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.

How To Get The Most “Bang For Your Buck” (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of  Jeff Golden via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Jeff Golden via Flickr

You’ve put so much time & energy into the design of your trade show booth, backdrop & other elements… are you getting the most ‘bang for your buck’ out of these materials?

Your trade show display is designed to quickly & effectively communicate your organization’s identity and message.  One way you can ensure you’re getting a good return on investment (ROI) is to put the display to work more often.

Depending on your business & the activities in the community your company participates in, the additional opportunities to use your display will vary, but might include:

  • Summer Festivals & Fairs
    • If a good fit for the product / brand, you may consider looking for additional brand exposure at art, music & food festivals / fairs
    • Consider how can you engage new customers at these events & tie that to the positive experience they’re already having at these memorable occasions
  • Press Conferences – If you are inviting members of the media to a press conference, (to launch a new product, announce an expansion, etc.) your display could be the perfect professional backdrop
  • Community events, chamber of commerce events – Check the calendar for your local chamber of commerce events to see if there is an opportunity to introduce your organization to the business community.  Your display would be a great visual aid
  • Charity Events – Do you sponsor any events, such as a race for a charity, auction, symposium or golf tournament?  Make sure the attendees know your organization is involved!
  • HR/ Recruiting – At career/job fairs, let your HR staff attract more potential job candidates to their booth/table using the great graphics/messaging you’ve already created!
  • Lobby – When not in use at shows, consider installing elements from your trade show display in your lobby / retail space to invite visitors & improve the “first impression” they have of your organization
  • Online – Any video displays / slideshows you have designed for use at trade shows can be uploaded to YouTube to increase your internet presence
  • Company Events – Welcome guests at your summer picnic, holiday parties or hospitality events with elements from your display to let them know, “they’ve arrived” and to show the pride you have in your organization!

If you have other ideas, please share them in the discussion below!

Trade Show Trends of 2013

Photo Courtesy of Troy Stover
Photo Courtesy of Troy Stover

Once a year, trade show professionals assemble in Las Vegas for the industry’s leading conference and exposition, Exhibitor. Professionals in the trade show business have the opportunity to attend seminars, touch base with current suppliers, learn about new products, network and look into the future of trade show marketing.

Our operations manager, Troy attended Exhibitor2013 this year and returned to the office with some fresh ideas. Based on his observations from the show floor, there are 4 major trends this year in the trade show world. 

  • Interactive technology: If you were looking for a keyboard at Exhibitor, you would have been disappointed, as there were none to be found. The importance of technology of the show has increased significantly due to both the rise of social media and advances in touch screen technology.  Touch screen technology is being integrated into the displays themselves by way of large screens, into the staffers conversations with potential clients with tablets, and throughout the attendees’ experience via mobile devices. This is no different with our clients. We recently created a display for biomedical waste company BioServ that included 2 iPad stands. One iPad station will be used to run an E-procurement demo, while the other station will run a virtual golf game.
  • Fabric graphics: Fabric graphics have become the preferred graphic medium of choice, thanks to the emergence of dye sublimation (or dye sub) printing. Dye sub provides display manufacturers the opportunity to produce a high quality graphic at a lower price. Dye sub graphics also save exhibitors a considerable amount of money on shipping and repair costs, since fabric is lightweight, easy to transport, very easy to clean and less vulnerable to irreparable damage.  We have seen many of our clients move towards using fabric in their displays, including Curbell Plastics and Softlips.
  • Creating an environment vs. fabricating a display: Exhibit designers are focusing their attention on creating an experience at an exhibitor’s booth.  Display professionals have been taking a more holistic approach to exhibit design and using every tool at their disposal to create an ambiance that both engages attendees and represents the exhibitor’s branding.
  • Relaxation of booth staff uniforms:  Companies are moving away from mandating that booth staff wear the traditional suit at the company booth. Many exhibitors are choosing more “inviting” attire that helps create the feeling that staffers are approachable.  Many exhibitors have a staff uniform that is reflective of both their industry and the brand itself. For example, attendees at high-tech shows are often dressed casually and the expectation is that booth staff will be dressed casually as well.

Just like every other marketing channel, the trade show industry is constantly changing in response to advances in technology, product development and improvement efforts, and shifts in marketing ideologies. The major trends for 2013 reflect changes that are aimed at increasing attendee engagement and creating an inviting experience for attendees universally.

Going Mobile on the Trade Show Floor

Photo Courtesy of

Over the past few years, smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of everyday life. Since mobile devices are portable and can access a great deal of information within seconds, they are a natural fit for use in the trade show environment. Here are some tips for using mobile technology to your advantage at a trade show.

  • Include a highly visible QR Code on your display. The QR code should take users to a landing page that is optimized for mobile devices. The landing page can be your company’s homepage, a contest entry form, a lead qualification form, etc.
  • Use an app to collect leads. There are several apps that make lead retrieval very simple, such as iLeads and DUB, that allow you to scan a business card and enter the contact information into either your phone contacts or a database. Using a lead retrieval app will save you the headache of keeping up with hundreds of pieces of paper and trying to decipher a potential lead’s handwriting. The leads can be sent directly from your phone or tablet to your office.
  • Schedule appointments with prospects using the calendar function on your phone or tablet. This saves both you and the prospect the time of attempting to connect after the trade show and guarantees a better chance that the meeting will take place.
  • Many trade shows have an app created for the event. Download this onto your mobile devices and continually check for updates, changes, itineraries and announcements.
  • Take photos using the smartphone’s camera and share them on your company’s social media platforms. Include your booth number to encourage your followers at the show to visit your exhibit.
  • Stream video from the event to the home office, attendees and clients who were unable to attend, using social media and/or videoconferencing.
  • Ask attendees to share their own photos and videos from your exhibit through social media. To encourage attendee contributions, design a contest for attendees who share their images and videos of your exhibit through social media.
  • Design a simple, interactive game to be played on a mobile device housed at your exhibit. A game is memorable and increases attendee engagement. The game should easy to play, fun, casual and tied directly to your value proposition.
  • Process credit card payments using a device like AprivaPay, which attaches to your smartphone or tablet and allows you to swipe the client’s credit card.

Exhibitors who learn to leverage mobile technology on the trade show floor will ensure that their trade show appearance goes smoothly, while also increasing engagement with the show attendees. This leads to a greater amount of leads generated at the show and less time spent on administrative tasks associated with post-trade show follow-up, which ultimately improves ROI (return on investment).

Davidʼs Notes


The  article below is an excerpt from the January newsletter of one of our suppliers, ExpoDisplays. David Holladay, President of ExpoDisplays offers some “back to basics” sales advice that reinforces how the sales team at FBD2 works with our clients. 

Back to the Basics

In the world of sales, things can tend to get complicated. As we strive to learn more and more about the sales profession, we constantly develop new strategies that make us better at what we do. Sometimes this can lead to getting so far “out there” that we can forget the basics. What better time than the start of a new year to remind ourselves about the “little things” that can get overlooked, causing us to lose sales or waste time? So here are a few that I have to remind myself about before I dive into the sales process with a prospect.

Donʼt Assume Anything. Start Anew Each Time

When that longtime customer comes to you for a solution, treat her like an exciting new prospect, not like an automatic repeat customer. Donʼt take her for granted. Donʼt fall into the world of “inside sales” or “order taking”. We often make the mistake of assuming that we understand what someone wants because weʼve worked with her for so long. But that may not be the case. Things may have changed in her world. And the competition is after her, promising new,exciting ideas and products. Take her for granted and you may be beaten by the competition.

Establish a Budget – Every Time

Throw out numbers early and often in the process. Donʼt make the mistake of doing a bunch of work and offering solutions that end up being “too much” at the end of the process. If that happens, you have to start over and you have wasted your time and hers. In the beginning and at each step in the process get an estimated dollar amount on the table and make sure that she says “ok” before you proceed.

Present to Decision Makers

How many times do we have to hear “Thanks for all of the work but the boss wouldnʼt approve it” before we learn that we HAVE to get the decision makers involved in the process. Most sales people will tell you that they were not able to get in front of the decision maker, but 90% of those sales people never even tried because they were scared to ask. Your prospect should understand that you are trying to help her get what SHE wants. And the best way to help her sell the idea/product to the decision maker is to get the decision maker involved early in the process. Otherwise, youʼll both do a bunch of work for nothing. Early in the sales process you need to ask the following question, “How will the decision making process work and who are the people that will be involved?” Now help her navigate that process so she can get what she wants.

Donʼt Present Too Early

The solution that you present should be the very last thing in the process. Before you design, quote or present something, you need to have all your bases covered. You should have addressed everything to the point that when you present, you are simply expecting a “yes” or “no” answer. You should already know the budget, how the purchasing process will work, who the decision makers are and what each is looking for. If you donʼt know those things, you donʼt need to present a solution.

Understand the “Why”

Speaking of presenting too early, do you have a good understanding of “why” the prospect is looking for this product? If you donʼt, then you are just an inside sales person or a “quoter” and a good sales person that asks good questions will take this business from you. Remember this saying; “Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.” You must diagnose (the “why”) before you prescribe (the “what”). Donʼt get caught up in just quoting products based on what your prospect asks for, like pop-ups or banner stands. When your prospect uses one of those terms, ask the question, “Pop-up? Sure I can help you. What led you to decide on a pop-up?” The answer that you get may make it crystal clear that a pop-up is NOT really what this person needs.

Profitable Selling,

David Holladay

Holladay, David. “David’s Notes.” ExpoNews (20 Jan. 2013): n. pag. ExpoDisplays. Web.

The Year-End Trade Show Booth Tune-up Guide


The end of the year often serves as a time to analyze the performance of your marketing initiatives over the past year, while strategizing and defining goals for the next. One of the year-end assessments to complete is evaluating the condition of your trade show exhibit. Not sure where to start? Use this guide to walk you through the proces letting the display professionals inspect the display for you. They have experience working with the materials and know what repairs will need to be made.

  • If you decide to go through the materials yourself, have a notebook and pen handy. Makes notes of everything that you are checking, whether it is damaged, missing or in perfect condition.
  • Allow yourself enough time before the next trade show to thoroughly inspect the display, in case repairs are necessary.  This will help you avoid rush charges to fix it at the last minute.
  • Look over all of your shipping cases and totes. If you have a rolling case, make sure that all of the wheels are in tact. Check the locks and make sure that they fasten tightly.
  • Assemble the display as if you were at a show. This is the best way to tell if something is missing, broken or damaged.
  • Check the hardware for any damage. Probe the frame for any broken parts, loose hinges or screws, dents, scuff marks and other signs of damage.
  • Inspect graphics thoroughly for any damage, such as deep creases, staining or scuff marks. In most cases, graphics can be cleaned fairly easily.
  • Plug in any lights to make sure that they work.
  • Check all accessories that travel with the exhibit for possible damage.
  • Evaluate your graphics and decide if they need to be updated. Are they severely damaged? Do they match your current branding? Is the text outdated? Has your product line changed since the graphics were produced? Would the images still look exciting and contemporary to attendees on the show floor?
  • Take some time to reflect on your last trade show season.  Identify what went well and what could be improved upon. While this may or may not lead changes with the display itself, it will help you plan your trade show strategy for the coming season.

Inspecting and examining your trade show display as a part of your year-end activities will enable you to be better prepared for 2013 trade show season.

The Benefits of Buying an “Experienced” Display


Purchasing a trade show display requires a significant investment of both time and money. If you are on a tight trade show budget but still want to make an impressive appearance at your next show, consider buying an “experienced”, or used, display. Here are some benefits associated with purchasing a pre-owned display:

– Buying a used display is very economical and cost-effective. Pre-owned displays allow you to create a striking trade show exhibit at a fraction of the cost of buying a similar system brand new. “Experienced” displays are often greatly discounted and are usually in great condition.

-A used display is essentially a recycled display. A pre-owned exhibit’s carbon footprint is much smaller, since fewer resources are utilized to produce and ship the recycled system.

-Used hardware may be covered under a warranty. Before finalizing the purchase of a pre-owned display, ask what type of warranty, if any, covers the display. Also ask the seller how repairs should be handled in the future and whether replacement parts can be procured.

– Shipping costs are considerably less when purchasing a pre-owned display. Shipping costs for a new exhibit generally apply from the point of origin (where the exhibit is manufactured) to the address where the final product is sent. Since an “experienced” display is usually housed at the display professionals’ office or warehouse, as opposed to the manufacturing location, the display will travel a shorter distance to reach its final destination, meaning lower shipping costs.

Pre-owned displays can be a fantastic solution for any company looking to create an astonishing trade show environment affordably. The benefits of choosing an “experienced” display include discounted pricing, the ability to recycle a display in good condition, the possibility of warranty coverage and reduced shipping costs.