This past Monday, three other students and I had the opportunity to attend the Buffalo Niagara Sales & Marketing Executives Student Day. Professor Dudkowski selected Kourtney Shearer, Danielle Board, Taylor Tracy, and myself to attend a day long conference, which included a choice of one of three tours, a special presentation by Bill Knoche, a networking opportunity, and a dinner presentation with Marc Adler. In order to do this amazing day justice, I have decided to split the blog post into three separate posts and will be sharing the rest of our amazing experience throughout the week.
Our day started off at 1:30 with a tour and the three tours we were able to select from were IIMAK, FB Display & Designs, and Rigidized Metals Corportation. IIMAK, a manufacturer of printing, imaging and marking consumable products with 1,000 employees worldwide. Headquartered in Amherst, New York, with additional manufacturing, distribution and sales operations in Belgium…
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.
Don’t leave home without them:
Roll of Velcro
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)
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
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)
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.
Calculators, clipboards & order forms, (if you write orders at the show).
Strong Shipping Tape
Double-sided carpet tape
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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”?)
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.
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!
Your mobile device can be the “backup” to your “backup plan” & help you to save time and make better decisions. Here are some of our favorite apps and why they’ll be a great resource when you travel to your next show.
Sometimes, getting to the Expo can be half the battle. Fortunately, search apps like Kayak & SkyScanner Flights can help you with last minute travel snafus. Encourage your coworkers to use Just Landed to instantly let you know when their flight has arrived. (Don’t forget about your favorite airline’s app- it can help to confirm details, speed up check-in, access your boarding pass & look for upgrades!)
If you shipped literature to the show at the last minute, knowing where your parcels are is priceless. The FedEx, UPS and USPS apps are comprehensive, save your preferences, and bring instant peace of mind. (Some freight carriers have tracking apps too! [For tracking your entire trade show display shipped in on pallets].)
While on the show floor, check to see if show management or their contractors have an app. Show apps are great for quickly accessing maps of exhibits, viewing daily schedules and connecting with other attendees. Sometimes using the show contractor’s app can save you from walking across the whole expo hall to get help from the service desk. (Save your energy for setting up your trade show booth!)
Having printed copies of your receipts, order forms & installation instructions goes a long way towards avoiding complications & misunderstandings. But having an electronic copy to instantly share with show management, vendors & co-workers is even better. PDFExpert, Dropbox & iBooks are all fantastic options for storing, organizing, accessing & sending your important documents. With Dropbox, your files are stored in the “cloud” so even if you lose your phone & paper copies, it is still possible to gain access via a desktop computer or borrowed device.
Need to edit or create a document on the fly? Look no further than Google Drive & Genius Scan. Google Drive is great for editing text & spreadsheets, and Genius Scan turns your phone’s camera into a full-fledged scanner & PDF creator (perfect for documents that need your signature!)
If you’re traveling to an exhibition in another country, having a local translator is obviously best. However, in a pinch, iTranslate is a fantastic tool that allows both parties to speak into the app and see/hear the translation in their native language.
You’re in a strange city & want to take a client out to dinner, but don’t know where to go? Of course there’s an app for that, and it’s called “Yelp!” Once you pick the perfect spot, make a lightning-fast reservation with OpenTable. Both apps allow you to leave a review of your experience, so other business travelers will know what to expect.
While digesting your meal, take a moment to save the details to Concur or TimeSheeter for easy tracking of your expenses. These flexible apps allow you to save information on meals, mileage and hours, all with the ability to easily export the data when you get home.
For anything else a “road warrior” might need in an unfamiliar town, check out AroundMe. This app uses the GPS in your phone to find the pharmacy, gas station, ATM, coffee shop, parking lot, supermarket, taxi, etc., nearest to your current location. One of the fastest & easiest ways to get accurate information on the businesses closest to you-Don’t leave home without it!
If all else fails, there’s Evernote. There are too many features to list, but the big ones are:
Taking notes-it’s the perfect place to help you remember useful websites & important details
Making “To-Do Lists”
Uploading documents & photos
All notes you enter, documents & photos become searchable for text; you can easily find whatever you’re looking for with just a few taps.
With options for all operating systems, desktop computers & web/cloud access, you’ll never be without the information you need.
Most of the apps mentioned here are free and available for Android and iOS. Hopefully, these apps will take a little bit of the stress out of your next trade show appearance and make you more productive!
Tell us about your favorite apps in the comment section, below!
When you think of Halloween, you might picture hordes of youngsters at your door, on their crusade for free candy. One thing all those kids will have in common is that they have to earn it, by shouting “trick or treat!”
When you’re exhibiting at a trade show, sometimes working at a booth can feel like that as well. You’ll see tire-kickers coming from across the hall, “trade show trick-or-treaters”, with large branded totes full of free pens, stress-relief-balls and, of course, candy. They’re probably not planning on doing business with very many vendors; they are scouring the show floor, looking to fill their bags with free stuff. What’s an exhibitor to do?
Obviously, you’re not going to ask trade show attendees to say “trick-or-treat!” However, you should try to get them to earn the free item by having a conversation with you.
Consider these ideas to make the most of your promos:
Keep free candy & giveaways towards the back of your booth, to avoid “hit & run” behavior. Put these items on display, but compel the attendee to enter your space and interact with your salespeople.
If you tend to give out candy, consider serving mints, as these are inexpensive treats that can help to ensure your booth staffers have fresh breath, too. (This is Face-to-Face Marketing, after all!)
Use promotional products as a conversation–starter. Something as simple as “Have you seen one of these before?” can break the ice and quickly pivot into a chat with the attendee. This is a perfect chance to build rapport for a future business relationship
Ideally, promotional gifts should be branded with your logo, be an item with some usefulness & be relevant to your organization. (Hint: use something more creative than a pen or sticky-note pad!)
Use this opportunity to qualify leads before inviting them to take a gift. Collect business cards & ask to scan badges; take notes about their company’s needs, schedule a follow-up if appropriate.
Focus on distributing your giveaways to the most valuable prospects you meet. Let’s face it, the freebies really aren’t free… your company had to pay for them, hoping that future business would come your way.
The most important lesson here is this: don’t let the “trick or treaters” distract you from your goals of meeting prospects, writing orders & obtaining leads. A disciplined approach to handing out free items should help you to engage with more clients at your next event. Remember, giveaways can have an important role in your trade show strategy, as long as they are targeted to the right people.