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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.


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?


Using RFID Technology to Enhance Face-to-Face Events

by Gwen Parsons 26. April 2013 17:54

As exhibitors, we're always looking for ways to provide our visitors with the best possible experience interacting with our brand. RFID technology may be able to help us create more engaging and individualized experiences.

Imagine issuing wristbands to guests at an event that allows them to have their photo taken and automatically uploaded to their Facebook page and your company fan page. Sunglass Hut did just that at the launch party for their retail store in South Africa. The viral aspect of reaching more people through social networks helped generate buzz about the event and new store.

Take a moment to consider the potential for using RFID at your trade shows and events to engage people and boost your marketing signal. Offer a wearable item to automatically check your visitor into Foursquare, which in turn prompts a tweet about the event or your trade show display. Distribute smart cards to visitors to link to their favorite social media site and scan touch points to "like" a product or program. RFID tags can be used to greet visitors by name, trigger videos, change lighting or start music. You can even set up cameras with sensors to note when a number of RFID tags are in the vicinity to take photos of groups. Think Disney park experience. All the attendee has to do is enjoy your content or the event, the RFID chips do the rest for them and for you.

Keep a close eye on what's happening with RFID. Some experts point out that, over the next couple of years, RFID will become cheaper and more efficient at holding information using less power. Researchers are working on ways to print RFID tags on less expensive materials like paper or plastic using inks embedded with an antenna and electrodes.

What experience have you had with RFID at events?


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Trade Show Tips | Social Media | Trade Show Promotion

How to Stand Out at Trade Shows With Motion Graphics

by Gwen Parsons 14. February 2013 12:17

Trade show attendees are bombarded by stimuli at shows. A crowded show fights for attention from all of an attendee’s senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.  So what can you do as an exhibitor to make your display stand out in a sea of others?

Technology is offering us new ways to engage visitors.  Flat screen monitors continue to grow bigger in size and smaller in price, so consider adding one to your display to complement your booth. Wide screen monitors offer a great way to stand out from the crowd, get the attention of passersby and communicate your marketing message in seconds.  Consequently exhibitors are incorporating wide screen monitors with motion graphics more frequently into their trade show displays.

Motion graphics presentations play continuously on a loop throughout the duration of your event. Motion graphics don't have to be a huge undertaking; they can be created using stock photos, commissioned photography, rendered art, and video. They can be strictly visual or include music and sounds.

Plus, you'll get a lot of mileage out of these graphics. A single investment in a motion graphic presentation can be used to promote your company and its products before, during and after your shows. For pre-show promotion put it on your website and include it in your email broadcasts.

At the event, create an inviting atmosphere that makes buyers feel comfortable approaching and entering your space. Monitors with motion graphic presentations can be positioned to play out to the aisles as a way to draw attendees into your space.  You can also place motion graphics within your space. A warm, even soothing, environment can extend and enhance your engagement with visitors. Click here for a relaxing example.

Another way to put your graphics to use is after the event by your sales team during face-to-face meetings. Graphics can be played on demand on their tablet or smart phone.

For more on this topic, take a look at this webinar hosted by the Trade Group.


How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Trade Show

by Nomadic Display 18. October 2012 17:45


Even in this age of technology, trade shows are thriving because they offer in-person, face-to-face communication. You meet people, learn about their needs, and show them how you can help them. So why not leverage the power of internet communication and technology, before and after the show? You may have the most enticing and interesting trade show display at the show, but its incumbent on you to drive people to your booth.


Twitter really can’t be underestimated as a tool for getting the word out about the show and your booth, but you have to be smart about how you promote, or your messages will simply get eaten up. Hashtagging your tweets helps a lot – using the agreed upon hashtag for the event will help people filter content, and will make sure that your tweets are getting to the people you want to reach – those who will be attending the event.

As for tweet content, make your booth sound worth visiting! Tell your audience about any special promotions you’ll be running on the day of the event, especially things like prize giveaways that require them to visit your booth. You can also mention any special product launches or other information you’ll be premiering at the show, to get people interested.


When you get to the venue on the day of the event, make sure you check in at the venue on Foursquare, and crosspost that check-in to both Twitter and Facebook. Get the ball rolling by adding tips on the venue page that are related to your booth and will encourage people to visit you. As attendees check in, they can read your tips and add your booth to their “must see” list. Make the effort to draw them in with exciting offers, or even games. You can use tips to provide clues for activities like scavenger hunts for prizes, which are always popular.


Facebook is a great tool before and after the show. You can use it for promotion beforehand much in the same way as Twitter, but you can also use it afterwards to post photos from the event and continue to speak with your audience in a more informal matter. Encourage your booth visitors to follow you on Facebook so they can keep up-to-date with the latest developments, or ask you any questions they may have down the line.

For more tips on using social media for trade shows, check out this post on social media platforms.



5 ways to tell if your booth staffers are givers or grinches

by Nomadic Display 20. December 2011 18:26

Yep, it’s that time of year again, the calendar tells us that it’s time to feed into the gift-giving frenzy; as exhibitors we’re budgeting for next years cool “schwag” and as holiday shoppers we’re hitting up all the local hot spots for the best deals. Experts have determined that giving gifts is a significant part of human interaction that enhances personal relationships and strengthen business ties. Psychologists say it is often the giver (you, the exhibitor), rather than the receiver (the attendee), who gets the biggest benefit from a gift because it drives brand memorability and has long lasting marketing benefits. The question is: as an exhibitor are you a giver or a grinch?

Let's look at five ways to tell whether you're a grinch or a giver:

You're a giver if:
You spend time deciding on the right gift for your attendees. You don’t go with the typical: stressball, back scratcher, or breath mint. You conduct a survey to make sure that your attendees are getting the giveaways that are most useful to them and that they will cherish for years to come.

You're a grinch if: You don't question why you're giving the gift, but rather you do it because you feel you HAVE to. You select a giveaway that's cheap, most likely poorly made, with ZERO marketing benefits.

You're a giver if:
You give a gift that is personalized (like a monogrammed planner) and is a token of your appreciation to show that you care about your booth visitors.

You're a grinch if: You adopt the “trick-or-treat” giveaway policy: you leave your swag lying out in bins, bowls or on your reception counter, so people can help themselves (with little or no interaction with your booth staff).


You're a giver if: You feel good about giving the gift. The act gives you enormous pleasure and satisfaction because you carefully selected the gift and it has your brand on it. You are happy to give qualified booth visitors a branded take home that will work hard to support your branding efforts.

You're a grinch if: You throw away the remainder of your giveaways so you don’t have to ship it back to your office.

You're a giver if:
You view your gift as a two way to process: your booth visitors must first express interest in your products, which will then allow you to establish a meaningful dialogue with them and give them a takeaway that will strengthen your bond with the recipient.

You're a grinch if:  You really don't care about your "tchotchke", and don't realize that it can help promote your company and strengthen business relationships. Your giveaway is just another tick on your checklist.

You're a giver if:
You give from the heart, with no feeling, or pressure of reciprocity.

You're a grinch if: You give with a sense of self-serving, to get something back from the receiver. You might have a cool giveaway, but in order for your booth visitor to claim it they must: divulge their contact information, participate in a 30 question survey, demo your product, and provide a testimonial to your liking.

Whatever the reason you give a gift, be it for the holidays, a birthday, or to reward behavior, remember that when you give sincerely from the heart, you'll get far more pleasure, than a sense of obligation.|

And, for your next trade show, think about the giveaway you want others to receive. Make it useful, educational, or business related, and one that you're proud to give. In fact, use yourself as a litmus test. Ask yourself if this item is something you'd like to receive if someone were to give it to you.
Happy holidays and happy gift giving!

Written by Susan Friedmann, The Tradeshow Coach, working with companies who want to maximize their exhibiting investment. Author, "Meeting & Event Planning For Dummies" and many other titles. For more information, visit http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com



Trade Show Tips | Trade Show Promotion

Show Smart Steps To Winning Booth Graphics

by Nomadic Display 7. December 2011 18:23

Our client, iDirect does a great job choosing vibrant booth graphic colors and placing their logo and tagline at a height that is visible to attendees up close and from afar

This past year there’s been a lot of buzz around “Winning”, from Charlie Sheen’s comical tirades to the widely popular and fiercely competitive Dancing With The Stars. But, in the world of exhibiting how do you know if you have winning trade show booth graphics? Below is a checklist of “winning” qualities that could earn you “best in show”.

Your trade show booth graphics should first and foremost...

1. Promote your products
Whatever combination of trade show booth graphics and text that you decide on, make sure that they work together to showcase the features and benefits of your products/services. When someone walks up to your trade show booth they should know immediately: who you are and what you do. Remember, you only have 3 seconds to captivate your target audience and you don't want to overwhelm them into scampering off to your competition's trade show display. If you have complicated messages to communicate such as a client success story, rely on to your A/V presentations instead of your booth graphics to tell the story.

2. Boost your brand
When looking at your trade show booth graphics, look at it from an all encompassing stand point, do your trade show booth graphics: incorporate your logo, adhere to established branding guidelines, communicate your value proposition etc; all of these elements should be skillfully combined to lure in your target audience. [Also, be careful to not include any propriety information in your trade show booth graphics as reprinting can be a costly endeavor].

Make sure to maintain your company’s color palette in not only your trade show booth graphics but, it should carry through to flooring and furniture. If possible, repeat your logo on graphics that are visible from across the show floor, the aisle and even up close on staff name tags or clothing all the way thru to premium giveaways. The average attendee needs to be reminded 6 separate times to distinctly remember your brand, so the more times your brand is at front and center the more success you will have at driving brand memorability.

iDirect reinforces their brand on their graphic header as well as their greeting station - so they catch their audience both coming and going

3. Stay on target
If you took a birds eye view of all of the places that your campaigns have appeared (both on and offline) your trade show booth should be another channel to promote your campaigns. Make sure that you are openly communicating conversion points on your trade show booth graphics such as your website and that your trade show display is consistent with other display properties. 

For more show smart tips on STAND APART booth graphics download our whitepaper “All Eyes on You”

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Booth Design | Trade Show Booth Graphics | Trade Show Promotion

Unlocking The Perfect Tradeshow Giveaway

by Nomadic Display 22. November 2011 18:14

According to recent studies, giveaways trigger what researchers call the reciprocity effect--the conditioned cultural response to return the kindness of a gift--which can manifest itself in better response rates, repeat business, and powerful referrals. So, you don’t want any ordinary “trick or treat” freebie, you want a giveaway that is EXTRA ordinary. And PS, you don’t have to break the bank when you’re budgeting to come up with some cool swag for next year. But, how do you choose the right trade show giveaway? Follow the below show Smart Steps to giveaway success.

Broadcast Your Brand
Whatever new giveaway you choose: a ceramic mug, flash drive, ipod, gourmet chocolates, your brand should be at the forefront – and immediately visible to your audience.  Think of clever ways to incorporate your brand instead of plastering it everywhere (which can be an eyesore and look tacky). Better yet, make your giveaway wearable. According to 2010 PPAI research, 31% of promotional sales were of wearable items like shirts, jackets, and hats.

Make It A Two-Parter
If you decided to pick something as common as a stress ball, couple it with another prize to make it a two part giveaway or even instill a little humor in it (think a thumbdrive that looks like an actual thumb).

Put It To Work
Whatever you decide for your trade show giveaway, you want it to have LONG term marketing benefits. So, you’ll want to invest in a giveaway that is durable and will last a while. Even better, if your giveaway can be used as a keepsake at work and at home (think: a portable bag or ceramic mug), so you benefit from DOUBLE the exposure. A 2009 survey conducted by PPAI Research found that a staggering 3 out of 4 consumers reported having at least one promotional product in their workspace.

Some Food For Thought on Untraditional Giveaway Favorites
On A Linkedin professional group when asked the most memorable giveaways many chimed in with some of their top picks - see below

  • A mini computer cleaning tool kit
  • A usb
  • Seeds (yes seeds they proceeded to plant and grow in their yard - talk about long term use!)
  • A rear view mirror to attach to your computer monitor
  • A compact umbrella enclosed in a mini zipper case
  • A smart phone case

PS: Aside from the seeds, what all of these have in common is that they are ultra portable and can be used over and over again.

Selecting the right giveaway is all about asking yourself “Would I use this item”? How long would I keep this? is it versatile?  and what type of long term marketing benefits does it have?”. Having the right giveaway, tied in with strategic promotions can help leverage your trade show performance and get your foot in the door to new business opportunities.

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Trade Show Tips | Trade Show Promotion

How To Maximize Your Video Efforts On The Show Floor

by Nomadic Display 17. November 2011 18:16

Lights, Camera, Action!!We talked before about how to use video on the show floor and the steps to take before launching your brand in the limelight.  Once you get on the show floor, video gear in hand, below are show smart video production tips from experts. Remember, your video doesn’t have to be perfectly polished to go viral.

FIRST: The video production 411
Video is the perfect platform to secure a product testimonial at a trade show and communicate complex ideas.  Generally video should do the following to your brand:

  • Deliver value and relevancy
  • Increase brand engagement
  • Enliven your product/services
  • Build brand reputation

SECOND: Establish your video goals
Make sure before you interview prospects, to come up with questions that will prompt the answers that you are looking for and will have interviewees communicating your product in the most accurate light.  If a customer makes a couple of blunders here and there, don’t sweat it, you can always edit them out later.

THIRD: Getting booth visitors to talk the talk
In addition to capturing lively snap shots of prospects and customers engaging with your brand, after information packed product demos or booth seminars, make sure to set-up an interview with booth visitors on their experience with your products/brand/services in exchange for a product discount or a premium giveaway. Later you can repurpose the video and include it in your corporate website and social media channels.

FOURTH: What your testimonial should be
A brief endorsement by satisfied customers that adds validity to your claim and casts your product/services as a “must have” for businesses. If you make video edits on a customer’s testimonial make sure to run the final take by the interviewee one last time before implementing it in any of your online campaigns; the last thing you want to do is misconstrue their endorsement of your product/services. 

FIFTH: Keep it real
As you interview booth visitors let them vent about their top challenges and pain points specifically addressing how your solution alleviates those challenges. You want your target audience to identify with them and their testimonial.

SIXTH: Watch the clock
Any interview exceeding 4 minutes is simply too lengthy for viewers and will lead to a high abandon rate. A solution to this limitation is segmenting your footage into themed chapters so that it’s easier for viewers to digest. According to Brightcove, the optimum length for videos is 4minutes and 50 seconds, anything over this is too long for the average viewer to stay focused. 

SEVENTH: Have “winning” footage
Other ways to use video in your trade show marketing lineup is to interview your grand prize winner on how they plan on using your product/prize in their day to day business practices, their feelings about being selected as the Grand Prize winner and what value they have taken away from visiting your booth.  You can recycle this footage as a promotional piece for your invite for the following year.
EIGHTH: Socialize your trade show footage
Post your video footage to your blog and social channels (FB, LI, TW,YT) in real time so your followers will FEEL like they were there. According to Brightcove, Facebook is the highest referrer of video meaning that video has the potential to go viral the fastest on FB over any other social media channel. But it’s important to post first where you feel most of your audience is, whether it is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

NINETH: Measure your way to video success
Like any other online marketing initiative, you want to account for your successes and failures, providing upper management with essential analytics that support your video production efforts (especially if you’re out sourcing video editing). There are basic metrics that you can easily use to measure video performance such as views on YouTube, and Impressions and Feedback on Facebook.  But, if you want to dig deeper and have the budget, there are fee based services provided by Brightcove , Tubemogul and Adobe web analytics that can help you optimize your video footage for SEO and provide more in-depth back end analytics (such as abandon rates, click rates etc.).

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Trade Show Tips | Social Media | Trade Show Promotion