Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finding The Right Trade Show

Here's where you hone your marketing skills! Finding the right trade show that connects your company's products and services to the right audience is the first step in successful event marketing.

You'll want to bookmark this website: www.tsnn.com

TNN(Trade Show News Network) has provided this research tool that allows you to search for new shows, with audiences that match your demographic goals. You'll see on the home page a great search engine that allows you to search by industry, venues, dates and location. Show organizers' contact information is available along with attendance statistics and exhibitor information. This is very helpful in planning your upcoming shows and exploring different markets.

While you're bookmarking URLs, here's another you will want to keep: www.shabangexhibits.com

ShaBang! Exhibits is where you'll find great ideas for every size of trade show booth from table top's to huge island exhibits along with all kinds of accessories.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Table Top Displays Part II

I’m on the train this morning, coffee in hand. I received a “friendly” reminder from my co-worker and fellow commuter Brandi reminding me that my BLOGGER hasn’t been BLOGGING! I’m “back on tack” to share some more thoughts about table top displays.

As mentioned earlier, because it’s so small, the challenge is even greater to make an impact with such a limited amount of graphic “geography!” Thus, every inch counts, and we’ll be pulling every component (both graphics and hardware) out of our bag of tricks to make the table top presentation effective.

1. LARGE GRAPHICS: The last post stated the importance of maximizing the size of the table top providing a larger graphic area. Fewer graphics that are larger produces a bolder statement increasing your chances of capturing the attention of the attendee from the trade show aisle. If ever the phrase “less is more” is true it is defiantly the case when it comes to exhibit graphic presentation. And yes, “size does make a difference” when it comes to graphics!

2. COVER YOUR TABLE WITH A LOGO THROW COVER: Think of the table top display from the floor up as one visual unit. By that I mean the table itself is part of the display! The standard table size is either six or eight foot long, and thirty inches high; Tables are sometimes included with the cost of the booth space along with the cardboard sign and waste paper basket, other shows; the table has to be ordered from the show’s decorator. Sometimes, the table is topped with plastic and then a thin plastic or fabric skirt stapled to the edge. And it looks sooooo cheap! Because the show decorator provides the cheap throw-away plastic drape, doesn’t mean you are required to use it!

The printed throw cover is another opportunity to brand your booth with company’s logo and tag line, and it doesn’t cost a lot to take advantage of this graphic presentation area! Think of it this way: There is approximately eighteen to twenty four square feet of “graphic presentation geography” going to waste if you use the decorator’s cheap plastic skirt.

3. LIGHT IT UP: “It’s just a table top, we don’t need lights.” Every now and then I hear an excuse for keeping displays in the dark. A few years ago, I recieved a call from a young intern who said, “My boss said we don’t exhibit at night, so we will not need the lights.” It was all I could do to keep a straight face and laughing out loud! Another excuse: “the lights in the hall are bright enough.”

The simple truth is that you went to this event to be seen and to stand out in the crowd of other exhibitors. Be bold and remember that the ambient light of the hall or ball room is same on everyone; no one stands out until their booth is “spotlighted.” Nothing is more deflating than to be working a booth and you are dull and dim while the booth on the left and the booth on the right is illuminated and drawing attention as the proverbial “moth to a flame.”

Darkness is the absence of light, light attracts, and it’s a fact of nature! How important is lighting for a stage or screen production? You are showcasing your message, light it up! Like the Good Book says: “Let your light so shine that others can see your good works….” Matthew 5:16. I know, a table top display was not the message of the Sermon on the Mount, however this verse really says it best.

Like most creative efforts it’s not just one “thing” that makes a successful display for your event, it’s a combination of a lot of small "things.” If you need some help with the details of producing an effective table top display, Shabang! Exhibits, has one of the largest selections of table top displays and accessories to be found. Check out www.shabangexhibits.com or by phone 214-340-2885, they’ll be glad to help you with all those “little things” to make your table top display a success.

BTW, if you’re exhibiting in Las Vegas, check with ShaBang. There are special rules and restrictions regarding the lighting you’ll need to know.

Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at: http://www.shabangexhibits.com/industry-links/show_tips.asp

ShaBang Exhibits,Inc. Dallas Fort Worth Garland 214-340-2885

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Table Top Display Part I

It’s not the 20’x20’ two story island exhibit with all the bells and whistles. Nor is it the full photo mural pop-up presentation so common in an in-line 10’x10’ or 10’x20’ booth. Still, the portable table top display continues to be the “work horse” of the exhibit industry. Affordable to purchase and economical to own, the table top display finds favor with its users for multiple reasons:

1. Manageable Size and Weight: If you’re tall or short, male or female, it doesn’t matter. The display is small, usually sits on a six or eight foot standard table. Graphics are eye level and easily managed.
2. Easy Transport: It packs in one rolling case, or sometimes in carry bag with a shoulder strap. Traveling out of town? Take it with you, most table top displays can be checked as luggage.* Better yet, it’s less hassle to ship it on ahead via UPS or FED-X.
3. Quick and Easy Set-Up and Dismantle. Almost all table top sets up in less than five minutes. The unit’s shipping case or bag stows under the skirted table.
4. In and Out: The table-top makes sense for those one day events. The time setting up and tear down is simple, quick and easy. The table-top display fits the bill!
5. Quality Presentation: Just because it is smaller, doesn’t mean the table top cannot present your message in a professional way. It’s all in the branding; it’s all in the message! When done right, the table top can look as professional as the free standing floor unit. There are a few rules to follow, a few things you will need to make the lowly table-top an effective presentation:

Guidelines / Dos and Don’ts:

Here are a few guidelines I wanted to pass on as you go through the selection and design process of your table top display.

1. “Super Size It!” Over the past few years I’ve seen a trend of exhibitors being overly concerned about “no hassle” set-up and dismantle. This has resulted in very small briefcase size table tops compromising the impact of their message. It may not be PC for me to say, I’ll go ahead and say it: "People are getting lazy when it comes to exhibiting at a trade show or event!" So what if it takes an extra ten minuets to set up? DO IT! It’s a small table top display, make it as BIG as you legally can. Stand out in the crowd...please! If the event is worth going to, look your very VERY best.
2. Unclutter the Presentation: There’s a tendency to use the table top display as a bulletin board! (This is a typical mistake even found on free standing floor model.) The problem? Too many small photos and other materials on the display that it begins to look like granny’s refrigerator door covered with photos and inspiring proverbs, recipes and news clippings! (I live with a granny, (“Nanny” to our grand kids) I know what I’m talking about! The presentation cluttered, is very busy, and hard to see from the aisle, visitors simply walk on by. Think of your presentation as a BILLBOARD on the side of the freeway and keep it from looking like a BULLETIN BOARD in the break room. Less is more when it comes to images that deliver a targeted message.
3. The solution is to use a table top display that has enough graphic “geography” to make an impact that causes people’s head to turn from the trade show aisle. Sure, it may take sixty to ninety seconds or more to set up the larger table top dis pay! But if that what it takes to stand out in a crowd, isn't that why you went to the event in the first place?

NEXT... The Table Top Display Part II I have some more thoughts and experiences to share with you when it comes to creating an effective table top display. For now, you’ll find a lot of table top displays on the ShaBang Exhibits' web site, there’s a lot to see! ShaBang Table Top Design Gallery

Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at: http://www.shabangexhibits.com/industry-links/show_tips.asp

ShaBang Exhibits,Inc Dallas Fort Worth Garland 214-340-2885

* Check with your airline for size and weight restrictions and rates.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lambda Graphics = Quality Graphics, Hands Down!

Lambda is the name used to describe the process, equipment and product resulting in a visually spectacular image. Using continuous tone digital technology, Lambda graphics and mural panels are produced from the transfer of digital images onto reflective or backlit photography material without the need of a negative.

Three lasers – one each of red, green and blue are merged into a single beam that simultaneously exposes the photographic material, producing an image in a single pass. By using lasers, the total image is crisp and sharp edge to edge with intense color saturation and no distortion. The next step, similar to traditional photography, is to process the exposed film though a “wet” film developer, where the prints exit dry and are ready for lamination.

Lambda graphics have a wide range of applications including portable, modular, custom and light box displays. Murals, detachables, header panels and other components of your display can be produced using this process as front of backlit graphics.

The graphics department at ShaBang Exhibits utilizes the Lambda process for almost all the graphics projects where photo images are used. On main reason is that almost every project has multiple life style or work place images where accurate skin tone reproduction is crucial. When you’re working with Lambda… it is a photograph! When compared to ink jet print the Lambda process has additional features that results in a high quality, premier product:

Continuous Tone: Lambda produces a continuous tone where inkjet produces a dot pattern.

Sharper Images and Text: Inkjet images and text are soft around the edges. Lambda products are crisp edge to edge.

Superior Skin Tones:
Skin tones are genuine – no pink or green hues.

More Realistic Color Saturation: Front or backlit images are more vibrant.

Backlit Images:
Superior color saturation, depth, and density. Without a doubt, the best backlit images available.

Fine Definition: Product shots and people are more distinctive and clear with Lambda.

You’re going to the trade show to look your best; your graphics should look their LAMBDA best!

Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at:

ShaBang! Exhibits, Inc Dallas Fort Worth Garland 214-340-2885

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From a Nature Trail to an Aisle on the Trade Show Floor

It was in 1948 when George de Mestral took his dog for a hike. On that particular summer day, both master and pet came home coved in burrs. Mestral was an inventor and with the help of a microscope he examined one of the many burrs stuck to his pants. When I was growing up on the farm west of Fort Worth, we called them “cockleburs.” He saw all the small hooks that enabled the seed-bearing burr to cling so viciously to the tiny loops in the fabric of his pants. This thorny product of nature inspired George as he took a closer look, "I will design a unique, two-sided fastener, one side with stiff hooks like the burrs and the other side with soft loops like the fabric of my pants. I will call my invention 'Velcro' a combination of the word velour and crochet.”

Like many visionaries, Mestral's idea met with resistance and even laughter, but the inventor 'stuck' by his invention. By trial and error, he realized that nylon when sewn under infrared light, formed tough hooks for the burr side of the fastener. Together with a weaver from a textile plant in France, Mestral perfected his hook and loop fastener. Through a lot of trial and error, the finished the design was patented in 1955. The inventor formed Velcro Industries to manufacture his invention. Mestral was selling over sixty million yards of Velcro per year, the product would rival the zipper in its ability to fasten. Today it is a multi-million dollar industry.

The generic term for Velcro is “Hook and Loop.” Now produced in many different varieties of strength, sizes, weights and colors, this fastener has woven its way into every major consumer product in one form or another. It has made life easier. Where would the footwear, apparel, athletic gear, stationary, luggage industry be without this remarkable fastener that can bind, loosen and re-fasten with such ease and speed?

Without a doubt Velcro has become the “fastener of choice” for the exhibit industry. Almost like magic, graphics are positioned and mounted to Velcro receptive fabric, quickly removed, stored and replaced with ease. Exhibit hardware, accessories, lighting and other show floor necessities are dependant on this two-part miracle product.

Here’s a reminder, when you’re using Hook and Loop on detachable graphics: Go easy on the amount of Velcro you use! It doesn’t take as much to mount graphics as you would think, why? It’s STRONG STUFF! Our graphics department at ShaBang Exhibits applies only ¼” wide hook tape around the perimeter of each roll-able panel. If too much Velcro is used, many times the graphic is damaged (crinkled or bent) as it is being removed. When graphics have too much Velcro applied, the knap of the fabric is damaged, leaving the exhibit worn and “old before its time.”

From a walk in the field to a walk down the trade show aisle, the product we’ve come to depend on, that has changed the way we mount graphics and tie our shoes has come a long way. Thank you Mr. Mestral!

NEXT: What’s a Lambda Print? Do you know what Lambda is?

Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at:

ShaBang! Exhibits, Inc Dallas Fort Worth Garland 214-340-2885

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Increase Your Attendance


One of the things I like best about the exhibit business is the opportunity to work with many different professionals in many different types of businesses, trades and organizations. My “practice” is always interesting, very diverse and includes a mini education in promoting different products and services to a broad range of trade show audiences. For example, we may be consulting an ad agency representing a software developer and then a volunteer with a local chairty in the morning and then meet with the preident of a funeral directors' association in the afternoon. Almost every day is like that!

Our showroom at ShaBang Exhibits has several conference and design areas where we enjoy a cup of coffee and discuss the form and function of the booth design along with the graphics and overall corporate branding. During these meetings, it becomes very obvious who’s a “newbie” and who’s an experienced “pro” when the discussion includes the pre-show promotion plans and projects. The professional exhibitor knows that promoting their message and inviting specific visitors to their booth and other functions before the show is a proactive, mandatory marketing task that is as important as attending the show itself. The key word..."proactive."

The statistics highlight its importance:

• 76% of attendees select whom they will visit before they enter the exhibit hall.
• Pre-show promotion can increase qualified attendance by 60%!

Here are some important tactics to consider in promoting your attendance at a show:

While ordinary direct mail marketers dream of a 2 percent response rate, exhibitor respondents in a recent survey by Exhibitor Magazine record an average response of 19%! Done right, it can be a powerful promotion that builds booth traffic, increases awareness, and most importantly, generates sales.

A good direct mail piece consists of four elements: the list, the overall look (copy & design), the offer, and the response vehicle. All four combine to make an effective direct mail piece. Leave out any one of these items and your pre-show mailer will not have its desired effect.

Eight tips and guidelines for the use of direct mail:

1. Plan to send out at least three pieces for maximum effectiveness, with the last piece reaching your prospects a week to 10 days prior to the show.

2. Make sure the list is qualified and up to date. The most brilliant direct mail piece fails miserably if sent to the wrong group of people. Draw from your internal database, past and pre-registered show attendees and exhibitors, and purchase a list of all potential buyers that are within a few hundred miles of the show.

3. Make sure you have an offer with a call to action. Invite them to bring the mailer to the booth to receive a special gift or discount on purchase, or have an RSVP response card that invites them to your hospitality events or special outings. Creating a sense of urgency helps here by saying "respond by October 15 as seating is limited" or "discount applies to first 10 exhibitors to visit our booth."

4. Personalize the mailer by using the individual's name on the envelope and enclosed letter. Have the sales staff add a handwritten note on each one, or even better, hand address each mailer, if possible. We all open mail that has our name handwritten. If this is not possible, choose a script typeface for more warmth.

5. Make sure your copy is brief and benefit-oriented. You need to speak directly to the needs of your target audience, and use different mailers for different buyer groups. Be sure to clearly differentiate yourself from your competition.

If you are showing a new product, play this up in the copy by highlighting the fact that the visitor will have the exclusive first look at your new widget that may help them stay ahead of their competition.

6. Include VIP passes or registration forms for the show that help to bypass long registration lines. Print your company name and booth number so the recipient will know which booth to visit and whom to thank!

7. Use post-show mailers to thank visitors. Or for those who couldn't make the show, offer them a company brochure or video.

8. Have an evaluation system to track the effectiveness of the mailer. Measuring your return on investment is just as important with direct mail as in trade show marketing.

Remember, you can double your response rate by following up with an emailed invitation, and increase your qualified attendance even higher with a personal phone call inviting them to your booth!

Before the show, place ads in your industry's trade publications, as well as local publications and association newsletters. Locally, you can increase awareness with billboards, airport light boxes, and taxicabs. At the show, you can have an ad in the show book, advertise on kiosks in the show registration area, and use hotel room drops under the doors — an extremely effective, and timely invitation to visit your booth!

Send out press releases prior to the show to the trade publications in your industry, and invite the editors to attend the show. At the show, make sure you have press kits, and possibly reprints of articles about your company and its products. Another good way to get your name out, and be recognized as a leader in your field, is to give work¬shops and seminars in conjunction with the trade show.


Plan now to isure the success of your trade show while protecting your investment. Don’t rely on show management to do all the wok in getting attendees to the show. Even if they get a large group of visitors to the show, will they be the right ones for you? Will they be your target audience? A successful show will depend on your promotional efforts.

Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Booth Staffing Tips & Training Part V


A very simple way to increase your quality leads at a trade show is to prepare a solid lead card — one that provides your sales staff with the necessary ingredients to properly follow up and close the sale. What would you rather get at the end of a show -- 100 business cards with a line or two scribbled on the back, or 100 lead cards with the prospect's answers to your booth staffer's smart questions?!

An effective lead card should not be complicated. Leave a section at the top for company, address, name, phone, etc. This step can go quickly by stapling a business card here. Have a line for the decision maker's name and number if different from the attendee. Next have a section for key questions to ask your guest. What created the need? How do they want to solve the problem? What would they like to have happen next?

To help your staffers in the questioning process, make a list of key phrases or words on the lead card that prompt the staffer. It can get pretty hectic on the show floor and staffers often forget to ask all the pertinent questions. Leave plenty of space for notes on the profile of the company and individual. If the strategic information on a potential client is not written down it will be forgotten. The last section is for the booth staffer to recommend the next course of action based on the prospect's wishes. This gives the sales staff a clear direction for follow-up. A ranking system should also be in place, based on the staffer's judgment, to aid the sales force in determining which prospects to contact first. After all, not all leads are of the same quality, and the hot leads must be dealt with immediately.


Over the past few years electronic badge scanners have become a standard tool for lead follow-up. Not always available in small shows, but for sure these lead retrieval systems are available by show management from chosen vendors at most large shows. The equipment is rented and should be ordered in advance of the show order deadlines to receive the best price. Order forms are usually found in the show kit with other show services. If more than one scanner is being used, don’t hesitate to ask for a discount, this has worked for me several times.

Depending on the vendor, the devices are available in different configurations; some are counter top, others hand held, others may require a lap top computer. Some systems may use wireless printers. The process is simple, the visitor’s name badge is scanned and stored in the system and the contact data is made available usually after the show. Most devices allow a field for entering notes for follows up. Just at the hand written card mentioned earlier, the ability to code the guest’s contact information and make notes is very important. Make sure the system accommodates this need.

Newer technology offers a Web enabled wireless mobile lead collection device and real-time web page lead management system. This new technology concept transfers data from an attendee’s badge to an exhibitor’s personal event web site. Leads can be custom qualified using the web site for personalization. With this approach, exhibitors do not need to carry away a CD or memory stick or wait in line to download or “retrieve” data at the end of the event. The wireless enabled mobile unit delivers all the sales lead data in real-time to a secure exhibitor web site with online password protected access by the exhibiting company’s personnel.

The features of these data capture systems vary from show to show. Rental prices range from $250 to $500. Remember the devices are to be returned to vendor’s service desk at the end of the show where data is retrieved. Sometimes the data is transferred to a memory stick or a secured web site allows downloading of the leads at your convenience. Most vendors allow access to your contact data up to ninety days after the event. Be sure and have a good understanding of what happens with the devise at the end of the show, where to return it, and how to capture the data. It’s important to assign a responsible booth staffer this task, lost or damaged units could be charged a hefty fee. Remind this person to get the necessary log-on information for the data download and a receipt!


This morning I had a great phone visit with long time friend and client, Scott Mayster, Vice President of Tick Data. Scott is responsible for client services and marketing and is an experienced trade show marketer. We have worked together in the design and building of his exhibits built by ShaBang Exhibits. A true trade show road warrior, we have spent many I&D hours on the show floor. We’ve enjoyed a great working relationship, I’m thankful for his friendship.

Scott has used electronic data capture in his booth for years. He has used this technology in several forms and graciously approved me sharing these experiences and tips with you:

1. The quality of the data received from the visitors name tag is limited to that which the show management collected at registration. Most registration personnel are good with entering data from a business card, driver’s license or other certified documents. However, when the attendee enters their personal data at registration, the information may not be complete or totally correct. Information that you may need, may have been omitted.

2. Rental systems provided by show vendors are most useful at shows where most visitors may not have business cards. These shows are usually retail shows that are high in attendance and may fall in a “retail” type of show.

3. The rental scan systems are fast and efficient. The speed and ability to have the contact data in a form that you can manipulate for mail-outs, general follow up is invaluable. Having that already in digital form, (in lieu of hundreds of pieces of paper) is the first step of evaluating the success of the show and proceeding with follow up in a timely manner.

4. Scott follows a simple rule when it comes to giving “swag” (premiums, give-a-ways) to visitors. He asks permission to scan the visitor’s badge before he releases the swag that’s in his hand. WOW! that’s a little gutsy for most folks, but when you think about it, it’s a ”win-win” situation! Scott has the follow up data he needs, and the prospect gets a t-shirt or squeeze ball. Everybody is happy. In my humble opinion, that should be standard practice for swag give-a-ways in every booth…every time!

5. Another system Scott uses at shows where the approach and greeting usually involves the exchange of business cards is using the old standard fish bowl. Only this time, the fish bowl has gone high tech! The business cards in the fish bowl are scanned by a business card reader connected to his lap top computer. The program has a data fields for notes and other information that can be customized and later exported into contact and spread sheet programs such a ACT, Goldmine, MS Outlook or MS Excel.

My special thanks to Scott for sharing his experiences as we continue our Boothology study focusing on booth staffing and training.

PS Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at: