A Trade Show Checklist for Packing a “Gang Box”

First Aid for your trade show display

First Aid for your trade show display

During a typical day at the office, any supplies you might need are easily accessible and it’s unlikely anyone would ever consider running out of staples to be a “crisis.” When you’re on the trade show floor however, it’s an entirely different story. Needing anything from Velcro for attaching graphics, to duct tape for a quick fix can become quite the dilemma. . . and an expensive one at that. If you’re in need of a roll of tape ten minutes before an event starts and the only supplier is Show Services, you may find yourself paying unreasonable prices. To avoid ending up in this situation altogether, it’s essential to pack a “gang box” for your next trade show.

A gang box is an event survival kit containing items to help you in almost any scenario. Experienced exhibitors bring a “gang box” with them to every event and ensure that it’s restocked before every show. Below is a trade show checklist of both the basics as well as a list of items for more extreme scenarios.

MUST HAVES

Don’t leave home without them:

  • Roll of Velcro
  • Scissors
  • Super Glue
  • Scotch Tape & Double-Sided Tape
  • Duct Tape or Gaffer’s Tape (Doesn’t leave as much residue as duct tape)
  • Mini Stapler/Staples/Staple remover
  • Black Sharpies, Highlighters & White Out
  • Box [or two] of Pens (trust me, they grow legs!)
  • An assortment of sticky notes, message pads, and three-by-five note cards
  • Binder clips, paper clips, rubber bands, straight pins, safety pins, zip ties
  • Paper towels and gentle cleansing solution (for wiping down booth counters)
  • Screwdriver set (both Phillips and flathead)
  • Measuring tape
  • Box Cutter (make this easily accessible)
  • USB/ jump drive of all booth graphics, handouts and brochures (Make sure to know the locations of the nearest FedEx Kinko’s or other copying outlets prior to the show)
  • Extra copies of demo/presentation/software & videos
  • A/V & Computer/network cables
  • Extra copy of your Setup/ Installation instructions for your display
  • Pictures of your booth completely set up from all angles (makes it easy to know which graphics go where)
  • Grounded, UL-rated surge protector strip
  • Electronic copies of your Show Order Forms/ Confirmations, Shipping Documents, and Reservations

 

PERSONAL ITEMS

Sometimes, you can’t leave the booth and these could be life savers:

  • Quick dissolve breath strips (or another kind of mint)
  • Pocket Packs of Tissues
  • Small first aid kit
  • Hand Sanitizer or Wet Wipes
  • Small Lint Remover
  • Stain Removing Pen
  • Antacid, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol (have all of them on hand, people have allergies or preferences)
  • Hand cream
  • Comb

 

OPTIONAL ITEMS

These items might save your exhibit in case of any last-minute emergency.  Think of any scenarios where these might come into play, no matter how extreme and pack the items that could save your booth.  Shipping these to your show will cost you far less than having Show Services repair your display:

  • Staple gun with extra staples
  • Battery Powered Screw Driver
  • Extra light bulbs (make sure they match the ones in your booth)
  • Extra screws, nuts, bolts, fasteners, standoffs, etc.
  • Wire Cutter
  • Calculators, clipboards & order forms, (if you write orders at the show).
  • Strong Shipping Tape
  • Double-sided carpet tape
  • Shrink wrap
  • FedEx / UPS Shipping Envelopes/ Pouches

 

While these items are all recommended, we encourage you to add anything else for your specific needs. What do you pack in your trade show tool kit that may be different from the items we listed? Add them in the comment section, below!  Learn more about exhibiting at trade shows in our other blog posts or by heading to our website.

 

Written by John Leberman, Marketing Coordinator for FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

 FB Displays and Designs trade show display

February 9, 2015 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Modern Trade Show Lead Follow-Up

Trade Show Lead Follow Up.  Photo Courtesy of Flickr.

Trade Show Lead Follow Up. Photo Courtesy of Flickr.

 

Believe it or not, about 80% of exhibitors don’t follow up with the leads they’ve gathered after meeting new people in their trade show booth.

 

Sounds crazy, right?

 

Not to worry. This being the 21st Century, I’m going to share my favorite, easy, modern ways to connect with your leads after the event.

 


   

-LinkedIn

What could be simpler? Start typing your prospect’s name into the search bar on LinkedIn and in a few moments you can invite them to connect with you. I usually write the recipient a personal note to remind them how we met or about the conversation we had. Since LinkedIn is all about maintaining relationships with people you know, I think this improves your chances that they’ll accept your invitation. Now, this lead has a simple way to contact me, and I them.

 

-VIP Questions & Follow-Up

It seems like every show I staff, I leave with a list of a few very important clients & prospects that have questions or need quotes of a more in-depth nature. Ideally, these should be responded to within 24-48 hours. Due to the hectic timeline at the end of a trade show, I create reminders in my phone’s calendar to address these right away. I try to split the list into questions/quotes that I can ask someone at the home-office to reply to, and those that I should write to personally. This way I cut down on the overall response time.

 

-Instantaneous

Very often on the trade show floor, I’m doing a presentation for a client using a tablet or smartphone. In these instances, I find it very helpful to compose an email with the pictures, PDFs & catalogs we reviewed & send it to the prospect while they’re still in the booth. When practical, I prefer this tactic because I can ask them to verify they’ve received it (avoiding emails lost due to misspellings or hidden in Spam/Junk mail folders). In addition, they don’t have to carry around my catalog for the rest of the day!

 

-Group Emails

Did you collect contact info during the trade show with a lead retrieval machine or app? Did you get a list of attendees from show management? What about the business cards you’ve collected during the expo? A quick, group email can be used to thank those that stopped at your booth and to extend a reminder of your product & service offerings to all. We use Constant Contact to manage these lists, but there are many similar providers out there.

 


 

What steps will you take to improve your post-show communication? Leave your thoughts in the comment thread!  Learn more about exhibiting at trade shows in our other blog posts or by heading to our website.

 

Written by John Leberman, Marketing Coordinator for FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

 

FB Displays and Designs trade show display

December 2, 2014 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

Reflecting on Thanksgiving 2014

From our family to yours, we wish you the best of health and fortune this Thanksgiving and beyond.

Happy Thanksgiving from FB Displays & Designs

Even if you’re not from Western New York, you probably heard that we had a terrible storm here over the past week. Many towns just south of Buffalo received several feet of snow, paralyzing the region.

With all of the travel bans, I was not able to drive into the office Tuesday through Friday of last week. (Not that I would’ve been able to get out of the driveway, anyway!) While working from home, I had the local news on in the background, and couldn’t help but notice how many of our clients & colleagues were affected by the storm. Some had to close their businesses for days, others experienced significant damage to their warehouses & operations. This storm has, no doubt, had a serious impact on our local economy. The weather forecasters said this would be a storm of historic proportions & they were (unfortunately) correct.

Personally, many of my family & friends were in areas that were hard hit, some not able to dig out of their homes until Sunday, most now dealing with the potential for flooding from all of the snow melting. I’m grateful that through this whole ordeal, those close to me were safe & experienced only minor damage to their homes.

With the storm happening so close to Thanksgiving, I think everyone in Buffalo will be a little more focused on what they’re thankful for this year.

If you haven’t heard it before, Buffalo is often referred to as the “City of Good Neighbors.” This week, with the worst conditions upon us, our region lived up to that moniker. Examples of neighbors checking in on one another, digging each other out, and many other kindnesses are all over the news. I’m thankful to live & work in Western New York, where this is “the norm.”

I’ve shared a few of my own photos from the snow storm below, some are on the lighter side, showing our dog all bundled-up to go out into the “SnowVember” weather-

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Written by John Leberman, Marketing Coordinator for FB Displays & Designs.

FB Displays and Designs trade show display

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November 25, 2014 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

How to Make Lemonade from a Lemon Booth Location

FBD2, Lemonade from a Lemon Booth Location

Photo Courtesy of Flickr, Yellow Sky Photography

Stuck in the back corner of the hall or behind a column? Miss out on getting into the main exhibit hall? Here’s how you can see all your clients and prospects and have a successful show:

1. Pre-show announcements.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an elaborate mailer, or a quick text or e-mail, send something telling clients and prospects you’re not going to be easy to find, but the extra effort will be rewarded. Don’t forget to maximize your presence at the show on Linkedin and Facebook.

2. Sponsor a coffee break.

Convince show management into allowing you to sponsor a coffee or beverage break. Then put a very large and colorful sign nearby with a map to your booth and a prize offer for attendees who find you. 

3. Give them a yellow brick road.

Negotiate with show management to let you place stickers on the aisle carpet leading attendees to your booth. These can be arrows, footprints or pictures of your product.

4. Give them what they want.

Do some serious brainstorming and come up with a novel – a really, really novel – promotional item that will allow people to wear or carry your logo to the masses. The right item will cause people to ask where they can get one for themselves.

5. Let Elvis do your talking.

Hire talent to hand something (samples, coupons, flyers with maps to your space) to attendees as they come into the facility. Some show managers will let you rent space or will designate a specific location for this activity.

6. Give them the shirt off your back.

Dress your entire staff in shirts with a map to your booth on the back and your logo on the front.

7. Sponsor headrest covers on the shuttle buses.

Put your logo and booth location on the back of every shuttle bus seat headrest so that everyone knows how to find you once they are in the hall.

8. Network like a madman!

In addition to every networking event, take advantage of social media. Tweet a ‘Thank you for visiting our booth’ message to every visitor to your booth. This leads to a reply or a retweet that not only creates a bond with the prospect (enhancing the possibility of a conversion) but also takes your brand and booth location to the followers of the prospect leading to more potential visitors.

9. Get friendly with show management.

Don’t be afraid to talk to show management about your dilemma. The more they know that you are serious about maximizing your presence at their show, the more likely you’ll be able to get first option on a better location if someone pulls out or is a no-show.

Good luck and have fun!

Written by Francine Brooks, President of FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

March 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

The Five “L’s” of Exhibit Success

The 5 L's of Exhibit Success

The Five “L’s” of Exhibit Success
Photo Courtesy of Flickr

As I was cleaning my office the other day, I came across an article in Trade Show Week that was written almost 20 years ago by Michael Falkowitz, who, at that time, was Sales Development Manager at Nabisco.

Although it was printed some time ago, I would like to share a few lines of timeless advice from that article.

Following are five principles that will ensure both exhibit and job success:

* Learn:

Never stop learning.  The huge technical development that can be [attained] at trade shows is one example of the reasons why exhibit managers must continue to learn. Being a successful exhibit manager will involve knowing and applying this ever-evolving technology.

* Love:

Maintain a positive attitude even in stressful times. Respond to all inquiries. Ours is a communication business. It is rude [to] not respond to phone calls. Know everything there is to know about your company, and go the extra mile, no matter what task you face.

* Laugh:

Keeping a sense of humor can see you through stressful periods and make your- and your team members’- jobs much easier.

* Labor:

Like going the extra mile, doing the best possible job will help make your exhibit the center of attention. Hard work and sacrifice are part of the job.

* Leave:

When the show is done, it’s time to take back what you have learned and start applying those principles to the next trade show.

In closing, it is important to remember that a tradeshow display is not a museum. It’s a billboard, a time-compressed live marketing event and a communication process. Creating an exhibit that’s the center of attention is a matter of taking advantage of those features creatively.

Written by Francine Brooks, President of FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

February 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Use Words to Attract your Audience

Use Words to Attract your Audience to your Trade Show Booth

Every word can have a positive or negative impact on your marketing efforts, especially at trade shows… whether you are creating large graphics, sales material, pre-show marketing campaigns, or talking directly with a prospect.

Since exhibitors have less than 6 seconds to attract attendees to their booth, consistently choosing the “right” words becomes very important.

Below are a few proven marketing words to help you communicate more effectively and accomplish your goals at your next trade show.

#1: “YOU”

This is one of the most important words. Using the word “you” makes it easier to connect to your target audience and draw a direct line from your products/services to how they can provide a solution to your potential clients.

Selling is never about products or services.  It’s about the benefits that are meaningful to your target audience.

#2: “SAFE”

Whether you are dealing with money, health, personal well-being, technology or manufacturing, touting the safety of your product or service is important.

Potential clients do not want to take high risks to address challenges or needs with which they are already dealing. They want a trustworthy, easy solution so they can stop worrying.

#3: “RESULTS”

It is important for prospects to connect your product or service with the results they are hoping to achieve.

Prospective buyers are looking for one thing: Results. You must communicate the results your products/services provide in all aspects of trade show marketing.

Although these three words are simple on their own, by adding them to a well-constructed message on your display graphics, in  your pre and post show marketing communication, on your sell sheets, and in verbal interaction with attendees, conversion rate and ROI will definitely improve.

Good luck!

Written by Francine Brooks, President of FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

February 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Trade Show Booth Rental 101

A great example of a trade show booth rental

A great example of a trade show booth rental

Renting a trade show display is an increasingly popular way to make your presence known at an exhibition.

In recent years, more & more of our clients have been interested in the option to rent a trade show booth.

Reasons why you might need a trade show booth rental include:

  • You’re exhibiting at more shows than you have displays available
  • You have a display that can’t be repaired in time
  • You exhibit at trade shows too infrequently and prefer to rent
  • You want a new look each time you attend an annual show
  • You need a professional look, but don’t have the budget to purchase

No matter the reason, renting a trade show booth allows you to have the professional look you require without all of the usual expenses of ownership. These can include warehousing & storage, as well as regular maintenance.

Here are some thoughts you should keep in mind when considering a trade show exhibit rental:

  • The size of your tradeshow booth space-

While it might seem obvious, it is important to think about the area you will have at the show.  Certain display systems are more appropriate than others in either large or small footprints.

  • The rules set by show management-

It is important to consider the amount of time it will take to install your booth compared to the official setup & teardown hours assigned by the managers of the trade show.  If the time allotted for installation is short, an uncomplicated system would be best.  In addition, you should look at the booth height limitations in the exhibitor’s manual and choose a booth that will comply with those rules.

  • Creativity in design-

Use this opportunity to show some creative flare with artwork that will grab attendees’ attention.  This may be a great time to test a more daring concept than what you’re used to!

  • Consider a hardware system that’s new to you-

Especially if you will be in the market for a new display system in the near future, it might make sense to try out new hardware you are unfamiliar with.  (Who doesn’t like to “try before you buy”?)

  • Be flexible-

Since you will be working with your trade show design company and utilizing their rental inventory, be as flexible as possible with your criteria for choosing a display system.  There will likely be some traditional as well as trendy options available.

  • Usability of graphics-

While you may only be exhibiting with this arrangement one time, it would be helpful to design the graphic elements in your booth so that they can be re-used in future displays, on other display systems you already own, in your showroom or in your lobby.

  • Length of rental-

Pay close attention to the installation & dismantle dates for your trade show and make sure the length of your rental allows enough time to ship the display to and from the show.

  • Options-

In addition to the display itself, you can usually rent many items to enhance your booth such as lighting, flooring & furniture.  Renting allows you to have high quality pieces in your booth without breaking the budget!

Now that you’ve considered exhibit rentals, take a look through our other blog entries for more tips.  If you have a suggestion to share, please leave it in the comments, below!

January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment

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