice award. Our sincerest thanks to everyone to voted!


Luz Lobos, President, Synergy Design Group
Pat Goeke, President, Nomadic Display

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.


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.


Using iPads for Trade Shows, is there an App for that?

by Gwen Parsons 17. April 2013 02:04

We recently heard a great question from an exhibitor "Can iPads be used to interact with clients and capture contact information or are they strictly for disseminating information?"

iPads are already being used by booth staff at trade shows to interact with visitors so YES! and there is an app for that - Nomadic's new Media on Demand App! In fact, our new iPad app for trade 
shows is a hot topic, responsible for quadrupling our Twitter traffic last month.

So here's the scoop- our trade show iPad app allows you to place all of your sales and marketing media at the fingertips of your team on their iPad or iPhone. You simply upload your media – everything from brochures, special reports, and technical specs to photos and videos - to your password protected administrative portal. From there publish the media to your own company branded version of the Media on Demand App on the iPads or iPhones used by your booth staff. Getting up-to-the minute information into the hands of your team is instantaneous.

With our iPad app for trade shows your booth staff will have the ability to share marketing materials specific to each visitor's needs, zoom in on charts and photos, and even play videos on demand. It's a great way to capture leads and follow up in real time. Booth staff simply type the visitor's contact information into the iPad to email product specific information immediately following their conversation.

Any contact information captured in the app is also centrally stored in the administrative portal so it can be exported and uploaded to a database or CRM system anytime.

Put the money you save on printing, shipping, handling, and storing large quantities of sales and marketing information into your own branded version of our trade show iPad app. Speed-to-market is a vital, competitive advantage in today's marketplace. Custom apps are expensive and require months of development time but for a fraction of the price of a custom app, you can be ready to go-to-market in just days.

To schedule a demo and get your 14 day FREE trial of this game changing technology, contact Hendrik Lenze, Director of Business Development.


Nine Ways to Make Email Work Harder for Your Events

by Gwen Parsons 5. March 2013 03:03

1.Target attendees!  Rent the attendee email list from show management or have them broadcast your message to attendees for you.  Because people are already planning to attend, you don’t need to convince them to come to the show. Instead, your message should focus on getting them to visit your trade show display. Target the companies you want to reach and omit the ones you don’t as competitors.

2. Start with a snappy subject line!  It’s often the determining factor in whether or not a message will be opened.  Make your subject line compelling so the recipient will want to open it.  Test different subject lines by sending half of your audience the email with one subject line and the other half with another.  Measure which one gets opened more often and use that to plan subsequent email campaigns.

3. Personalization is key to connecting with readers. People love hearing and seeing their own name.  Include their name in the subject line, salutation and/or body copy.

4. Design for the golden triangle! The upper left corner of an email is often viewed by recipients in a preview pane so they can determine whether or not to open it.  Your headline, image and copy within that triangle should be designed to express the key benefit of your message and prompt them to want to learn more.  Keep the copy brief and to the point.  Tell them why they should visit your trade show display.

5. Include a call to action! After the list, the offer is the second most influential factor in the success of a campaign. Some of the best incentives are free but offer real value.  Consider what will best motivate your target audience -  a VIP pass to the event? a demo of your newest product?  a special report on an industry topic of interest?  a sample or trial? Coupons are enjoying a resurgence in popularity so don’t forget show specials. 

6. Remember to include your booth number.  Invite people to follow you on your social media sites, too.

7. Be sure your email complies with the Can Spam Act for US recipients.  The big 6 provisions that you are required to include in your email are:
  • Use a valid, non-deceptive from line
  • Use a valid, non-deceptive subject line
  • Give conspicuous notice of the opportunity to opt-out
  • Provide a functioning opt-out with every message
  • Complete the opt-out within 10 business days.
Some email services automatically filter opt-outs from broadcasts already in cue.  If yours doesn’t you may want to include language such as “We have received your request to be removed from our mailing list.  Please be aware that you may continue to receive messages from us in the next week.  However, we will ensure that your name is removed within 10 business days.”

8. Send it twice!  Release the first time about 3-4 weeks prior to the show.  Then resend it to serve as a reminder a week or two before the event.  Send your email at an optimum time for it to be opened and read which many B2B marketers currently feel  falls between Tuesday and Thursday.  Getresponse.com recently conducted research indicating that emails delivered between 8-9am or 3-4pm get the most opens and click throughs.  Keep in mind that you may need to segment your list by time zone.
9. Evaluate performance! No matter what marketing medium you’re investing in, you want to know if it worked.  Many email services enable you to view a list of the recipients that opened and clicked through your message.  Give that list to your Account Executives to follow up.  Cross match your email open list to your show leads to determine the % that were influenced by your broadcast and visited you.  

You Work Hard For Your Leads; Don't Let Them Slip Through the Cracks

by Gwen Parsons 5. December 2012 02:51

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the average exhibitor invests 39% of their annual marketing budget on trade shows and events. But there's a lot of frustration around how to demonstrate results from that investment. Part of this no doubt has to do with the fact that – according to a study from CEIR - most companies do not have a tracking system in place to monitor the performance of their events which directly affects their ability to measure ROI.

You'll want to get a formal lead tracking system in place, but until that happens, make sure to take care of these basic lead tracking issues:

Establish WHO is responsible BEFORE the show. Yes it takes a village to go from show to sale. Don’t leave room for assumptions. Appoint individuals to perform the functions of a closed loop system: Who will collect all of the leads” Who will fulfill them? Who will enter or upload them into your database, and who will provide the follow-up? According CEIR’s exhibitor sales lead trends study, 45% of companies send their leads to sales for follow-up while 39% send them to marketing.

Define WHAT information to collect from visitors. Your sales team can help you define this more specifically.You have only a few minutes with each visitor so develop a few questions that will provide the answers key to qualifying them. CEIR’s exhibitor lead study confirms that only 30% of the companies surveyed qualify leads at their first encounter. Train your booth staff to incorporate those qualifying questions. Print them on your lead card or program them into your lead reader. The answers can be used to rank leads and formulate your follow up plan.

Define WHEN to follow-up. The same study by CEIR shows that 42% of survey respondents followed up within one week, and another 38% follow up within two weeks. My advice is to get started immediately. Research indicates that the average sale happens after the fifth contact so continue the momentum started at the event. At the very least, send them a short email to thank them for visiting you and let them know what to expect as the next step.

What strategies have you used to make sure your leads don't fall through the cracks? 


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Trade Show Lead Management

How to Demonstrate the Sales Value of Trade Shows

by Gwen Parsons 27. November 2012 22:39

Study after study shows that companies believe trade shows are an important part of their annual marketing plan. However, while companies are gradually beginning to invest more in marketing, they still want to know the results from that investment. After organizing a compelling trade show booth and promotion campaign marketers return from the event.  Then the time comes to demonstrate the value of their participation in trade shows and events.  This often leads marketers to express frustration.

 At Exhibitor2011 there were more than 20 sessions on trade show measurement and demonstrating ROI – something we help you do in our brochure on successful exhibiting. In fact, it’s one of the most popular topics at the annual conference. So I asked colleague and workshop presenter, Susan Brauer of Brauer Consulting Group.

Susan reports that workshop attendees often jump to wanting to measure their ROI without having any kind of closed-loop lead system in place. They describe some of the obstacles to measuring ROI as

  • Lack of accountability for reporting if marketers organize and promote the show and leads are turned over to sales

  • Insufficient time to collect and compile the information

  • Internal system silos that make it difficult to link sales recorded in accounting with leads recorded in a database

  • Lead times for actual sales are longer than can be reasonably tracked

Susan teaches that the purpose of the trade show is to accelerate the sales process. She believes the bigger issue is that exhibitors don’t understand what can and can’t be measured so helps them set measurable goals that move the sales process forward.

Leads are sales opportunities and we've provided tips on how to convert those leads to sales after a trade show. Most, if not all, exhibitors tabulate the number of contacts they make at the show. However, quantity is one data point. Drill down further to uncover key indicators that reveal the show’s impact on future sales. Some clues might include:

  • Number of visitors that received a product demonstration

  • Number of companies that indicated a desire to meet with your sales team or were ranked hot by booth staff

  • Number of potential new partners you met

  • Number of companies you met for the first time

  • Number of customers that acknowledged plans to renew their contract

Build upon a baseline from your past show to formulate goals for your next show. Then be sure you have methods in place to record the results and compare them to the goal.

You can also find some additional tips by downloading our Successful Exhibiting Guide in our Resources area.

What frustrates you about trade show and event measurement?  



It's All About The Follow Through

by Nomadic Display 14. March 2012 19:47

The pre-show promotion was a hit.  The exhibit looked awesome.  The booth staff was pumped.  It was standing room only for the clients and prospects that visited your trade show display. Now the real work begins.

Build Trust Immediately
Developing a relationship with your prospects requires trust. Swift follow-up is the first step toward building trust. Your visitors have met with your staff, seen your products and services and asked to receive more information, pricing, and perhaps even a meeting.  Your prospects trust you will continue the dialogue that was started during the event - - so don’t disappoint them. Send a personalized email message confirming your next step during the show or within 24 hours of their visit.

Distribute Leads Quickly
Have a plan for processing your valuable trade show leads BEFORE you go to the show.  Appoint individual(s) to receive the leads, get them out to your sales team and into your database on a timely basis. Review how a surge in leads will be processed to prevent them from getting bogged down by internal bottle necks.

Follow Up Repeatedly
Over 90% of business gained from trade shows is the result of follow-up efforts.  According to a survey of business-to-business marketers, on average, 10-30% of leads are sales ready and another 50% will eventually purchase.

Research indicates the average sale happens after the 5th contact. The average sales person tends to give up too soon and doesn’t make a second attempt to connect with prospects. Work with your sales managers to establish accountability for, and monitor, follow-up.  Sales coaches suggest that the prime time for connecting with prospects is between meetings like early in the morning, during lunch and late in the afternoon.

As for the 50% of visitors that don’t have an immediate requirement, nurture them until they are ready.  Keep in touch with prospects over the longer term. Be persistent but not pushy.  Let your prospects know how you can help solve their business challenges so that when they are ready to buy they think of you. 



Trade Show Lead Management

Top Trade Show Secrets You Didn't Know

by Nomadic Display 9. November 2011 18:22

Susan Friedman, the Trade Show Coach, is our featured guest blogger this week.  She's an industry think tank, author and trainer. Susan helps companies worldwide get the most out of attending trade shows and industry events.  The Trade Show Coach is known in the industry for designing and implementing strategies for show organizers and exhibitors who want to retain and grow their customer base. Enjoy the read!

Trade show attendees look ordinary enough -- but they have TOP secret agendas - if you could hear their deepest thoughts, they might go a little something like this:

Secret #1: We're impatient

“The boss just sent me to Orlando from a blustering Buffalo blizzard.  The last thing I want to do is spend the day on the show floor getting hounded by sales reps.  If you show me what we need, at a reasonable price, I'm going take the necessary information and hit the hotel pool.”

Unraveling the Secret
As an exhibitor you need to get a clear understanding of your visitor's wants and expectations without wasting their time or your own.  It’s especially true for attendees who want to get the “business” part of their trip out of the way as quickly as possible.  Ask questions that will uncover their needs and enable you to target the right solution.  Additional incentives and special savings help to sweeten the pot. While you can offer visitors hard copy information on your products/services to bring back to upper management, you need to be sure it won't be left poolside with the wet towels. Always email visitors a message and attach elit so it’s in their inbox when they return to the office.

Secret #2: We're lazy

“Sure, it sounds like a great deal.  But I don't want to have to jump through any hoops to get a small discount.  For a few dollars more, I'd rather go to your competitor's website where buying isn’t such a walloping headache .”

Unraveling the Secret
If you're going to offer a show special or promotional incentive for online buying, focus on making it an easy and user-friendly experience. Time is valuable, so buyers are willing to pay more to avoid what they perceive as 'too much' work. Consider providing material printed with a unique url or QR code that will take them directly to a product landing page where they can submit their order in a jiffy. Make sure you include the url below the QR code in case your customers don’t have a smart phone on them. Also, don’t forget to provide the name of the QR code reader that you want your customers to use, because there are tons out there!

Secret #3: We're Egotistical

“You might not realize this, but I work for a very influential Fortune 500® company.  In fact, as a top performer at the company I’m also an influential person or key decision maker.”

Unraveling the Secret
With these high profile buyers, mustering extra effort to make them feel like VIPs can go a long way to building a relationship and future sales.  So give them the recognition they desire. Reach out to them before the show via your social media and direct marketing initiatives with a sense of urgency.  Have something special waiting for them at the booth, something exclusive and/or personalized because stroking their ego can’t hurt. 

Secret #4: We HATE math

“Ok, so there's $25 off of product A, 15% off product B, and a $500 rebate if I buy now.  Exactly how much will that save me???”

Unraveling the Secret
When promoting discounts and sale prices at a trade show remember the KISS acronym:.  You want to Keep It Super Simple!  No decimal double talk or complicated discount scales.  Just focus on the total savings.  Have printed price sheets on hand for your booth staff to easily highlight applicable discounts, write in the total savings and even provide competitive price comparisons so visitors walk away knowing your bottom line.

Secret #5: We like to be pushed

“So this price is only good for a limited time.  I read it on the sign.  I heard it during your sales presentation. I see the deadline on the material you gave me. And you know what? Chances are I'm going to forget.  And when I learn that I missed out on some BIG savings, I'm still going to blame YOU.”

Unraveling the Secret
Humans have to encounter the same piece of information an average of six times (YES SIX) before they remember it -- and that's in a normal, everyday environment.  So to help bolster trade show attendees' memories, remind them more often.  Mention the deadline during face-to-face and phone interactions, make note of it in all of your follow-up correspondence, and send out or post reminder alerts to advise them of the impending expiration date.

The moral of these five secrets is to walk in the shoes of your prospects and think about situations from their perspective. Empathize, be authentic and remember to look for ways to deliver value.

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Trade Show Tips | Trade Show Lead Management | Trade Show Promotion

An Exhibitors Must Have Guide on Social Media

by Nomadic Display 19. October 2011 18:11

It’s here! We invite you to be the first to download our newest and most anticipated social media ebook: "Tune in Turn on and Take off with Social Media For Trade Shows and Events". In our information packed ebook you’ll learn how to harness the power of social media to promote live events. Our special ebook educates exhibitors on the tremendous value that social media can bring to the trade show and events space.

Use social media to enliven your brand on the show floor, entice your target audience to take immediate action and influence future purchasing decisions. Our all encompassing information packed guide provides a comprehensive look at: how various social media applications can accelerate live event performance, top tips for boosting booth traffic, strategic methods for building your social network and more

Both social media veterans and newbies alike will appreciate this all inclusive ebook that targets traditional marketing efforts and how to streamline them with social media to maximize results. Event Marketers can begin reaping the rewards of increased brand exposure by downloading - Tune, Turn on and Take off With Social Media for Live Events.

So, Claim your copy now!

PS - Use our social sharing buttons to share our powerful ebook with your friends 


Trade Show Tips | Social Media | Trade Show Lead Management | Trade Show Promotion