5 Steps to a killer Trade Show Strategy

If you’ve ever been part of the magical world of developing a trade show strategy for your own business or a client, then you know how much work goes into one. If you haven’t, you are in for a treat, my friends. While it can be a lot of work, creating trade show strategies can also be incredibly rewarding, especially when you stand in front of the final masterpiece. I’ve been with Melamed Riley for five years, and have had the opportunity to be a part of developing trade show strategies twice a year for our client, FMC Professional Solutions, a division of FMC Corporation.

There are so many pieces-parts, planning and logistics that go into developing a successful trade show strategy that I like to compare it to planning a wedding. Except that instead of just one day of fun, it can extend over a few days. And there’s no “Electric Slide.”

This blog post outlines five key steps for developing and executing a killer trade show strategy, though you may have more or less depending on your own situation. These key steps include: Designing the booth structure, developing booth graphics, integrating creative booth promotions, exploring media or sponsorship opportunities and leveraging the trade show through social media platforms.
Designing a Trade Show Booth Structure: Obviously, the first thing you need is a booth. Some businesses own one, but often the booth has to be rented. Generally speaking, each trade show publishes a list of preferred booth rental companies that are assigned to the show. If you are looking into renting a booth, the first step in your trade show strategy is to design a booth structure.

In my opinion, working with a rented booth has more advantages than working with one that is already built as it gives you the opportunity to refresh your booth year after year and offers more flexibility when it comes to customization. Rental booth companies have a large collection of booths that they have previously developed from which you can pull bits and pieces. Let’s say you really like a high-top desk you see in one booth, but prefer the overall structural layout of another — no problem. And if they don’t have something you are envisioning, they will build it for you!

From a design standpoint, it’s important to keep in mind the flow of the overall space when creating a booth structure. There’s nothing worse than being saddled with a booth that’s cluttered or cramped. If there’s enough room for show attendees to move around freely, they’re bound to stay longer!
Developing Booth Graphics: The second phase of a trade show strategy takes place after there is an approved booth structure. This is where the magic happens, as your creative team begins developing the booth graphics, as well as any copy that will be incorporated. The structure comes to life during this phase, and everyone’s vision starts to become a reality. Please note: When developing the booth copy and graphics it’s important to keep it SIMPLE. Rarely will a show attendee read more than a few key copy points, and there’s limited real estate within the booth anyway. Therefore, you may want to develop collateral materials as part of this phase. Collateral is an effective way for show attendees to leave your booth with important information, especially if they weren’t able to interact with a booth representative.
Integrating Creative Trade Show Promotions: Unfortunately, designing an eye-catching booth just isn’t enough for a trade show. Which brings me to the third key element for developing a trade show strategy: Coming up with creative ways to attract show attendees to your booth. Unique trade show promotions or giveaways are often part of a trade show, but the effective ones generally tie in with the theme of the booth or are truly unique. Distributing pens or pads of paper with a company logo really isn’t all that appealing. Think of this as the creative team’s opportunity to come up with something fun, exciting and out-of-the-box!
Exploring Trade Show Advertising or Sponsorship Opportunities: The fourth step in your trade show strategy is all about trade show advertising and sponsorship opportunities. While trade shows generally offer the typical signage throughout the show floor or the inclusion of a company’s logo within the show guide, many will collaborate if you have something compelling in mind. Sponsorships can be a big investment, so it’s important to make sure your sponsorship is effective, exciting and worth the money.

If sponsorships are out of the question, there may be other trade show advertising opportunities available, such as advertising within a magazine that is distributed specifically at the show. If you are looking for trade show advertising that consists of non-traditional means, working with the trade show organizer to see if they would be willing to sell the addresses and/or email addresses of show attendees could be an option. If they are selling this information, perhaps you send show attendees a custom e-mail blast or direct mailer encouraging them to stop by your booth while they are at the show.
Leveraging Booth Attendance through Social Media: The last key element for developing a killer trade show strategy is the integration of social media. Obviously, this is only applicable if your business is active on at least one social media platform. Social media is a fantastic tool to leverage your presence at a trade show. Posting before, during and after the show is critical for letting your Facebook fans or Twitter followers know you will be at a trade show, and what they can expect to see there. Social media is also a great way to get a little creative, such as utilizing your platforms to execute a scavenger hunt. For example, you could develop a specific hashtag for your scavenger hunt and provide clues using your hashtag that direct participants to places on the trade show floor for the next clue or prize.

And don’t forget about your blog! If your business has one, blogging is an excellent way to inform show attendees what they will see at your booth before the trade show. It is also a great way to recap what happened after the show is over.

While developing an attractive, informational trade show booth is important, it isn’t the only element in developing a successful trade show strategy. There is a lot more involved in making sure it’s a well thought out strategy with many components.

Do you have more steps that you would suggest adding when developing a trade show strategy based on your experience? Or do you have any success stories based on what you have done at trade show? If so, we would love to hear them! Just include them in the comment box below.

Published on: October 3, 2013 – Melamed Riley – Idea Center

 

Dumb Stuff People Do at Trade Shows

Dumb Stuff People Do at Trade Shows

It’s So Maddening!

Now, I’m not calling anyone “dumb,” so lower your kitchen knives and baseball bats. What I am saying is that people do really dumb stuff at trade shows. Consistently dumb stuff. Anyone who participates in trade shows could write a book on what they’ve seen over the years. Pre-show marketing and post-show leads would cover several hundred pages.

So, let’s ignore those and concentrate on the easy, quick fixes, the ones you can change now. The ones you can implement before your next show in a month.

Senior Management

Bring them . . . but not all of them. Bring the President and the CEO, assuming they are personable and knowledgeable. Don’t bring them if they love to hear themselves talk. Don’t bring the CFO, the COO, or anyone who couldn’t charm a goldfish into a fishbowl. Clients want to talk to senior management. And their presence demonstrates that your company is serious about the show.

This rule obviously doesn’t apply if you do 80 shows a year. Pick the 3 or 4 most crucial and have the “chiefs” there. Tip: It’s much easier to get a trade show marketing budget approved if senior management participates.

Come Late. Leave Early

Most shows allow you to enter the show hall early. This gives you time to organize the booth and make any last minute changes. More importantly, it’s the ideal time to walk the show, see industry trends, and get a better sense of what your competitors are showing. If possible, bring a colleague. That way you can compare notes.

It’s also a great time to talk to the other early birds. There are fewer distractions, and you’re more likely to have a casual, informative conversation. Staying late has similar advantages. Not surprisingly, tired exhibitors can be very revealing at the end of the day.

That said . . . adhere to the formal and informal rules of the trade show floor. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want a competitor to do in your booth.

Ignore the Competition

Many companies are arrogant about their competitors. They see themselves as “the leaders,” so what could they possibly learn? The answer is — a lot. Even knowing that you are still the leader is valuable when targeting new markets and developing your marketing strategy.

And, unless your company prohibits it, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Friendliness is not a crime. You may be surprised at what you’ll discover, and a friendly competitor has been known to send business your direction if the client doesn’t fit their model. Tip: Beware of the red herring. Sometimes competitors can be sneaky smart about their sales, trends, and products.

Ignore Your Customers

It happens. It’s human nature. We feel like we don’t have to spend as much time with existing customers since we know them. However, your customers come to trade shows to learn about new products, services, and companies. They also come to mingle with colleagues, meet new people, and share challenges. They want to feel valued.

If good customer says, “I was at the show, but —

a) You were so busy no one was available,

b) I was there but just never made it to your booth, or

c) Spoke to Bob (or Jane or Homer) and they said there’s nothing new happening”

Then, you have a problem. A correctable problem but a problem.

Ignore the Social Events

As much as we want to pretend otherwise, trade shows are business in a semi-social setting. The planned social events, such as the evening gala, meet-and-greet events, award ceremonies, and receptions are still business functions. Make it worthwhile. It’s your chance to meet new people, chat with industry colleagues, bond with existing customers, and find new customers.

Can it be hard, especially if you are a wallflower? Yes . . . but . . . wallflowers have an advantage. They are great listeners, and in any large room, the ratio of talkers to listeners is about 95:1. Ask the right question (or often any question) and the rest of the night is on auto-pilot.

Tip: For anyone under 30, Social Media ≠ Social Events. And yes, you do have to talk to people. You can’t just text them.

Rely on Memory

Unless you’re Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, your memory is flawed, hopelessly flawed. On Day 1, you will have little doubt that you can recall every single conversation. By Day 3, an important client will remind you that you spoke for 30 minutes about a critical new project on Day 1.

Whatever works for you, use it — paper, tablet, business cards with notes, digital recorder, etc. Yes, it’s better if everyone in the booth uses a similar system, but it’s even better if everyone takes notes that can be reconstructed at the end of the day or the end of the show. Tip: Don’t let “Joe” leave the booth at the end of the day without emptying his pockets. Otherwise, those notes and business cards will be trash can casualties or unreadable smudges by next week.

Please share your “quick fixes.” View it as volunteer community service for the less fortunate who see neither the forest nor the trees when it comes to trade shows. Don’t make me stand on the corner ringing a bell for the clueless. They can be saved!

Link to original article – MelWhite-ClassicExhibits

Expo Lodging Convention Housing

Scam Warning for BTME exhibitors

It has been brought to the Association’s attention that organisations not affiliated to BIGGA in any way have been emailing and calling BTME 2015 exhibitors claiming to be offering discount accommodation in Harrogate.

Calling themselves ‘Convention Housing Authority’, ‘Convention Housing Reservations’ or ‘EHS’ they advertise a phone number and email address but no website link.

BIGGA have absolutely no connection to these organisations and ask all exhibitors to be wary if receiving emails or phone calls in the run-up to BTME 2015. If you have any concerns please contact the team at BIGGA House.

Anyone looking for accommodation should contact our preferred suppliers Reservation Highway through the link on the BTME website at www.btme.org.uk

__________________________

Housing Booking Alert

Travel Planners is the only housing company affiliated with and officially approved by the Chem Show.

Please be careful if approached by any other company or service other than Travel Planners implying or claiming to be an official housing provider of the 2015 Chem Show. We have been made aware of other companies aggressively pursuing Chem Show Exhibitors, offering significant discounts. Travel Planners offers the guaranteed lowest rate available. In the past, there have been cases of travel companies that are entirely fraudulent, misleading exhibitors with false information and rates, and even booking rooms that did not exist. If you are contacted by another housing company trying to sell hotel rooms, please use caution and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they are a legitimate provider. If you are contacted by any of the companies below, or any other travel company you suspect may be fraudulent, please notify Show Management at 201-221-9232.

Companies to avoid, as they are not affiliated with the 2015 Chem Show, include:

  • Book My Rooms, LLC
  • Convention Housing Authority
  • Convention Housing Management
  • Convention Expo Travel
  • ehotelers.com
  • Elite Corporate Planners
  • Exhibition Housing Management
  • Exhibition Housing Services
  • Expo Housing
  • Execu-Link Corp
  • Global Events Group
  • Global Housing Management (GHM Travel)
  • HDMC Group
  • HLS Global
  • IEP Group
  • International Events
  • Le Company LLC
  • National Hotels Association
  • National Travel Associates
  • Show Coordinators
  • T I R A Convention Travel Management
  • TradeShow Housing
  • WholesaleTravelPlanners

Expo Lodging Division Convention Housing Authority Convention Housing Services Misrepresents as Official Vendor for Firefighter show, scammed $2800 from me! Nationwide

Warn all of your registrants about this SCAM. This agency systematically targets large conventions. I had to cancel my credit card and I will now have to file fraud paperwork to be sure my card is not charged.

This agency claims to have an official relationship with the conference you register for, and is assisting registrants with reservations on their behalf. They insist that other area hotels are sold out, and that a room needs to be booked and paid for immediately in order to secure lodging. You are then sent a digital contract which flashes on the screen for a moment, and then a box appears for you to insert your digital signature.

Once you sign the contract, you are agreeing to give this agency a 25% cancellation fee (once you realize you’ve been duped and you try to cancel), and you are also signing up for a  “Preferred Client Club” membership which will automatically charge your credit card $42 a month.

When I contacted the agency to cancel my “Preferred Client Club” membership, I received an email indicating that my subscription to this membership allowed me to book at the “discounted” rate in the first place (still $100 more per night then the other hotels in the area), but not to worry because of the “free 15 day promotion” I will not be charged at the higher rate which would in turn increase my 25% cancellation fee. I’m not sure if this is their way of appeasing those who have fallen victim to the scam, or if they truly believe they are providing a service..

Hopefully, others will not make the same mistake.

Every Trade Show is Like a 1st Date

Why Every Trade Show is Like a First Date

You’re Nervous. That’s Understandable.

Trade shows are like first dates, first meetings, or job interviews. Unless you have an ego like Donald Trump, these “firsts” scare the bejesus out of you. They should. No matter how well you prepare, the unknowns trump the knowns by a ratio of about 10,000 to 1. If you’ve ever been on a blind date, or even a first date with someone you’ve just met, you know that a date is about being the person you strive to be, not the person you are.

Of course, not everyone has the gumption, the imagination, or the self-awareness to lift their game to the next level. Some people never grasp that first impressions are lasting impressions. They wear scuffed shoes to the job interview, slouch in the chair, chew gum, or dress inappropriately. They make the decision easy for the interviewer. On that important first date, when every word and every gesture is scrutinized, they monopolize the conversation, talk with their mouth full of food, and tell jokes that would offend Redd Foxx.

I suspect, however, that most of us strive to make a positive first impression. After all, we want to be liked, we want to be respected. In a typical social situation, we engage others in conversation in order to learn about their lives and to share ours.

Looking Good

Then why do so many trade show exhibits stink and so many trade show booth staffers stink even more. For the vast majority of attendees, their first impression of you is based on your display. It’s their first date, your first interview, and the first meeting for both of you. Walk the typical trade show, whether it’s a Chamber of Commerce “Meet and Greet” or your industry’s lollapalooza in Las Vegas, Orlando, or Chicago. About 50 percent of the exhibits are creative, targeted, and well-planned. The booth staff understands their roles and makes every effort to behave like outstanding role models. No inappropriate scratching, no Starbucks coffee cups littering the display, no obsessive Crackberry distractions. They are there to work the show and understand that during show hours every interaction is a performance.

Looking Bad

And then there are the other 50 percent. Let’s start with the booth. My oh my. . . too often it’s bulletin board artwork stuck to a booth built by the Alf and Ralph, the Monroe Brothers on Green Acres. Or if it’s a professionally designed exhibit, it’s long in the tooth, damaged, and the exhibit equivalent of Archie’s jalopy sitting on cinder blocks. Now that may be acceptable at the local hobby fair, but wearing the trade show equivalent of a lime green leisure suit at the Governor’s Ball is tacky (funny but still tacky). It screams, “I just don’t care.” Now you may be comfortable on your first date with a big piece of spinach stuck to your front teeth, but even if your date has matching green dental jewelry, chances are there will not be a second date. Trade shows are expensive, but the actual display is usually the least expensive investment over 2-3 years. So invest wisely.

Behaving Badly

Now the booth staff. This is almost too easy. So rather than riff on the stereotypical cell phone chatting, Motrin popping from a hangover, couldn’t give a rat’s @$$ booth staffers, let’s take the high road. The reason too many exhibits are staffed with the wrong people is simple. They are the wrong people. They don’t have a vested interest in the company’s success, they aren’t knowledgeable, and they aren’t “people” people. Trade shows are not magazine ads or television spots. They are face-to-face sales opportunities. How often have you been to a Chamber of Commerce mixer and the local bank’s display is staffed by a teller? The teller is pleasant and pleasant-looking, but he/she doesn’t know anything about the bank’s loan programs, CD rates, or charitable programs. The teller shouldn’t be there. The local branch manager should be. Pamphlets, key chains, and cleavage are not replacements for one-on-one knowledge.

Ideally, your trade show staffing should have senior management participation. They have the knowledge and the vested interest. Too often, however, they wander the show floor like a band of schoolgirls whispering snide comments about competitors, eating candy, and planning the evening’s activities. Never underestimate the power of a title. And unless your senior management is poison, meeting the CEO or President of a company in their booth can turn “interest” into an “order” almost immediately.

Want to succeed at your next trade show? Treat it like a first date. Look your best and mind your manners. Remember that first impressions are lasting impressions. And no matter how tempting that spinach omelet looks for breakfast, it’s probably a good idea to select the oatmeal instead. 😉

Article Author – Link to original Article: MelWhite/ClassicExhibits

The Trade Show Floor Can Be a Fascinating Research Lab

Due to all the economic shifts in the last year or so, the audience for your product or service has changed.  Do you know how much they have changed?  You can easily gain insight by collecting information at your next show.  Here are a several simple ideas to consider and possibly incorporate in your overall show planning efforts.

Typically, the smart exhibit marketer has trained booth personnel to engage the audience with a unique “pick-up” line.  It is a short, an open-ended question, which stops the attendee in the aisle and draws them into the booth for further conversation.  It is NOT – “Can I help you?”

Using this function and conducting primary research with the trade show audience, you can have your fingers on the pulse of prospects and what is relevant for them.

Test Your Marketing Message:

Conveying your marketing message in a brief sentence or two can be a challenge.  These succinct ideas should deliver the compelling response – tell me more.  But which ones have the broadest appeal?

This concept is very similar to the A/B split testing done on headlines.  You want to assess which one has the greatest impact.  Does it solicit a response which indicates they want more information or is there no response?

Equip your booth personnel with two different statements and use them to engage the audience.  Then, see which one has the best response.  Now it is important that you coach your personnel to deliver the one-liners in the same fashion so there is consistency of information being collected.

It will be fascinating to hear and understand their responses.  They just might give you a better marketing message, in their language, than you could have dreamed up.

Once you have the winning statement, share this with your marketing teammates so they can assess if this should be woven into other marketing messages.  It could be used in email campaigns, advertising, website etc.

How is Your Competition Viewed?

What do the attendees say about your competition?  Gathering intelligence from your customers and prospects on how they view the competition can aid you in positioning your products/services.  How high do they regard the features, functions, and benefits of your adversary?

Typically, this information can be gathered when you are conducting a demo of your product/service.  During a demo or a conversation in the booth many questions are asked.  By carefully analyzing the questions asked, you can determine the holes in your marketing.

Assess the following:

  • What features did people ask about which you already have, but it wasn’t obvious in the demo?
  • What features did people keep asking for which you don’t have or are on the drawing board for a future release?

As you were talking to them, did they share anything they loved or hated about your competition?  This information is golden, in that you are hearing their preferences directly from your audience.

Consider hiring an outside research firm to conduct intercept interviews (GES is a great option).  This is where a person stops someone who has just left your booth and poses a few questions.  Via this qualitative research tool you can assess your marketing message, the booth personnel, etc.  Using the results will help fine tune or totally change your approach for the next show.

Gathering and analyzing the responses to your queries can alter your marketing so that it has a broader impact and moves more prospects into the sales funnel.

Joyce McKee – Defying Convention


People Do Business With People They Like

From Forbes.com

People ultimately choose to do business with people they like, and everyone likes someone who appreciates them.

 

I once read a quote by the ever so brilliant writer known as Anonymous. It states, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”  The most powerful tool you have in creating success in your life is to appreciate other people.

When you appreciate others you will find that your relationships are stronger, your circle of friends will grow wider, your career and business will succeed beyond your expectations, and your life will simply be happier. So who wouldn’t want all of that?!  And how do we make that happen?

The two most powerful words in any language are “Thank you.” Saying thank you communicates that you value and appreciate the other person. Saying thank you has the power to completely change the other person’s mood for the better. Saying thank you has the power to create friendships. Saying thank you has the influence to create loyalty. Saying thank you to everyone you come in contact with would make you one of the most beloved people in the world. Forgetting to say thank you leaves the other person feeling taken for granted and unappreciated, and one can easily surmise the damage those feelings would do toward building future bonds.

Now that we all agree on the importance of saying “thank you”, let’s talk about a few tips on how to say it best.

When saying thank you, it is best to be specific about exactly what you are thankful for. When you take time to do so you are helping that employee feel appreciated, but at the same time you are also teaching them the behaviors they should repeat in order to receive further thanks in the future. For example, a manager might say to an employee who did a good job on their given assignment, “Thank you for the attention you paid to the smallest details on this project. I realize you put in extra hours to get this completed so smoothly and I truly appreciate your efforts.” That employee will walk away feeling appreciated as well as knowing that paying attention to detail and going the extra mile are behavior patterns they want to continue to follow in order to receive future praise.

Saying thank you to someone out of the blue in an unexpected moment can make a huge impact on someone else. For example, when the person has done nothing for you in that moment just stop and say thank you to them for something they exemplify, such as, “Thank you for always setting an example of integrity with your life.” Those unexpected thank yous can create a lasting impression on the other person.

One of the most powerful forms of appreciation is when you take the time to say “Thank you” to someone in a handwritten note. In all my years as a CEO I found time and time again that the most valued gift I could give someone was a handwritten note of thanks, and the only items I have saved without fail over the years are the handwritten notes of thanks that employees and clients sent to me.  There is something so deeply personal and meaningful in a handwritten note of appreciation. At my past company we had thousands of thank you cards with the company logo printed for the employees to be able to write and mail handwritten thank you cards out to our clients, our vendors, and each other. The value created over the years from these simple handwritten notes didn’t equal millions of dollars in value, they created hundreds of millions of dollars because they helped us to grow our company to levels beyond expectations because of the close personal bonds with our clients and service providers.

We all have hundreds of opportunities to say thank you every day. We can thank the gal behind the counter at the gas station who rings us up when we grab our morning diet soda. We can thank the person in the drive-through who hands us our lunch order. We can thank the person who holds the door open for us when we walk in the building. If you pay attention for even one day to everyone who could possibly deserve to hear a “thank you” you will be amazed at the number of opportunities that could be missed in a day if we don’t pay attention to them. There is never a downside to saying thank you to someone. It can only make your own life and the lives of those around you better.

And so with that I want to take a moment to say “Thank You” to all of you who read my articles, who take time to comment on them, and who have chosen to also read my daily blogs posted at www.amyreesanderson.com/blog where many of you have shared such kind and supportive comments there. Each of you has touched my life for the better and I truly thank you for that. THANK YOU!

~Amy Rees Anderson

Forbes.com Article -Entrepreneurs – 6/28/2013 @ 12:17AM

Trade show Planning

The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Trade show Planning

 

The prospect of planning for a trade show can seem like a daunting task. After all, overlooking the smallest thing may result in a day-of calamity that affects the viability of your lead generation efforts and compromises the impact you intend to have on the audience – not exactly the impression you’re aiming to make.

When sitting down to write an event checklist, you’ll likely find you have a lot of ideas at first. Holding a brainstorming session is a great approach if you’re just looking to get everything down on paper, but you’ll need to come up with a more structured list down the road. Once you’re ready to take that step, consider breaking everything up by using several common questions as a base.

Who?

The question of “Who?” can be broken into two parts: Who is the audience you’re targeting, and who will be manning the booths on either side of yours? Knowing your audience is a basic and virtually self explanatory step – if you’re not familiar with the likes and interests of your target demographic, you probably won’t be able to effectively appeal to its members – but you might not even be thinking about what’s going on at neighboring booths.

What?

Sometimes, exhibitors get so wrapped up in prepping for a trade show that they forget about what comes after. Asking “What is my post-show plan?” will encourage companies to commit to deploying effective follow-up strategies.

When?

If you’re planning a trade show, setting up a calendar is crucial. Kick off preliminary planning six months to a year in advance, then set four-, three-, two- and one-month benchmarks, with weekly and day-of goals after those.

Where?

The location of a trade show dictates a lot about the event itself, both in terms of the specific venue and the surrounding municipality, so you need to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Why?

There are several main reasons companies decide to partake in trade shows. Each calls for them to approach the undertaking a little differently, and it’s important to have a solid idea of the motivation behind your participation so you can align your event-planning accordingly. Are you debuting new products? Drumming up buzz about your brand? Nurturing relationships?

If you have an event plan in place that answers all of the above questions, consider yourself well-positioned for trade show success.

 

See more at: http://www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/who-what-when-where-and-why-tradeshow-planning

December 7, 2014

10 Laws to Exhibit Success

10 Simple Laws to Trade Show Success:

 

You don’t need a law degree to grasp the simple rules of trade show success.

To ensure you don’t get jailed by poor trade show performance, or judged guilty of wasting your company’s scarce marketing resources, don’t break these 10 laws:

 

 

1. Know why you exhibit before you do anything else

Just as intent is an important factor in the law, it’s essential in exhibiting. Too often exhibitors reserve a booth at a show without knowing why they are going in the first place. Without the guiding light of an overriding goal, they can’t shape their exhibit to match their needs, train their staff to aim at a common goal, or even know if they succeeded.

2. Exhibiting well requires both logistics AND marketing

You may say, “I object, your honor. I only have time to manage the logistics for our trade show.” That’s not going to get you off the hook. To succeed, you must also perform well the marketing tasks that too often get pushed aside in favor of details like shipping, ordering show services, and travel arrangements.

3. Exhibit at shows where your buyers are

Just as what is legal based on jurisdiction, so changes your fortunes as you exhibit at one of the over 10,000 shows you can choose from (in North America alone). You have to do the homework to determine what your best customers look like, and then find the trade shows where they freely roam.

4. Design your exhibit for your buyers, not you

What if your lawyer talked a lot just because he likes to hear the sound of his voice, rather than to convince the jury? Similarly, some companies design their exhibit to show themselves off the way they want to be seen – rather than focusing their message to best appeal to their clients and prospects.

5. Bring only willing booth staffers

Do the people you ask to staff your booth react as if being summoned for jury duty? Those people will take that negative attitude with them when they meet your booth visitors. Don’t ever break this law if you want to succeed at shows – just bring willing booth staffers, even if they cost more to get there.

6. Always train your booth staffers

Legal proceedings follow almost ritualistic protocol. You will please the judge if you follow similarly repetitive steps and train your staff for every show. Top sales people still need to know how to adapt to trade show booth staffing. And veteran staffers don’t know your new objectives, new products, latest pre-show and at-show promotions, and how to use the new technology you added to your booth.

7. Qualify your leads to boost follow up

Just as not everyone is guilty, not every lead is qualified. Your booth staffers must interrogate attendees to determine their value, and then rank the leads (A – Immediate, B – Intermediate, C – Future). Your reps will be more likely to follow up on the A & B leads, knowing you have already sent the C leads (that you still continue to market to) to the holding cell.

8. Promote your presence before and during the show

A good trial lawyer is a little bit the showman in order to sway the jury. You should have no objection to taking a page out of his book and promoting your presence before and during the show. Let attendees know all the reasons they should visit your booth, so you get their attention, rather than your competitor.Here’s a free book to help.

9. Plan for lead follow-up before the show

Have your closing arguments prepared before the trial ends – by preparing your lead follow up system before you go to the show. Assign a person to enter the leads, have fulfillment packets prepared, and have a smooth process for getting leads quickly to the right sales people.

10. Measure and report your results to keep exhibiting

After the show ends, the jury is still out whether it was a successful show or not. But if you track your leads to sales, compare your costs to your sales, and then report your satisfactory return on investment, you’ll be much more likely to be judged successful.

If you’ve just realized you have been breaking these laws all along, consider yourself on parole. You’ve got some time to reform your ways, become a trade show law-abiding citizen, and generate trade show success.

Link to original article at tsnn.com

 

Six Ideas to steal from 2014

Six Ideas to Steal from 2014 Trade Shows

Ours is an industry filled with ingenuity and innovation. Even the shows that have been around for decades find ways to reinvent themselves and bring an exciting and profitable experience to both attendees and exhibitors, making them crave even more next year. Here’re a few ideas tested by shows in 2014 that could bring a new sparkle to your event:Near Field Communication. Several shows switched this year to Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in attendee badges. In essence, it’s a microchip in the badge encrypted with relevant data about the attendee, such as access to expo, sessions and events. No printing and losing lunch tickets (and drink coupons) anymore. Exhibitors collect leads by scanning badges with their smartphone pre-loaded with a registration app and synched with their database. Since all contact info is digital exhibitors can also instantly send specs and relevant materials.CES introduced the badges at its 2014 show in collaboration with ITN International. “There’s a bit of a learning curve but people are very excited about it,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president of events and conferences for Consumer Electronics Association. CES will again use NFT in their badges in 2015.Licensing Expo 2014 also has a successful experience with NFT. “I heard from a lot of attendees that this was the smoothest entry process they’ve had into a show. It is likely that Advanstar will adopt the same technology for its other shows,” said Chris DeMoulin, president of Licensing & EVP Worldwide Customer Development at Advanstar Communications.Mobile Engagement Technology. CTIA Super Mobility Week 2014 launched a system that could monitor location of mobile devices on the floor as well as send proximity marketing messages. It collected real-time data from 125 sensors around the floor and created a “heat map” of the busiest booths and presentations displayed in the Big Data Wall in the lobby. At the same time, it allowed exhibitors to send messages to nearby attendees through the official show app and opted-in to receive such notifications.  More of proximity messaging is expected at next year’s event.

“You’ll walk into the Samsung booth, and it will ask you questions about what you’d like to see and offer to schedule a meeting and send information to your phone,” said Robert Mesirow, vice president and show director for CTIA. “It makes it a lot more efficient for exhibitors as it automatically does their lead generation and follow-up.”

Shop the Tradeshow. MAGIC Market Week launched its Shop the Floor website as an online product showcase to help extend the life of the show. In 2014, the site became a full ecommerce platform. Buyers can still use it to research products and brands before the show but they also can also place orders throughout the year. “It’s an established brand now,” said Allison Lombardo, vice president of marketing for Advanstar. “And it’s a lot more robust in terms of a shopping experience for the retailer.”

Show Apps All Grown Up. One of the most helpful innovations in show apps has been the introduction of real-time navigation and its integration with other functions. At JCK, attendees could provide information about the desirable products and price ranges and were recommended up to 25 exhibitors that could be a good match. The app would then help schedule appointments and help navigate to the booth during the show.

Along with the GSP routing feature, National Hardware Show app also had a Near Me button that allowed exhibitors to show deals to attendees that had selected their product as category of interest.

Sample Box. Cosmoprof partnered with Glossy Box, a subscription beauty samples service, to create and distribute a limited edition Cosmoprof Box with products launched at the show. “We wanted our exhibitors, especially smaller companies, to get a chance to connect directly with their consumers and also to test the subscription box model that is getting very popular now,” said Daniela Ciocan, marketing director at Cosmoprof North America. “Normally, it takes 30,000 pieces to participate, and it’s a huge investment. Here they only have to contribute 3,000 pieces. We’re hoping it will be a successful partnership with a B-to-C platform.”

Awesome Old School. IT show Interop decided to go the low-tech route to promote attendance at its 2014 event by sending out posters with the history of the show and IT. Their colorful presence on the walls of attendee firms did the trick. “Instead of doing three humongous mail drops, we did one drop to about 100,000 potential registrants,” said Jennifer Jessup, general manager of Interop. “We got better pickup and made more money from those codes than we’d ever done.”

Bonus: Personal Meme Generator. Ok, so this is really a glance into the future, but 2015 CES lets you build a surprisingly accurate and funny personal meme that makes it hard to resist sharing on social media. Even if you’re not going, it might be worth it just as inspiration for next year.

Link to original Article at TSNN.com: Six Ideas to Steal from 2014 Trade Shows

 

Create Exhibits That Engage

11 Tips for Trade Show Displays

How to Create Trade Show Displays To Engage Potential Customers

The quality of your trade show displays will make or break your trade show experiences. Exhibitors new to trade shows tend to focus on the flashy; they want to create trade show displays that will draw crowds. But that’s not the point.

It’s not the number of people your trade show displays draw that matters; it’s whether or not your trade show exhibit engages them when they’re there. Use the tips for trade show displays below to create trade show displays that will engage people and get them interested in your products and services.

 

1) Think neatness and visibility when putting your trade show displays together.

Use a display board to hang some of your products at customer eye-level to draw them into your display. Make sure your display is organized and tidy; customers will be turned off by messiness or by having to do too much searching to find what they want. Have all your prices clearly marked.

2) Build the impression of demand into your trade show displays.

Customers will want your products more if they think they’re in high demand. Place a strategic sold sign on one or two items. You might even leave a display spot empty, giving the impression that you’ve been too busy to restock.

3) Pull a crowd to your trade show display.

Use interactive trade show displays, such as quizzes, computer games, contest draws, scheduled demonstrations; it doesn’t need to be fancy to draw people’s interest and get them to cluster around your trade show display rather than the others. At a gardening trade show, I once saw over 50 people crowding around to watch an exhibitor demonstrate how to turn compost!

4) Have a stock of promotion items that you can use as trade show giveaways.

Small items that people can take away and use (while being reminded about your business) are best. Be sure you place these items in a location where people will have to walk into or through your trade show display to get them.

5) Use a prize draw or contest.

Having some kind of prize draw or contest as part of your trade show displays is a great way to collect contact information from booth visitors. You can give away promotion items to encourage people to participate.

6) Make it easy for booth visitors to get information.

Use signs in your trade show displays to give information about prices, minimum orders, shipping costs, or any other basic information they might need to know, to save them the trouble of having to wait to ask when you’re busy with another potential customer.

7) Make sure you have plenty of promotional literature on hand.

You’ll want to have a good supply of color fliers and brochures as well as order forms, price sheets and business cards that you can hand out to trade show display visitors so it will be easy for them to find all the information they need about your business later. You should also have a press kit prepared for the trade media.

8) Be ready to do business.

Be sure you have a good supply of order forms, pens, credit card slips, or anything else you need to conduct sales and keep track of people’s orders at your trade show display.

9) Have your trade show displays manned at all times.

Someone has to be there to greet browsers, engage them in conversation, and take their questions. If you can’t be there every minute the trade show is open, you’ll need to have at least one other person help man your booth.

10) Actively engage trade show display visitors.

Give people who approach your trade show display a friendly welcome, and welcome their questions. Be sure your body language is friendly; don’t stand there with your arms crossed over your chest, for instance. “Chat” with booth visitors, and find out what aspect of your business they’re most interested in. Be prepared to offer specific solutions to their questions. The trick is to draw them in without intimidating or overwhelming them.

11) Follow up promptly.

Send out email, regular mail, or make the phone calls to follow up on the contacts and leads you made during the trade show as soon as possible. The faster you send them out, the more your business will stand out from the rest.

Trade Show Displays Have to Do Two Things

So there are two main considerations when you’re putting trade show displays together. Your trade show displays have to be visible and interesting enough to get people over to take a closer look. But once they get there, you have to make that closer look worthwhile by engaging them with conversation and information. Do these two things well and trade shows will be an incredible sources of contacts and customers for your business.

Link to Original Article

The Displayers | 212 620 5555 | Directly Across from New York’s Javits Center

8 Tricks of the Trade Show

Be on the offense, not the defense.

Some companies who think of trade shows as an expense attend to defend their turf from new competition. Others see trade shows as investments: Those are the companies that end up building real relationships on the floor. “Don’t just buy space and expect miracles because that’s like Russian roulette,” says trade show coach Susan Friedmann. “Maybe you win, maybe you won’t. It’s an expensive exercise just to find out it doesn’t work.” In order to make your trade show experience an investment, set measurable objectives before the event and stick to them.

Focus on quality over quantity.

“People have this idea that a successful trade show is one where you have 10,000 people walking past your booth,” says Malcom Gilvar, vice president of sales for the Trade Group, a trade show design and consulting service. “But that can be a barrier to your success.” Getting the right kind of traffic to your booth starts before the trade show, with pre-show activity such as e-mail blasts or marketing campaigns. “Define who you want to come to your exhibit and target them specifically,” Gilvar continues. “If people did nothing but that, it would be an amazingly successful event.”

Strut your (new) stuff.

Showing something new to your customer is an easy way to succeed at a trade show—only shows aren’t exactly timed to fit with the launch of your new product or service. You can circumvent this in two ways. First, try promoting an established product you’ve never featured before. Or, if you have a new prototype, feature it digitally. “You have to make your product fit with the timing of the trade show,” says Peter Stevenson, president of Realtime Technology, a 3D visualization company that designs models for trade shows. “That’s the beauty of digital information.”

Let them play.

Putting customers in an industry trade show is like putting kids in a candy store: they’re going to want to touch things. So let them. Monster.com engages its trade show audiences by creating a booth entirely out of touch screens. “They don’t have to wait for a guided demo,” says Phil Cavanaugh, Monster.com’s vice president of events. “They can approach our product right away.” For companies with more limited funding, iPads simulate the same interaction, says Stevenson: “You put three or four on your stand and people will pick them up.”

Train early and often.

“The No. 1 thing people remember about your exhibit isn’t the great graphics, it’s the staff,” says Gilvar. Even the most experienced or dynamic staff needs training before each trade show they attend. “I have no doubt companies’ sales staffs are terrific at doing what they do every day. But a well trained staff is the most important part of your trade show experience.” Make sure your staff understands and agrees with the trade show objectives before attending—and offer refreshers on both goals and manners once there.

Throw away the stress balls.

Giveaways are a point of contention for veteran trade show attendees. For some, it’s a valid reminder of your brand. For others, it’s a waste of money. Whichever camp you fall into, make sure any freebie serves a purpose. “I’m hoping the heyday of stress balls has come and gone,” says Cavanaugh. “We still believe in giving people something tangible to walk away with, but you want something beyond the useless tchotchke.” If you do use a giveaway, think critically about how that item represents your product or your company.

Watch out for spies.

Trade shows provide the perfect environment for espionage. You and your competition are in close quarters for several days, each demonstrating the best or newest features of your product or service. Take some time to size up your competition. And more importantly, make sure you know your competition is sizing you up as well. “If they come to the booth in disguise, they often give themselves away by being too clever,” Friedmann says. “They ask questions the average person won’t ask.” Ensure your staff has enough observational savvy to distinguish these plants from ordinary customers.

Don’t loose steam.

When a show is almost over, the crowds have dwindled, and energy is drained. But you couldn’t be more wrong if you think your job’s over. “Somebody who is really serious is walking around the show floor because they know they can spend more time with you when you’re less busy,” says Friedmann. “If you look like you’re waiting for the minute to tick by, this person is going to ask: ‘Is this someone I want to do business with?'” Staying energized and engaged until the trade show is officially over (or longer) proves to customers that you are a company committed to the trade show—and to their business. —Drew Gannon

 

Link to original article at – Inc Magazine

6 Trends From the NY Auto Show

With more than a million people expected to wander through the New York International Auto Show over the next 10 days, the car makers showing their newest offerings need to do what they can to stand out. At this year’s show, that means lots of inviting, serene-looking booths that put the visual focus on the cars, along with some high-tech elements to draw people in and engage them with information about the new models on display.

In press days at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Wednesday and Thursday, the big car companies gave a preview of what the public will see when the show opens today and runs through Sunday, April 7. Here’s a look at the trade show exhibit trends on display.

1. Simple, modern design
If the main point of the Auto Show is to let consumers see the latest cars, the vast majority of exhibitors chose sleek structures that showed them off without any design distractions. That meant lots of restrained color palettes and bright, well-lit areas that felt modern and airy.

If you were touring the show looking at the design of displays rather than cars, that made for some sameness. But it likely—and rightly—put the focus squarely on the vehicles for people more concerned with such things.

2. White
Speaking of sleek, what can be more minimalist than a white box? That’s what many brands chose—Porsche among them—displaying cars without any unnecessary frills. Rolls-Royce used white tiles on the floor and wall, and both Rolls-Royce and Volvo incorporated some wood tones into otherwise all-white designs.

White leather cubes were a popular choice for simple seating in front of presentation stages. Some brands even drove in a fleet of color-free cars for visual consistency: Almost all of Audi’s autos on display were white.

3. Contemporary architectural shapes
Some of the brands with more elaborate stands appeared to take their design cues from architects like Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas, using unconventional shapes and angular elements to convey a sense of innovation and modernity.

Hyundai used a sleek black structure that rung around the ceiling along the perimeter of its space, touching down to the floor only at the back wall. (The shape brought to mind the CCTV Headquarters designed by Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren of OMA.) In the Volkswagen area, a large white trapezoid-shaped structure had video screens embedded inside. Likewise, in the Lexus booth, giant partitions—white, naturally—were cut into trapezoids by decorative silver lines.

4. Giant screens
If so many sleek, all-white booths made for a serene setting, brands put some energy in their areas with enormous LED screens showing dynamic graphics. Most booths seemed to have at least one large screen incorporated somewhere, often above or behind the main model on display. Others used giant screens as space dividers and focal points.

Ford’s large space had a huge screen showing videos with moving text and lit other large blue walls to look like glowing screens. (Perhaps the design team figured at this point we’re all so used to looking at screens at all times, we can’t help being drawn to something that looks like one?) Scion hung three huge LED screens from the ceiling that defined its space and put four smaller video walls behind four cars.

On Wednesday, the screens showed large logos, energetic graphics, video of cars driving—the kinds of things you’d see in a slick TV commercial. What you didn’t see was product specs or text-filled, corporate-looking slides. As a well-attended presentation in the Hyundai booth finished, the host—standing in front of a giant video wall broken up into several screens with live video feeds and car shots—bragged, “We just did this whole thing without teleprompters or PowerPoint.”

5. Interactive games
There were smaller screens, too—and many of them showed games meant to entice consumers to engage more actively in the displays. Lots of touch screens let you get more information about the cars. Other games mimicked the experience of driving them: Toyota had a giant kiosk with three screens for just one driver; tire maker Pirelli had a line of simulators meant to recreate the experience of a Formula One race track.

6. Caffeine
This trend is decidedly an old-fashioned and low-tech one, but effective: Several car makers kept the press engaged on Wednesday with espresso bars. With 846,000 square feet of exhibit space in use at the Javits Center—plus plenty of announcements, promotional events, and nighttime parties during the run of the show—journalists on Wednesday were lining up for a jolt of caffeine.

Bizbash Article By Chad Kaydo Posted March 29, 2013

 

When Trade Shows Were Both Grand & Central

 

An Elco cruiser being hauled along 30th Street on its way to Grand Central Palace, north of the terminal at 480 Lexington Avenue. It was the city’s chief exhibition hall in the early 20th century. The New York Times

How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

Many hotels along Lexington Avenue were built in part because of the presence nearby of the Grand Central Palace exhibition and convention hall.
David W. Dunlap / The New York Times Many hotels along Lexington Avenue were built in part because of the presence nearby of the Grand Central Palace exhibition and convention hall.

In the preservation debate over Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s rezoning plan for east Midtown, one of the most conspicuous landmarks is a building that hasn’t existed for almost half a century, yet still exerts a strong influence over the neighborhood.

Grand Central Palace, on Lexington Avenue, between 46th and 47th Streets, was New York’s principal exhibition hall for 40 years: home of the International Flower Show, the Greater New York Poultry Exposition, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the Sportsmen’s and Vacation Show, the National Photographic Show, the International Beauty Shop Owners Convention, the Frozen Foods Exposition, the National Plastics Exposition, the International Textile Exposition, the National Modern Homes Exposition, the American Medical Association Exposition, the city’s Golden Anniversary Exposition of 1948 and — in the greatest annual generator of nautical daydreams and logistical nightmares — the National Motor Boat Show.

(You think it’s tough driving in Midtown? Try it in a 54-foot Wheeler cruiser with a flying bridge.)

In 1963, 52 years after Grand Central Palace opened and a decade after the last show was held there, the 13-story building was demolished. A 44-story office tower, 245 Park Avenue, took its place.

But even today, you can clearly follow the shadow of the Palace by walking up Lexington Avenue from 47th Street. Expositions and conventions brought thousands of travelers to town. Accommodations sprouted shoulder to shoulder along “Hotel Alley“: the Winthrop (now the Roger Smith), the Lexington, the Shelton (now the Marriott East Side), the Montclair (now the W New York) and the Beverly (now the Benjamin). Across Lexington Avenue, and in a different league, were the Barclay (now the InterContinental Barclay) and the Waldorf-Astoria.

All but one of these hotels have been identified by the Municipal Art Society, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Historic Districts Council as worthy of consideration for landmark status. (The Waldorf-Astoria is the exception. It already is an official landmark.) Preservationists fear that the increase in permissible building density envisioned in the mayor’s rezoning plan would make it economically feasible to demolish structures like these.

Grand Central Palace occupied the block of Lexington Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets. The exhibition areas occupied the first four floors. Interior spaces were large enough to accommodate a pool for log-rolling contests at the 1936 Sportsmen's Show.Uris Buildings Corporation Grand Central Palace occupied the block of Lexington Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets. The exhibition areas occupied the first four floors. Interior spaces were large enough to accommodate a pool for log-rolling contests at the 1936 Sportsmen’s Show.
The New York Times

Had there been a strong landmarks law in 1963, there surely would have been a fight over Grand Central Palace. A good case could have been made for its architecture, too.

It was designed by Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem, who also worked together on Grand Central Terminal itself. The Lexington Avenue facade of the Palace had a portico of four colossal columns. A two-story arcade — illuminated at night — ringed the top of the building. The main exhibition area was ingeniously carved out of the second and third floors to create an interior volume 48 feet high. The main floor could accommodate 94 booths, typically about 320 square feet each. (I’ve lived in smaller apartments.)

But let’s be honest. Grand Central Palace was not about architecture. It was a setting where adults could play out their fantasies under the pretense of doing business; that is, unless you’d been inducted there into the armed forces during World War II or had a dust-up with the Internal Revenue Service, whose New York headquarters were there in the 1950s.

Following their fitness examinations at Grand Central Palace, which was converted into an induction center during World War II, men picked up their street clothes.Associated Press Following their fitness examinations at Grand Central Palace, which was converted into an induction center during World War II, men picked up their street clothes.

Even the staid New York Times got into the spirit of things. “Grand Central Palace All A-Cackle With 7,200 Poultry Show Entrants,” said a headline on Jan. 4, 1951, under a photograph of a young woman with a long-tailed bird on her shoulder: “Florence Awe using ‘Lady Amhurst,’ a pheasant, as a hat.”

The perennial tangle between automotive and nautical traffic before and after the boat show also allowed Times copy editors to let down their hair a bit. “Boats Go Bounding O’er Main Streets,” was the headline on Jan. 8, 1953, heralding the arrival of the show.

Assessing the home furnishings show in The Times of Sept. 18, 1952, Betty Pepis wrote: “All the items that could — and, it seemed to this reporter, many things that shouldn’t go into a home — will be displayed by more than 400 exhibitors.” With a nod to the impending presidential election, Elizabeth Draper designed a study for Dwight D. Eisenhower in bold strokes of red, white and blue. Melanie Kahane’s study for Adlai E. Stevenson was of muted gray and beige. You know how that turned out.

One of the greatest annual draws was the flower show, which offered azaleas, camellias, lilies, peonies, petunias, primroses, roses and tulips in early March, when such color and fragrance in Midtown would have been welcome. As a reporter, I imagine it was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Yet I don’t envy the writer who had to describe it year in and year out.

“‘Spring followed by summer’ is the forecast today and all through the week for Grand Central Palace,” was how she opened her account on March 5, 1951. Two years later, on March 9, 1953, her lead paragraph began, “‘Spring leading into summer’ is the forecast for one small part of New York this week.” I’m not going to name names. We’ve all done it.

National Sportsmen’s Show of 1936

Chief Louis Paul of the Micmacs demonstrating his craft at Nova Scotia’s exhibition. The New York Times
A version of this article appears in print on 12/20/2012, on page A33 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Recalling When East Midtown Was Exposition Central.

8 Social Media Marketing Tips for Trade Shows

8 Social Media Marketing Tips for Trade Shows and Conferences

Even in this day and age Trade Shows are a critical component of any B2B company’s marketing mix, however they involve considerable marketing investments by companies; booth space, design and fabrication of displays, travel, accommodations and marketing collateral and interactive content. It’s little wonder then why more and more cities are offering more and more incentives to attract more trade shows and conferences to their cities to fuel economic development

To help maximize ROI and create awareness many companies and organizations are turning to social media to improve their success at trade shows. Below are eight tips that can help your marketing team have a successful trade show experience.

1) Make Sure Your Brand is Discoverable on Social Media.
Long before you start your trade show awareness campaign, you have to have an established presence on social media set up and ready to go. No one likes to be the first guests at a party and the same goes for fans connecting with brands on social media.
In 2013, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn are still dominating social media marketing but newer entires like Instagram and Pinterest are fast becoming popular due to the visual nature of their platforms and shifting trends in how users are spending their time online.

2) Make Sure Your Social Profiles are Up to Date.
For trade shows, conferences and general event marketing, you need to put your best foot forward. Directing people to your social channels only to have them find the most recent post was six months ago does your company a huge disservice. Having an up-to-date profile not only makes your company look more professional, it helps bridge the gap between the real-world touch points and your brand’s online presence helping facilitate a seamless conversation between your prospects and your company.

3) Use Social Media to Create Pre-show Buzz.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and Instagram are currently the top tools to get the word about about your trade show. The key is to move beyond the general announcement and standard issue press release and showcase who will be there, free giveaways, and what attendees can hope to learn when they stop by your booth. The goal here is to generate foot traffic.

One good tactic is to take the press release of the event and break it up into small chunks that can be spread out across your social calendar. Create teaser campaigns where you dole out information in small amounts to pique interest and drive engagement. Make the information valuable and exciting so that it incentivizes people to share your posts with their immediate network. In this sense, it’s the 2nd degree connections that is really the most valuable asset of your social presence, often increasing the reach of your content by an order of a magnitude or more.

4) Utilize the Official Hashtag for the Event or Create Your Own.
Leveraging hashtags for your event is one of the best tools for generating buzz and curating and monitoring conversations about your brand specific to the trade show or conference. It is also one of the best ways to make lateral connections with other participants, speakers, presenters, and show attendees. 

If you are exhibiting at an event, check to see if there is an official hashtag being used by the show organizers, incorporate this hashtag on all of your event specific tweets and Instagram posts. Also note that hashtags can be used on other platforms as well (LinkedIn and Google+) and that Facebook is soon expected to activate them in the next major update.

For events that do not have an official hashtag, or if you are hosting your own event. Feel free to create a unique custom hashtag to help generate buzz and awareness for your event. Double check to make sure that the hashtag is not currently in use and be sure to use intercaps to help distinguish specific words and avoid the dreaded hashtag confusion.

5) Incorporate Social Media Into Your Corporate Website and Email Marketing.
One thing we notice with a lot of companies still, is that their social media channels are nowhere to be found on the corporate website or email marketing. In 2013, this is a huge missed opportunity for brands to allow their customers to connect with them and receive news and updates in real time.

For companies that haven’t done so, collect all of the live social media channels currently maintained by your brand and have your web and email teams integrate them prominently onto your company’s site and campaign templates.

6) Leverage Real-time Marketing.
In a globally connected world, information is shared in real time with zero lag. Perception can turn on a dime so marketers have to be on their toes to take advantage of any opportunities that emerge. The Oreo tweet during the 2013 Superbowl is becoming a textbook example of how to leverage social media and real-time marketing to generate brand awareness.

For real-time sharing on-the-go, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Pages are the top three Social/Mobile platforms of choice primarily due to their user friendly mobile apps, around the clock content stream, and wide popularity with Millennials.

Depending on how many people you bring with you to support your trade show/conference efforts, bringing along a dedicated person (typically an online community manager or PR person) who can post real-time updates, post visually attractive photos, and engage with followers or fellow attendees on-the-fly can offer the highest impact for your brand’s marketing efforts and allows your company to maximize lead generation by making it easier for other attendees to make the connection between your brands offline presence with their online one.

7) Understand that Social Media is a one-to-one marketing strategy.
A mistake many brands make is treating Social Media as a mass communication strategy. In some instances, treating your Facebook Page or corporate Twitter as a broadcast medium is expedient and effective but the real value lies in the two way communication between you and your audience. This offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage in one-on-one conversations with prospects and fans.

Also another point to consider is that customers are now quick to vent their frustration and dissatisfaction with a company on Social Media. Getting your marketing/social team up to speed on customer service and online conflict resolution can actually help defuse negative feedback by courteously taking the conversation offline and converting critics into advocates.

8) Share Your Trade Show Experience with Those Unable to Attend.
With advancements in mobile technology and smart phones you can record an almost endless amount of data at events; insights, photos, videos, contacts, geo-locations, that you can share with your audience in real time. 

Some of this can be shared on Social Media but also don’t overlook the fact that the material captured can be used to create a recap of the trade show experience where you can share what you and your team discovered and reflect on where your business or industry is headed.

Have additional questions about your brand’s trade show promotion strategy? Contact John Luu at jluu@axiom.us.com for more information.  Published June 21, 2013.

Choose the Best Tradeshow Lead Retrieval

How to Choose the Best Tradeshow Lead Retrieval Device for Your Needs

 

I recently attended a meeting for exhibitors held by a large show organizer about six weeks before their event. The purpose was to give representatives from exhibiting companies a chance to hear presentations from experts on image, social media and tradeshow marketing. They also got live access to vendors of whom they could ask questions and place orders and I was there as the lead retrieval vendor.

 

After a morning of presentations, there was a lovely sit-down lunch where I had the chance to speak with some exhibitors for the first time. One of them asked a very reasonable question: “What is your most popular lead retrieval device?” Without skipping a beat, I responded, “The cheapest.”

 

It’s true. Despite offering a variety of devices with an array of features to meet a plethora of needs, the leading seller is always the cheapest. And it doesn’t matter which device happens to be the cheapest on that particular order form, that’s the one that will sell the most.

 

Please allow me to step up on my soapbox for a moment. Lead retrieval is not “one size fits all” and no one has, at any price, created a be-all, end-all solution. For example, a device that works brilliantly in one booth may be completely inappropriate for another. That same device may even work well in two very different booths, but for very different reasons. Trust me, it’s not a simple equation, but all too often, I hear this:

 

•    “We’ll just get the lead retrieval device that provides a paper printout, it’s cheaper.”

 

•    “We don’t need to qualify our leads electronically. We’ll sort the leads later, it’s cheaper.”

 

•    “We’ll just get one lead retrieval unit. Sure our booth is 60′ x 60′, but our sales people can walk to scan a badge. It’s cheaper.”

 

See a theme here? Everyone is trying to contain costs. So much so that even show organizers consider the price their exhibitors will pay when choosing vendors. But all too frequently, they choose the cheapest option rather than the one that will deliver the most effective results. The irony here is that while the most effective one may cost a little more, it often saves money and provides increased business opportunities in the long run. Now I’m not saying the most expensive option is always better. It’s not. But the least expensive may not be either.

 

When choosing a lead retrieval solution, here are a few things to consider:

 

1.    Booth size and layout. Will booth staff be able to capture a lead without a long or awkward a walk? The size and layout of your booth may be a significant factor in the type and number of capture stations you require.

 

2.    Number of leads you expect to capture. This one can be deceptive. More leads do not necessarily mean more devices. But, if you can reasonably expect 1,000 leads during a two-day event, then you better have the bandwidth to handle that volume.

 

3.    Number of booth staff. The last thing you want is to have staff crowded around a single lead capturing device rather than engaging prospects.

 

4.    Experience of booth staff. By this I do not mean how experienced they are in their regular positions, but rather how experienced they are with engaging and qualifying prospects in a busy booth. The less experience present, the easier the process must be if you want them to be efficient and capture as many qualified leads as possible.

 

5.    Event culture. Is this the type of show where most of the activity takes place during show hours or are there many “social” off-hour events where engagement occurs? Make sure you choose a solution that works when and where you need it.

 

6.    Resources available after the show. This is often forgotten. You’ve been to the show, you’ve collected tons of leads, and now you’re back in the office. You’re probably pretty exhausted too. What kind of physical and technical resources do you have available to sort through and follow-up with your hard-earned sales leads?

 

These are the types of considerations to keep in mind when assessing your lead retrieval needs. There are solutions available to address all of these factors, but as I said before, there is no “one size fits all” solution. However, by assessing your needs and resources and then prioritizing them, you will be able to identify which features are crucial for your situation and which are not.

 

One more warning: Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to not automatically default to the cheapest solution, don’t think that the most expensive one with all its bells and whistles is the answer either. It may be, but over-purchasing is just as large of a sin as under-purchasing. Choose wisely, young Jedis. And keep track of the pros and cons of each solution as you go along. Though you may have a few bumps along the way, ultimately you will find the solution that works best for you.

 

April 5, 2013

 

by Siobhan Connellan
Siobhan Connellan is senior manager of exhibitor operations at Experient
Original Article: Trade Show News Network

_______________________________________________________

6 tactics to increase the effectiveness of your lead follow-up
  1. Regardless of whether you are using an electronic lead management system, have your own lead form for capturing specific information. When you create the form, get your sales organization (who will be using it) to review it prior to giving it to them to use at the show. Get early buy-in.
  2. Train your staff how to capture information in the interview process. What information should they be seeking that will be beneficial to follow-up?
  3. Discipline your staff to categorize your leads – “A”, “B”, “C” as they are generated, and review them each night for completeness.
  4. Create a system to manage the leads. When the show ends how do they get fulfilled, who is responsible for the transmittal letter, the lead management reporting? When and to whom does the sales force report their results? When and to whom are the results reported?
  5. Prepare your lead follow/fulfillment before leaving for the show. If you are sending a letter along with literature, prepare and store it so all you have to do is text merge your leads into your word processor. Most exhibitors go to shows to accelerate the sales cycle. In order to accomplish this goal, a well thought out lead management systems needs to be in place
  6. Make your follow-up timely – time your follow-up so it arrives the week after the show’s attendees get back to their offices so that they have time to clear their desks of work that was generated while they were at the show. They will then have time to give your proposal consideration.
Start Following Up On Leads BEFORE The Show Starts!
To efficiently follow up your leads it is important to make preparations to follow them up before you leave for the show.
Before leaving for the show:
  • Write (and, if not personalized, even print) the follow-up letter
  • Prepare the follow-up packets — be sure to have a stockpile of any brochures you may need
  • If you’re going to promise to send anything after the show, be sure to have it already back in the office
  • Create the lead management forms
  • Identify the person responsible for lead management
By preparing before the show starts, you can fulfill your leads without delay once you return from the show.
Measuring Results
Once you return from a trade show it is important to measure the success of the trade show. This information can be used to report to management the effectiveness of the show and to improve exhibit performance for future shows. Success can be measured by the return on objectives set, and also by the return on investment. The following worksheets can help you to evaluate your company’s performance at all your trade shows.

From ExhibitorCentral

11 New Rules of Trade Show Marketing

In the last 10 years or so there have been fundamental technological and economic changes that have rewritten the trade show rule book. Not rules like how close to the aisle your exhibit structure can be or how loud your music can play, but rules about what it takes to succeed on the show floor.

Some changes evolved slowly over the years, and some were wrenched into place almost at once. Here’s what’s changed – and how you can adapt to those changes:

1. More Uncertainty: Economic uncertainty has lasted for years, and shows little signs of going away. This makes your top company executives reluctant to commit early to trade shows, and buy capital-intensive larger exhibits. You have to balance their need for financial flexibility by waiting longer to commit to shows and vendors, and yet still avoid more expensive rush charges. (I sincerely wish you luck walking that tightrope.) Rental exhibits help avoid capital expenses, too.

2. Measurement A Must: Gone are the days when you could end the show by saying to your boss, “We had a good show, didn’t we?” and that would be enough. Your trade show spending is being compared to more explicitly measurable electronic marketing mediums. So even if your trade show is producing greater results, if you don’t prove it with real numbers, such as ROI ratios or sales generated, it didn’t happen in the minds of your bosses, and your budget is in jeopardy.

3. Trade Shows Stronger Than Some Expected: Trade shows are one of the winners in the marketing media wars. Along with electronic media, trade shows have retained a greater share of B2B marketing budgets than print and direct mail. That’s because trade shows still provide what all marketers want: face time with lots of real buyers in one place. So be sure to take full advantage of your face time at shows, because it’s harder to reach buyers elsewhere.

4. More Knowledgeable Buyers: Attendees now look up potential suppliers on the internet before the show, so they arrive already knowing about your products. If they visit you, it’s because they want to know if your product really does what you say it can, who your people are and how trustworthy your company is. You will need to provide more hospitality, have more space for longer meetings, and bring people who can answer detailed questions, but also deepen relationships.

5. Pre-Show Promotions Harder: Pre-show promotions with traditional media don’t bring in as many attendees as they used to. Your pre-show mailers get ignored, emails get deleted, calls get screened, and magazine ads are left unread. Buyers are just too busy before the show to pay much attention to your pre-show promotions. To get attendees into your booth, you have to do more at-show promotions, to grab their attention when they are focused on the show.

6. Social Media Rising: Social media is where people now spend their time. Fortunately, social media is not a replacement for trade shows, but is a great conduit to people who have tuned out of direct mail, email, ads, and phone calls. Social media can also help you extend the conversation that peaked at the show. Your activities in your booth (new products, product demonstrations, customer testimonials) are great content to share via social media after the show.

7. Which Promotions Work Now: Trade show attendees may walk the show floor, but it’s harder to get them out of the aisle and into your booth space. The internet has given them control of the buying process, so they don’t like to easily give it up at a show, either. So your promotions have to be better. To get them into your booth, you have to give them one of these three things: an exchange of value, an experience, or learning. Otherwise, they will keep walking.

8. Vertical Market Messages Love Flat Screens: In the old days, exhibitors would design their exhibit with a main message for the company overall, but swap out a portion of the exhibit graphics to customize their message for different industry trade shows. Now, with the price of large LED flat screen monitors about 25% of what they were when introduced (and lighter, too), exhibitors tailor their vertical market messages with pixels, not printed graphics.

9. Even Island Exhibits Are Lighter: While portable trade show displays have been the standard for decades, the high cost of shipping and especially drayage (up 488% from 1982 to 2010) have caused big-booth exhibitors to try to lighten their load, too. The improved style and flexibility of metal frame exhibit systems and the brilliant, sharp fabric graphics of today are taking over many trade shows.

10. Unqualified Leads Will Be Ignored: Your overworked sales force no longer has the time to work through a pile of business cards. Give them basically a list, and after several calls they will stop calling, if they start at all. You have to give them more qualifying information about each lead than just contact information, and you should only give them the qualified leads that are ready to talk to a sales person – or at least tell them which leads are the higher quality ones, so they can start there first.

11. Technology Everywhere: Technology has infiltrated trade show marketing. From iPads to enhance one-on-one interactive conversations and revolutionize lead management to flat screen integrated into exhibit designs to wireless internet hubs, and social media to entice booth visitors, technology is everywhere on the show floor. That means you have to know the difference between an HDMI and a VGA cable, a .csv and a .txt file, and a wireless or a hardwired internet connection. Because even in face-to-face marketing, technology boosts results.

If your trade show marketing isn’t as effective as it used to be, see if you haven’t adapted your program to the new rules of the show hall. Take these new rules into account, and rejuvenate and enhance your program and your results.

 

Link to the original article at Skyline Trade Show Tips

September 24, 2013

Managing Great Expectations

Did you ever ask for an outrageously expensive brand-name toy for your birthday – and then received a generic version that just didn’t have the same cachet? And then found that you couldn’t bring yourself to play much with it because it just didn’t live up to your expectations? Well, end-users of new software systems often feel the same way. In fact, failure to manage user expectations is one of the biggest risks to project success when project managers are implementing new software systems. Research demonstrates that users who harbor unrealistic expectations are more likely to be dissatisfied with the project outcome and less likely to take best advantage of it.

Fortunately, this is one risk factor that project managers can influence and minimize, according to Professor Stacie Petter at the University of Omaha at Nebraska. The key, she says, is to work with the users and keep them involved, establish leadership and gain user trust.

Petter recently completed a research project that defines practical tactics that project managers can use to align user expectations with project delivery.

She and another researcher interviewed project managers from a global IT and consulting company with more than 75,000 employees across almost 50 countries.

Petter asked each project manager to recall two projects in which they faced challenges in managing user expectations – one that they managed successfully and one that they felt wasn’t successfully managed.

She then analyzed their responses, drawing out successful tactics for involving the user, establishing leadership and gaining trust – the three strategies that she discovered are key to managing user expectations. Her findings:

Involve the Users

“Every textbook,” says Petter, “advocates involving the users, but it’s often done badly. People think that one meeting with the users is enough.” The value of this research is that it proposes actionable tactics. Project managers should ask themselves how well they do the following:

  • Communicate. Get users involved early in the project and keep them involved throughout.
  • If the user base is large, create small user groups.
  • Listen to them, ask questions and give credit for good suggestions.
  • Let users make tough choices about budget, schedule and/or functionality.
  • Recognize their concerns about change and help them to feel at ease.
  • Build positive momentum and continue it throughout the development phase.
  • Offer training, help desks and other support functions to maintain comfort and involvement during implementation

Establish Leadership

“There are two types of leadership that need to be exhibited during a software project to properly manage user expectations,” says Petter. “A project champion for the users and a project manager/leader for the team.”

The project champion, she says, helps to manage expectations by promoting the project vision, educating users about the software’s values and benefits, and by rallying the ‘troops’ and explaining how they can assist. One interviewee recommended choosing someone who is influential, well respected and well connected within the client organization.

The project manager, says Petter, must lead both project colleagues and users along the correct path. “To do this, the project manager needs to be knowledgeable about the business problem, the system’s technical aspects and also project management.”

For a successful outcome, she says, a project manager should also:

  • Articulate a clear view of the project
  • Ensure you have a strong project champion to share the vision
  • Educate users about the value and benefits of the system, while also ensuring they have reasonable expectations
  • Obtain buy-in from the primary, or most vocal, stakeholders and work outward
  • Don’t oversell the project
  • Motivate the project team to complete on time

Finally, says Petter, the project manager needs fortitude. “Be strong with users,” she says. “If they ask for additional functionality, it’s important not to simply agree to every request.” Instead, initiate a formal change-request process and educate users about the consequences of any changes.

Establish Trust

Project managers who involve users and develop a relationship with them will be on their way to establishing trust. Petter notes that there are other important tactics for gaining and maintaining trust:

  • Use clear terminology. For instance, inform users they will see a prototype in one week, not ‘soon’.
  • Be willing to share both good and bad news throughout the project – don’t leave others to disseminate such news.

Overall, says Petter, “the tactics for managing user expectations that we’ve identified in our research aren’t complex. They’re really quite simple.”

“Yet if software project managers truly understood and followed these tactics, managing user expectations would not be among one of the three highest-ranking risks in software projects.”

Source: Petter, S. “Managing user expectations on software projects: Lessons from the trenches”, International Journal of Project Management, 26:7, Oct 2008 pp. 700-712.

 

PMPerspectives.org

© Reich, Gemino, Sauer (2008)

This article was reposted in 2013 with minor typographic corrections. 

Posted: 11-Apr-2013 | View Highlights | Learning Toolkit |  Bookmark / Share This Article

NYC x Design

Christine Quinn on Tapping New York’s Vein of Design

New York Times – Currents | Events / By JULIE LASKY / Published: February 13, 2013

After months of vigorous planning, New York will have a 12-day celebration of design this spring extending over all five boroughs. NYC x Design will run from May 10 to 21, to coincide with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and Frieze New York art fair on Randalls Island. Pronounced “NYC by Design” and interdisciplinary in scope, it will present the work of local designers and architects in museum exhibitions, conferences, studio tours, showroom displays, pop-up stores, art installations and a design film festival.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times NYTCREDIT: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

The goal is greater visibility for an industry with untapped economic potential, said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn (left), whose office is leading the project with a steering committee of more than 30 design leaders from business, civic and cultural groups. “We have more designers in New York City than any other U.S. city, but we do a terrible job promoting them in their totality,” she said.

Ideally, the festival would seed itself over time and multiply the number of New York design jobs, she said. In the future, “if we’re doing it right, there’s more set designers in Brooklyn and Queens, more furniture designers in Brooklyn and more jewelry designers in the South Bronx and Lower East Side.”

Festival events can be found at NYCxDesign.com, a Web site that was introduced this week. The program will continue to be updated.

 

Link to The New York Times Article

6 Tips to Managing Client Expectations

6 Tips to Managing Client Expectations
Inc. Magazine
Michael A. Olguin
May 7, 2012

These tips will help you build longstanding relationships that can withstand the good times as well as the bad.

So much work goes into winning new business, regardless of the vertical space in which you work; there is the initial prospecting, early conversations, strategic program development, budget consideration, and creation of a deliverables timeline. Unfortunately, all of that work can come to a screeching halt before the ink is dry on the contract when the same amount of time, energy and commitment isn’t placed on managing the client’s expectations after the business is won.

To ensure this is never overlooked, we developed the Super Six: keys to developing excellent client expectations and building longstanding relationships that can withstand good times as well as bumps in the road. After all, it’s easy to keep a client when things are going well; maintaining a client when times are tough is the true test of a relationship. We believe the Super Six will aid in this process:

1. Build a relationship that goes beyond client/vendor I have long maintained that business people like working with people they not only respect, but also personally like. Therefore, we believe that developing a personal relationship goes a long way in building a stronger business relationship. Get to know the client’s family situation, how they spend their free time, where their interests lie and, most importantly, what motivates them on a daily basis. When you understand what makes them tick as a person, you can translate that into your business relationship.

2. Regularly communicate and address problems directly A lack of communication is usually at the root of most problems associated with clients. Any good client relationship will be able to weather setbacks if you are proactive in communicating both good and bad news. When communication is direct and transparent, trust forms and helps to create a foundation for long-lasting relationships.

3. Agree on strategy, goals and timelines Until you and your client agree on strategy, goals and timelines, you are always at risk of them not understanding what success is and how it should be measured. We always suggest creating a scope-of-work document that outlines the program details, budgets and metrics. This will alleviate any confusion over expectations and hopefully eliminate a difficult conversation.

4. Be a  Agree on strategy, goals and timelines When you offer your client advice, direction, input and business counsel, you become a truly valuable partner. This style of open dialogue helps to establish the respect necessary to ensure better project management. Clients hire outsourced marketing services because they want an objective opinion. If you fail at giving that POV, you subject yourself to being a “yes man or woman,” which will ultimately be your undoing.

5. Be a good listener Listening is one of the most misunderstood and least used tools in managing client expectations. Many clients are unsure of what they are trying to accomplish or not very good at articulating it. As such, you must have excellent intuition and listening skills in order to identify key messages being communicated. One of the best ways to compensate for a client who communicates poorly is to repeat what you have heard and ask them to confirm the accuracy of key takeaways, which will ultimately impact expectations.

6. Budget is not a bad word Most relationships will go south very quickly if you are not open and honest about budgets. To start, you must be realistic about setting a clear understanding of the budget required to execute the desired program. Throughout the course of the program, you must have regular dialogue about budgets. If you don’t address the client until you have an issue (i.e., operating over budget), you will not only have an unhappy client, you may also find yourself eating the overages.

At the end of the day, your ability to manage client expectations is going to hinge on how well you choose to communicate. If you leave things up to chance, chances are you and your client will both be disappointed. However, if you take the time to listen, be proactive about communicating openly and address any issues head-on, you will keep client expectations in check and be in a good position to grow your relationship over time.

http://www.inc.com/michael-olguin/6-tips-to-managing-client-expectations.html

NYC Museums are Drawing Record Crowds

Crain’s Magazine

Picture this: NYC museums are drawing record crowds for cheaper entertainment given the still shaky economy, and a number of strong exhibitions is drawing massive crowds to many institutions.

At the Guggenheim Museum, average monthly attendance so far this year is up 28% over last year. During the mid-April spring break week, the museum had the highest attendance ever recorded for that time period since it began tracking figures in 1992.

Throngs of people are lining up each day outside the Cooper-Hewitt,National Design Museum to see “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels.” The show is attracting more than 9,000 visitors a week, a record for the museum. Overall, the Cooper-Hewitt estimates its total attendance for the year will end up at 235,000, a 26% jump from last year.

“People are becoming members [of the museum] at the door just so they can go right into the show,” said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the Cooper-Hewitt, which will close in July for two years for a major expansion. “We have to put special systems in place to manage the crowds.”

Museum experts say attendance often grows during recessions. A study released last month by the American Association of Museums found that 50% of the nation’s museums had more visitors last year, with 32% reporting a significant increase. Though the recession is technically over, arts observers say many New Yorkers are still unsure economically and are taking their vacations at home. At the same time, international tourists are flocking to the city to take advantage of the weak dollar.

Less costly shows

The Metropolitan Museum of Art already enjoyed record attendance of 5.2 million during the past fiscal year, ended June 30. Officials at the museum say this year’s attendance is on track to at least equal that number. The Met’s current exhibition of Paul Cézanne’s card player paintings brings in 4,500 visitors on weekend days, and the Costume Institute show on the late designer Alexander McQueen, which opens this week, is expected to attract crowds.

Interestingly, the success at the gate comes as many museums have been forced by a drop in funding to build less costly shows around their own collections instead of bringing in popular but expensive loan shows.

At the Guggenheim right now, for example, there are no collections from Armani or motorcycle shows. The crowds are coming for a simpler exhibit from the museum’s own holdings titled “The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910- 1918,” which features a number of paintings recycled from the museum’s previous show.

“Museums are looking at their own collections and repackaging things in ways that are really fresh or more appealing to people,” observed Joe Harrell, director of marketing and product management at the Alliance for the Arts. “If you have a Picasso exhibit or expressionists in New York,people are going to eat it up, because this is what they think of when they think of these institutions.”

Despite museums’ newfound popularity, the earned income from the increased attendance hasn’t been enough to make up for the financial losses from cuts in government and private funding during the recession. Art experts say that for every dollar museums take in from visitors, they have to raise $3 from donors to keep operations going.

The American Museum of Natural History has two shows right now—“The World’s Largest Dinosaurs” and “Brain: The Inside Story”—that are full to capacity.But executives there said the admissions income will barely make a dent in a decreased endowment and the loss of some city and corporate funding.

Budgets remain depressed

El Museo del Barrio had one of its most popular exhibitions ever this past fall: “Nueva York 1613- 1945.” The show, presented with the New-York Historical Society, brought in 54,000 people and received rave reviews.

And since El Museo del Barrio reopened in the fall of 2009 after a major renovation, attendance has more than doubled, reaching 250,000 visitors last year.

But earned revenue makes up only 7% of the museum’s budget. With major cuts in corporate and especially government support, El Museo del Barrio must reduce its operating budget to $4.5 million from $6 million for the next fiscal year. Still, museum officials anticipate some tangible benefits from all this newfound popularity.

“Fundraising has gone down; it’s been tough with the recession,” said Suzy Delvalle,director of external affairs and development at El Museo. “But our renovation has been transformational. The bigger attendance numbers are great and will help us with fundraising going forward.”!

 

BY MIRIAM KREININ SOUCCAR / May 2, 2011 – Crain’s Magazine

 

 

A Great Tradeshow Checklist, born of experience

Eric Sink says that tradeshows are like sex: When it’s good it’s really really good, but when it’s bad…  it’s still pretty good.

A lot of tradeshows have been cancelled due to low attendance (which in turn is probably due to slashed travel budgets), but those which remain are that much more interesting.

It’s easy to waste time and money at tradeshows. It’s not just the booth ($2k-$20k) and travel expenses ($1000/day including airline, hotel, rent car, shipping, and buying an extension cable at an outrageously overpriced convention center office supply center), it’s the week of time spent at the show (including travel days) plus weeks of time spent preparing your strategy, crafting your sales pitches, organizing the booth crap, and chewing out the stoned guy at the print shop counter who claims to not see that the “red” in the color swatch is not the same as the “red” in your 6′ x 6′ banner.

Tradeshows are a combination of high-level strategy and low-level minutiae, so a checklist comes in handy.

3-6 months before the tradeshow

  • Have a goal. Although there are many benefits of attending a show, you need a primary goal. A goal helps you make the decisions below and provides a yardstick for whether the tradeshow was “successful,” and therefore whether you should do more. Examples:
    • Make a sale on the tradeshow floor
    • Get at least 20 genuine prospects
    • Talk with 10 industry leaders
    • Find 10 good recruiting prospects
    • Find 3 serious investors.
    • Ask potential customers 3 specific things (market research)
  • Schedule a vendor presentation. Most shows allow vendors to give presentations, sometimes for a fee. Always do this. Even if just 20 people come to your talk, that’s 20 people you get to talk to in depth for 45 minutes — far more valuable than talking to 100 of people at your booth for 5-60 seconds. I frequently get a few sales just from the presentation.
  • Decide on your main message. Just like your home page, you get 3 seconds to convince someone to stop at your booth. You’ll need this message elsewhere (e.g. banner) so you need to decide what it is early on. Remember the goal is to get people to stop, not to explain everything about who you are and what you do! Boil it down to a single, short sentence.
  • Pick your booth. Booths go fast, and location does matter. Booths next to the bathroom are good even though they’re “in the back” because everyone’s going to hit the head. Booths near the front doors are good. Booths nearer to the center of the room are better than the ends. Booths at the ends of isles are good because you have a “corner” which means more traffic and your stuff can spill out over the edge.
  • Design your banner and handouts. Printing takes longer than you think because you’ll need to iterate. I’ve never gotten the result I wanted from a print shop on the first try. Never. The colors on your screen aren’t the colors on their paper. The Pantone® colors you selected for your banner won’t look the same as the samples. The sales guy you see at the counter screws things up. You need time to iterate and complain. And to find the right person:
  • Find the techie in the back of the print shop. The first person you see at the sign shop is typically the sales guy, who knows nothing about Adobe InDesign, DPI, CMYK, vector vs. raster, or anything else important to making your stuff come out properly. Ask for the techie and talk to her directly.
  • Plan on at least 3 people. You need two people at the booth to allow for busy times, to restock items, and to take breaks. Then you need another who can be walking around and going to meetings. Doesn’t have to be a strict separation of powers, just need enough people to do all of the above simultaneously.
  • Finish all the travel arrangements. Airplane tickets, hotels, rent cars. Fares are cheaper and there’s no last-minute surprises with things being full.
  • Decide how your booth will be different. Attendees will see a ton of booths, all essentially identical. A logo, a banner, some “clever” phrase, and 8 adjectives like “fast” and “scalable.” Snore. You have to do something different. It doesn’t have to be amazingly unique, just different.
  • Buy shirts and other swag. With customization (i.e. your logo on a shirt), it can sometimes take a while, so get this done early. At least have a “tradeshow shirt.” It’s the law.

1 month before the tradeshow

  • Postcard mailers work! I know, you thought “print media” was dead. Well not before a tradeshow, and not if you do it right. Best is to offer something cool/expensive at your booth, but only if they bring the postcard to you. This means they keep the postcard handy starting now and even during the tradeshow, which means whatever else you put on there (marketing material) gets seen repeatedly. It also means they seek you out on the tradeshow floor. Then, because you collect the card, you have their contact info (their name, company, and address), so you get to follow up later. Don’t forget to put your booth number on there!  (Another reason to pick the booth early.)
  • Emails probably work. Because you can use the tradeshow’s name in the subject of the email, people will probably read your email blast.
  • Set up meetings. Yes meetings! Tradeshows are a rare chance to get face-time with:
    • Editors of on-line and off-line magazines. Often overlooked, editors are your key to real press. I’ve been published in every major programming magazine; almost all of that I can directly attribute to talking with editors at tradeshows! It works.
    • Bloggers you like, especially if you wish they’d write about you
    • Existing Customers
    • Potential customers currently trialing your stuff
    • Your vendors
    • Your competition
    • Potential partners

    Proactively set meetings. Call/email everyone you can find. It’s easy to use email titles which will be obviously non-spam such as “At [Tradeshow]: Can we chat for 5 minutes?” I try to get at least 5 meetings per day. Organizing dinner and/or drinks after the show is good too.

  • Promote the show. You want people showing up and going to your booth, especially people who live in the area where attending the show just means getting half a day leave from work. Add a line to everyone’s email signature with the show info and your booth number. If you have a giveaway or something else interesting, say that too.
  • Box of everything. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been saved by a box of stuff. A small, cheap plastic box from Walmart is fine. You won’t use all the stuff every time, but I guarantee you will use an unpredictable subset every time. The box should contain:
    • pens (multiple, different colors)
    • Sharpie
    • Scotch tape
    • masking tape
    • extension cord
    • electric plug bar
    • post-it notes
    • rubber bands
    • tiny stapler
    • highlighter
    • paper clips
    • scissors
    • all-in-one tool (screwdriver, can opener)
    • medicine (Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, DayQuil)
    • zip-ties
    • Generic business cards (in case anyone runs out)
  • Comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing for much longer than you’re used to; comfortable shoes are a must. Attendees can’t see your shoes so sneakers or clogs might be OK; you can change into your pumps when you leave the booth. You can also bring floor pads designed for people who stand all day, or for a fee most venues can put padding under your booth’s carpeting.

At the tradeshow

  • A/B test your pick-up line. This is no different than your landing pages! A tradeshow is a wonderful place to test attention-grabbers. What gets people to stop? To laugh? To say “OK, fair enough, tell me more?” Test all show long. After the 100th pitch, you’ll know exactly what gets people’s attention — now put that on your home page!
  • Ask questions instead of pitching. Everyone else “pitches at” people; be different and actually have a conversation.  Good conversationalists are genuinely interested in the other person — what do they do, what are they interested in.  If you start chatting they will actually ask you for a pitch as a form of reciprocation.  Then you’ve got permission to “sell,” and they’re truly listening.
  • Don’t ask how they’re doing. Your opening line should engage them with something you specifically have to offer. “Hello, how’s it going” is not interesting or unique. Even just a simple “Are you interested in [thing you do]” is better, although still weak.
  • Ask questions, don’t just transmit. Sure you want to pitch your stuff, but this is a fantastic opportunity for direct market research on your potential customers! Come up with 3-5 questions that you’re going to ask of people who walk by the booth, then ask away. No need to carefully record the results — the big trends will be obvious and the rest is noise.
  • Stand, don’t sit. Sitting looks like you don’t want to be there. It’s uninviting. The head-height differential is psychologically off-putting. I know your feet hurt; stand.
  • Get into the aisle. Just because there’s a table there doesn’t mean you have to stand behind it. Break out of your 10′x10′ prison and engage people in the aisle. Best is to have someone inside the booth to talk to folks who walk up and another in the aisle getting attention and directing folks inward. Especially during high-traffic, just being a barrier in the middle forces people to squeeze by your booth, which gives you a chance to engage. Learn from the guy in the bear suit!
  • Moving pictures rock. When you’re sitting at a bar and there’s a TV behind the person you’re talking to, it’s really hard not to look, right? We tend to look at moving images, especially when they’re bright. So your booth should have a big monitor or better yet a bright projector. Don’t just show a static screenshot or PowerPoint image, and don’t leave it stuck wherever the last demo left off — get a demo movie going and catch some eyes. We did this at Smart Bear and I can’t count the number of times another vendor said “OMG we have to do that next year.”
  • Always be able to demo. Nothing is more sticky than a live demo. Not swag, not brochures, not clever phrases, not raffles. That other stuff is good — both for getting traffic and as a reminder — but you need a demo to make the experience memorable. I prefer demoing on a projector so it’s big and passers-by get hooked as well, but a large monitor works too. Large. Not your laptop screen.
  • Make notes on business cards. You’ll talk to hundreds of people; you’ll never remember what one guy said or what he wants. Always write it down on their business card. If they have one of those silly cards where you can’t make notes (why people, why?), use a post-it from your box-o-stuff to keep notes together with the card.
  • Sales people aren’t enough. Most attendees don’t want to talk to sales people anyway; if they’re interested at all they want to geek out with their peers. Air out some of those folks who typically don’t get to go on sales calls.
  • Build your own happy hour party Rent a room at or near the conference site with wine, beer, and basic food. Pass out invites at the show and on your pre-show mailers. Who can resist free booze and free food? It’s cheaper than you think and you get to pitch people in a relaxed atmosphere. People are willing to talk about your product to reciprocate.
  • Don’t depend on the Internet. Tradeshow Internet is spotty at best. Your demos and note-taking must operate without being online.
  • Use LinkedIn every night. Most people will accept, especially if you add the contact the same day and reference the conference. Take advantage of this opportunity to significantly expand your online network.
  • Walk the floor and talk to everyone. As a fellow vendor, you can commiserate about how the show is going and how it compares to other shows. Try to think of a way your two companies could work together; usually it doesn’t work out but the discussion helps them remember who you are. Try to skip past their salespeople. Meet the founder if she’s there.
  • Note the jokes. People will make fun of you. Actually, if they don’t, maybe that’s a bad sign because they can’t figure out what you do. Usually you get some wise-cracks. That’s interesting, right? Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing.
  • Free food. Works better than almost any other free thing. The more “real” the food is (i.e. not just candy) the better. Cookies are good. Put it at the center of your booth so it’s harder for someone to take without talking.
  • Raffle something. I’m not a fan of raffles as a way to get sales, but I do like them at tradeshows because it gets a crowd to appear at your booth. Crowds make other people think your booth is interesting. We’ve seen people stop by our booth a day after a big crowd saying “I didn’t want to stop yesterday because you guys were swamped, but I guess whatever you’re doing is interesting!” Make sure you have to provide contact info to enter (fill form, scan badge, drop business card). Those leads won’t be particularly qualified but it’s better than nothing.
  • Take names instead of pushing brochures.  Attendees get dozens of pieces of paper pushed into their hands and pre-filled in their tote bags.  Even if yours is clever, funny, and useful, it’s still going to be lost.  Instead of hand-outs, scan their badge or get a business card, and mail them something.  It will be waiting on their desk one morning without all the distraction of a tradeshow.
  • Quality not quantity. It’s cliché, but it’s better to have six solid conversations with people who will buy your software than to give away 200 pieces of branded swag to people who can’t remember who you are.

After the tradeshow

  • Follow up! Attendees are saturated with presentations and vendor pitches, so there’s a 99% chance they’ve forgotten about you. Yes, even if they took your oh-so-memorable swag or your fabulously-designed brochure. It’s up to you to follow up and remind them who you were, and take them up on their offer to get a demo, trial the software, or look at a draft of an article you want published.
  • Apply what you learned about selling. You talked to hundreds of people, pitching a hundred different ways, with mixed results. What did you learn? Some questions to get you started:
    • Which one-liners got people’s attention, and what did people not relate to?
    • How can you incorporate the successful one-liners in your home page?
    • What new AdWords text do you want to try?
    • How should you change your 2-minute demo?
    • What were people saying about your competition? What were your best retorts?
  • Apply what you learned about your software. Having to demo the product 50 times always churns up invaluable product information. Some questions to get your started:
    • What features did people ask about which you already have, but it wasn’t obvious?
    • What features did people keep asking for which you don’t have?
    • What part of your demo seemed to drag because your workflow wasn’t easy enough?
    • What part confused viewers because the interface wasn’t obvious?
    • What terminology made no sense to newbies?
    • What did people hate about your competitors, and how can you maintain that advantage?
    • What did people love about your competitors, and how can you close that gap?

     

A Smart Bear – January 25, 2010

 

Optically clear acrylic joints

Making really perfect, optically-clear acrylic joints

There is surprisingly little information on the ‘net regarding acrylic joinery. Gluing two pieces of acrylic is a common operation for many hobbyists and craftspeople, but it seems the only forums that deal with acrylic are those that attract custom aquarium builders. Those projects are often very large and use slightly different techniques than what would be used for small projects. I had to search for a long time and still came up with relatively little info, so I would like to share my experiences.

There are a handful of different general methods that can be used two join one acrylic edge to the surface of another piece. I have tried a few, and think that the “pins method” is definitely the easiest and most reliable. In this method, one piece of acrylic is supported on its edge by a series of pins, spaced about 6 inches apart, above the face of another piece of acrylic. The solvent is applied to the gap and allowed to soften the acrylic for about 30 seconds. The pins are then removed, and the top piece is lowered onto the bottom piece. The joint must be supported for a few minutes until it is strong enough to hold the weight of the piece. The result is usually very good, and the operation can be controlled by using pins of different diameters, and letting the solvent soften the pieces for more or less time.

Step 1: The most critical step is edge preparation. The edge of the acrylic must be extremely flat and smooth. My favorite tools to achieve this in order of preference: 1. Jointer 2. Router 3. Table saw with high-quality blade 4. sanding. I would only recommend sanding if you are preparing the face of a box or the end of a large-diameter acrylic tube. Sanding is usually extremely slow, and does not work at all if you are trying to hand-hold a single sheet of acrylic at 90* to the sandpaper. If sanding is necessary, use a large sheet of glass with sandpaper attached to it with double-sided tape. Push the part back and forth over the sandpaper, and move up through the grits. The glass will make sure the surface is as flat as possible. Generally, water is used with grits 320 and higher, and I would say 320 is as fine as the surface needs to be. I would not recommend a power sander because the are hard to control, usually do not cover the whole surface of the part, and tend to overheat the acrylic.

Step 2: Position the parts with a jig or a square. It’s important to position the parts so that the bottom piece extends 1/32″ to 1/16″ past the outer edge of the top piece. This will hold the excess solvent and will make life easier because the excess can be cut away with a router flush-cut bit later.

Step 3: Insert pins between the bottom and top pieces every six inches. Sewing pins are usually too fat. I like to use short pieces of solid copper wire that measure .015″ dia. If the pins are too fat, when you remove them there will be a lot of excess solvent that spills out and it will make a mess.

Step 4. Fill the gap with solvent. Use a standard “hypo applicator” or “needle bottle”. Squeeze the bottle while it is upright, then tip it upside-down while loosening your grip on the bottle. It will suck in some air, and prevent the solvent from coming out until you want it to.

Step 5. Remove the pins and let the top piece rest on the lower. Do NOT use any force to push the top piece down. As soon as the top piece is positioned correctly, let it sit completely undisturbed for 5 or 10 minutes.

You can handle the piece very carefully after 10 or 20 minutes (depending on the temperature) and continue with other glue joints in the project. Full-strength usually takes 2 to 4 days. The joint will initially look a little ‘textured’, however the optical clarity will improve over the next 24 hours. Of course, air-bubbles will never go away, so you can decide right away if the joint is not good enough in that respect.


After a lot of experimenting, I found out that the brand of acrylic and the brand of solvent make a HUGE difference in the quality of the joint. Check out this page which shows a grid of comparisons:
http://www.magconcept.com/acrylic/

Ben Krasnow – August 28, 2008

How to Train Your Exhibit Staff

EXHIBITING 101 – How to Train Your Exhibit Staff

Ten topics to cover in your pre-show meeting.

 

When exhibit managers ask me, “What’s your best secret weapon at a trade show?” my answer is always the same: “A well-trained exhibit staff.”

As exhibit managers, we are consumed by the broad scope of the exhibiting experience, and we often forget that our staff doesn’t have the same level of involvement and knowledge. However, if we effectively communicate with our exhibit staff, their comfort level will be high and they’ll help us achieve our objectives. Excluding very large companies with deep pockets, less than 5 percent of exhibitors have formal staff-training meetings. If your staff is well trained you will have a competitive advantage and you will create a better experience for your attendees.

In a perfect world, exhibit training begins with a pre-show meeting held up to a month before the show at the corporate office. But a pre-show meeting can also be held the day before the show, or even at breakfast the first day of the show.

If you hold the pre-show meeting in your exhibit, remember that walls have ears. I’ve learned some of my best competitive intelligence from my competition’s pre-show product-training meeting held in the neighboring exhibit. Hold your product training in a meeting room in the convention center, a local restaurant with private meeting rooms, or at your hotel.

The elements you include and the extent to which you cover them in your pre-show meeting depends on a number of criteria. Consider the amount of time available for training, the experience level of the team, the size of the staff and their familiarity with one another and the company’s products, the number and intricacy of products on display, the size and complexity of your exhibit, and your promotional program.

Keep the pre-show meeting short — no more than to two hours. Think of your meeting as the “Reader’s Digest” version of what you’d really like to do if you had unlimited time.

Promote it as a show preview rather training, so veteran staffers who think they know it all will be encouraged to attend. Here are 10 topics to cover in your pre-show meeting to prepare your staff for the show.

1. The Show’s Value and Corporate Investment
Ideally, your company’s management team should open the meeting, emphasize its support of the exhibit program as part of the overall marketing mix, and relay the corporate commitment to the show and its importance to the company’s success.

Share any results from last year’s show with your staff and use it to challenge improvement. Share data on the cost to exhibit — average cost per employee, cost per lead, cost per qualified lead, or cost per sale. Letting staff know the costs associated with exhibiting at the show can open their eyes to the value of the show to the company and the importance of their job at the show.

2. Target Audience
Review the profile of your target audience, including job title(s), type and size of company, budget size, and the problems your “perfect prospect” typically encounters. Remind staff that not all targeted contacts are prospects. Let them know what customers, VIPs, press, and analysts may be stopping by, as well as the badge color your target audience will be wearing.

3. Goals and Objectives
Review the company’s show strategy and key messages. Personalize the goals for individual staff members and get their commitment to achieve them. For example, if you have 10 exhibit staffers and your goal is to obtain 300 qualified leads during a 15-hour show, each staffer needs to get 30 qualified leads, or an average of two leads per hour.

4. The Power of Attitude
Explain to staff that their interaction with attendees will be the most memorable part of their visit to your exhibit. Stress the value of a positive first impression, good listening skills, confident body language, and the use of phrases like “Tell me about…” to draw information from attendees. Remind staff that unless they’re behind the closed door of their hotel room, they’re “on stage” and they represent the company.

5. Sales Review
Talk about why selling from an exhibit is different than field sales — the compressed time frame for interaction, the sensory overload, the instant comparison to your competition. Give staffers the specific structured components of interaction with attendees: a greeting to engage attendees; a brief elevator speech; three to five open-ended, qualifying questions; consensus on a future interaction; and a comfortable dismissal. Specify how you’d like the staff to record the information taken during the conversation.

6. Boothmanship Rules
Tell your staff that every booth visitor is a VIP guest and should be treated as such. Ask staff to help you compile a list of the dozen worst exhibit faux pas — such as talking on their cell phones, eating in the booth, chewing gum, ignoring attendees, and talking in closed groups. Then deputize them to help you police offenders.

7. Exhibit Tour
You know your exhibit inside out, but your staff doesn’t know the storage closet from the meeting room. Review your booth layout, including all demo stations, information counters, and lead-gathering systems. Point out the locations of the nearest entrance and exit, restroom, concession stand, luggage and coat-check area, cyber café, and fire apparatus. If time allows, run through the demos and presentations.

8. Tool Kit
The pre-show meeting is also a good time to provide staff with tools to help them be star performers. Do they know what products you have in the booth and how to demonstrate them? Do they need to familiarize themselves with pocket-sized product “cheat sheets” and show-special pricing? Are there any issues, such as product-delivery delays or negative PR, for which they need to know the corporate party line?

To get the most complete and concise lead information, review your lead-gathering system, whether you’re using pre-printed, manual lead forms or an electronic lead system that reads attendee badges. Also, orient staffers to any promotions or giveaways you’re distributing and the qualification process involved.

9. Housekeeping Details
This part of the meeting can cover everything from the distribution of show shirts and badges to where you keep show reference material and press kits in the booth. Explain your expectations: to arrive at the show at least a half hour before their shift starts and to plan on transportation delays and lines to get through show security. Reiterate the dress code (including ironed shirts) and what personal items can be stored in the booth.

10. Fun and Games
Add some spice to your pre-show meeting by giving out trade show survival kits. These can include items such as foam insoles, Altoids, and T-shirts imprinted with “Trade Show Warrior.” You can also give crisp $2 or $5 bills or small-denomination gift cards as prizes for participation in role plays, correct answers to “skill-test questions,” or the best qualifying question or 30-second elevator speech.

Professional athletes don’t play the big game without a warm-up. And actors don’t skip their dress rehearsal. So don’t mess with your show’s success — prepare your staff to be your secret weapon.

By Candy Adams
Exhibitoronline.com – March 2005

Five Ways to Make Your Small Exhibit More Effective

Five Ways to Make Your Small Exhibit More Effective
_______________________________________________________

You’ve got a small booth — 10-by-20 feet — and a budget to match. You’re getting ready to exhibit at one of your biggest shows of the year, an exhibition that’s jam-packed with big booths and big money. How do you get attendees to notice you?

“Visibility, interactivity, and involvement are different in a smaller exhibit, so you need to put more thought into how you focus your event,” says Marc Goldberg, CME, partner and founder of Marketech, an exhibit-staff training and measurement firm based in Westboro, MA, and a veteran small exhibitor. “You can’t outspend other exhibitors, so you have to outsmart them.”

Here’s what Goldberg and other industry experts had to say about making an exhibit larger than life.

1. Promote ‘Til You Drop
A targeted pre-show promotion is key to combating the disadvantage of size.

“Before visitors arrive at a show — unless they already know you — they have no idea whether you are a 10-by-10 or the largest exhibitor on the floor,” Goldberg says. “A two- or three-part promotion program gives the illusion that you are a player that must be seen. That is the objective: Get on your attendee’s ‘must see’ list.”

Does that mean you should send a flyer to every attendee? In most cases, no. Bob Burk, CTSM, marketing-communications manager for Norwalk, CT,-based chemical manufacturer King Industries Inc., explains. “If you’re doing a show with 10,000 attendees, you can’t afford to do a direct mailing to all 10,000 if you’re a small guy, but you can handpick 150 to 200 and target your market with a pre-show mailing,” he says. “We’ve found that very effective.”

At the International Coatings Exposition in Chicago this October, Burk targeted roughly 350, or 10 percent, of the show’s 3,500 pre-registered attendees who fit King Industries’ target audience based on job function. He sent out a direct-mail piece two weeks prior to the show. One hundred twelve attendees brought the flyer to Burk’s booth — a 32-percent return.

To find out which attendees fit your target market, ask show management for its attendance profile. “Most shows do a pretty good job of providing a prospectus that profiles who the attendees are and what their product interests are,” Burk says. “That should give you some clues on where to focus your efforts.”

When it comes to the promotion itself, Goldberg says one plan that works well for small exhibitors is a three-phase promotion. Give attendees a preview of your booth experience with a pre-show promotion, continue that experience in the booth, and then reinforce the experience with a post-show promotion. “This achieves greater memorability,” he says.

Goldberg puts this plan into action in Marketech’s 10-by-10-foot exhibit. Before the show, he typically sends attendees a 3-by-5-inch, four-color postcard printed with the message “Experience the Results.” When attendees visit the booth, they see the same message. After the show, Goldberg sends a 4-by-6-inch, four-color postcard with a photo of the Marketech staff and the message “Experience the Results” repeated again. At EXHIBITOR Show 2004, Marketech landed 36 qualified leads with this promotion — 33-percent more than the 24 qualified leads gathered at the 2003 show.

Keeping costs down is always top of mind with small exhibitors, but when it comes to promotions, Goldberg recommends splurging a bit. “Most exhibitors commit about 6 percent of their trade show budget to promotion. A small exhibitor must commit more,” Goldberg says. “Why? To drive home why a visitor should invest time to visit the exhibit .”

2. Focus Your Graphics
Every exhibitor needs graphics, Goldberg says, but a small exhibitor’s graphics need to be more effective and more attractive than most. “Your message must be clear and memorable to overcome the issue of size,” he says.

Patti Burge, an event-marketing and management consultant, offers some guidelines for catching the attendee’s eye. “Keep booth graphics simple and succinct,” she says. “Text should be benefit-oriented, not feature-oriented. Determine the most succinct way to say what your company or service does. An attendee shouldn’t have to ask, ‘What does this company do?’ More often than not, attendees will just walk by a booth if they can’t tell what the company does.”

3. Do It Yourself — or Find a Way to Do It Cheaper
If you have the time and the know-how, Burk suggests creating your own graphics. “If you’re able to do some of your graphics yourself using the standard computer programs out there, you can save a great deal of money because you don’t have to pay a graphic designer and an advertising house to produce them,” he says.

Kris Thatcher finds innovative ways to produce high-impact exhibit components for less. When the president of trade show consulting and hardware provider Kass Marketing Group LLC, based in Carrollton, TX, needed to rent a round pedestal with a red top for a client’s display, she refused to pay the hefty price quoted by her exhibit house.

“The standard tops were black and ran about $250 to $275,” Thatcher says. “When I inquired about a red top the price nearly doubled. But a trip to my local Plexiglas supplier netted me four, 24-inch red circles for the price of one custom top. My client will lay the red Plexiglas on top of the standard black. With careful packing, we should get several shows out of them.”

Burk discovered he can save on booth carpet by using a non-standard supplier. “Our company’s facility has 12 buildings, and we’re constantly changing our carpet, so it was less expensive to buy from the company that produces our office-building carpet than to go through the exhibit house. We probably saved 50 percent of the cost of other options from exhibit houses — a savings that could be channeled into exhibit-program components with bigger impact.”

4. Design for Change
When Burk designs a booth, he tries to envision a variety of ways he can use it. This ensures that the final booth design will be configurable in a number of different ways, and it allows him to change the look of the booth from show to show and year to year —which makes the exhibit more competitive.

For example, Burk’s current two-story, custom booth was designed with the usual components — cabinets, wall sections, and display pieces — but they can be used in everything from a 10-by-10-foot to a 20-by-40-foot configuration.

“We’re going on eight years with the same booth,” Burk says, “and every year people think it’s a different booth. But it’s the same framework that can be configured in several different ways. Rather than make an investment every two to four years on a new build, we’ve been able to save time and money by planning components to give the old booth a new look each year.”

5. Think Outside the Booth
To stand out in a sea of exhibits, Burk recommends scenery and props. At one of King Industries’ major shows for its Lubricant Additive Division, Burk rented a 1932 Packard, which he parked in the center of his 20-by-20-footspace next to two lead counters and signs that proclaimed the company’s “long-standing affair with the automobile.” Burk’s Packard cost $2,300 less than the company’s regular booth rental, and increased the number of qualified leads by more than 35 percent over the previous year.

Burk recalls one exhibit manager from a seminar he taught at EXHIBITOR Show 2003 who employed this technique with success. She works for a company that manufactures latex gloves for the medical industry, and jazzed up a standard 10-by-10-foot with a huge latex glove. “Rather than throwing up a typical pop-up, she had a big hand made,” Burk says. “This 8-foot-tall hand with a latex glove on it became her entire booth.”

The crafty exhibit manager even went the extra mile and connected her booth structure with her pre-show promotion. “She did a pre-show mailing with five points about her product that corresponded to the five fingers on the glove in the booth,” Burk says.

Sandra Monroe, marketing-communications manager for outdoor power-systems retailer Argus Technologies Ltd. of Burnaby, BC, Canada, builds her booth with product. “For our 20-by-20-foot space, I’ve moved away from sending large booth pieces and I’m using our equipment to design the booth,” Monroe says. “When I started at this company, we shipped a heavy custom booth to our 400 shows. That makes sense if you have small products or services and need something to fill the space. But I realized the booth just took up too much room.”

Monroe’s solution? She tossed the booth and created a walk-through exhibit of the company’s products. “Even though the products are not attractive, they’re what the customers want to see,” she says. “And the money saved on shipping and drayage can be put toward new signage and better lighting.”

Monroe also made her products the foundation for her giveaway, which she combined with a product demo.” One of our products has an air conditioner in the bottom to keep batteries at a cool temperature,” she says. “I put bottled water in the bottom and turned up the air conditioner. This way, we were able to give customers cold water and demo our product at the same time.”

Whether you use one or all of these techniques in your next exhibit, with a little time, thought, and elbow grease, you’ll only be as small as your imagination.

 

By Nicole Brudos Ferrara
Exhibitoronline.com – January 2005

Effective Tradeshow Planning

 

Exhibiting at trade shows, expos, conventions, fairs and other exhibitions gives you a unique sales opportunity that can also help you generate new leads, find suppliers, check out the competition, do some networking, and get publicity. In short, you can achieve at one trade show what it would take you weeks or months to do if you stayed home. And it may even save you money — according to the Center for Exhibit Industry Research, it costs 62% less to close a lead generated from a trade show than one originated in the field.

But to accomplish all of the above you must plan carefully. That means choosing the correct show, setting clear objectives, creating an effective exhibition, and promoting your presence. All this, before you even get to the show! Click on the subjects below to learn more about getting the most out of your trade show experience.

Choosing the Correct Show

With more than 10,000 trade shows held in the United States annually, picking the one that will net you the greatest benefit for your investment of time and money can be daunting.

Begin your search by looking for trade shows that fit your product or service. You can find these out by looking in directories such as “The Tradeshow & Convention Guide” (BPI Communications) and “The Tradeshow Week Data Book” (Reed Reference), both of which list trade shows across the U.S., as well as various show data. On the Web, you can try one of the trade show search sites, including

Another resource for finding out about shows is your industry’s trade association, since many shows and conventions are sponsored by industry groups. Your local Chamber of Commerce or Convention Bureau may also be able to help you find out about smaller local shows.

Here are some additional tips to help you make the right choice:

Don’t just choose by the numbers
Big trade show crowds can actually be a waste of time if they don’t include people who are buyers or prospective customers for your product or service. Look closely at statistics of past years’ shows to help you evaluate whether attendees fit your customer profile. The show manager should be able to provide you with this data.

Ask your customers for help
Talk to your customers to find out what trade shows they attend, since shows that meet their needs will likely be attended by other prospects. You can also speak with your competitors to find out what shows they’ve found most useful.

Check it out ahead of time
The best way to evaluate a show is to take a first-hand look. Before you sign up, go to the show as an attendee. Is the show active and exciting? Are the people walking the show floor potential customers? Who are the other exhibitors and where would your product/service fit in the mix? Talk to people and keep your eyes open.

Evaluate it carefully
Once you’ve got a list of show possibilities, ask these questions to determine if the show is the right one for your purposes:

  • Is it big enough to draw a cross-section of prospects and vendors — but not so large that you’ll be competing against the giants in your industry?
  • Is it in the right place, geographically, to attract your customers — whether they are local, regional, national, or global?
  • Is it scheduled at a time when you can service the new business you’ll attract and follow up on leads?
  • Are the show’s promoters reliable and does the management have a proven track record of success?
  •  
    Don’t wait until the last minute
    Some popular shows fill up fast. If you wait too long, you could find yourself on a waiting list. Plus, the earlier you sign up for a show, the more choices you’ll have regarding finding a good location for your booth.

     
    Setting Clear Objectives
    To get the most out of the time, money and energy you invest in exhibiting at a trade show, it’s vital that you decide what your purpose is for being there and set measurable goals. Everything you do before, during, and after the show should be evaluated in terms of whether it contributes toward reaching these goals.

    Possible goals for trade shows
    Here are some reasons businesses exhibit at trade shows. Your goals may include several of these, or others that are important to your small business:

    • write sales orders
    • research the competition
    • spot trends
    • generate leads for future sales
    • build your mailing list with quality names
    • find better or cheaper suppliers
    • build rapport with current customers
    • get press
    • generate excitement around a new product
    • increase company’s visibility within the industry
    •  
      Be sure to staff your booth adequately and smartly
      You can’t do it alone. No matter what your goal, you will need at least one person to “spot” you when you leave the booth to take a break or to check out the competition. A good rule of thumb is to have two staffers for every 100 square feet of exhibit space. Your staff should be well-groomed, well-trained, friendly and knowledgeable. They should understand your goals and know their role in reaching them. If you don’t have employees on the payroll, hire relatives, friends, or part-timers.

      Focus your message
      Pick just two or three key ideas that you want to get across at the show and train yourself and your staff to “stay on message”. Design your graphics, pre-show promotion, literature and show directory advertising around your message.

      Create a budget
      Once you know which show you’re going to and what your goals are, draw up a budget. Without a budget, costs can quickly spiral out of control (last minute impulse purchases to jazz up your booth, for example) and defeat your best laid plans. One rule of thumb is that your space costs should represent about a quarter of your total budget. So when you know what you’ll be paying for space rental, multiply by four for a rough idea of your expenses, excluding personnel costs.

       
      Creating an Effective Exhibit
      Where your booth is located and how your booth looks will have an impact on your trade show success. Use these tips to help you along.

      Shoot for a high-traffic location
      Be sure to look at a floor plan before you choose your site. Foot traffic is heaviest in certain areas of a typical trade show floor. Look for locations near entrances, food concessions, rest rooms, seminar rooms, or close to major exhibitors. Try to avoid dead-end aisles, loading docks, obstructing columns, or other low-traffic regions.

      Consider sharing a booth
      New exhibitors often get the least desirable locations. One way around that is to share a well-located booth with a colleague in a related business. Talk to your sales rep, or try to hook up with an established exhibitor whose products or services complement yours.

      Elate the senses
      Make sure people coming to your booth can experience your product or service. Let them touch, see, feel, hear or taste it. Are you selling decorative pillows? Display them in an appropriate setting and have samples that buyers can touch. Have you developed a new software package? Be sure to have multiple computer terminals available for attendees to try the package.

      Keep it simple
      Don’t go overboard with booth graphics. One large picture that can be seen from afar may have a greater impact than many small ones. A single catchy slogan that describes your business may say more than long blocks of text.

      Gimmicks work
      Gimmicks and give-aways can also drive traffic to your booth. Hold a contest; have a loud product demo; give away pieces of candy; hire a masseuse and offer free back rubs. Just make sure that the gimmick fits your company’s image and the sensibilities of your clients.

      Promoting Your Presence
      Remember that the best trade show planning will fail if nobody knows you’re there. The CEIR estimates that as many as three-quarters of show attendees know what exhibits they want to see before they get to the show. Strong pre-show promotion will let your customers and prospects know about your exhibit. These tips will help.

      Work the phones
      A month to 6 weeks before the show, start calling your top customers and prospects to set up meetings. Many people arrive at a show with a firm schedule and have little or no time for other booths, so it’s important to get on that schedule as early as you can. Be sure to confirm all phone meetings a week or so before the show.

      Send out mailings
      The show’s management will often let you purchase a mailing list of pre-registered attendees. Try a simple pre-show mailing focusing on one or two benefits of dropping by your booth. Be sure to it includes show contact information, including your booth number.

      Use the press
      Issue press releases to trade publications and local papers that will be covering the show. Your release should highlight something newsworthy about your exhibit — a new product introduction or a special demonstration, for example. You’ll also want to prepare plenty of press kits for the show, and be sure to drop it by the press room so reporters can find it.

      Look out for show publications
      Advertising in publications that are distributed only at the show can be expensive and ineffective. These publications often have a narrow focus, and they get lost in the blizzard of paper that rains upon trade show attendees.

      Planning Your Follow-up Strategy
      The time to plan your follow-up strategy is before the show begins. That way, you can reach prospects with your follow-up message while the show is still fresh in their minds. Here are some things you should know about follow-up.

      Make follow-up a priority
      According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 80% of show leads aren’t followed up. Make lead follow-up your number one priority after a show, taking precedence over just about everything else — including catching up on what you missed while you were out of the office.

      Write your follow-up mailer before the show
      Your post-show mailing can be as simple as a thank-you note or a brochure with a cover note. Write it and have it printed out before you leave for the show, so you can send the mailing immediately upon your return.

      Qualify leads during the show
      Rank your leads by level of importance and interest, and base your post-show efforts on these priorities. Phone your hottest prospects within a week after the show ends — the longer you let them sit, the staler they’ll become. Send everyone else some kind of follow-up mailing.

      Keep your promises
      Be sure that you keep any promises you made at your booth. Have enough brochures and product sheets on hand before the show so you can send out requested information promptly.

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List of New York Museums

Alice Austen House Museum

American Craft Museum

American Folk Art Museum

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of the Moving Image

American Numismatic Society

Americas Society

Artists Space

Asia Society and Museum

 

Bronx Museum of the Arts

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Brooklyn Museum of Art

 

Carnegie Hall / Rose Museum

Central Park Zoo / Wildlife Gallery

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan

The Cloisters

Cooper – Hewitt

 

Dahesh Museum

Dia Center for the Arts

The Drawing Center

 

Ellis Island Museum

Empire State Building Lobby Gallery

 

Museum at FIT

Forbes Magazine Galleries

The Frick Collection

 

Gray Art Gallery

Goethe House

 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum SoHo

Rose Center

The Hispanic Society of America

International Center of Photography

Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum

Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
 
Jewish Museum
 
LaGuardia and Wagner Archives

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

 

Madame Tussaud’s New York

Merchant’s House Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Morgan Library

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

Municipal Art Society

El Museo Del Barrio

Museum at Eldridge Street

Museum for African Art

Museum of American Financial History

Museum of Chinese in the Americas

Museum of Jewish Heritage

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of the City of New York

Museum of the Moving Image

Museum of Television and Radio
 
National Academy Museum

National Design Museum

National Museum of the American Indian

New Jersey Children’s Museum

New Museum of Contemporary Art

New York Botanical Garden

New York City Fire Museum

New York City Police Museum

New York Hall of Science

New York Historical Society

New York Public Library

New York Transit Museum

Nicholas Roerich Museum
 
PS1 Contemporary Art Center

Pierpont Morgan Library
 
Queens Historical Society

Queens Museum of Art
 
Rose Center for Earth and Space
 
Schomburg Center

Seaman’s Church Institute

Snug Harbor Cultural Center

Sony Wonder Technology Lab

South Street Seaport Museum

Staten Island Institute

Studio Museum in Harlem
 
Taipei Gallery

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace
 
Ukrainian Museum
 
Wave Hill

Whitney Museum of American Art

Whitney Museum/Philip Morris