Success is More than just the Exhibit: Making a Pre-Show Game Plan

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Exhibiting at a trade show is one of the best strategies to market your products and services to a large, specified group of potential customers. Trade show exhibits give you a unique sales opportunity that can help you generate new leads, check out the competition, get publicity, and do some networking. We’ve covered that subject in our “How to Justify Your Trade Show Program” blog entry 6 months ago. The following are our thoughts on how to maximize the impact of your trade show program on important attendees. As with anything marketable, the key is maximizing the time and money you spend on targeted attendees. But before you accomplish anything, you must plan carefully and promote your presence even before the show.

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Exhibit Design Quick Fix: Easily Customize Your Exhibit Graphics for Multiple Shows (with Video)

You may find multiple trade shows valuable to your marketing program and end up exhibiting more than once per year. Sometimes the attendee demographics aren’t the same at every show, which means your exhibit may not benefit from a single message or theme. Graphics are an important part in this situation and there are a few design solutions to allow easy changes to your rental or custom exhibit. In the video below, we explain how magnetic backing on graphics has helped exhibitors change up their messaging for multi-show programs.

As you can see, portable exhibits are not the only ones that can benefit from magnetic graphics. Metal structures like reception desks, towers, signs and wall panels for rental or custom exhibits of any size can incorporate this solution. Better yet, the printed quality of your graphics isn’t negatively affected this way.

If you exhibit at multiple trade shows a year or need a design that is customizable throughout your contract, ask your exhibit builder about magnetic graphics.

Notorious ROI: Where to Find the Numbers That Actually Prove Your Trade Show Program’s Value

ROI pie chart

“Besides expenses, what does your trade show program bring us?” If you’ve ever been asked a similar question in a budget meeting, chances are you may have struggled to come up with a numerical answer.  Trade show ROI is notoriously difficult to quantify, but with the right metrics and measurement strategies you can put together the numbers needed to help you analyze your exhibit program’s effectiveness.

Which metrics you use of course depends on which goals your company has for exhibiting at trade shows.  Below, find a breakdown of different ROI metrics and how to implement strategies to collect those measurements.

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Exhibit Design Quick Fix: Color

Examples of color design for trade show exhibits

There are standard colors for every industry and every brand has its own marketing department-approved shades.  But generally speaking, there are universally expected colors such as blues, grays, white and pops of red.  These are safe and work just fine, but we like it when our clients go for something bolder because it shows guts and a personality that speaks to their target market.

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Level Up with Gamification in Your Exhibit

Interface's gamified showroom.

Gamification has been around the marketing world for quite some time.  Gone are the days of gimmicky games based on Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy, instead games are now created to be relevant and targeted and help deliver defined marketing messages.  Marketers are finding that gamifying a brand helps influence behavior in environments like trade shows, mobile events and experiential settings.  The benefits of gamification can be numerous and typically include:

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Hanging Signs Can Do More Than Just Hang There

examples of hanging signs at trade shows

Hanging signs are staples on trade show floors.  Most exhibitors use them to maximize the display’s height and make the company name visible from a distance.  Obviously this is all fundamentally vital, but truly successful exhibits incorporate hanging signs that do even more.  Don’t contribute to hanging signs becoming the superficial backwards cap of events by just plopping them on top of your exhibit as simple identifiers.  Make them a part of your visitors’ experience to ramp up the effectiveness.

How can you make your hanging sign an actual part of the booth experience?

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How to Justify Your Trade Show Program

Hyster custom exhibit

You and I both know the value trade shows have to your marketing plan, but it’s time to prove it in no uncertain terms.  Even though many trade show professionals are optimistic about future results, most don’t believe their budget will increase.  Many marketing managers must fight to justify dream budgets to supervisors and the C-suite.  We’ve compiled the three most compelling pieces of ammo to swing things in your favor.

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How to Draw Attendees into Your Exhibit: Lighting

Typically trade show exhibit layouts require attendees to walk in from the aisles in order to engage with booth staff or product displays.  Many of you have already learned that funneling people inside the exhibits helps give them a sense of privacy and more focused attention.  Common ways to do this within exhibits might include relying on graphics, physical structures, placement of products or even music. But one trick is a little more subtle and still effective.  Thoughtful lighting not only draws attendees’ eyes to important features but can also lead them to important locations within the booth.

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The 68% of Attendees Who are Likely to Forget You

Mood Media's 2012 NRF custom exhibit.

At any given time, nearly 70% of trade show attendees potentially have no idea you’re exhibiting.  According to Exhibitor Online and Expoweb, 38% of attendees are first timers while another 30% of an average trade show’s visitors are considered regulars.  These are two segments of the crowd that can easily miss your exhibit if you do not regularly update it.

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Transport Attendees Away from the Trade Show

Yale's custom exhibit at Promat 2013

A major drawback to trade show exhibits is that you can typically only display a product, not its contextual usefulness.  With all of the distractions and unrealistic settings at trade shows, it can be hard for attendees to make an accurate mental connection to the product.  Taking an attendee away from those distractions and putting them into a real life environment helps them focus on how your products meet their needs, which in turn makes your products stand out.

The good news is that you don’t have to actually take attendees out of the convention center.  This can be accomplished in a number of ways with visual, auditory and emotional cues created by the experience within the space.  Even without the ability to recreate large or out-of-element settings to scale, your booth design and fabrication can mimic reality well enough to mentally place attendees in the time and place they will use your product.

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Streamline Your Exhibit’s Video Projections

Interface unveiled their sustainable product lined called Net Effect at this year’s NeoCon in Chicago.  For the debut, they wanted the focus of the new space to be videos playing on monitors and projectors displaying a narrative of related images and text, all tirelessly timed to atmospheric music.  The displays, which spanned over three walls, set up a stage that pulled in attendees to spread a powerful message.

While EDE handled the fabrication of the showroom from setting up the projectors to moving existing plumbing, we collaborated with Ogilvy & Mather to create the graphics display that revolved around timing and had to be seamless.  However, the vision created two main challenges that inspired more thoughtful implementation.

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How to Plan a Trade Show Exhibit

Developing a trade show program can be overwhelming. To make things easier for you, here is a universal guide on what it takes to get an exhibit built. Each section represents a chronological step that you are involved in. Find explanations and tips for each step below.

Trade Show Blog Topics 2

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