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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Sierra Smith

Top 11 Trade Show Trends to Watch for in 2020

Sierra Smith December 02, 2019

It feels like this year just started. The year brought trends that continue to crop up on trade show floors across the U.S. If you’re a Trade Show or Event Manager, it’s important to watch these trends, so your booth’s impact is maximized.

If you haven’t read our blog on trends in mid-2019, make sure you check that out for lighting, directional architecture, living walls, in-booth meeting space, nostalgic engagement, and data collection trends you need to know in 2020.

Let’s get into it.

DESIGN

Right at Home

Booths are moving away from futuristic, Apple-esque looks. White, clean, crisp atmospheres can make attendees feel as if they’re stepping into an office or laboratory, which can feel intimidating. Exhibitors are opting for a warmer, home-like vibe in their booths to make attendees comfortable. Explicitly, exhibitors are incorporating home furnishings into their exhibits, opting for fabric, stylish seating and tables rather than leathers or vinyl. When you check rental furnishing inventory websites, you’ll notice more of this style appearing in their catalogs.

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Aaron Scarlata, Account Executive for Exhibit Concepts is beginning to receive requests for this warm, lounge vibe from his clients. “They’re looking to bring comfort and warmth to their exhibits. It’s a great way to open up to attendees and spark conversation.”

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Traditional, hanging signs are beginning to bore attendees. Exhibitors are opting for more exciting, creative hanging signage to define their space from overhead. “This requires additional budget, but it creates an immersive environment and makes your booth more visible from afar,” said Stephanie Matlock, Account Executive for Exhibit Concepts. Scarlata adds, “If you’re going to spend a large chunk of change to put something in the air, you better go all the way.”

A great example of using overhead real estate comes from our client, World Fuel, who piqued interest in attendees with a fabric globe and illuminated chandelier at NBAA-BACE 2019 (National Business Aviation Association Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition). Chris Beckstedt, Account Executive, and for Exhibit Concepts worked with the Las Vegas Convention Center to turn down the hall lighting in World Fuel’s booth space to make the signs pop.

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In addition to attractive hanging signs, exhibitors are using each tier of their exhibit to solidify their brand’s identity. From the reception level to the highest point, exhibitors are incorporating graphics, lighting, and other eye-popping tactics to draw people into their space. “Since you never know what exhibitors are going to do around you, utilizing each tier of your exhibit to showcase your brand and messages gives your booth better visibility in the hall,” said Matlock.

Walking on Sunshine

Just as exhibitors are making good use of the space overhead, they’re maximizing the impact of their flooring, too. From decorative to interactive, attractive flooring can create flow in your booth or entice wandering eyes inside the space. This goes back to the “Right at Home” trend, as exhibitors are using interesting flooring to bring life and warmth to their booth.

“What’s happening is, it’s expensive to do carpet inlays. People are tired of carpet and it’s difficult to match to a booth’s look. With vinyl or printed flooring, you can customize and easily install for a fraction of the cost,” said Scarlata.

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Recently, our clients AccessData and Deceuninck latched onto the trend and ran with it, both winning booth awards from their respective shows. AccessData’s M*A*S*H themed booth at ILTACON 2019 created a complete experience for attendees. We digitally printed a “dirt” floor to match the terrain in the iconic show, which made the booth stand out in the aisle. Deceuninck used an inlaid floor timeline graphic that directed attendees through Deceuninck’s historical evolution, to a seamless AV presentation presenting their vision of their industry’s future.

To differentiate your brand from those around you, don’t limit yourself to the booth’s walls. Take advantage of your floor and overhead space, too.

EXPERIENCES

Make an Impact

Giving back to a cause near and dear to your heart can bring you a sense of accomplishment and warmth. Marketers are tapping into those emotions and allowing attendees to create memories with their brand while giving back to causes and communities.

Chicago Pneumatic, one of our clients, created an engraving wall in partnership with Vycom that attendees could sign with a tool they manufacture. For each signature, Chicago Pneumatic donated $1 to their local breast cancer foundation.

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“Attendee participation counting toward a charity donation they care about means a lot to them. It’s a great way to make a difference and start a buzz in your booth,” said Matlock.

Artsy AV

Using a single monitor won’t do in 2020. Exhibitors are getting creative with the way they’re arranging their AV engagements. When stepping into a booth, you might see monitors arranged in portrait, angled, or stacked configurations. “The way exhibitors are arranging their AV is more artistic. They’re getting more creative to captivate their audiences,” said Matlock.

Video walls, touchscreens, and projection mapping are also prominent in show halls, as they create sensory, immersive experiences for attendees. Video isn’t just king online; video is king in the face-to-face marketing space as well, and it’s becoming more important that marketers invest in this engaging content format to elevate their brand and messages.

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Scarlata notes that exhibitors need to be cautious with their AV experiences, as to not detract from their overall brand messaging. “Your AV should add to your messaging, rather than takeaway. If it’s not clear what your brand’s message is to the attendee, it’s time to reevaluate that engagement,” said Scarlata.

Give it Away

Giving away a branded pen is becoming stale. Exhibitors are getting crafty with their giveaway items, opting for sustainable things that are relevant to their brand’s message. Scarlata notes that attracting attention with a giveaway isn’t limited to the items themselves, as exhibitors are using engaging methods to distribute them.

On the show floor, vending machines are a creative way to give up items, rather than displaying them on a tabletop. For example, at WBENC 2019, Facebook gave away a branded bag full of things by women-owned businesses, to show that they were there to support and grow them through their platform. The vending machine distributed the items with the scan of an attendee badge, and representatives were stationed nearby to assist and talk with prospects.

Another popular method of distributing giveaway items is by allowing attendees to add customizations. Exhibitors are using press technology to stamp desired messages or designs from the attendee onto items such as bags or keychains. Stationed at the press, a representative can spark a conversation with prospects as they acquire their memorable gift.

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Impromptu Presentations

Rather than hiring dedicated presenters or emcees from an outside source, many brands are tapping into their in-house experts to engage attendees. In 2020, there will be a greater desire to hold impromptu, in-booth presentations. “Before, with clients, it wasn’t expected that their people present. Now, they’re looking for trained employees that are willing to do it,” said Scarlata.

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By taking an impromptu approach, exhibitors are creating the illusion that presentations are scheduled one-on-ones, which creates an element of FOMO (fear of missing out) in attendees. If they inquire, trained staff can jump on the opportunity to go through their presentation and get to know the prospect, which keeps the conversations flowing.

Digitize Your Meetings

Technology is ingrained in our everyday lives. As much as we utilize digital to organize our personal day-to-day, exhibitors are taking advantage of it on the show floor as well.

Outside of in-booth meeting spaces, tablet devices are beginning to pop-up, showing attendees or Sales Representatives when meetings are happening, coming up, or the room is free. “Leveraging this technology is a game-changer. It really helps Sales Representatives make better use of their time and the meeting spaces in the booth,” said Matlock.

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While this isn’t a prominent phenomenon yet, our Account Executives are beginning to see exhibitors use “virtual” Subject Matter Experts or Sales Representatives in their booth. On video monitors or robots moving around the booth, attendees can meet and interact with staff members that are back at the office rather than at the show. As 2020 unfolds, we’ll keep our audiences updated on whether or not this tactic takes off.

ARCHITECTURE

Be Flexible

Exhibitors and Exhibit Houses alike are moving toward sustainable architecture. “More exhibitors are thinking about how they can extract a 10x10 out of a 40x70,” said Scarlata. Rather than creating a custom booth for every single show, exhibitors are opting for flexible structures that can handle all the shows within their program. The use of system construction, such as beMatrix, supports this trend.

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At each show, flexible structures can be configured into a variety of sizes and shapes and re-skinned with different graphics. “Having a flexible structure keeps your brand’s look and feel consistent at every show,” said Matlock. “This consistency will help elevate your brand’s awareness, and every time you’re in a face-to-face environment, you won’t look like a different company every time.”

Charge!

There’s a mobile device in the hands of every person on the show floor, guaranteed. Also, they might be carrying their laptops around to keep up with what’s happening back at their offices between meetings and speakers. Or, maybe they want to ease their minds and giggle quietly at their favorite memes.

As another way to accommodate attendees and make them feel comfortable, exhibitors are incorporating charging stations into their booth architecture. Once hidden for booth staff to use, charging stations are becoming more pronounced and available. When folks need to charge, they’ll potentially linger a little longer until their device is sufficiently charged, which allows your booth staff to have a conversation with them. It’s convenient for them and an insanely easy way to start a discussion.

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This trend isn’t limited to the trade show floor, either. Scarlata notes that he’s seeing this trend at events or pop-ups as well.

Have a Seat

At a trade show, you’re on your feet all day long. Of course, including seating in your booth to give tired feet a break isn’t a trend. But, we’ve begun to see seating incorporated into the architecture. Simple benches and tables are showing up on the back ends of exhibits, providing attendees with a spot to plop down and relax.

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Rather than renting furniture at the show or creating something custom, this is a cost-effective way to add furniture if you’re exhibiting at multiple shows. This also easily creates a meeting space for Sales Representatives and attendees without expanding the exhibit.

2020 will be an exciting year in the face-to-face marketing world, and we can’t wait to see all the trends that will come and go. Here’s to another year of making memories and connecting brands with their audience.

Three Inspiring Stories from EXHIBITOR CTSM Candidates That Will Tug at the Heartstrings

Sierra Smith November 20, 2019

The decision to go after any certification or degree is not something one takes lightly. A lot goes into the decision: Is it right for me? Will it accelerate my career? Will I see an increase in my salary? Can I apply this knowledge in multiple industries or positions? Do I have the time?

If you’re a Trade Show Specialist or Manager, there are not many educational programs available. But, if you’re ready to accelerate your career, you have an option. The CTSM certification, offered by EXHIBITOR Magazine, is the only university-affiliated program in the trade show industry.

According to EXHIBITOR Magazine’s website, the program covers a comprehensive set of knowledge and skills for trade show and corporate event marketers, including measurement, planning and execution, career development, sales and marketing, management and leadership, and international and domestic exhibiting strategies. Because of the university affiliation, you can trust that the program is consistently maintaining a high standard of excellence.

“The people that enter this program work extremely hard and become a part of a supportive group. Having this certification helps position them as the event or trade show expert, earns them respect and a proverbial seat at the table,” said Dee Silfies, Chief Learning Strategist for EXHIBITOR Magazine.

Everyone has a story to tell and a journey they’re working to accomplish. A couple weeks ago, we were able to hear stories from attendees at the EXHIBITOR Atlanta FastTrak conference that moved us. Taking a moment to look beyond industry concepts and strategies made us reflect on how lucky we are to play a role in supporting CTSM participants.

These are the journeys of three participants that inspired us, and we hope they will inspire you, too.

Amanda Reno
Marketing Communication Specialist
Milliken & Company – Spartanburg, SC
Amanda Reno - Blog

Amanda Reno is a Marketing Communication Specialist for Milliken & Company in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Reno coordinates and manages trade shows from beginning to end. This encompasses planning and execution, on top of managing the development of literature for her marketing program.

I began my exciting career at Milliken & Company as hospitality support at the Milliken Guest House, where our company hosts our VIP guests. Over the past four years, I have been promoted twice, most recently to my new role as a Marketing Communications Specialist for the Chemical division at Milliken. As part of my responsibilities, I help to coordinate over 30 trade shows per year, which requires a high level of organization and detail.

I’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time, and while I have the talent and drive to succeed, as a single mom without a college degree, I was lacking in experience and industry knowledge. At first, I didn’t feel I was bringing as much as I could to the table in my role. I would give my input in meetings but still felt restricted by my lack of education and experience. My team and manager have been incredibly supportive of me in working to complete a bachelor’s degree; however, it’s a slow process since I only have the bandwidth for two classes at most each semester.

At the beginning of the year, my manager told me about the CTSM Certification, which I had never heard of. As a way to sharpen my trade show skills and broaden my knowledge base, he would support me each step of the way toward gaining this certification. I signed up and began classes through FastTrak in June of 2019. I took a semester off from college, and I’m moving through the program extremely fast, as I’ve attended the Chicago, Denver, and Atlanta FastTraks in the past four months. I’m finishing here in Atlanta.

Already, I feel like I provide more value to my company. All of the classes have given me valuable knowledge and understanding of the trade show world including budgeting, coordinating international events, shipping, legal, and the list goes on. Even from the first FastTrak I completed, I came back to work with a million and one ideas to be more strategic in communicating our brand at a trade show. I felt equipped with knowledge and empowered with more drive to strategically reach our customers and execute a show from beginning to end with strong organization and targeted goals.

My purpose for getting the CTSM certification is obviously to get the knowledge and bring more to the table. But it’s also providing me with immediate job security and a higher level of confidence. My journey has been full of challenges, but also full of many rewards. I know I’m doing this to construct a secure path ahead for not only myself, but also supporting my family. This is an excellent program and I highly recommend it for those looking to be equipped with the knowledge and tools to build up what they can bring to their workplace.”


Joseph Robinson
Trade Show Specialist
Owens and Minor – Mechanicsville, VAJoseph Robinson - Blog

Joseph Robinson is a Trade Show Specialist for Owens and Minor in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Robinson is one of two people that oversee the logistical side of trade shows, including booth strategy, materials, shipping, set-up, and breakdown. He also handles the post-show lead retrieval, which encompasses analyzing the leads, sending to Sales, and measuring the success of the program.

“Since I was eight years old, coming from a musical family, I’ve been a musician. When I was a teen, I developed a passion for marketing. The combination of those things led to me fostering relationships in the music circuit. I got started in trade shows by working with musicians and different organizations. I would set up and tear down their booths or their stages for various conventions and trade shows. I also worked with non-profits to help them market with little to no budget.

Later, I was hired into the new client engagement center at Owens and Minor in Richmond, Virginia. I began as a Pricing Specialist, and two years later, a position as a trade show specialist opened up. My degree and experience in the music circuit and with non-profits paid off, and I got the job.

I definitely wanted to enhance my skillsets when it came to trade shows, even though I’ve been in this role for several years. That’s where the CTSM program came into play; I wanted to gain the knowledge I need from this program to implement into my everyday job. The CTSM certification is beneficial not only for those in the field long-term but also for those just starting out. It gives you the high-level AND basic knowledge you need to be successful in this industry, especially for those that have trade shows falling into their lap. It gives you the information you need to keep up with the trends and the field itself.”


Regina Henning
Senior Account Manager
Exhibit Concepts – Dayton, OHHenning, Regina - Blog

Regina Henning is a Senior Account Manager for Exhibit Concepts in Dayton, Ohio. Henning oversees every aspect of her clients’ projects from the initial concept meeting all the way to re-warehousing their booth property. This includes writing quotes, facilitating booth designs, acting as the liaison between the client and internal departments, managing deadlines, and acting behind the scenes to ensure everything goes smoothly on the client’s end. Henning acts as an extension of her clients’ team, and there’s not a line dividing where they begin and end.

“I am an Air Force military spouse, and my son is now in the army. Every move for us was a project. It meant a new job, new school, and learning how to navigate all the subprojects that comes with it; it’s what your life becomes. You become a jack of all trades because when you get the orders, you have to uproot and leave everything behind. You go to the next place, and you have to get a job in a hurry, and it doesn’t matter if you have a ton of experience or not. You just have to do it. Being a military spouse brought me experience in estimating and real estate, and combined, they brought me to Exhibit Concepts.

There was a position open for an Estimator, and I interviewed for the position, but it was filled internally. I went to work for another company but was laid off because it went out of business. I established a good rapport with Bart [Sakosky], who I interviewed with at ECI, and he had told me I’d be an excellent fit for an Account Management role. I reached out to Bart about the position, and he responded immediately, saying a position was open. I connected with Vicki [Fodor], and the rest was history!

After a few years in this role, I decided to get my CTSM certification to progress my career and get a better understanding of the trade show industry. I’m only getting the vendor side, and I want a glimpse into what my clients’ issues or concerns are so I can better meet their needs. Being able to serve others in a higher capacity means I’ll be trusted more, which is ultimately better for my career progression.

Getting this certification shows my leadership team has confidence and trust in me. They know I can learn from this, take the knowledge, and pay it forward. Plus, it’s great to get out of the office every now and then!

For those acquiring a CTSM, take it a step at a time, and don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the program as a whole. That’s how I’ve handled every project I’ve encountered – I can’t think about the fact I have to move myself and my family while my husband is deployed or in training. I have to think, when is the deadline for shipping my items to storage? When do I need to get this paperwork for the school in and make sure vaccines are up to date? It’s all those little deadlines and lists that complete a whole project.”

The trade show industry is exciting but also overwhelming. We’re juggling a variety of tasks and deadlines on top of our actual lives. After experiencing this event, we realize that FastTrak and the CTSM Certification isn’t just transcripts, studying, and tests. It’s a network of incredible people with incredible stories. You’ll make connections that will last years – maybe even your lifetime.

The CTSM Certification is a tribe of diverse, passionate people, all with the goal of creating memorable experiences and develop relationships with their attendees.

While those acquiring this certification are incredibly fortunate, we’ve struck gold having the opportunity to support and champion them to success.

How to Promote Your Trade Show Presence on Social Media

Sierra Smith November 11, 2019

Social media is a crowded, competitive, and exciting space. When attending a show, hundreds of other brands are vying for the attention of attendees on social platforms. You're fighting algorithms and working to craft killer posts that thumb scrollers can't resist passing in their feeds. All the while, you're meticulously tracking the ROI to ensure your strategy isn't falling flat.

When you're on the show floor, you're balancing social with set-up, ensuring that booth staff is trained, interacting with attendees, and putting out any "wildfires" that might arise. While some things will be out of your control, having a set plan for keeping your social strategy in-line with your face-to-face marketing efforts will help bring you peace of mind.

Here's what you can do to generate social buzz for your trade show experience.

1. Have a Plan
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Okay, this is obvious, but we have to say it. Before your boots (or heels) hit the show floor, you should have your goals and objectives for social exposure outlined for all involved parties. How you promote your event or booth is dependent on your overall marketing strategy and brand messages. Social media isn't an afterthought; like all other marketing efforts, you need to be strategic and creative before you blast a message to your following. Great thought-starter questions you might ask as you delve into your plan might be:

  • What are your overall objectives or goals for the trade show?
  • What is the most important message you want to solidify in your audience or attendees' minds?
  • What social platforms drive the best ROI for your business?
  • What metrics will you be tracking on your social platforms? This could be social reach, social web traffic, social engagement, social shares, or social video views.
  • What resources are at your disposal to manage each social platform? This includes content creators, tools, and a staff member specifically tasked with posting or social listening. With every other task you’re juggling, don’t try to manage social alone.

You'll also want to conduct some research outside of your channels to make your messages more discoverable. Check the show organizer's website and social channels to find the trade show's official hashtag(s). Also, search for active, relevant hashtags on each platform and document them for reference later as you or your team are posting. Don't spam your hashtags with your posts, either. On Instagram, the sweet spot is a maximum of ten, while the sweet spot on Twitter is just two. Track the effectiveness of hashtags before your event to find the perfect medium.

For inspiration, conduct a competitive analysis. By doing some "social listening," you can follow hashtags and create lists with posts by competitors and influencers. Social publishing tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, TweetDeck, or HubSpot are just a few that have this ability. Getting a pulse on what others are doing will help you position your content as unique, inspire new ideas, or show you what NOT to do.

2. Incorporate Social into Your Booth's Design
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If part of your strategy includes the use of a branded hashtag or growing your audience, weaving the hashtag or your social handles into the design is a great way to raise awareness. It's your real estate, and you should take advantage of it.

You might also consider including social interactives within the booth. Setting up a photo booth to create an "insta-worthy" experience for attendees or using social aggregation technology such as SocialKiwi, Pixlee or Taggbox is an excellent way to drive engagement and curate user-generated content. Our client, Kellogg's, sets the perfect example for integrating social media into a booth experience.

When Kellogg's goes to a show, they're using both a photo booth and social aggregator to generate engagement. They bring along the famous "Tony the Tiger" and other recognizable characters like “Snap”, “Crackle” and “Pop” to greet attendees and give them an irresistible photo op in their booth. Once you snap the photo, attendees can use the social aggregator Mingle, from our partner Innov8tive Group to post the photo to their social profiles or send them to friends or family via direct messages. When people weren't engaging with the technology, images from attendees would display. On the panel showing the content, the hashtag was included with a CTA to join in on the conversation.

3. Go Live

It's hardly a secret that video reigns supreme across all social platforms, especially live video. Facebook stated in 2018 that live video averages six times as many interactions as regular videos. Utilizing this feature is an excellent way to generate more foot traffic to your booth or to tease new product releases or demos.

Before you go live, make sure all your equipment is working, and your team is rehearsed and ready to go. Best practices will vary by platform, but as a rule of thumb, make sure you notify your loyal following at least 15 minutes before pressing record. Once live, platforms will notify your audience. At a minimum, keep the stream running for at least 20 minutes and pay attention to time restrictions on each platform. There's nothing worse than getting to the grand finale and having your stream cut off.

Video production isn't the only thing to think about when you go live. Writing short, captivating teases will rope your audience into the stream. Be short, sweet, and to the point and don't give away key information. The trick is to tease people into sticking around. You can also generate a little web traffic by pinning related content to the comment section or including it in the post text.

4. Create "Snackable" Videos

If video is not a component of your social strategy, consider yourself left out of the loop. 80% of users recall a video ad they've viewed in the last month, 70% of marketing professionals see higher conversion rates from video compared to other mediums, and marketers who incorporate video into their strategies grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users. Those statistics don't begin to cover the tip of the video iceberg!

It's not difficult to create video anymore, either. While a produced, professional video still has its use, so do quick, snackable videos produced through smartphone apps or web software. The type of video you create is dependent on your strategy and goals, but there are several best practices to keep in mind. Your video should be at least 15 seconds long or a maximum of two minutes. Be mindful of length restrictions on each platform, as, for example, Instagram only allows a maximum of one minute.

 Here's an example of one of our snackable, social videos:

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Remember, the majority of your users will be viewing your video on a mobile phone with the sound off. On Facebook alone, 85% of video is consumed without sound. Focus on creating mesmerizing visuals, and if you're interviewing subjects or conveying a message, it's essential that you accurately caption your videos.

5. Tell Your Story with the "Stories" Feature

A trendy feature on social platforms is "stories." These are bite-sized video snippets, images, and text that disappear after 24 hours and are popular on Instagram or Facebook. According to SproutSocial, over 400 million people use the Instagram Stories feature every day.

Stories give you a plethora of creative features to take advantage of when promoting your trade show experience. You can add polls, open-ended questions, quizzes, countdowns, and more. To add context or spruce up your image or video, you can include text in a variety of fonts and colors, drawings, GIFs, or filters.

With engaging, bite-sized content, you can effectively tease product releases, demos, or presentations, showcase the before, during, and after, and spark private conversations with your audience. While this content doesn't have a long shelf life, it's vital for catching your audience in the moment and keeping your brand top of mind.

6. Go "Behind-the-Scenes"

We see the glitz and the glam from brands all day in our feeds. But, what about the behind-the-scenes footage? Capitalizing on the work that goes into putting on a spectacular experience is low hanging fruit your brand should take advantage of in your feeds.

People are curious and intrigued by the people and the processes behind the brand. Mix up your formats and include photos, videos, or linked content showing off your booth's set-up, how your team brought engagement to life, or tease to the show's open and entice attendees to visit with your brand.

This content is the easiest to create and curate. A quick snap to your Insta-story or a 30-second time-lapse video is perfect for showing off your team's hard work.

7. Utilize your Employees

Celebrities and influencers will help your brand expand your social reach, but what you may not realize is that your staff is a powerful force for increasing reach and engagement.

LinkedIn found that while only 2% of employees reshare their company's social posts, they're responsible for 20% of the overall engagement. According to Hootsuite, most people trust a regular employee (53%) rather than a CEO! Your brand's employees are influential advocates that shouldn't be forgotten.

After we publish new content, awards, show photos, or announcements, we send an e-mail to all our employees with links and instructions on how to share our content to their profiles. Sure, they might be sharing this content with family and friends that may not be your targets, but some may be connected to potential prospects or clients that didn't know it's the content they need. The more your employees share and engage, the more you establish trust and rapport with those targets.

Social media can be tricky to nail down, but when it comes down to it, be human and conversational. Every time you publish posts or engage with your audience, think of your "why" and ask yourself, "If I saw this post in my feed, would I engage with it?" If the answer is no, your audience likely won't engage with it either.

How to Get the Best Responses from a Museum Exhibit Fabricator in an RFP

Sierra Smith November 05, 2019

Most museums are required to seek competitive bids for a new museum exhibit or major refurbishment. Issuing an RFP (request for proposal) is one of the first steps in the process. You’ll want to identify a fabricator with the proven processes, experience in your area, and the right price to ensure a successful project.

It is incredibly frustrating to receive an incomplete, unclear, or unorganized response. And in many cases, you will rule these submissions out. Luckily, simple things like creating checklists, establishing reasonable deadlines, and refining RFP copy is an easy fix. To receive the best answers from potential partners, these guidelines from our team of museum experts will help you formulate questions that will capture what you need, right off the bat.

CHECKLISTS AND FORMATTING

Naturally, multiple pieces of information will likely be a requirement. The best way to acquire this information is by including a checklist with the RFP, which will help potential bidders organize all the required elements for submission. An excellent list may include:

  • Contact Information
  • Signature Page
  • Execution of Proposal
  • Conflict of Interest or Disclosure Statement
  • Pricing Proposal
  • Subcontracting Plan
  • Company Information
  • Outline of Project Approach
  • Experience and Qualifications
  • Sample Work
  • References
  • Evidence of Financial Responsibility and Stability

In many instances, submission isn’t as simple as sending an e-mail. The fabricator may be required to submit via mail, e-mail, or through a database. If you’re providing a checklist, be sure to include the method the RFP is to be submitted along with the number of copies. Be sure to clarify the time bids are due, especially with regards to time zone.

The most natural format to digest is an outline. Theresa Hirt, Marketing Coordinator for Exhibit Concepts, finds this to be the most efficient format for both the museum and fabricator. “With an outline, I can create the RFP in the format a museum wants to a T. It allows the fabricator to follow the flow of the document, which will better match the ask. On the museum’s end, it’s much easier to read and find specific information,” said Hirt. If submitting an outline, it’s best to assure that page limitations are within reason of what respondents might provide.

Providing your fabricator with how RFP responses will be evaluated or weighted will also help you acquire the best information, or help the fabricator determine if they’re eligible to bid for your project. “Ideally, a point system is the best way to help your fabricator understand how they’ll be evaluated or weighted against other potential bidders. Including what the advantages are, such as being woman-owned or needing the fabricator to be located nearby your museum helps us determine whether or not it’s a viable project,” said Steven Lowry, Account Executive for Exhibit Concepts.

DEADLINES

Giving your fabricator a deadline to submit their RFP is a no-brainer, but other factors must be considered.

If a mailed, hard-copy of your RFP is required, the deadline should be padded with a reasonable amount of time for delivery. You need to account for when delivery services arrive to pick up items, as well as the varying times and days in which services will deliver to your home base. Another factor to consider is that potential fabricators will have questions for YOU! Providing the respondent enough time to ask questions as well as time for relevant parties to answer should be built into your deadline. Accounting for this time will only result in better, more precise answers for your team to review.

Finally, it is best to avoid setting a deadline the day before or after a holiday. Fabricators will be working to wrap-up other projects before closing for the holiday. Allowing more time near a holiday will ensure you receive all necessary documents on the deadline with no hiccups.

Traditionally, RFPs are given a deadline anywhere from four to eight weeks from the issue date to ensure all required items are prepared and that there is a buffer for delivery, if needed.

CLARITY

“To be clear is to be kind” is something we preach in our office. When it comes to RFPs or RFQs (request for quotation), transparency is critical.

It should be evident to the exhibit fabricator what the budget and scope of work will be. Knowing these details beforehand will help the fabricator determine whether or not the project is viable for their business to pursue. Allowing the exhibit fabricator to vet the project beforehand saves time for both parties if it isn’t feasible.

Your museum’s mission statement and what the exhibit is trying to accomplish is also crucial information. “This helps the fabricator formulate the best way to move the project forward and provide exactly what the museum wants. It’s incredibly helpful to have this information included in the RFQ submission,” said Lowry.

Before submitting your RFQ, take extra time to review each question and its purpose. In many RFQs, the same information may be required multiple times. Check to make sure that questions are not duplicated to avoid a headache on both ends.

A contract is also a beneficial component of an RFP. Including this important document with the submission helps your fabricator round-up all of the necessary legal information, such as bonding or insurance documentation. Also, if there are special requirements, the fabricator needs to know up front to assure that they will be met. A contract ultimately helps a fabricator determine if they’ll be able to enter the bid.

Setting reasonable expectations, deadlines, and providing your fabricator a clear scope of the work will result in receiving all the information you’ll need to make a decision. The RFQ process is also a sneak peek into how you and potential partners will work together through each phase of your exhibit.

You have incredible stories to tell. Seeing how your fabricator will tell their story with clarity, accuracy, and attention to detail will show you what value they’ll bring to your space.

Theming, Costumes, and Celebrity Guests: How to Create a Complete Trade Show Experience

Sierra Smith October 29, 2019

By nature, humans are social animals and are wired to make connections with one another. The most magical thing about face-to-face marketing is the genuine interaction and relationships we make that may not be as prominent through other marketing methods.

Through trade shows, you’re introducing people to the faces behind the brand and etching memorable experiences into people's minds.

When working with clients, our priority is to help them win over their ideal customers. From the bigger picture down to the smaller details, creating a complete experience affects how attendees will remember your brand. The engagements, attire, and giveaway items are also essential components for establishing memories.

Here are four complete booth experiences that won the hearts of attendees:

1. Kellogg's®

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Maybe it's just us, but back in the day, school lunches were our least favorite meal. But when Kellogg's® School Nutrition division attended SNA-ANC 2019, they changed our minds with a pop-up café experience that makes school lunch fun.

With the theme, "Menu Explorers," Kellogg's® wanted to encourage attendees to try new foods and change the perception of school lunches. To do this, Kellogg's went with a pop-up café theme that would promote the Morningstar® and Eggo® brands. The booth featured astroturf flooring, windows, a prep area that would distribute samples, and a seating area with tables and stools that allowed for conversation and sales to occur.

Each day of the show, Kellogg's® showcased food samples from one of the two brands they were promoting. One day one, Morningstar® served plant-based "chicken nuggets" with a sauce station for dipping. To cement brand recognition, booth staff wore Morningstar® t-shirts. On day two, Eggo® sampled confetti pancakes, and of course, booth staff wore Eggo® t-shirts. On both days, a professional chef prepped and served samples to attendees.

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Additional engagements complimented the food sampling engagement. At every show, Tony the Tiger makes an appearance and takes photos with attendees, which can be customized and sent to their e-mail or phones. A "Plinko" game allowed attendees to sharpen their knowledge on nutrition, and a chalkboard engagement asked, "What are your students' favorite foods?"

Tying the booth's theme into engagements that appeal to the five senses is an excellent way to create memories with your attendees. When attendees leave your space, there should be no question as to what your brand is trying to portray.

2. AccessData

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AccessData's booth went all that way at ILTACON 2019. This M*A*S*H themed 10x10 space didn't just look the part; the team tending the exhibit dressed in olive green or camo print while others opted to get into character. Yes, HawkEye and Radar made an appearance.

The cherry on top was including a character from the actual show. Jamie Farr made an appearance on the first day to do a meet and greet with attendees, which was a big draw to the brand's space.

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Photo provided by AccessData

Before the show began, the set-up team was shocked by the realistic flooring printed to resemble a sandy, rocky terrain. As props, the "Wayfinder" sign and medium-sized rocks were included to help set the scene. AccessData placed M*A*S*H themed giveaway items on their counter that was decked out in retro Christmas lights, such as cigars, olive green notebooks, and camo printed pens.

The M*A*S*H theme paid off to AccessData, as this 10x10 took home the “Best Booth” award from ILTACON for this unique, complete experience.

3. World Fuel

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Field Based Operators (FBOs) are known for their accommodating spaces that provide visitors with a place to sleep, enjoy delicious meals, work and meet with prospects once they’ve de-planed. World Fuel's "trade show within a trade show" at NBAA-NACE 2018 was not only a spectacular structure. It housed meeting space for FBOs and included multiple areas for entertainment and hospitality.

This 50' – x 150' booth featured a branded, large overhead sign, a deck structure for VIP meetings, custom carpet inlays, vibrant graphics, and 24 small meeting pods for FBOs to meet with prospects. To help attendees grasp the reach of World Fuel, an interactive, touchscreen globe created by Pufferish displayed information about FBOs alongside their corresponding location. Just like an FBO, the architecture and interactive technology emanated a sleek, clean feel.

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To complete the look and feel, World Fuel had a variety of entertainment within the booth. A magician wowed attendees with tricks, multiple bands performed beside an open bar, and heavy appetizers were served. Also, World Fuel gave away lavish items such as bottles of champagne, headphones, and designer sunglasses.

When it comes to exhibiting, take a page from World Fuel's book. Your exhibit should mirror the experience a prospect will have with your brand when they become a customer.

4. Scot Forge:

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Photo provided by Nth Degree

When Scot Forge exhibits, they're often considered "the best at the show."

For each show, Scot Forge cleverly themes their booth to fit the products and messages they're promoting while developing brand recognition in their industry. For the 2019 Space Symposium, Scot Forge chose an iconic theme that grabbed the attention of attendees: the classic Atari video game, Space Invaders!

The booth featured graphics Space Invader themed graphics, with the Scot Forge logo replacing the space ship that takes down enemies. Displays and tables were wrapped in a plaid pattern to incorporate Scot Forge's branding into the design. Booth staffers tied up the look by wearing plaid jackets in the brand's colors.

The big draw for Scot Forge was an engagement developed by Exhibit Concepts to complete the booth. What's a Space Invaders' theme without the chance to play the game? That's right – we developed an 8-bit Space Invaders game with the Scot Forge logo as the protagonist, taking down enemy space ships as it scrolls across the screen. When attendees won or lost, a custom screen appeared that tracked the score.

When it comes to theming, Scot Forge are model exhibitors. When choosing a theme for your brand, it's imperative that the look, feel, and the message isn't lost.

5. Exhibit Concepts

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All aboard! Our museum team attended AAM 2019 to showcase our work with the Bradford Railroad Museum. Before the event began, our marketing staff set the scene for attendees by mailing a box that included a whistle and "ticket" attendees could use to sign-up to win an Amtrak ticket, valued at $500 to any place their heart desired. A trip to your favorite vacation spot by train allows you to take in the sights stress-free as they roll by, unlike driving or flying in an airplane.

The backdrop for the conference appeared as a train station, with bold fonts and graphics of the work we completed for the Bradford Railroad Museum. We created a colorful registration table out of vintage suitcases where visitors could drop off their registration "ticket" or sign-up to win.

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Even better, our team dressed as train conductors to complete the theme and look of this booth.

When we exhibit, we make sure to take a lot of time to think about what we're promoting, what the theme will be, and how we will market and achieve our goals. Creating a little mystery and intrigue for our brand helps us stand out against the competition and forge relationships with attendees.

Thinking about a theme for your next booth or event? Let us help you dream up an experience that will take your brand to new heights.

Need Design Inspiration? 6 Jaw-Dropping, Award-Winning Trade Show Booths

Sierra Smith October 23, 2019

Finding design inspiration for your trade show booth can sometimes feel as if you're looking for a needle in a haystack. From the look to the engagements, it can be difficult to bring each piece together to create a cohesive experience.

When our clients go to shows, our priority is making sure their customers are receiving a cohesive, memorable brand experience. When it all comes together, those experiences can result in our clients winning awards for the booth design and experience we created in partnership with one another. Here are five examples to help you get inspired as you think of what's next for your trade show attendee experience:

1. Omron: Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 and 2019
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Every year at CES, Omron creates an experience that draws the eyes of not only passerby but spectators from around the world.

Omron demonstrates the harmony between humans and machines with Forpheus, the ping-pong playing robot that adjusts its skill level to make you a better player. This interactive demonstration has proven successful, as 2018 and 2019's booth raked in 6.3 billion total media impressions and 300 booth visits from the media.

In 2018, Omron debuted with a 2,500 sq ft booth featuring white towers, a fabric canopy, and mirrored surfaces to give the space a sleek, futuristic and theatrical feel. In 2019, Omron expanded and evolved their exhibit. This 3,000 sq ft booth includes large display screens and an upper deck to create more excitement around the scheduled presentations.

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The “Wow” factor didn't just generate media exposure. Both booths placed on the "Best of CES" list in 2018 and 2019 and the 2018 booth also took home the "Sizzle Award" from EXHIBITOR Magazine.

2. World Fuel: 2018 National Business Aviation Association Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE)

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When World Fuel attends NBAA-BACE, they do it big.

The 50x150 mega-space provides working areas for the 26 World Fuel FBOs (Fixed Based Operations) to work and meet with prospects.

This large statement booth was a major upgrade, as their previous was older, bulky, and dated. This space needed to accommodate World Fuel's FBOs, which required more conference room space and an area that would support hospitality and various entertainment options. As attendees met with FBOs, they'd also enjoy samplings of food, participate in giveaways, or enjoy a live show from a magician or band.

While the experience was the most important takeaway from the booth, it was a must that the graphics on display had a clean, impactful look. Obviously, with a booth this large, keeping shipping and drayage costs as low as possible by using lightweight materials was a requirement. By utilizing beMatrix panels in the booth, we were able to create cost efficiencies.

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All in all, the booth was a success and a hit with show attendees. World Fuel took home the gold by winning the "Best of 2018: Best Design Greater than 600 sq ft" award from beMatrix.

3. RCS Sound Systems: 2017 National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB)

We hear it a lot from clients: "We want a minimalistic, Apple-esque booth." To pull this look off, incorporating lighting, fabrics, and exciting architecture into the booth is pivotal.

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When RCS went to NAB in 2017, they wanted a futuristic, minimalistic space to showcase both the RCS and Florical brand. Inspired by the St. Louis Grand Gateway Arch, the "infinity arch" takes the stage as the booth's focal point. It includes fabric paneling and accessories, halo-lit fabric blades, and white furniture and cabinetry. This space is versatile and allows for a myriad of configurations, and the fabric blades can be easily swapped and re-skinned. RCS and Florical had separate areas to showcase their products.

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This stand-out space wiped the floor in awards after winning the NAB 2017 "Best in Show: Best Design" and EXHIBITOR Magazine's "Portable Modular Award for Best Fabric Booth of 2017".

4. AccessData: 2019 ILTACON

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AccessData's small portable booth made a splash at the 2019 ILTACON. When trying to solidify a new memory, the best way is to make attendees recall an old one. AccessData themed their booth around the classic TV series, M*A*S*H and brought actor Jamie Farr (Sergeant Maxwell Q. Klinger) along for the fun.

This simple booth included a fabric back wall with a M*A*S*H themed mural graphic, a replica M*A*S*H map sign, rock props, a digitally printed" dirt" floor, and a slab countertop with a faux "wood crate" cabinet and stools.

AccessData employees even took on the theme by wearing camo attire, while some wore costumes themed around their favorite characters. Attendees had the opportunity to meet, talk, and get their photo taken with Jamie Farr. AccessData also gave away M*A*S*H themed items such as an All-Weather Notebook, cigars, keychains, and pens.

While the booth was small, it had a powerful impact on its visitors. AccessData took home a "Best Booth" award from ILTACON, and they have the photo of Jamie Farr holding the ribbon to prove it!

5. Homz: 2019 International Homes + Housewares Show (IHHS)

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When exhibiting at IHHS, your booth must make attendees feel "right at home." Since 2013, we've worked with Homz to create that experience for their booth visitors when they exhibit.

Their 2019 booth features hanging signs, architecture structured like a house, graphics, shelving, displays, and cozy furniture.

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Creating a memorable experience for booth attendees is vital, and Homz did just that. This creative space won Homz the "gia Global Honoree" award for booth design.

6. Deceuninck North America: GlassBuild 2019

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For the 50th year, Deceuninck “made history” with this 50x40 exhibit. For Deceuninck, GlassBuild is the largest, most prominent event in their trade show program. GlassBuild 2019 was a unique year, as it marks half a century since the brand began exhibiting at GlassBuild. When it comes to celebrating a milestone, there’s no better way than to bring nostalgia to your visitors.

This exhibit features an inlaid floor timeline graphic that takes attendees through Deceuninck’s historical evolution in the window and door engineering space. When attendees walked to the end of the timeline, a seamless AV array presents Deceuninck’s vision of the future through video content.

For the architecture, Deceuninck brilliantly promoted their product by incorporating their window and door solutions into the booth. Overhead, a large sign with Deceuninck branding and a call-out to the 50th anniversary that helped attract attention to the booth.

Out of over 450 exhibitors, Deceuninck went home with the “Best in Show” from GlassBuild. We can’t think of a better way to mark a milestone than to take home an award!

When it comes to designing a trade show booth, the experience should go first. Ask yourself: Why is my brand attending this show? Who are we hoping to attract to the booth? What behaviors or actions are we hoping to motivate?

With your goals or "why" defined, determining the best way to engage your customers becomes more natural. Need some help? We're able to generate an award-winning design and experience for your brand, too!

Holy Toledo! How AccessData’s 10x10 Booth won in a Big Way at ILTACON 2019

Sierra Smith October 09, 2019

Households across the U.S. love the classic television show, M*A*S*H – whether you watched it on primetime or reruns following the debut of the show in 1972. Iconic characters such as Hawkeye, Maxwell Q. Klinger, Radar, and "Hot Lips" brought smiles to our faces and laughs to our bellies.

When ILTACON announced that the theme of their 2019 show would be "A Whole New World of Possibilities – a Journey Through Classic TV," AccessData jumped on the opportunity. They came up with a M*A*S*H themed booth that won the hearts of attendees across the hall.

"Everyone came up with some great ideas, but it was one of our account executives, Kristy Glazebrook, who first thought of M*A*S*H," said Lori Tyler, Vice President of Global Marketing for AccessData. "I ultimately chose it for a number of reasons. First, it's M*A*S*H! It's the epitome of 'classic TV' -- a show that everyone knows, with beloved and recognizable characters. But also because I believed MASH offered a perfect messaging platform with the staying power needed to maintain attendee interest all week."

Featuring the iconic wayfinder sign, which points in the direction of classic locations, "sandy" terrain with rock props, branded graphics, themed giveaways, and a vintage countertop styled with retro Christmas lights set the scene for AccessData. The most astonishing piece of the booth was the digitally printed, "dirt" floor.

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"The flooring Exhibit Concepts produced is what really made this booth. Our floor looked like the sandy, rocky terrain in the show. It's what helped us move the booth so over the top," said Debbie Brizendine, Event Support Contractor for AccessData.

Aside from the most apparent design details, the GES set-up team and Exhibit Concepts made sure even the smaller touches were perfect, such as the wiring matching the floor color, lining up the rock props with the print, and making legs for the counter so that it would sit over an extension cord.

"The teamwork between our Account Specialist, Jeanine [Gross], and I was amazing. She paid attention to every detail and made great suggestions. It wasn't about assigning tasks; it was 'what do we need next?' It was true teamwork," said Brizendine.

AccessData even styled their booth staff to match the theme. The sales team coordinated with matching olive green shirts, while some took a more overt approach by dressing up as their favorite characters. Attendees loved seeing Hawkeye and Radar working the booth!

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Photo Provided by AccessData

AccessData also brought the real deal: Jamie Farr, who played fan-favorite Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger drew attendees into the booth with his friendly, magnetic nature.

"We totally won having Jamie Farr join us. He was the perfect celebrity guest. He took the time to find out about each visitor by asking where they were from or about their memories of the show. He would spend at least a minute or two with each person. He made everyone feel so special. Just watching it was the coolest thing," said Brizendine.

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Photo Provided by AccessData

When Farr was not in the booth, AccessData kept the vibes undoubtedly M*A*S*H with themed giveaway items. Attendees could pick up cigars hand-rolled by a professional, army green notebooks and pens, and other branded goodies during their visit.

All the brainstorming, attention to detail, and hard work paid off. AccessData took home the "Best Booth" award from ILTACON, beating over 200 other exhibitors.

"Before the ILTA team brought the award to us, Lori already had the 'We Won!' sign printed and ready to go," Brizendine said with laughter.

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Photo Provided by AccessData

Best of all, AccessData accomplished the goal we all strive for when attending a trade show: making connections with people that will lead to long-term relationships.

"We spoke to over 100 attendees during opening reception night alone and ended up with 200 new contacts in total, who wanted to follow up on our products showcased during the show. We also generated a huge buzz, which lasted all week and beyond," said Tyler.

This experience goes to show that flashy technology and large, open spaces are not what draw people into your booth. It's making human connections and creating something that will stick with people for a long time. Just like our favorite, beloved M*A*S*H characters did.

Case Study: How Omron Exceeded Their Goals at CES in 2018, 2019

Sierra Smith October 03, 2019

6.3 billion impressions and 300 scheduled media interviews. Yes, you read that right.

When it comes to advertising these days, no matter where you are in the world, channels are noisy. Many brands are vying for your ideal customer. To stand out, you must go beyond the status quo.

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To exhibit at CES in 2018, Omron Corporation knew that to attract the attention of show-goers and the media they needed to create a unique experience that would lead to brand enhancement and partnership in the U.S.

Omron didn't get into the trenches without a plan; a solid partnership with Exhibit Concepts and a firm set of goals is what blew the competition out of the water in 2018 and 2019.

For a media outlet to pick up your brand's story, you need to gather a crowd and generate a buzz. Your standard booth and product displays just won't do at a show like CES. What's the best way? By incorporating your products with a fun engagement: Omron brought Forpheus, the ping-pong playing a robot as well as other robots and machinery that performed a variety of tasks to CES 2018 and 2019.

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When approaching Omron's goals and needs, we ideated a multi-faceted and attendee-centric approach to maximize exposure. The experience was not limited to the design of the exhibit in 2018 or 2019 – it required strategic development and planning with a full-service solution. Truly, it takes teamwork to make the dream work.

"The success we achieved at CES is ongoing and momentous for Omron Automation of the Americas. It was our first time as one global company to display at CES and thanks to Exhibit Concepts' efforts, we achieved all of our goals, and then some,' said Matt Trowbridge, VP of Marketing for Omron Corporation about the 2018 CES experience.

The booth from 2018 evolved in 2019 to include large display screens, two staircases that allowed presenters to hold presentations on a deck overhead, and other robot and machinery demonstrations at the front. Forpheus also had a place at the front of the booth.

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"It would be hard to top what ECI did for us at CES 2019. They are truly phenomenal when it comes to strategizing, design, and all-around support. We look forward to working with them again," said Trowbridge.

For both shows, Omron well exceeded their goals. In 2018, Omron generated 111 scheduled media interviews, 3.8 billion media impressions, won the "Sizzle Award" and ranked on the Top 20 Best of CES List from EXHIBITOR Magazine. In 2019, Omron garnered 189 scheduled media interviews, 2.5 billion media impressions, and ranked on EXHIBITOR Magazine's Top 20 Best of CES list for the second consecutive year.

Omron didn't just create a spectacular booth design; they created a memorable experience that will live in the minds of CES attendees for years to come. Through the harmony of partnership, Omron did what they set out to do: to create harmony between humans and machines.

Trade Show Etiquette 101: Tips for Working a Booth (Part Two)

Sierra Smith September 17, 2019

When it comes to trade shows, presentation is everything. One wrong move could result in your brand losing a viable customer.

In part two of Trade Show Etiquette 101, we have four more tips to help you impress attendees as they pass by or visit your booth. Did you miss part one? Check it out here.

1. You never know who’s watching – be professional, knowledgeable, and discrete.www.exhibitconcepts.comhubfs0P2A0350As stated, when you’re deep in conversation, it can be easy to tune out the rest of the world. But when it comes to trade shows, everyone is watching.

As you’re speaking with colleagues or prospects, avoid taking part in any gossip, discussing private personal or business matters, and pay attention to your movement and body language in the booth. As people enter or circle your space, it is likely that they’re listening in on the conversations taking place inside.

If you wouldn’t put it in your presentation or discuss it with your boss, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it on the trade show floor. Focus on your prospects’ questions, provide detailed information about your products or services, and don’t give away any information that could be harmful to your business.

2. Eat and drink outside of the booth.20190518_121130There’s nothing worse than approaching someone with a mouthful of gum or food. If prospects can see you chowing down on lunch in the booth, they might assume you’re unavailable to talk and you’ll lose the lead.

It’s going to be a long day and even if you want to grab a bite to eat, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to leave your station unless you and your team have made a schedule allowing for breaks. Make sure you eat breakfast beforehand and bring a bottle of water (preferably refillable – you know, save the environment AND save some change) to keep with you during the show. If there is a lunch hour during the show, make sure you’re coordinating with other staffers to make sure the booth is covered while you’re away.

3. No mobile phones except for lead retrieval. No calls. No texting. No e-mail.
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We get it. The more time we spend away from our devices, the worse our FOMO becomes. But when it comes to working a trade show booth, it’s no different from holding a deep conversation with your fellow booth staffers while ignoring a prospect.

If a prospect sees that your nose is buried in your phone, they may get the impression that you’re too busy or enthralled with Facebook to talk to them and will make a beeline for the exit. Unless your mobile device is the only method for retrieving leads to follow-up with once you’re back to the hotel or in the office, grandma’s rules for the dinner table also apply in the booth: put your phone in your pocket and pay attention to the people around you.

4. Check with your colleagues before you leave the booth.
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It’s impossible to stay in the same spot for 8+ hours and that’s totally understandable. We’re human and we need bathroom, snack, or drink breaks. It’s also possible that you’ll need to take a phone call, take care of a client or family emergency, or step into a meeting at the trade show. Before you step away, make sure the booth is properly staffed or WILL have staff.

When working a trade show booth, it can be tiring, but remaining aware of your body language, checking in with fellow booth staffers, and keeping your focus on potential customers will make all the difference. 

When in doubt, think of your grandmother or any other monumental figure in your life: would you say or do in front of them? If the answer is no, you probably should avoid it on the trade show floor, too.

Trade Show Etiquette 101: Tips for Working a Booth (Part One)

Sierra Smith September 09, 2019

We live in a digital world.

Comfortably behind glowing mobile phones or desktop screens, we have the chance to mold our personal and brand appearances on social networks, showing the best version of ourselves and our products.

It’s easy enough to show the best of the best online, but when it comes to working a trade show booth, it’s crucial that you deliver a consistent experience when you come face-to-face with your customers and prospects. Yes, we know how difficult it is to smile and maintain good posture for hours, but the benefits for your brand far outweigh the sore facial muscles you’ll have the following day.

When it comes to engaging with visitors in your booth, the number one rule is one we’ve known since elementary school: treat others as you would like to be treated. The bottom line is that wearing a smile, making eye contact, and engaging prospects and customers in conversation with a full understanding of your subject matter is the best way to forge relationships long term.

If you want to create a lasting impression, following these guidelines is a foolproof way to guarantee a positive, memorable experience that will result in the ROI you need.

1. Stand up, smile, and make eye contact.0P2A9921-1First impressions matter and people will take your body language into account before they decide to cross into your booth. Even if you’re having a bad day, making a positive impression will influence how visitors perceive your brand.

As visitors approach, smile, greet them, and make sure you’re making eye contact to engage them right out of the gate. Projecting your confidence and enthusiasm onto visitors will help you keep the conversation going and hopefully, will convert them into a lead.

Before and after visitors enter your booth, thank them for spending time with you to learn more about your products or business offerings. Always make sure you’re aware of your body language and demeanor, as crossed arms or one slouch, frown, or negative comment could result in a prospect walking the other way.

2. Greet attendees inside and in front of the entrances of the booth. If booth traffic is slow, engage aisle walkers from INSIDE your booth.
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Depending on the configuration of your booth, people will be entering from a number of different openings. Make sure that your staff is standing near the entrances and inside near points of interest, ready to speak with visitors. It should be clear to visitors who is working and available to help. 

If traffic is slow, it might be tempting to wander the hall looking to entice people to come to your booth. This can be considered distasteful and is generally frowned upon by the show organizer. Never enter the booth to entice people to come inside, and especially don’t enter any neighboring booths to ask visitors to come into your booth. This is extremely off-putting and while it’s tempting to pull visitors away from the competition, it’s disrespectful. Let your booth’s appearance, engagements, and staff inside attract a crowd.

3. Speak with attendees, not colleagues or on your phone.0P2A9942When you're deep in conversation, sometimes you tune out what may be happening around you. As a potential customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than approaching staffers that are chatting away with their backs turned or eyes glued to their phone, with no hope of ever letting up to talk to you about your needs. Booth staff should spend their time greeting visitors, listening, and answering questions. That’s not to say your team shouldn’t enjoy themselves and engage with one another; just be aware of who is approaching and how you can help them.

4. Keep it short and simple and engage your prospects in conversation.
0P2A9801Take a page out of EXHIBITOR Magazine’s book: rather than immediately launching into your sales pitch, engage your prospects in conversation and ask questions. Ask them about their position and the company they work for, what their favorite thing they’ve seen at the show is, or what plans they might have once the show doors close at the end of the day.

People LOVE to talk about themselves and their experiences and allowing your prospects to do so will provide them with a positive memory of your brand. People don’t enjoy being sold to without the chance to give their why and state their needs. If you want to close a sale, it's best to ask open-ended questions and engage prospects in conversation rather than rambling on about how amazing your company and services are. Let prospects talk to you, and then you’ll have the opportunity to showcase your unique offerings.

The bottom line when working a trade show booth is the same as if you are in the office at work. Be professional, come prepared and be knowledgeable, and bring a positive attitude with you. Look out next week for part two in this installment. 

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