Rut Busters: Changing Your Trade Show Routine

It’s safe to say that routines are comfortable. Who would deny that knowing exactly what you’re doing and where you’re doing it isn’t nice? That familiarity prevents surprises and upsets. However, doing the “same old thing” can also prevent growth and restrain any sense of excitement. Routines can easily become ruts, especially at trade shows. It’s very easy to do, especially if you always go to the same shows, display in the same location, use the same graphics and literature, and go through the same sales pitch.

Exhibiting is, by its nature, a constantly evolving art. To be successful, you need to embrace what’s new and exciting. There’s nothing wrong with pushing boundaries. If you’re comfortable, then you’re not trying hard enough and will in return, run the risk of boring trade show attendees with your booth. If you’re not presenting something new, exciting, and engaging, to draw them in, then most attendees are going to assume they already know what you have to offer and pass you by.

Here’s 5 easy ways to break out of a trade show rut:

1. Realize the Difference Between Branding and Routine

Doing the same exact thing the same exact way time after time after time is NOT branding. Careful and intelligent placement of logos, consistent use of color, and overall design are all elements of branding. Look at McDonalds – they have one of the strongest brands on the planet, yet have changed looks, catch phrases, uniforms and menus over the years.

2. Step Outside of Your Industry

Great ideas come from unexpected sources. Examine what motivates people to buy products that are very different from your own and see if you can integrate those creative marketing elements into your own exhibit. Integrating doesn’t mean just “cutting and pasting” ideas either! To avoid breaking copyright laws, try putting a new spin on existing ideas and see how you can make them work for your display.

3. Get a Fresh Set of Eyes

Have someone who is in no way related to the trade show industry or to your company look at your exhibit. What do they notice first? Record their impressions and compare how they measure up to your marketing objectives. Sometimes we look at our own exhibits so much that we don’t ‘see’ them anymore. This fresh set of eyes will be viewing your booth the same way the attendees do – with no foreknowledge or preconceived notions of how the exhibit is ‘supposed’ to look.

4. Change Up Your Team

Take a careful look at your staff. Who is personable and professional, with excellent product knowledge, strong sales skills, and enthusiasm? Send that person to the trade show. Sending one new person to a show can create a new dynamic, sending a whole new team guarantees you’ll get anything but a routine performance. No matter whom you send, make sure that all staff members are trained. Old hands need to refresh their skills and rookies need to acquire them!

5. Call In Wardrobe

Something as simple as changing clothes can totally alter a booth staff’s performance. If they’ve been wearing business attire, consider switching to a more casual yet coordinated look. Have the booth staff break out the suits and ties. You’ll be amazed how differently they carry themselves and interact with attendees. If uniforms or logo clothing are a staple of your company, make sure your team is sporting them. If possible, try to reinforce imagery of the uniforms in your graphics and literature as well.

SOURCE: Susan Friedmann Marketing

The 5 Deadly Sins of Voicemail

In a world where e-mail has become the dominant form of business communication, the value of phone etiquette has definitely depreciated. If you ask any salesperson, they can recount the feeling of defeat that comes at the other end of a prospect’s voicemail. While it will be quite some time before the extinction of the telephone, it’s becoming increasingly important to exercise good judgment before dialing. If you’re calling someone because you have something you would like to sell them, then you better not commit one of the following sins or you can forget about a call back.

No Reason For Call

This one is pretty self-explanatory. When leaving a message, it’s essential that you explain why you’re calling, even if you’re best friends with the person. It’s very doubtful you’ll receive a follow-up if you don’t give a reason to.

No Value Presented

When you leave a message in a prospecting mode, you can get the recipients attention by mentioning something of value. Point them to an event, a free resource, or information that demonstrates you understand a vast amount about what they do and what their challenges are.

No Reference For Call

Cold calling in any way, shape, or form is detrimental to both parties and a cold call voice message is very easy to delete. Spend some time getting to know people who know the person you’re calling. Use the vast data available in your social networks and find virtual connections. At the very least, find a way to strike some common ground and suggest a reference that thought you should call. It’s much harder to ignore a referral.

No Suggested Call Back Plan

Phone tag isn’t really as fun as it sounds. When leaving a message, make sure you mention when you are going to try to call back or when the recipient can catch you. You can also suggest all the better ways, such as email, that you might be reached. This is particularly helpful when trying to move something forward without the ability to meet on the same clock.

Rapid Fire Phone Number

Have you ever noticed how often people will leave long thoughtful messages and then when they mention their phone number, they’ll speed up like they’re all of a sudden out of time. So now the person trying to call them back has to replay the message three times in order to jot down the number. Slow down when leaving your number and say it twice.

SOURCE: John Jantsch,

Empty Space Is Always a Good Thing!

Take a look at the picture of the display above designed and produced by our talented FBD2 team for Airsep Corporation. What area of the design grabs your attention first? I’m going to go out on a limb and say you either noticed the logo or the text first. Actually, I know either of those elements are where your eyes first focused. You’ve just experienced the visual power of negative space!

Negative space or “white space” (which isn’t always necessarily white) is an effective tool in creating compelling designs. These areas are void of any text or imagery and help draw focus and emphasize on the important elements that are present in the graphic. There are two types of negative space – Active and Passive. Active negative space is used intentionally in the design process while Passive negative space is added as a result of the layout process.

There are quite a few reasons why negative space works successfully in the realm of graphic design:

– Helps Direct the Viewer’s Eye – Eye flow is very important. The use of white space directs the reader or the viewer as to what the eyes could view next.

-Improves Readability – Books and other print materials utilize white space to allow the reader to see and understand the text. The same goes for designing. It allows for the message of your graphics to be comprehended well.

– Creates a Balanced and Harmonious Layout –Spaces create a balance in your output. Without white spaces, your design will seem to create unsteadiness in the eyes. Imagine reading a magazine or an advertisement with no spaces between letters and images. You wouldn’t want to read that anymore! These spaces also show the relationship of one element to another.

-White Space Attracts the Eyes – With certain graphics, the design can be more influential than the purpose. Using white space can attract attention to designs, even from far distances.

-Creates Professional, Sophisticated and Elegant Designs – Generous white space is used in the luxury market. Advertisements of expensive and branded items usually come with white spaces. Most of the time, cosmetics use posters that have more white spaces to show that their products are of high quality and expensive. If you are observant, most local and cheap products come in colorful packages but expensive ones use minimal colors.

Interestingly enough, human beings possess the “law of parsimony” in our visual stimulus, meaning we naturally prefer to look at things that are not crowded and heavy on the eyes. With the mindset of “less is better”, the use of white space paves the way to a clearer communication of ideas and highly effective graphic design.

SOURCE: Karren Liez,