Why In-Person Trade Shows Will Return & How to Prepare: Part 1

Human interaction at in-person trade show

The big question we keep hearing is “will in-person trade shows make a comeback post-pandemic?” If you ask our team of experiential marketing experts, our answer is 100% yes; in-person trade shows will return.

We may not know when live events will return, and we don’t necessarily know what they will look like when they do. But we do know that the value of face-to-face marketing can’t be replaced. This two-part piece will focus first on the benefits of in-person trade shows that can’t be replicated virtually. In Part 2, we’ll explore some of the ways live events may look different in the future—and what you can do to be prepared.

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Layering for Trade Show Weather


Working on the design and fabrication of trade shows gives our team a unique perspective, but one that is also very limited.  We see things in big ideas; in great general concepts with elements that help reduce costs associated with exhibits.  The problem is that those elements are really only a small part of what makes an exhibit truly successful.  Throughout the beginning of 2014, our sales and creative departments took to the road to observe more.  What we noticed  that the best exhibits layer 3 elements: architecture, marketing and sales to create spaces that spark energy, enthusiasm and RESULTS.

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You Don’t Have to Like Trade Shows. You Just Have to Exhibit Like You do.

After reading a recent blog post by Melissa Michel, I was reminded that everyone has to do something they have no interest in at some point in their professional lives. Whether it’s a job or project you never pictured yourself doing, living somewhere you don’t like or even working with someone you don’t like, it’s something everyone has and will struggle with. The key lies in how you deal with it.

If you never saw yourself coordinating an exhibit program and don’t plan to again in the future, that’s ok. Just look at those who do as models for getting the most out of exhibiting as possible. You don’t have to enjoy it— you only have to exhibit like you do.

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Quietly Green


Green and eco-friendly have been buzz words in many industries, including ours, for years.  They’re words that get thrown around design meetings, marketing analyses and on the trade show floor itself quite often.  You don’t need to be reminded about its existence; you need a reminder of why it’s important and where to get inspiration.

Vendors and exhibitors alike have expanded their green products and have controlled their costs.  Shows like Greenbuild have made environmental responsibility a requirement for exhibitors.  Green is not just a fad or trend, but an ever expanding cornerstone of our industry.  We can agree that this is all good news not just for tax benefits, cost saving or corporate image, but also for the overall health of employees, customers and the world in general.

Influenced by our long-time clients, EDE has been quietly taking action since 1994 when a client first indicated that this was a need for their events.  It has never been a major part of our marketing, but we realized we’ve been holding out on you.  Starting this month, you can find green tips, eco-friendly client and vendor highlights and inspiration by following us on G+, our new hub for helping the promotion of environmentally sound principles within the exhibit business.

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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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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A Social Media Road Map

social media intro2

You certainly wouldn’t exhibit at a trade show or send an RFP response without making sure your brand, company personality and purpose were effectively communicated.  It’s the same reason you can’t show up to the social media party without an appropriate game plan.  Just like there isn’t one booth design that suits all exhibitors, there isn’t one voice that translates across all social media platforms.  Below is a breakdown of how we communicate differently through each social media outlet.

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Why Your Trade Show Exhibit is a Trade Show Exhibit. Unfortunately.

A typical trade show exhibit.

Do you ever walk down an aisle at a trade show and say to yourself “my exhibit looks like a trade show exhibit” ? Exhibit companies pride themselves on creating exhibits that are lightweight, easy to assemble and use standard pieces to maximize value.  These features have become industry standards, but they lead to exhibits that look alike.  They all look like trade show exhibits.

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The 5 Worst Trade Show Giveaways

Bad trade show giveaways

Conventional wisdom dictates that giveaways are a reliable way to entice visitors to your booth and ensure leads remember you. However, giving out the wrong goodies or poorly designed items won’t get you anywhere. The quality of your products or services and exhibit should be complimented by the items you give out.

For some, the following items could potentially make good giveaways, but only if they are done well with appealing designs, social media-worthy wit, high quality or if they directly relate to the product. If your strategy includes simply sticking a logo on one of the items listed below, you might want to rethink it.

Here are some items that generally get ho-hum or negative reactions from trade show attendees:

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