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Get the Most Out of Attending Trade Shows

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 16, 2012

Despite repeated rumors of their decline, industry trade shows are alive and well. Since 2008, the $100 billion trade show industry has been growing nearly 3% over the past 18 months. Beyond the obvious networking, learning, and sales opportunities, trade shows can also be an excellent place to launch a new company or product. Here are some tips on how entrepreneurs can identify the right shows to attend and get the most out of them.

During the financial crisis many people predicted that professional conventions and industry trade shows would become obsolete, replaced by videoconferencing and Web events. Has that happened?

The Internet is not doing anything at all to displace face-to-face events. In fact, demand for face-to-face is growing as a result of the Internet facilitating transactions and opportunities, and extending the trade show’s reach before and after it occurs. People will always have the need to explore, travel, and meet others in person.

Have trade shows recovered from the financial crisis and recession?

You can’t really say how the industry is doing as a whole because you have to look at specific industries within the exhibition space.

Look at the energy space, especially alternative energy like wind and solar, and they are drawing 20,000 to 30,000 attendees at shows that are not even five years old. We measure metrics across 14 different industry sectors and we track 10,000 events in the U.S., including 7,000 professional events and 3,000 public events that draw between 20 and 30 million consumers annually. We are forecasting overall growth of 2.9 percent this year and 3 percent in 2013.

What do you tell would-be entrepreneurs about the best way to find a trade show and get the most out of attending?

It’s important to set objectives first. Too many people go to trade shows without knowing what they want to get out of them, and the results they achieve are disappointing. It is easy to find online directories that list upcoming events by date, by industry, by show type, by region, and other specifics.

Next, find out who the exhibitors are, look at the floor plan online, and put together a daily agenda for which exhibitors you want to talk to and when. There can be hundreds of exhibits at big shows, so you don’t want to run around helter-skelter trying to find booths. The real benefit is that you have a very efficient platform that aggregates all these people with similar interests under one roof, and they typically have the same broad objectives as the attendees. So you don’t have to fly around the country talking to 15 or 20 different companies about carrying their products or selling them yours.

Can you give some tips for small businesses that are considering exhibiting?

The exhibition is an excellent platform to launch a new business. Especially for small and medium-size enterprises, they are an enormously efficient way to gain market entry. With an established business, first decide what you want to achieve with your marketing budget for the year and what you’re going to spend on trade shows vs. other advertising. Again, set objectives and find events where you can talk to buyers who will help you achieve those objectives.

Calculate how much space you’ll need and how much staff you need to take based on how many buyers you want to touch over how many days. Get the attendee demographics and contacts from the show organizer and do pre-show promotions three months ahead of time, instead of just getting a big space and expecting the right people to magically come by.

After the show, thank them for meeting you, extend any discounts or promos you offered during the show for an additional 10 days, and let them know where they can reach you if they’re interested.

How much does all this cost?

Many trade shows are free, but they’re open only to qualified professionals. For those that charge admission, most are well under $500. Of course you have to factor in travel, accommodations, and time away from work, but you shouldn’t think of it as an expense but an investment in your business.

Business Week

Pop Up Displays for Trade Show Exhibits

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 09, 2012

Pop up displays and enhancements for your trade show exhibits are easy and versatile. The Exhibit Source in Newton, MA now offers pop-up displays and trade show booth enhancements that are affordable and easy to set up. If you are creating a new exhibit or if you are trying to jazz up your existing trade show displays, these pop up enhancements and accessories make a big hit with booth visitors. Trade show pop-ups and enhancements are available for 10' x 10' and 20' x 20' displays.

Portable Pop Up Display Systems add a new dimension in flexibility to portable displays:

  • Create a dynamic custom look
  • Easily reconfigure for 10ft, linear, or island booth spaces
  • Endless configuration possibilities
  • Wide variety of frame sizes, fabric colors and accessories

These pop-up displays are available for rent or for purchase. Contact The Exhibit Source for availability.

Trade Show Exhibits that Win Awards

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 02, 2012

If you are looking for a low-cost trade show display that is sure to stand out from the crowd, look at “Glide”. Glide has an unusual oval-shaped graphic background that will set your trade show exhibit apart. But just as important, it's the first portable exhibit that was designed to support a large-screen LCD monitor.

The 8' tall tower not only holds the video monitor and a shelf, but also provides integrated locking storage. Mounted to the sides of the tower is the large oval background banner, illuminated by a compact fluorescent edge lighting or optional LED lighting.

Experience the Portable Strength of these trade show displays. Built around a strong central tower, Glide blends true portability with incomparable strength and function.

No other portable trade show booth can support a TV screen this large! This trade show booth display is the Winner of the Best New Product Award at the Exhibitor 2009 Conference and The Only Portable System to receive an honor.

  • Supports a 36” Monitor
  • Integrated Locking Storage
  • Choose the innovative oval shape or traditional rectangular fabric banner
  • Sets up in less than 30 minutes
  • Packs in one small, wheeled case weighing under 100 lbs.
  • Save on shipping and storage costs!

Available for rent or for purchase. Contact The Exhibit Source.

How to Find the Right Trade Show

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 30, 2012

Finding the right trade show to take your business to is very important. Trade shows can be expensive, when you consider staffing, your trade show booth, promotional items and literature, and you want to make sure you’re going to be getting the best value for money. Going to the right trade shows means you will find the right target audience.

Determining your objectives

The first thing that you need to think about is what you actually want to accomplish at the trade show. Do you want to generate leads? Meet existing customers? Get exposure for your brand? Meet industry experts? Branch out into a new sector? Get contacts in the media?

Once this is decided, you can better research which types of events would most likely to help you achieve your objectives?

Finding an exhibition

Of course you have some knowledge about what events take place throughout the year, but it always pays to be thorough. There are several ways you can find out about exhibitions that are taking place.

  • Trade show search engines and directories – yes there are such things! These are databases of events that are taking place that are searchable by various criteria such as dates, location and industry. Try http://www.tsnn.com/, http://www.biztradeshows.com/ .
  • Industry publications – these are really good for finding events in your sector. They’ll probably list all the big industry-wide events. Individual publications may also list events they have organized themselves.
  • Your contacts – Ask around people in the industry that you know. You can find out quite a lot by word of mouth. This can also help when narrowing down your list – if someone mentions that an event was badly organized, you might think twice before signing up.
  • Your competitors – take a sneaky peek at your competitors’ websites. They may have lists of or news items about the exhibitions they’re attending over the next few months. And if you go to the shows your competitors are going to, it not only gives you the chance to compete for the same audience, but also to find out what your competitors are doing in terms of marketing, products and services.
  • Industry associations – check their websites for event listings or give them a call to find out if there are any upcoming events.
  • Local event and convention centers or chambers of commerce – these will often have events listings on their websites, or you can call them up and ask. If you’re not looking to go too far afield, this could be a good option for reaching new local customers.
After you have done your research, you need to collate the results and weigh them against your objectives. Which shows are most likely to help you achieve these? And how good is the ROI likely to be? Those trades shows that require you to travel, consider whether the expense is worth it.

Your customers

Think about where your customers are most likely to be. If you can, talk to them and see if they’re going to any upcoming exhibitions or trade shows. If your existing customers are going, then the chances are that other attendees will be interested in you too.

Once you have narrowed down your list a bit, you could also try contacting the organizers of the exhibitions and asking them for lists of last year’s attendees. This will help you narrow down your list even further. Review your list whilst keeping your objectives in mind, and you should arrive at a shortlist of the events that are most likely to help you achieve them.

Then all you need to do is sign up for each event and contact The Exhibit Source so we can get to work on an incredible trade show booth display that will wow your target audience and make them want to know more about you.

Business 2 Community

2011 B2B Trade Show Revenue Up 2.2%

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 23, 2012

Business-to-business media industry revenue rose 6.9% last year—from $24.7 million to $26.4 million between 2010 and 2011—with trade shows making up 40% of that revenue, according to the latest report from American Business Media’s Business Information Network (BIN).

B2B media trade show revenue in 2011 increased 2.2%, from $10.2 million to $10.5 million, following two years of significant decline. Between 2009 and 2010, trade show revenue fell by 6.4 percent; the drop the year before was more than double that, at 15.8 percent.

Growth was seen across all four categories the BIN report measures in the b-to-b media space:

  • Digital advertising revenue jumped 22 percent to $6.3 million, contributing 24 percent to the total.

  • Print advertising revenue increased 2.9 percent to $7.6 million, contributing 29 percent to the total.
  • Data services—the smallest segment, at 7 percent—increased 6.5 percent to $1.9 million.

The BIN report is created with help from a number of partners, including the Center for Exhibition Industry Research and publishing service bureau Inquiry Management Systems.

Expo

See The Exhibit Source Products at Multiple Boston Trade Shows This Spring

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 12, 2012

Words do not describe how The Exhibit Source trade show displays promote your business  with style and flare that put you light years ahead of the competition. You need to put eyes on our display products that create unparalleled first impressions within your business prospects.  

We are getting rave reviews about the success of our truly unique Backlit Pop Up Trade Show Displays using state of the art lighting and brilliantly colored fabrics.  http://theexhibitsource.com/backlit-displays.htm    If you are the type of business who tend toward annual or semi-annual trade show appearances, our state of the art trade show exhibit rental portfolio spans from table-tops to full-scale custom modular displays. 

Imagine your customer lobby bathed in branded and or customized corporate interior art, print, photos, and countless other materials that communicate you and your enterprise as a truly innovative company.   The image displayed above is just one of many ways we can customize your lobby or any other office space.

Come see The Exhibit Source in action at any of the upcoming Boston Trade Shows and imagine the countless ways to transform your brand and professional appearance. 

Corporate Interiors Make a Difference to Clients and Employees

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, March 08, 2012

Is your business one of those where potential clients are regularly coming to your offices for workshops, seminars, meetings or information? If so, you need a way to set your office space apart. Your clients and potential clients need to be impressed.  While you are at it, create a motivating and welcoming atmosphere for employees, and showcase certain areas to guests with The Exhibit Source.

The Exhibit Source is a leader in trade show booths and exhibits offering a complete selection of event marketing and trade show exhibit solutions. But that is not all we do. We can help you create the corporate interiors you are looking for. With the Exhibit Source as your interior design partner, we can create corporate interiors that add inspiration, and promote your brand and message.

ImageWalls prints can turn any design - photographs, unique design, logo, illustration or quotation - into wallpaper for your workspace. Custom wallpaper has never been practical before. But ImageWalls can produce custom wallpaper for one wall or all your walls for an affordable price.

The Exhibit Source creates dynamic corporate interiors, transforming reception areas, conference rooms, training centers with large-format digital graphics and custom wallpaper; Contact us.

Follow Up with Trade Show Leads

Joseph Coupal - Monday, February 27, 2012

You have made the commitment to attend trade shows. You have hired and paid the staff, expensed the travel and in some cases lodging, you have purchased the uniforms and you have a captivating trade show display. Because of it all, you have gotten some great leads. Now you have to follow-up on those qualified leads. This is the challenge.

Trade show lead follow-up has long been a problem. Why go through the effort and expense of exhibiting at a show with no follow-up plans in place. This is such a waste of precious marketing dollars.  However, it is done all the time by companies who must think that this activity is just not that important.

Lead Follow-up Problem Overall

Here is a breakdown of companies overall approach to leads, not just trade show leads.  One statistic shows that the majority of leads are never follow-up.

Does Your Company Qualify Leads for Sales?

  • 58% No
  • 42% Yes

How to “fix” this problem?

The root of the problem is “accountability.”  Senior management needs to require this information from their staff.  When there is a mandate from senior management, performance measures are normally in place to gauge progress.

Forward thinking exhibition managers tackle this issue with excellent results.  Sometimes they have tied it into calculating a return of trade show performance or they just want to streamline their internal marketing/sales processes.
 
Getting A Sales Person Involved

Have a key sales person in the planning process of the lead qualification form that you will use at the trade show.  Having their fingerprints all over the thinking process and the lead scoring parameters ensures they are more willing to follow-up.  This sales person can communicate to his/her peers the measures which are in place, so the teams knows their time is not being wasted with all of the non-leads.

Business 2 Community

Use Trade Shows to Find New Business

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 23, 2012

Trade shows allow businesses a setting in to find new business leads, new clients and to attend to existing customers. In theory, trade shows provide one-stop-shopping with hundreds of potential clients under one roof. Seems like the perfect opportunity right?
   
Face to face contact with companies is a more efficient approach than calling or emailing prospective clients.   

The reality is very different.  The scale of many events and exhibitions can quickly overwhelm those very clients you are trying to attract. The right trade show exhibit can help. Exhibitors attend shows to reach sales targets, your trade show display needs to attract people to your booth so you don’t have to go looking for them.

Trade shows are great opportunities to network, build relationships with customers, and invite prospects to explore your goods or services. Try to plan your space and use your location to your advantage. But most importantly, promote yourself before the trade show. Let  your potential and existing customers know where you are going to be and offer them a show special.

For assistance in creating the perfect trade show booth, contact The Exhibit Source.

Increase Trade Show Success

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 17, 2012

The first thing that comes to the mind of many small and medium small business owners when thinking trade shows is “expensive”.
 
That doesn't mean that trade shows can't deliver a great return on investment. The key to trade show success is how hard you are willing to work.

Many businesses are willing to spend big bucks travelling to and from and exhibiting at trade shows, with little other than a hope of traffic, orders and success. They certainly book appointments, but do they pull out all the stops?

A successful trade show can be measured in less quantifiable ways than orders written on site, such as new leads, enhanced customer relationships, brand building, product demoing, and sales training.

However, as well as these successes, it never hurts to get a show to pay for itself. Here are some ideas:

1. Contact your existing customers with a personalized message asking if they will be attending the show and requesting a formal appointment time. A call to action needs repetition from several methods to be most effective.

2. Contact the trade show association or organization and request a pre-registered buyer’s list for the upcoming show. Then, repeat the first suggestion about contacting customers with an introduction to your key product or service and how it can help run or grow their company. Request a formal appointment time.

3. Offer a free gift with a high retail value that can be acquired by you factory-direct at cost as a reward for showing up on time for a pre-booked appointment.

4. Overcome objections like; “I’m not booking appointments but I’ll stop by” with simple logic: “With all of our key staff on site and best products on display, we don’t want to run the chance of not being able to speak to you when you drop by. An appointment will guarantee you get our undivided attention.”

5. Use an online calendar to make sure no one gets double-booked and independent sales reps, if you have them, can see your availability in real time.

6. Advertise in a daily show magazine if there is one published on site. This is as captive an audience as you are going to get and the most likely chance that a print ad will translate into immediate action.

7. Offer show only specials.

8. Offer a daily prize in exchange for business cards dropped at your booth.

9. Rent the bar code scanner that some trade shows offer so you can scan the badges of buyers at your booth to ensure you get the most up to-date customer data. That’s your key to post show follow-up.

10. Deliver annual awards for “dealer of the year” or “distributor of the year” so that lesser-performing customers have something to aspire to.

11. Capitalize on celebrity endorsers, if you have them. Have them come for a picture and autograph signing or a meet-and-greet to draw attention and reward clients.

If this all sounds expensive, it is likely a still a fraction of what you are paying for floor space, flights and accommodations. A lot of it requires sweat equity more than dollars.

Using these ideas will allow you to book a couple hundred or more meetings over a four day show.  That kind of result practically guarantees the show’s success and return on investment.
 
An “if we build it, they will come” attitude is no more likely to work at a trade show than it is with a business idea. Exhaust your opportunities to confirm success before you get there.

Original article – The Globe and Mail


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