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Top 10 Signs You Need a New Tradeshow Booth or Graphic Design

The situations on this list, while presented with humor, lead to results which are anything but funny. Unfortunately, we have seen (and corrected) every one of these mistakes over the last 15 years!

If you can’t read through it without a glimmer of recognition — chances are you are coming up short on achieving the trade show results you are looking for.

Top 10 Signs You Might Need a New Booth

We’ll work our way up from number 10 in classic late-night TV Top 10 List fashion.

#10 A sure sign you need to get a new booth is when you have clients saying “You do that?” even after just seeing you at the trade show where you announced a new product or service.

#9 A sign it’s past time for a revamp is when your booth sports a color scheme — and logo — that’s been changed, at least twice, since.

#8 You might be ready for a new booth if you’ve gotten tired of watching your competitors essentially open their arms and put their booth up in two minutes when it takes you an hour or two and a ladder.

Or your competitors have one of the hybrid fabric and extrusion models that only look like they require paying for labor from the general contractor, and you are paying for setup, with overtime too.

#7 A sign the timing is perfect for a new booth is you’ve just made a big move like purchasing another company or snagging some major clients, and you want to step up the style of your display to replace the same-old, same-old pop up you’ve relied on for years.

#6 An obvious sign is when your boss finally admits that his wife’s nephew did the design for a school project.  Or your marketing agency designed it when they did your brochures — and they look exactly the same, only the brochures work and the trade show booth design does not.

(Hint: you’re not saving money by using someone who does not know how to create impact with trade show graphics. You will have to pay to replace them to get the results you are looking for!)

#5 A painful sign (and maybe no one is telling you) is when your sales people or field marketing reps won’t put up the display you think they’re using. It weighs more than they do or is so difficult to set up, it cuts into their face time with prospects. Or they have decided it requires too much effort to explain its message, and the inflexible booth layout does not allow easy adaptation for their specific audiences or product lines.

#4 Another reason it could be time to reconsider your booth design is when people keep asking if you’re a startup — and you’re not. Or you are a startup with great new ideas and everyone sees the same stock photographs they see on other booths, so they don’t pay any attention to you.

#3 You know you need to get out of a rut when you get lost coming back from the bathroom, or prospects ask for help in finding your company.  This means, your booth looks too much like everyone else’s, your company name or tagline does not stand out, and even you can’t read most of its overly small print when you’re standing next to it.

#2 A truly bad sign that you need a new booth is — it’s not doing its job. Instead of connecting with leads pre-qualified by its message, you end up talking to the wrong people.

And the #1 most obvious and most worrisome sign that you need a new booth is when people pause, stare at your display, then look at you and ask, “So what is it you do anyway?”

Do you find yourself agreeing — or even suspecting — that any of these situations describes your own booth?

Take a look at our range of portable trade show displays or modular trade show exhibits – or give us a call to talk about updating your booth graphics.

We want you to get new prospects, expand your current client relationships, and be a trade show exhibiting success!  We provide the expertise of an exhibit house without the overhead. Reach out today for help assessing your current situation.


Deborah Elms is a co-founder of Imprinted Originals, a division of The Originals Group.  She is passionate about helping new and growing businesses create and retain customers through the effective use of trade shows & events.




Grading: A Novel Approach to General Service Contractor Issues?

One day I came across an article about the restaurant grading system in New York City.  Needless to say, restaurants look to get “A” ratings, as that draws people in that rely on the evaluations of the city health inspectors.

It made me think, what would happen if the General Services Contractors were graded for their performance at tradeshows?

Wouldn’t it incentivize associations and businesses which organize trade shows to select their GEC partly (largely?) based on performance, not just monetary kickbacks, er, support? Wouldn’t that help associations entice more exhibitors to sign up for their trade show or conference, if they knew that they would be dealing with an A level, fairly price, contractor?

And most of all, wouldn’t that create a push for the general contractors to do the right thing?

Of course, the rub is – who would set up the standards, who would enforce them and who would track and report the results?


Deborah Elms is head of marketing and sales at Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping new and growing businesses, non-profit organizations and associations create and retain customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events.


Branding Ideas from Marketing Guru

I recently attended The Women’s Breakfast for Champions, a networking program for Women Business Owners held by SCORE.

Branding and marketing expert Liz Goodgold of REDfire Branding spoke.  She provided a handful of actionable steps to increase personal branding for owners of service businesses, but anyone who networks could take advantage of her pointers.

She started with the premise that what we want is to create “flawless remembering” by those we meet, of who we are and what we offer.  We achieve that through what we do, in our word choices and behaviors. We create memorability through uniqueness, attitude, catch phrases or vocabulary, and providing an easy way to remember our name.  In her case, she introduces herself as Liz Goodgold, as in “as good as gold” – which has, quite literally, been how I have been able to easily recall her name.

Catch phrases and unique style or actions create an indelible memory. Who doesn’t associate “it’s a good thing” or “how’s that working for you?” with specific TV personalities?

In fact, all great brands must be unique – there is something about them that is like no other. If one brand reminds us of another, there is a dilution, when “mindshare” starts to leak into “marketshare”.

Three women helped make her case, by acting out celebrity branding – a Joan Rivers, an Adele and an Angelina Jolie were able to convey who they were easily through visual, auditory and attitude cues.

Liz’ comment that “if you cannot be imitated, you are not a brand” made a great deal of sense for individuals.  It is a bit of a puzzle, considering if this is equally true for B2B businesses and their marketers.

The morning ended with the tabletop exhibitors introducing themselves to the other breakfast attendees, with most attempting to find a new unique expression of their personal or business branding.


5 Great Reasons To Step Up To a 20 Foot Tradeshow Exhibit

Are you considering exhibiting in a 10×20 or 20×20 foot booth space at an upcoming trade show?  Do you wonder how to make the best use of this size tradeshow exhibit space to garner more attention and better results, and not just spend more money?

Here’s why some of our clients chose to step up from a 10 foot booth to a larger space – and how they used it to their advantage. If you have similar goals in mind, you might find it a good moment to “step up” too.

Great Reasons To Step Up, and Great Uses for 20 Foot Booth Spaces

1) Your company has made a big step and wants to gain increased attention with a larger footprint.

After the purchase of a related company, Finetech USA took two 20 foot spaces across from one another at their largest industry event in order to announce the acquisition.  We worked with them on coordinated but individually designed booths to make a big splash and help their customers and prospects make the connection.

2)  You are entering a new market or expanding your product line and want to “show off” what is new as well as still include what your current clients and prospects already know.

Edge Electronics expanded from electronic components to include LCD solutions, but was not getting all the traction they were looking for from their existing customers and potential new prospects.  They decided to take advantage of top industry shows to call out the strength of their new offerings by having Imprinted Originals design an attention-grabbing extension of their original booth.

3) Your prospects and clients want a hands-on experience with your products.

The clients of Neutec Group are laboratory scientists who specifically want to learn about new equipment and new capabilities at their conferences.  Our design, which combines fabric backwalls and bannerstands in a flexible and cost effective way, attracts visitors into Neutec’s booth, rich with hands-on stations for demonstrating their product lines.

4) You want a themed environment that drives the flow of interaction between visitors and company representatives.

Network America wanted a dual-purpose booth, where half the space could be used to attract and talk with visitors, and the other half could be used for viewing demonstrations of their latest product release.

Our solution brought them a 50’s style “drive-in theater” for the presentations and a “diner” on the other side of the booth, complete with old fashioned tables and chairs, where they could talk with company representatives dressed in matching bowling shirts.  The result was that theirs was the most talked about booth at the show, garnering exactly the step up in attention they were looking for.

5) You anticipate a large show, a steady stream of prospects and an increased booth staff.  Or perhaps you’ve implemented a program for pre-planned at-show meetings and want an area of your booth available.

After all, the total number of leads you can take home from a show is a result of (the number of hours the exhibit hall is open) x (the number of staff available) x (the number of visitors/hour they will interact with) – factoring in the total visitor population and the % which is expected to match your target profile.

Another critical influence on the number of useful leads will be how well your booth design and layout attracts your target audience and filters out less appropriate visitors – and how good your people are at connecting with, qualifying, and identifying next steps for your visitors.

This reason is not as fanciful, but it contains the essential point of all the answers above.

As with the experience of our clients, it is time to take your trade show opportunities to the next level when you are ready to put the larger space to good use and achieve expanded tradeshow goals.

Some Booth Options

There are many routes, using a variety of booth and display models, that can help create a professional looking 20 foot both space.   Some of the examples above were based on doubling up or extended versions of our most popular light-weight Fabric Displays and traditional Popup Displays.

We also carry a wide range of other models.  Our current website does not have a section highlighting 20 foot booths (upgraded website coming) – but these are some of our other options: Custom Modular, Hybrid Modular (only a fraction of available styles shown), and Truss Kits.  We also represent the full line of Classic Displays.

Beyond the Booth

As you can see from the examples above, however, the physical booth style is only a part of what makes for an successful use of your tradeshow space.  Imprinted Originals offers “exhibit house expertise without the overhead”, if you are considering “stepping up”.

If you are not sure if you have a “great reason” to step up your exhibit space, we can help you look objectively at the plusses — and the minuses — of expanding your booth, to determine if it makes sense at this time for your tradeshow marketing success.


Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping businesses grow by creating and retaining customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events; offering high impact, professionally designed display booths, promotional marketing and guidance on what works and what does not.

You can follow Deborah on Twitter at @D_Elms and Imprinted Originals at @TradeshowsMdEZ.

(c) 2011 Imprinted Originals LLC


Marketing Pros Share Top Marketing, Tech & Business Sources

What do other marketing professionals read when they are looking for input, advice and inspiration?

This question occurred to me one day, while reading one of my own favorite industry magazines. On the one hand, I wanted to share the good read I was enjoying — and I also wondered if there were other great resources I didn’t about know myself.

So I decided to ask on LinkedIn.  I received a multitude of answers because I asked in a lot of different groups. (I’m still listening, if you have favorite links to relevant magazine or blogs.)

Entries marked by * were the ones that stood out with more votes. Otherwise, I am using alphabetical order.

Business magazines

Business Week*:
The Economist:
Fast Company*:
Harvard Business Review*:
McKinsey Quarterly*:
Wall Street Journal*:


Design Observer:
Smashing Magazine:

Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing IQ:
Direct Marketing News*:
Target Marketing Magazine:

Exhibiting (Trade Shows) & Events

Exhibitor Magazine*:
Successful Meetings:

Mixed Marketing, Advertising and PR

B to B Magazine*:
Marketing Sherpa*:


American Demographics:
Psychology Today*:
Response Magazine:
Urban Daddy:


Computer World:
BusinessWeek Technology:
Software Magazine:

Technology Marketing

It Marketing World:
UBM Techweb:

Web Marketing / SEO / SEM

Internet Retailer:
SEO Mash (RSS feeds):
Website Magazine:

Misc. Blogs

Bob Bly Copywriter:
The Daily SEO Blog:
Marketing Pilgrim:
Outspoken Media Blog:
Seth Godin’s Blog*:
Six Pixels of Separation:
Social Media Examiner*:

I’d like to thank contributors which include, to-date:

Aron Smith, Bhalchandra Pai, Bob McCarthy, Brian Bearden, Bruce D. Maki, Chad Barr, Chip Monroe, Christine Hueber, Corinne Speckert, David Schwartz, Dharmesh Shah, Dinesh Rãmkrishna, Filiberto Amati, John Groth, Ken Heun, Louis Camassa, Michael Bower, Michele Kastner, Mike Jones, Mike Klassen, Patrick J Mullen, Peter O’Neill, Peter T. Britton, Randy Zeitman, Sarah Nelson, Sherbrooke Balser, Susan Fantle, Unmana Datta

Note: while all ideas were checked out, a few were not included.


Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping businesses create and retain customers through the effective use of trade shows & events.


Do You Have Over-active Self-centered Social Media Spigot Disease?

I dropped my most verbose LinkedIn connection, a few months back now, and it’s been quite the relief. She started posting entries on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites using

The tool was not the problem, but how she used it.

Keeping Connected or Drowning Your Connections?

She automated her posts, most of them, using a repeating sequence of entries, in all of her social media streams.  They were timed to show up every 40 minutes. Monday is one set of messages, Tuesday another, etc.  I started to notice the repetitiveness, even the cheery sounding signoff wishing her connections a good evening.

To be fair, some messages pointed to helpful information on her blog.  But to find them was like a needle in a haystack full of old news and repetitive shilling.

In helping her solve an issue with the same post going into the LinkedIn stream twice at the same time (which meant fully 60% of my stream was her posts), we talked about her use of automation.   She said she received a lot of good new contacts this way.

Understand the Uses for Each Social Media Platform

Now – this could well be true in Twitter, where repetitive messages can help cut through the clutter, and being one in message in such a large stream ensures you will not seem so intrusive.

On LinkedIn, however, most of her contacts presumably know what she is offering – so all they need is an occasional reminder of who she is and how she can help.

This stands as a warning that what works in one medium does not work in another.

Our LinkedIn connections should be treated differently than Twitter followers, Facebook “friends”, Quora followers or Google+ connections.  Each platform has a different timing, feel and etiquette.

Conversation or Monologue?

Social networking is like any networking. If all you have to talk about is yourself, people will get bored quickly and stop listening to what you say.

My advice? Tell us what makes you special and what we should remember about your offerings – but only about 20% of the time.  The rest of the time, share your opinions on the events of the day, drop in where you’re going and what you’re up to, post interesting news items from other people that you we might care about.  Otherwise, we will stop paying attention or, better yet, turn off the spigot with relief.

If your social media “networking” feels like a conversation, we’ll be happy to hear from you.   If you’re the only one in the conversation, it’s a monologue.

Sorry to be blunt, but if you want to engage me in a monologue — I want out.

Disconnecting with Ms Auto-message felt like a breeze picking up on a hot summer day.


Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping new and growing businesses, non-profit organizations and associations create and retain customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events.


PlannerTech NYC June 9, 2011

Truth be told, I’m kind of a geek. I worked in tech on software design for years. For the last 8 or so years, my business has been about helping others make a big, effective splash in tradeshows and events.  So with opportunitiles to combine face-to-face event marketing with tech stuff – I geek out.  So you know I was excited to hear about PlannerTech NYC 2011 — an evening specifically geared to showcasing event technology.

EZ Engage Interactive Fabric DisplayEven better , I get to present the EZ Engage Interactive Fabric Display Wall, a total geek-out tradeshow/event product that provides user-driven interactivity within a beautiful self-contained display.  Both files and tension fabric panels are easily updated.  And users make their choices by waving their hands in front of a proximity-driven sensor.  EZ!

I’m very inspired to be in the lineup with other great organizations showcasing a wide range of products to help people organize and run events — or meet, connect, engage, and interact – before, during and after those events.

To learn more about PlannerTech, and the products and services being showcased, click PlannerTech.

Since the face-to-face event is sold out, the good news is it will be livestreamed, and you can catch the latest chatter on twitter (hashtag: #PlanTech) as well.

And if you miss it entirely? There’s still plenty of media to check out online … and catch me at an upcoming tradeshow, and we just might catch me showcasing the EZ Engage Interactive Fabric Display Wall again.  It would be the geeky thing to do!

Thanks to the organizers:  Liz King of Liz King Events, Liz Massei of Pogby, and Christine Upton of CMGals, the sponsors, other showcasers, and the whole #eventprofs community for making this possible!


Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping new and growing businesses, non-profit organizations and associations create and retain customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events.