Trusting Trade Shows in a Rough Economy

Tradeshows Work

As a result of the dwindling economy, according to a recent survey,  exhibitors have felt forced to cut down on overall participation at trade shows and other exhibition expenses in recent years. Experts suggest, however, that tradeshows simply “work,” and should be trusted to provide higher return investments. In an effort to combat the misunderstanding that a reduction of spending on trade shows would actually be beneficial to your business, a nationwide campaign entitled “Tradeshows Work” has been started, touting that “nothing can replace meeting face-to-face.”

Over three quarters of the exhibiting industry had to reduce their spending recently, according to the survey, through hiring fewer staff or attending fewer events; although more than half of these companies later admit to regretting these decisions. As a result, a majority of exhibiting companies actually plan to increase hiring and show attendance in coming years.

As the “Tradeshows Work” campaign suggests, high value can be found in generating new leads and improving existing customer relationships. Introducing and pushing “brand awareness” is another great advantage of these shows. Effectiveness is proven and can be measured by comparing collected leads and follow-ups to the number of attendees.

Trade shows aren’t only of use to the exhibitors, but to attendees of the shows, as well. Consumers are often given the opportunity to purchase products or services at discounted prices at these events, and can view a number of products to compare and contrast at the same time. New products and technologies are often revealed at these shows as well, making them crucial for industry leaders and anyone hoping to stay competitive.

As trade shows have lost some attention in the recent past due to the economy, it actually helped demonstrate their importance and vitality to a host of businesses and industries. Participation is beginning to rebound again. Reducing involvement as a way to save on marketing costs can be risky, and will only provide short-term relief. Whether learning from their presence or absence from trade shows, businesses are again starting to realize the investment is worthwhile; because in the end, “Tradeshows Work.”

(Survey: Cutting back at shows a bad idea, Exhibitors Daily)

Practice makes Perfect: Improve your Show over Time

Photo of Trade Show

With all the available tips, tricks, and advice to improve your trade show, it can be tough to determine what would work best for you and your product or service, specifically. What turns out to be the key to success for some, may not work well for others. It’s imperative, therefore, that you learn from your own success, as well as failures. After all, practice makes perfect, and even the smallest details can attract or deter new clients at a show.

Taking the time to carefully analyze all the hard work that was put into your trade shows of the past will vastly help in the future. It is good practice to take pictures of your displays, once complete, and note what seemed to work and what didn’t. This will help establish any changes that should be made for next time.

Moreover, when it comes time to determine what changes are important enough to invest in, you’ll have a better of idea of what your show would benefit most from – increasing sales in the short-run and saving money over time.

Careful documentation of past shows will accumulate and will provide a growing source to compare and contrast techniques. From your own experience, you’ll be able to determine what sets your display apart from the others or, on the other hand, caused you to blend in and possibly go unnoticed. Gradual improvements will teach you about the nuances of marketing and increase your confidence, increasing chances of higher success each time.

Marketing your business with Foursquare

Foursquare Stickers for Local Businesses

Ten years into this 21st Century marketing has undergone major changes to keep up with the times. The development of social media makes marketing a lot more interesting. Businesses are becoming less “corporate” and more “personal” by communicating with their customers in more personal ways. Twitter is being used to reach out to customers to answer questions, take orders, promote specials/discounts, share tips, post updates, provide customer service, and even finding new employees to fill open positions. Foursquare, with more than 2.4 million users, is proving to be another valuable social media resource, and though many are still trying to figure out exactly how to use it for their specific business, there are some very impressive success stories.

By providing people with the opportunity to “check in” to their current location, Foursquare helps users connect with nearby friends, share information/tips about the location with other users, and gather points/honors to brag about and—in certain cases—redeem rewards. To encourage repeat customers, many Foursquare-active businesses are offering freebies or specials after a certain number of “check ins.”

Alissa White is the owner of online retailer, Matcha Source of Los Angeles; she recently opened a pop-up store in Manhattan selling Matcha tea. She can attest to the value of the increasingly popular location-based social networking apps, specifically Foursquare. She has been active on the usual social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter), but the biggest success came from her use of a newer one, Foursquare. White offered a free cup of green tea to anybody who “checked in” and left a tip or feedback on Foursquare. This generated more new visitors and repeat customers, as well as tips submitted about her store on the social app.

Get the full story: Getting Customers to ‘Check In’ With Foursquare.

There are so many ways small businesses can take advantage of these free or low-cost services, but it is left to them to figure out how to make it work for their company. The key is to be creative and understand the networks and how people use each one. Not only will businesses be able to take advantage of Foursquare and not suffer financially, they also won’t have to sacrifice much time to use it effectively.

Foursquare has a big advantage over Facebook: Foursquare has users “check in” each and every time they visit a business (which leads to more visibility and activity), while Facebook is a one-time “like” of a particular business.

Another unique way businesses are using Foursquare is by holding events at their store or restaurant. For example, if more than 50 people are “checked in” to a certain location, each person earns a coveted “swarm” badge.

Check out the article: Restaurant Owner Increases Sales by 110% with Foursquare Swarm Badge Party.

6 Foursquare Marketing Tips to get your business started.

Some other apps to check out that could help you keep up with the new world of marketing: Gowalla, Whrrl, Brightkite, Yelp, WeReward

Renting vs. Purchasing a Trade Show Display

rent or buy

With the trade show season quickly approaching, now is the time to make plans for your display. Your booth design is the most effective way to attract visitors, and having an impressive display can be just the thing to generate that flow of traffic you’re looking for. Owning a custom-made display is ideal for most, but there are also reasons to consider the option of renting a display.

Why you should rent:

  • One-time need. You only need the display for a one-time use, and it would be a waste of money to invest in a display that will never be used again.
  • Lower cost. Your budget is tight and now is not the best time to invest in purchasing a custom display. You want to spend your marketing money elsewhere, such as on samples or promotional items.
  • Overlapping shows. Your primary company display is already reserved for the time you need it.
  • Less maintenance. Most display companies will install and dismantle the display if you rent from them (especially if you rent from a company within the same area of the event). You also won’t have to worry about shipping or storing the display.
  • Flexibility. A rental often allows for the capability of changing display (graphics or hardware) from show to show, to fit the unique requirements of each trade show and the attendees.
  • Experimenting. If this is your first time attending a trade show, you may not be sure what sort of display will work best for your needs. Even if you have attended many shows, there are so many different display types and sizes, it’s a good idea to “test drive” the ones you like in order to see which is right for you. You can also monitor how successful each booth type is and, when the time is right to purchase a custom display, refer to your experiences from renting.
  • No commitment. If the display turns out not to work for what you need or want, no problem. You aren’t stuck with it for the next five years, as you likely would be if you had purchased it.

Why you should purchase:

  • Consistency. Purchasing a custom display will create a consistent brand image and allow your company to be easily recognized at all your events.
  • Availability. Whenever the display is needed, you’ll have it. You won’t run into a situation where the display you normally use is unavailable because another company has already booked it.
  • Attending several shows. If your company attends several shows every year, it will be a better deal in the long run to purchase a display.
  • Customized. Every detail about a purchased display can be specified for your company. Colors, sizes, shapes, accessories, etc., it’s all up to you!
  • Unique. Because it is designed to your specifications, you will have a one-of-a-kind display that can set you apart from others.

Follow-Up for a Successful Trade Show

man on phone and laptop

The Trade Show Bureau reports that 80 percent of exhibitors never follow-up on leads at all, and of those that do, 43 percent don’t get the information out until after the prospect has already made a purchase! Follow-up is essential for a successful trade show; there is no room for slacking!

The time to prepare for lead follow-up is before the show. Have packages or letters ready to be sent out as soon as you return to the office. You may want to plan accordingly for the different categories of leads:

A- very serious/ready to do business now
B- interested in doing business within the next few months
C- may be interested in the future, but not now

Continue reading “Follow-Up for a Successful Trade Show”

Get “Smart” With Apps at Your Next Event

Apps for Tradeshow

There are many apps (and other valuable resources) to use while exhibiting at a trade show in order to increase brand/company awareness, drive traffic to your booth, and have some fun. The list is long and growing every day.

First, there are the information-exchanging apps:

  • Bump– If two people have Bump, all they need to do is lightly bump their hands together (while holding phones) to automatically exchange whatever info they choose.
  • Business Card Reader (iPhone only)Allows you to take a picture of a business card, which is automatically added to your contacts (our company president, Francine, can attest to how well this app works).
  • GoogleGoggles (Android only)– Allows you to do the same thing as Business Card Reader along with many other great features.
  • iLeads (iPhone)– Allows you to collect contact info from the attendees you meet at the show. All you do is type in the person’s badge number and their info will be automatically added to your iPhone. From there you can manage appointments with useful features that include calendar, map, notes, and so on.
  • ScanLife Allows you to create QR (quick response) codes, which are like visual bookmarks. ScanLife lets users take a picture of the two-dimensional bar code which can directly take them to your website or social media page and adds your contact info right onto their phone or whatever else you choose to link to. This seems to be the best QR code app as far as compatibility with multiple phone manufacturers, but here is a list of other good QR code apps.
  • Continue reading “Get “Smart” With Apps at Your Next Event”

Niagara Transformer Reinvents its Trade Show Image

Niagara Transformer Island Display

Buffalo, NY- August 3, 2010. Niagara Transformer Corporation has once again teamed up with FB Displays & Designs, Inc. to construct a brand new trade show display. With the help of the creative team at Harold Warner Advertising, FBD2 produced a clean and spacious 400 square foot design giving the display a striking appearance while providing Niagara Transformer brand identity and graphic solutions to meet their marketing goals.

The 20’ island display, with a center tower standing 16’ tall, was launched at the 2010 IEE PES Space Transmission and Distribution Conference and Exposition in New Orleans in April.

Since 1938, the worldwide-recognized Niagara Transformer Corporation has designed, built, and serviced power transformers to meet specialized needs for difficult applications in over 75 countries. Niagara Transformer provides a single source for all types and ratings of liquid-filled, dry-type, VPI, and cast-coil transformers. (

FB Displays & Designs, Inc., provides full service event marketing solutions, from custom exhibits and modular displays to trade show material and design services. The company, which is “Certified Woman-Owned”, is a member of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce and the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, and the president and founder, Francine Brooks, is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners and sits on the board of the Center for Entrepreneur Leadership at SUNY and several other advisory boards.

For information:
Phone:                (716) 635-0282