How Graphics Can Help With Attendee Engagement at Your Next Trade Show

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The purpose of exhibiting at a trade show is to improve your company’s brand recognition and hopefully turn some attendees into future clients. Whatever your trade show goals may be, you must always have a success strategy that details how you are going to achieve them.

You cannot accomplish those goals without being able to effectively engage with attendees. The hardest part is often attracting that interest before you miss your short window to capture their attention and your trade show displays play a huge role in capturing their attention.

There are a few, simple trade show booth design tips that can enhance your engagement with attendees.

Make It Easy
Your window to grab an attendee’s attention is short, especially if it’s a particularly crowded, loud floor. There’s a lot for attendees to see and do and if there are conference sessions going on outside of the trade show floor, your time is even more limited. Make it easy for attendees to figure out what your company does and what it’s about. Design graphics to be clear and easy to see or read with a concise message and a balanced amount of white space on your displays to keep the focus on the text and color of the graphics on your displays. Attendees walking around your booth should be able to look at your booth and have a good idea of what the company does just by looking at your displays. This is also extremely helpful if your staff is busy with other attendees, others are not just standing around wondering what the company does if they are waiting to talk to someone.

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Play the Matching Game
The message that your trade show signage promotes should be consistent. There are always specific reasons and goals your business should have for exhibiting at a trade show. Your trade show display graphics should reflect a message that is going to help you reach your goals for the show. Any text, images or graphics on your displays should be centered on the idea of how it best reflects your company’s message and how it will help reach those goals. All graphics for any trade show displays should be designed with your message and goals in mind from the start.

Give Them What They Want
Any good and smart company does a fair amount of research and data collection before exhibiting at a trade show. A lot should go into your company’s decision to exhibit at a trade show and making sure you are exhibiting at the right shows. When designing your trade show graphics, you should already have an idea for what kind of audience you will have at a trade show and what they want from you. If you are exhibiting at trade shows that are attended by your target market, you should already have data and research on that target market and then tailor your trade show graphics and message to that market so that you give your company the best chance to effectively reach them and engage with them.

Different Ways to Engage Attendees at Trade Shows

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Brand awareness is always a top goal to think about and work towards as well as making a short term and long term impact. Even if there are certain things you can’t tangibly measure, here are a few easy and unique ways to make an impact even long after the show is over and it doesn’t result in a lead right away.

Video or Informational Demo for Busy Moments
At some point during the show, your booth and all of your staff will (hopefully) be busy and completely occupied with more attendees than they can handle. When your booth draws that sort of crowd, there’s a good chance more will follow to see what the buzz is about. Utilizing technology with an informational video about your company or products or a demo can help you reach attendees or keep them interested while there might be a line.

Know the Show
You should know what kind of attendees are coming to the show, what their industry is and what they’re likely to be looking for. You will likely always keep track of what competitors will be exhibiting at the show, but don’t stop at competitors. Learn about the other companies at the show that aren’t your competitors. There’s a chance that you may be speaking with an attendee who is looking for a specific service or product that you may not offer. You might just find that sending an attendee in a direction of a company who does offer the service or product that you don’t and that isn’t a competitor, pays off down the road. That same attendee might decide one day down the road they need your company’s services and they might remember their interaction with you and recommending them to what they were looking for at a trade show.

Make It Memorable
Another way to help entertain guests while your booth and staffers are busy is to keep them engaged at your booth. Make sure your sell sheets and other literature is organized and visible. Additionally, always have your giveaways and branded swag well stocked and visible.  If you have room in your booth, a good way to keep attendees attention during busier times is to include a game. Come up with trade show booth activity idea or use trade show booth games to attract customers. It could be a prize wheel for your swag or a free demo or get more creative to try to fit a game in with the theme of your company or that fits the message you’re trying to share with attendees. If the game is fun and interesting, it may wind up attracting even more attendees.

Engage With Attendees
Your company automatically has plenty in common with every attendee at a trade show if you’re exhibiting there. That alone should give you plenty of trade show conversation starters. Obviously you want to speak with many attendees and talk about your company and what it offers, but if your staff has the time, engaging attendees in conversation about the show and their company has several benefits. You also obviously want to determine if they have a need for what your company provides, but even if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Chances are, someone attending a trade show your company is exhibiting at, that there is some industry crossover. So there’s always the possibility they could wind up needing something your company provides at some point down the road. A conversation with them about their company, the show or the industry as a whole may resonate as you’re looking to engage with them without pushing product or looking to sell something. They may need your company’s services down the road and there’s always the chance they’ll remember your company from that interaction.

There are several ways to make a long lasting impact at trade shows and it’s possible all of them aren’t measureable. So always consider the long term when discussing your goals and plans for exhibiting at a trade show.

Summer School: Trade Show Staff Training

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Summer is usually a good time to start gearing up plans for big fall trade show slates. It’s a good time to order new banners and trade show displays or replacement graphics so you can have a fresh message to match your new goals this fall. Summer is also the perfect time of year to re-visit your trade show training and staffing strategies. Here are some useful tips for keeping your staffers sharp and how to keep your approach from getting stale.

1) Have staffers and customer service work together: If your trade show staff doesn’t include anyone from customer service, consider setting up some meetings or shadowing days for your staffers or sales people with your customer service staff. Customer service representatives know all the selling points as well as pain points of the company and its products or services. This helps sales people tap into what potential customers at trade shows need to hear about the company’s product or service.

2) Discuss conversation starters: While you don’t want any conversation with a potential customer at a trade show to sound forced that doesn’t mean you can’t be well read, a bit rehearsed and prepared. Know what’s going on in the cities that your company will be exhibiting in, keep up on the current events and news of that city. Ask about local restaurants, spots to visit or any sources or pride within the city makes for good, albeit a bit cheesy conversation starters. But they give you a chance to connect immediately and that’s extremely important.

3) Cross train roles: Many staffs include people with set roles at trade shows: staffers who handle different aspects or areas of the company or parts of a show. Some staffers handle running the demos, talking to potential leads, entering information, handing out swag or attending sessions. If everyone on your staff is cross trained to handle all of these positions in the way your company needs them executed, you can easily account for staff breaks and it can be a big help if things in your booth get busy.

4) Define how to qualify leads: Trade shows are hopefully pretty busy for your staff and your company spends a good amount of money to be at these events. Make sure your staffers are managing their time wisely and engaging with potentially qualified leads. Continue to redefine what your company looks for in a potential lead at trade shows by the questions your staffers should ask and the response they should be looking for.

5) Cover social media initiatives: You should be utilizing social media in some form or fashion at trade shows whether it’s a Facebook post, live tweeting or a live broadcast. Decide on the direction of your company’s social media presence and message during trade shows and be sure to review all social media policies as well.

5 Sizzling Summer Trade Shows

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While some industries are taking a break for family vacations and reunions, there are still plenty of big name trade shows set for summer 2017.

E3 Expo: The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the largest videogame entertainment software show in the world. It takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 13-15. There are tons of major product releases and announcements and new technologies. Software developers, buyers, retailer, programmers, industry reps and fans all attend. Major exhibitors include: Activision, Alienware, Facebook, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and every major gaming related company you can think of.

Comic Con International: Comic-Con is the most well-known show for fans of science fiction and pop culture and has been for years. Comic-Con International is at the San Diego Convention Center from July 20-23 and features pilot screenings, all-access programs, and exhibitors like Campcom, Cartoon Network, Disney and Mattel. Special guests are all around too like artist Arthur Adams, Jim Lee, and author RL Stine.

JCK Las Vegas: This is the jewelry industry’s leading annual trade event that brings in over 30,000 people for education and networking. Over 23,000 retailers and 2, 3000 exhibitors around the globe head to Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort June 5-8 including exhibitors like: APMEX, Le Vian, and S&A Jewelery Design.

International Woodworking Fair: July 19-22, 15,000+ attendees and exhibitors head to North America’s Largest Woodworking Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  New products are launched; there are seminars for every sector of the woodworking industry as well as interactive exhibits. Exhibitors on hand include Popular Machinery & Tools, Inc., Sherwin Williams, and Valspar.

IRCE: The Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition runs June 6-9 at McCormick Place West in Chicago with featured speakers from well-known brands such as Sephora, Shark Tank and Under Armor. It’s the biggest show exploring the ever evolving E-Commerce industry with unrivaled content and solutions with industry peers. 250,000 square feet of space covered with technology and solution providers to help drive online strategies, marketing, fulfillment and other retail technologies. Exhibitors include Amazon Business, Bronto, IBM and MailChimp.

 

Tips for Edible Trade Show Giveaways

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Finding the perfect trade show giveaway items are tough. You want them to be unique, memorable, properly branded and you want them at an affordable cost. Have you ever considered edible as a trait you’d like your giveaways to be?

We don’t mean giving away food, but actually edible giveaway items.

Some companies have tied to make their advertisements edible.

Volkswagen ran a magazine ad they said you could eat. It was made of glutinous rice flour, water, salt, propylene glycol, FD&C color and glycerine.  JetBlue used an edible paper ad by trying to make a paper page that tastes like a potato chip to help promote their all you can eat snacks on flights.

Those don’t sound extremely appetizing but the Videri Chocolate Factory used chocolate posters which seems like a much better idea because sticks to their brand pretty well and that’s an important point.

Edible trade show giveaways can be a good idea but, you probably want to steer clear of paper ads like the previous two that aren’t really edible. If you’re going to do a trade show food giveaway, might sure it’s truly edible and is going to taste good. Giving away something like flavored paper will leave a bad taste in attendee’s mouth about your company, literally and figuratively.

Don’t turn business cards into something edible and beware of custom branded wrapped food. Plastic water bottles or wrapped candy or snacks with your company’s logo all over it can be pretty interesting, but remember that those eventually get thrown away and the shelf life of their impact may be short.

Putting your logo on M&Ms or Skittles might be a little smarter, but so is giving them away in a tin or reusable container that has your logo on it.

There are some interesting ways you can go with personalized edible items as giveaways. For a hardware or home improvement company exciting at a trade show, there’s a company that makes molded chocolate in the shape of tools.

It’s important to follow some general key practices with edible trade show giveaways.

  1. Stay on Brand: Like the molded chocolate in the shape of tools, if you go this route, make sure it fits in with your company and industry or who you are trying to sell your product to.
  2. Food Allergies: Be mindful of edible’s that might contain products that people with food allergies might be sensitive too, therefore limiting potential interested attendees.
  3. Know Your Audience: This goes with staying on brand, but keep in mind the kind of attendees at a show you’re looking to attract to your booth and consider foods or items that will likely appeal to them.
  4. Make it Travel Friendly: Attendees are likely on the go and in a hurry at trade shows, so anything you give away that’s food related should be able to consume on the run.

Food as a Trade Show Promo Item: Do’s and Don’ts

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There is a never ending list of trade show promotional giveaway items. Some are better than others and not every type of promotional giveaway item is going to fit in with your brand, budget or trade show. Trade show food can be a sticky subject as a table giveaway item. So, which ones are OK to giveaway and which ones aren’t?

First tip – don’t giveaway sticky food items.

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Something in a wrapper: Whatever food giveaway you might up to try, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s something in a sealed wrapper. It’s more hygienic and gives attendees the option of putting it in their bag for future consumption.  Also, giving away food items with a wrapper that lists nutritional ingredients is considerate to attendees with food allergies.

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Don’t

Open-air food: You might think that having a box of donuts, tray of cookies or baked goods at your table will get some ooh’s and ah’s and interest from attendees. It might, especially in the morning and maybe from the media even. It’s tempting in theory but open air food can be a little unsanitary. People are picking away at different selections without gloves and hairnets. Maybe most people won’t care because they want to partake in free baked goods but be aware of potential health risks both sanitary and nutrition.

Do

Power bars: It goes along with the wrapped food theme but power bars make a lot of sense because attendees can eat them on the go, they’re not messy and generally good for anyone who is health conscious. If you’re going to use food as a promotional tool, give potential leads something that can give them a boost. They might remember you for it.

Don’t

Alcohol: No, it’s not a food but there are some exhibitors at shows who will set out drinks like champagne at their table. There are plenty of expos and shows that have after-show mixers and events that provide a drink ticket for attendees. Let the show take care of that. It seems kind of edgy but it’s also risky and could be expensive. Avoid the liability and utilize your promo budget elsewhere.

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Container food items: Mint containers, candy jars, popcorn tubs are all cool, reusable items. They can be stuffed with food or mints/gum and attendees might be able to make use of them after the show. It’s a good opportunity for you to giveaway branded items that actually might have some substantial, post-show value.

Don’t

Nothing homemade:  Bringing homemade food as a trade show promotional item is a not a good practice. Some think this is a unique way to connect with customers or be a conversation starter and they’re saving some money, but in reality it’s not a great practice. Trade shows aren’t the place to show off your culinary skills unless you’re in the business of food.

Do…or don’t

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Branded candy/packaged food: Giving away M&Ms or other candy that you can either customize the item or the packaging that it comes in seems like a good idea. It’s certainly a unique, easy to manage branding opportunity. However, consider that these wrappers will be thrown away and the food will either be eaten or in the garbage with the wrapper – along with your branding opportunity

6 Ways to ‘Spring Clean’ Your Signage

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It’s never too early to think spring and try to warm yourself up. Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning of your marketing signage to get ready for the new sales season! Here are six ways to do some signage spring cleaning.

  1. Update your logo: Spring is a great time to clean things up, so why not make some changes to your logo? It gives your business a fresh look, it’s a reason to talk about the changes your making and announce them to your customers to start a conversation. A good, new look is always something to talk about and share.
  2. Evaluate outdoor signage: At some point, good weather will be coming. That means you’ll want to start using signage to advertise outdoors again. Check your current inventory of outdoor signage to see if you need to replace the signs or any hardware to make sure it’s ready to use. Make sure the signage on your outdoor displays is as vibrant and clear as always. You should also check to see if your outdoor signage that you used last year for spring still has current information on it and still matches your marketing message and goals for this year.
  3. Infuse new, bright colors into your signage: One of the best parts of spring is the colors in nature re-emerging. It brings people out of the grey, dreary doldrums of winter. A little more natural color and sunlight improves people’s moods and using them in your signage can help boost the mood of potential customers that see your signage. A customer in a bubblier mood is more likely to buy from you, so vibrant, bright colors are an easy and affordable way to help your chances.
  4. Do your own spring cleaning: Don’t give up on your old inventory just yet. You want to make room for strong performing spring items or apparel. Get ahead of the curve on spring cleaning and use signage to promote your winter or older inventory you are trying to clear out.
  5. Pick a theme: Come up with a clever theme that makes sense for your business use it throughout the entire season. Use new advertising signage to promote the themed campaign throughout your business.
  6. Renewal: Spring is the season of renewal. Renew your commitment and relationship with your customers. Update your signage to promote rewards programs and other customer benefits and give them reasons to be part of your rewards program.

7 Reasons to Buy Trade Show Packages

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Buying trade show displays in bulk, like almost anything, can help you save money. While saving money is never a bad thing, you also want to make sure there are plenty of benefits to what you’re buying and not just saving money and taking a lesser return. So, in honor of the New Year, here are 7 reasons to invest in a new trade show package in 2017.

#1 – Takes out guesswork: When you buy trade shows as a package, it keeps you from having to do too much searching around to find out pieces to fit your booth, layout and finding what looks best with what.  Your core displays and layout is determined for you and all you need to worry about now are graphics for them and deciding if you need anything to accent your core displays. This really frees you up to focus on other important aspects of your exhibit.

#2 – Cost effective: Why not mention possibly the key reason. This pertains to buying in bulk. While you’re likely only getting one of each item, by buying packaged together, you save money on each individual item because you would probably spend more on each piece alone than as part of a set package. Keeping your display costs down really helps your trade show budget and gives you a better chance at a positive ROI for your trade show!

#3 – New marketing message: If things have changed with your company’s information, particularly your marketing message, you’ll need to have all of your trade show displays re-printed with this new information. Getting new printed graphics for all of these display materials can be a hassle. But when you buy a new package, you can guarantee replacing the message on each essential display.

#4 – You are at more shows than one exhibit can handle: If you’re a company that exhibits at a lot of trade shows and have just one display, it’s possible you could run into logistics issues or are going to run into inevitable wear-and-tear of your current display. Buying in a package saves you money and gives you an insurance “backup” display for when you might need to have two displays out at shows at once or the other one is in need of repairs. Then you have a whole display package ready to go at your disposal.

#5 – Need for a more portable setup: Nothing will save you more time and energy at trade shows than an easy to set up booth. If you’re off to another show or conference after one ends, having one that is easy to pack-up and transport is very important. Trade show packages come with individual pieces and carrying cases that are very user friendly.

#6 – Bigger/smaller booth: Maybe changes in your budget or approach have you renting a smaller or bigger booth space. You’ll either need to condense or add pieces to your booth. Trade show packages already measured and set for traditional sized trade show booths.

#7 – One stop, hassle free printing option: Buying trade show display materials as a package makes the printing and production of them much less of a hassle for you to track and get the right artwork and graphics to. By working with one company on an entire package, there’s less to keep up with and less chance of miscommunication or errors.

Trade Show New Year’s Resolutions

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While you’re setting your budget, ordering new displays and booking trade show spots, don’t forget trying new things at trade shows can also be prosperous. When you get ready to make those trade show plans for 2017, here are some New Year’s Resolutions to make when exhibiting that will hopefully help your ROI.

Produce more social content: Facebook Live, Periscope, Snapchat and Instagram Videos are easy to use and leverage. Creating social content as a trade show exhibitor is great for your brand and being able to share some parts of your exhibit, product launch, speech or other great things you have planned with followers/customers unable to attend shows. It also encourages brand engagement. With social video, you basically get a free chance to double down on your appearance and potentially double your reach.

Invest in staffing/training: One of the most controllable ways to directly affect the outcome of your trade show exhibiting success is to invest in more/better staffing and training your staff. If you haven’t already, you should also review your staffing practices and how efficient they are. A great New Year’s resolution is to invest in your staff and always improve their training as it has a huge effect on your trade show ROI.

Evaluate exhibiting schedule: While you’re reviewing staffing practices, you should also evaluate your exhibit schedule. Just because you’ve exhibited at a trade show multiple times doesn’t mean it’s always worth your time and money each year. The New Year is always a good time to review if your exhibiting schedule is as optimal as it could be.

Take more time on design: This is absolutely one thing you should resolve to do in 2017. The last thing you should ever do is rush the design of your trade show display graphics. Luckily, there are companies out there that offer quick turnarounds like 48 hours (sorry, we couldn’t resist), but resolve to give yourself more time on design in 2017. You’d be surprised with the results and potential improvement you will get at a trade show because you took the extra time.

Setup a Wi-Fi or charging station: People walk around all day on trade show floors taking pictures and interacting on social media for various events or reasons. Some venues offer free Wi-Fi, though it might not be of good quality. Some won’t offer any. Setting up charging stations and free Wi-Fi at your booth is a good attention grabber. Sure, people may not be coming to your booth solely to check out your company, but they’re there. That’s half the battle. (PS, if you’re looking to gain some press from being at a trade show, this is a pretty solid way to appeal to journalists.)

Gamify your exhibit: Resolve to try something new in your exhibiting approach. Trying to add a game to your exhibit to draw attention or to tie in with your brand can add some excitement and attract new potential visitors/customers. Take a risk where you can afford to take a risk and see if these resolutions can help improve your exhibiting success.

8 Creative Ideas to Boost Holiday Sales

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During the holiday season, every retailer, store or any business is looking for a piece of the sales pie. Obviously the larger companies have a bigger marketing budget and some additional resources available to them to put themselves in front of potential consumers this time of year. But the holidays are a great time for creative ideas to help sales at your small business. These eight simple ideas can help improve sales during the holiday season, make you customers shopping experience a better one and ultimately lead to more long term customers.

  1. Gift Wrapping: Some places will offer this for free, or for tip or with proceeds going to a charity. But either way, this is a good perk to have during the holiday season and it’s easy to advertise. All you need is a window advertisement and social media posts that your store will be wrapping gifts. Holiday shopping can be such a hassle, so if people are buying items on their shopping list and can get them wrapped in one stop, you take stress off of them and that’s a good memory for a customer to have at your business.
  2. Buy a Gift, Get a Gift: Incentivize shopping with your business. Give a gift back to customers who buy a certain amount. It can be simple things or you could make the gifts better the more they spend. Giving gift cards for buying from your business to is also a good way to create a future sale.
  3. Coupon Receipts: In addition to giving gifts back for those buying them, print coupons on the back of your receipts for customers. This could even give you a chance to give them a coupon to use at your store in the future or you could team up with other local businesses and print coupons for other businesses on the back of your receipts and have them return the favor. Shoppers then have incentive to visit businesses.
  4. Use Social Media Discounts: A two fold way to increase sales and interest is putting out codes for discounts or other special offers on social media. Advertise that customers need to check your specific channels for codes. It’s a good way to gain some social media buzz and sales. If you have the resources, you could even “lock” your social media channels and only give the codes out to those who “follow” the accounts.
  5. Set Up a Kiosk: If you are able, set up a kiosk away from your store’s location. Whether you are in a mall or can find a place to set up a secondary location for your business, the increased visibility can help lead to more sales as well. Put yourself in front of foot traffic rather than have potential customers seek you out.
  6. Utilize Rewards Program: If you already have a rewards program, promote it and incentivize it during the holidays by offering more points or perks for spending more. Hallmark’s program that gives points for each purchase is a great example. Incentivize signing up for it during the holidays. Give customers something when they sign up and something they can use for after the holidays so you stand a better chance to bring them back sooner.
  7. Extend Your Target Customer Base: You should always have some sort of perk going for repeat customers but you might have infrequent shoppers, very early shoppers or last minute shoppers. Give each one of them a reason to shop with you no matter what time of year it is.
  8. Exhibit at a Holiday Show: Find a local holiday event going on at a mall, exhibition hall or community center. It shouldn’t be too hard to find these events and you can probably get away with a smaller booth setup than a larger industry specific show. If you’re looking to gain a bigger share of holiday sales, putting your business in front of people at some sort of holiday show helps you push your holiday specific sales.