Category Archives: Trade Shows

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


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.


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.

Summer School: Trade Show Staff Training


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


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


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


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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

7 Reasons to Buy Trade Show Packages


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


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.

Trade Show Dress Code Tips

Trade shows in a lot of ways are like job interviews. You’re looking to impress hopeful future clients and customers. You wouldn’t dress down or in questionable clothing at a job interview. A great way to lose out on closing a sale or gaining a lead is by looking unprofessional and giving off the wrong impression based on how you’re dressed.

Set a Dress Code
The lead sales or booth worker can set this or it can come directly from the company. Everyone should be dressing in the same attire for the occasion in either business casual, business professional, or company branded clothing.

What to Consider When Packing Your Suitcase
You should pack for specific parts of your trip as you won’t be at the trade show the entire time.

Travel: Something professional in case other people on your flight or trip are headed to the same show. Arriving looking like you are there to do business doesn’t hurt.

Show time: Pack clothes to follow the set dress code; company branded polos or button down shirts, dress clothes. Pack extra just in case. Anything can happen when you work a long shift at a trade show booth.

Leisure/networking time: For dinners, mixers or off the floor activities, you still want to appear professional but relaxed. Depending on the activity, your attire might vary but have something comfortable and casual yet professional.

Dress Code Etiquette to Consider

  • Shoes – Clean, shined shoes are a must, but avoid new shoes. New shoes (especially high heels for women) can be very uncomfortable if you haven’t worn them for hours at a time already.
  • Match – Mainly, make sure your belt matches your shoes and your colors match.
  • Accessories – Be conscious of how many accessories you’re wearing like earrings and other jewelry. Most companies have a policy for piercings and jewelry. Making a connection or trying to close a sale might be a lot more difficult with distracting piercings and jewelry.
  • Cologne/Perfume – Go easy on the cologne/perfume. This should be self explaintory.
  • Pockets – Yes, you want them. You’re not going to be wearing cargo pants, but you’ll need pockets to hold business cards, brochures and pens among other things.
  • Pack cleaning accessories – Tide bleach sticks and other items that can quickly clean clothes up in case of spills over lunch, etc.

Final Dress Code Tips to Consider

  • Hands – No, it’s not clothing related, but you’re likely going to be shaking hands with many potential (hopeful) customers. Make sure your nails are trimmed, clean and you have plenty of hand sanitizer available at your booth.
  • Fit in – While it’s true you can never be overdressed and you want to stand out from the crowd, if you and your booth staff are in suits and business attire and everyone else is in polos or other casual gear, you might stick out like a sore thumb. It’s always good to gauge the style of the show and your peers if you can before being under or overdressed.

9 Things to do Between Trade Shows

The middle of summer is typically a slow period for trade shows.  As an exhibitor, what you do during this part of the year can help set you up for success for your next show or when the season heats up again. Take this time to make improvements and try out new ideas. Here are nine tips to help improve your exhibit during the slow season and between shows.

New training and re-training – Take the downtime between trade shows or during the slow season to work with your booth staff on some new sales and conversations tactics and keep them sharp on your trade show goals. There are always new studies and reports coming out about consumer and sales psychology.

Look over your notes – At each show you should be making and documenting observations about interactions with attendees. Find out what has worked and what needs some adjusting. Also make note of what your competitors are doing and decide if it’s something that would fit in with your message and company.

Develop new presentations – If you’re not developing a new product or additional services to promote during the next trade show or trade show season, consider changes to your presentations. Look at your talking points, slides and selling language in your presentation and look for ways to improve it. If you have a trade show during a slower season, consider using some shows as a trial for your new presentation.

Check your swag – If you’re low on promotional items to give away (branded T-shirts, pens, bags, etc.), now is the time to re-order and re-stock on them. Take the time to review your inventory and see what people are taking more and what people don’t care for. Don’t spend money on swag that nobody is taking. Consider changing the message or look of your gear as well (logos, colors, etc).

Reconsider your logo – When’s the last time your logo got a redesign or even some minor tweaks? A new look, graphic or even some colors can help create interest from people who want to see what’s new with the company or it might even attract new business.

New signage – If you do go ahead and change your logo in anyway, you obviously want your displays and signage to reflect that. If you make any changes, anything you use to promote your brand will have to be updated. Even if you don’t make changes to your logo, new signage with a new message or colors can help make a difference.

Check old signage quality – Things happen to your displays and signs in storage and shipping. If some of your materials and displays have been to many trade shows and have traveled lot of miles, they might need some replacement parts or you might need to replace a piece of signage or two. Don’t try to duct tape or hold together an old or broken down display. It will be painfully obvious.

Product or service improvements – This one is fairly obvious. Trade shows are perfect for new product or service announcements. If you’re planning one for the busy season ahead, you should already be ready to roll it out and can use this time to smooth it out during testing. There’s also time to brainstorm for your next product or service development announcement.

Enhance your display – If you didn’t update your logo or graphics and your displays and signage are all in good condition, consider display enhancements.  Trade show lighting, custom printed flooring or other trade show flooring and podium and table wraps with graphics can really help put your booth over the top and generate some new interest. Little things can make a big difference and more branding is never a bad investment.

Should You Be Using Snapchat for Trade Shows and Events?

The use and benefits of using social media at trade shows has risen quickly over the last few years. Thanks to Facebook adding a live video stream option and apps like Periscope, sharing demonstrations and seminars with more people than those attending has become easy and effective. Live tweeting, trying to interact with those tweeting back or on video feeds can be overwhelming but utilizing social media at trade shows and other events has become important and almost necessary.

You probably already use Facebook and Twitter for your business. You’ve probably started to utilize Periscope and maybe even Instagram’s new brand feature. Seldom used previously, Snapchat is now quickly becoming a platform business and event exhibitors could begin want to take advantage of.

You might be thinking to that you really don’t want or don’t to use and manage another social media platform at trade shows and events.

A recent forecast by eMarketer might convince you it’s worth your time.

According to their last forecast, Snapchat’s user base is going to grow by double digits and will outrank Twitter and Pinterest for the first time ever in the United States. They also expect the gap between Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest to grow through 2020.

While certain brands and exhibitors at shows have stayed away from Snapchat, thinking the user base for the app doesn’t fit their target demo and thus don’t want to waste the resources on it, 27% of Americans ages 25-34 use Snapchat, which the app’s second largest base.

Like any other social media platform, there are ways to utilize this app in your favor

On demand Geofilters
This can be a great brand awareness tool for companies and exhibitors alike. Logos, slogans, and trademarks are all permitted by companies who upload these filters. Getting interested users in your follower base to use your geofilter for promoting new products, slogans, etc. can really help spread awareness.

Geofilters can also be used in an interactive way at trade shows and events about things like your product demo or presentation. They can be made to be time specific to allow people to even get special offers and deals by using it to interact in the time period set for its use.

Brevity gives you power
Most people think that Snapchat’s disappearing posts are bad for brands and business. But when you post something on Facebook or Twitter, or even do a live stream, are people going back and viewing it? If it’s on the internet, it’s out there forever, but most posts are only temporarily viewed anyway. Snapchat is great for its “storytelling” capabilities because content with videos and photos are the most commonly consumed content and the length of viewing that content on Snapchat is short, keeping within in the range of most social media users attention span.

Being able to piece three or four of these together at events while doing product reveals and other presentations puts followers on the lookout for your next post. It could create the idea of fear of missing out. If your videos at events offer relevant content, breaking them up into different posts can keep people coming back to you. That the content is only available for a short amount of time is an advantage.

Tips to grow and take advantage
If you’re new to using the app and aren’t sure how to make it best work in your favor at events or to leverage it for normal use, here are a few quick tips and ideas:

  • Use the geofilters for anything new you’re doing. Products, campaigns, etc. Encourage people to take snaps using the geofilter. Get them to interact with you using it and see how it’s resonating with your followers. It’s also a great way get your follower base to share your content and message.
  • As mentioned, product reveals are usually great uses for video streaming. The fact that the video time on Snapchat isn’t extended like other video sharing apps allows you to build anticipation to such events for excited followers.
  • If you’re trying to grow your follower base, exclusive content only viewed through Snapchat will help and even putting in offers for using your geofilters or interacting back also helps.
  • Other good content for Snapchat that is useful at trade shows and events include behind the scenes looks of your product reveal or special presentation or event and posting quick stories including your demonstrations and seminars as well.

While many exhibitors and brands have felt that Snapchat and what it offers doesn’t work for their content or doesn’t apply to the audience they want to reach, there are ways to leverage it in your favor and use it effectively. Given the growth of the app, the demographics that are using it now and will grow using Snapchat more than or as much as other social media, being able to connect with those audiences can help your brand in both short and long term.