Tag Archives: Effectiveness

Your Giveaway Pen Should Be the One They Keep At Tradeshows

When is cheaper more expensive, with promotional giveaways for trade shows?

The Example

I got off the phone this morning and shook my head.  I gave a “you’re about to miss your deadline” call to a client whose booth we created a few years before.  We’ve also been providing promos for his major trade show since – not a very big order, but we treat them all the same.

Because his business brings him in contact with manufacturers of pens, which is what he wanted, he told me that he’d already “taken care of” this purchase.  Proudly, he told me he’d been able to buy 2000 pens for the price we were asking for 1000.

I let it go. Frankly, I didn’t want to seem argumentative for what is really a small order.   And he was proud of how “smart” he was.

But, the thing is, I know something that he doesn’t know.

When Is A Cheap Promo Actually Expensive?

I can sell him pens that cost half as much as the ones we have been selling him.

The ones we had recommended, on the other hand, are worth much MORE than twice as much as the pens he bought.

How do I know?

Because these pens are the pens that his customers and prospects are going to keep on hand.

These pens write exceptionally well. They have European writing elements, even though they are lightweight and relatively inexpensive.  We use these pens often for our own self-promotion.

There are knock-off pens that look the same, but they don’t write the same.

The cheaper pens that cost half as much are going to cost a lot more in the long run. They’ll be thrown out, left behind, ignored.

The pens that write well, for a few cents more, would have been kept and used.  They will be more likely to be around to remind prospects of the really great product they’d seen at the show.

Evaluating Promos for Cost, Quality AND Effectiveness

We know that budgets rule, sometimes, and we also know that ROI is important.

With this is mind, our policy is to find good / better / best options whenever we can (and whenever it makes sense).

That way, we empower our clients, so they can decide what combination of price, quality and speed makes the most sense to meet their current needs.

And apparently I made a mistake here.

After years of providing the same great pens, in a small quantity, I was no longer reinforcing why they were worth the difference.  It’s a good lesson for me.

And hopefully a good lesson for others who can forget that penny-wise can indeed turn into pound foolish.

~

Deborah Elms is passionate about helping businesses and organizations create and retain customers through the effective use of trade shows & other face-to-face events.  She heads up the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  You can follow her on twitter at @D_Elms or visit the Imprinted Originals Facebook page.

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The 3 Jobs of A Tradeshow Booth: Proper Design Leads to Success

There are “3 jobs” of a trade show booth that lead to exhibiting success – do you know what they are?

If you understand these roles of a booth – and work with a designer with the exhibit design experience needed – you will have a great foundation for trade show success.  If you don’t, it doesn’t matter how great you think your booth looks – the results of your trade show might be disappointing.

The danger of not understanding the role of proper design

All too often, we see new exhibitors (and sometimes even not-so-new) rely on someone who has designed their website or brochure.  Beautiful, perhaps, but not matched to the requirements of a trade show booth.

A trade show booth needs to: stand out at a distance, bring the right people in to look more closely (and keep out the wrong people), and offer up just enough information (visually and otherwise) to start the conversation you want.

Handling those requirements are the three jobs of a booth.

#1: Grab Attention From A Distance

The first job of your booth is to grab attention from a distance, and make you stand out among a sea of other exhibitors.  Your designer will work with the whole look and feel of your booth, especially bringing focus on the part of your booth which is seen the furthest – usually the highest points of your booth.

As people walk down a long aisle, with so much distraction, you can get as little as two to five seconds for an initial look by your prospects.

In that glance, they need to see something that makes sense and appeals to them.  If your company is an unknown, you will almost certainly get a lot fewer eyeballs than you are counting on. if your logo reaches 30 feet but the headline that clarifies what you do is only visible for the final 10 feet.  This demands work from strangers who do not know why they should care, yet.

You cannot rely on your audience taking a second glance. Your booth must make them look.

#2:  Filter In and Filter Out

The second job of your booth is to act as a filter.

Your booth needs to make it clear who should stop, and who should keep walking.  And it only has a few seconds to do this.

It maybe counter-intuitive, but you don’t want everyone at a show to stop and talk to you – unless you have a consumer brand that is literally “for everyone”, which is rare.

Instead – someone walking towards your booth must be able to see if you, your products or services, match one of their needs, desires or interests. They have to see something that matters to them.

You also need to remember that your time is limited at a show.  You want to connect with just the people you are targeting, and keep others walking past.

You don’t want to waste time explaining what you do to just anyone who is curious, or have to fish for whether they match your basic qualifications, both of which a well-designed booth should normally handle for you.

Most importantly of all, you don’t want good prospects walking past you because it was not obvious why they should stop.

This second job turns your booth into a pre-qualification engine, which moves smoothly into Job #3.

#3: Start the Conversation

Your booth’s third job is to set the tone for the conversation that will follow when your intended audience has stopped.  Note, this does not mean your booth replaces conversation.

It means, up close, your intended audience will see images and words that demonstrate you understand them, and their pain points, or the benefits they’re interested in.  What keys their interest in Job 2, when looked at more closely as they’ve paused for a closer look, becomes the grounds of the discussion in Job 3.

Sometimes folks like scientists, software designers, or engineers – and actually anyone with a highly specific technical training – try to turn their booth into a sales brochure. There are paragraphs of information and detailed pictures or designs, better suited for a brochure or presentation.  They are trying to convey as much information as they can.  You’d have to be IN the booth and next to the booth to read it.

The truth is, if someone is that close to your booth, it’s your turn to engage them  in conversation.  You or your staff now get to take the connection and conversation your booth has succeeded at starting to the next level.

Other factors important to your tradeshow success

How successful you are at this third stage of conversation is dependent on much more than your booth design, of course.  It all starts with strategy, and includes pre-show and at-show promotional marketing; presentations, demonstrations or other interactions; and how well your booth staff has been trained in the do’s and don’ts of trade show exhibiting.  (I’ve created links to selected related article topics – or go to the Tradeshow Tips page)

What If Your Graphic Designer Doesn’t Know About the 3 Jobs?

My advice is to seek out graphic designers with the understanding and experience to get you the results you are looking for.  In the case of a tradeshow booth, ask if they have “large format graphic design” experience and if they know how to design for distance, filtering and conversation.

Or give us a call.  Imprinted Originals can provide creative design for your booth based on these principles; it’s what we do!

Note: I’ve talked about these “3 jobs” for years with prospects and clients.  I hope that this article on what they are, and how they can impact trade show exhibitor success, has been helpful.   Feel free to leave questions or comments (comments are moderated).

~

Deborah Elms is passionate about helping businesses and organizations create and retain customers through the effective use of trade shows & other face-to-face events.  She heads up the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  You can follow her on twitter at @D_Elms or visit the Imprinted Originals Facebook page.

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Tradeshows Do Work If Exhibitors Get Training (& Organizers Should Help)

Expo, conference and trade show organizers – do you really want to help prove that “trade shows don’t work”?

Trade Shows Work — When Done Right

I sometimes tell people – “it’s very easy to prove that ‘trade shows don’t work’.  You just do what way too many people do: don’t plan in advance, show up without pre-show marketing or training, and expect miracles”.

On the other hand, trade shows DO work if you do them right:

IF you have done a bit of homework to come up with a plan,

IF your booth is well designed (by a large format graphics designer, not a brochures or web site designer ),

IF your folks know how to work a booth, and

IF you’ve planned your followup in advance.

Plus include booth presentations and/or promotional marketing, or however it works best for you/your industry.

It will take more work, but it makes all the difference in whether exhibiting is an expense or an investment.

The Role of Show Organizers in Exhibitor Success (or Turnover)

As for those who organize shows?  If they do not offer some kind of support, especially to those who are new to trade shows, they are asking for higher exhibitor turnover.

I can’t imagine why more organizers haven’t figured out that it’s easier to create and keep satisfied exhibitors by having them well prepared than to try to get new ones to replace the ones who did them poorly and won’t return.

And yes, I have often given pre-show training.  The problem with some shows that do this?  They offer it the day of the event or a few weeks before, which is almost worthless except to remind people not to chew gum or sit down in their booths.

A webinar series some time in advance of the show would be the best idea to account for geography/time constraints.

Note – I’m writing this entry based on an answer I gave to a LinkedIn question on whether trade show organizers should offer support to their exhibitors.  Obviously I gave a definitive ‘Yes’!  And yes, we provide such trainings because it breaks our hearts to see money essentially wasted on great booths and exhibit design because of no or poor tradeshow strategy, preparation and training.

For anyone needing to get a better idea about how to exhibit, who does not have access to such support or training, take a look at this page and find specific areas for help:

Tradeshow Tips for Effective Tradeshow Exhibiting.

Or give me a call if you need support proving that tradeshows DO work.  I’ll be glad to help.

~

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

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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. If you cannot read through it without a glimmer of recognition — chances are that you are coming up short on achieving the tradeshow results you are looking for, including quality leads and new opportunities with existing clients.

Unfortunately, we have seen and corrected every one of these mistakes at least once!

I’ve combined some variations to keep the list short, so we can work our way up from number 10 in classic late-night TV Top 10 List fashion.

Top 10 Signs You Might Need a New Booth

#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 tradeshow 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 that’s been out of favor longer than you’ve been with your company, and the logo has changed, probably at least twice, since then. And maybe the magnets need a little help with duct tape.

#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 your 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, and the course he was taking was website design. Or your marketing agency designed it for you at the same time they did your brochures — and you realize they look exactly the same, only the brochures work and the tradeshow booth design does not. (Hint: you’re not saving money by using someone who does not know how to create impact with tradeshow graphics because you are going to have to pay to replace them to be successful on the show floor.)

#5 A painful sign you may be missing is when your sales people or field marketing reps won’t put up the display you think they’re using, because it either 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 middle-of-the-road message, because 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, and other people stop by and ask your help in finding your company. 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 wasting time trying to attract people into your booth by standing in the aisles and offering giveaways.

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 describe your own booth?

This is going to be a strong year for tradeshows, and your booth is going to be a major influence on the level of impact you have. Please feel free to reach out for ideas on how to refresh the graphic design on your display or replace your booth so none of these 10 signs will apply.

Your booth has three jobs: stop attendees from passing by without looking, filter out those who are not good matches to your target audience while attracting those who are, and start a compelling conversation with those who are appropriate.

Imprinted Originals provides the expertise of an exhibit house without the overhead. We can help you achieve Exhibiting Success at your tradeshows and events. Call or e-mail us today for help assessing your current situation and getting you prepared for 2011 and beyond.

~

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 create and retain customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events.

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/D_Elms
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/deborahelms

Website: http://www.imprintedoriginals.com

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Could A “Moat” Destroy Your Tradeshow ROI?

BOOTH SETUP TIP
The Case of the Mysterious ROI-Destroying Moat

This happens all too often at trade shows, and it’s heartbreaking.  A simple but major mistake leads to disappointing results.

Here’s the situation:  a business spends good money to purchase a display and have it professionally designed  to catch the eye of its best prospects so they will stop and start a conversation.

But then, without a second thought, the table that the trade show has provided is placed across the front of the booth space, with piles of literature and/or promotional products scattered across it, and salespeople sitting behind it.

Here’s the problem:  instead of using their entire space to interact with prospects, to get to know them better and gain their confidence, these exhibitors have essentially set up a moat – with their sales force stationed like defenders of the castle on one side, and their prospects on the other side, stuck in the aisle.

With such poor possibilities for genuine interaction, it’s unlikely that enough useful information will be collected to turn the people who have passed by the booth into genuine leads.

The ROI from such a show will almost certainly be low, and another exhibitor will conclude “trade shows don’t work for me”.

How can you make sure not to make the same mistake?

  • Design your booth layout in advance.
  • Train your staff on how to optimize the use of your space.
  • Situate your table to the side, if needed; never sit behind it!
  • Don’t leave literature or promotional products sitting around – be sure to swap them for a business card or badge swipe.

What if – as an occasional client of ours insists – your prospects are touchy-feely, non-verbal types (think engineers) and you think it’s easier to start a conversation if product is “close by”?

Even if physical props are important to engaging your prospects, you still don’t want to block the entire front of your booth. Use a small table as near to the front of the booth as you find necessary, and then if you need more table or counter space, add it to the sides.  A counter-height cocktail table can be a perfect compromise which sets the right tone.

The moat makes your prospect a long-distance audience.

Taking away the moat makes a conversation easier to start, and reminds you or your booth staff that the point IS to invite your prospects into your castle territory.

If you would like more detail on these points, or help with your particular booth arrangement  — feel free to give us a call.  We’re always happy to help with your Exhibiting Success!

~

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

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THE “NEW NORMAL” IN TRADE SHOW & EVENT MARKETING

I recently attended a presentation by sales expert Duane Cashin,  which riveted the entrepreneurs at the TAB Long Island Prosperity Series on March 9th, 2010.  (The Alternative Board is a peer advisory group for business owners.)

He spoke about “Sales in The New Normal” to a room eager to understand the new world as business owners.

It got me thinking about the trends our clients are facing in sales, marketing, and exhibiting, and I jotted these notes down afterwards.  There may be deeper and longer thoughts later.

1) The “New Normal” in selling:  your product or service is not just competing with your competitors’ products but with other budget items, so you must make a compelling business case for its purchase.  (This was one of Duane Cashin’s key ideas.)

2) The “New Normal” in marketing:  in a networked, social media-oriented marketplace, communication is not one way from you to your client, and it isn’t even 2 way; communications are multi-node integrated experiences between many different conversations, plus traditional forms of marketing communications.

(This is informed by Duane’s presentation, but also grown from experiences I had at #EventCamp2010, explorations with #eventprofs in Twitter and my own observations)

3) The “New Normal” in tradeshow exhibiting and other events – my thoughts:

In the “New Normal”, exhibitors need to produce better results with less budget, staff and time.   They’re competing for budget with every other marketing project, and marketing is competing with every other idea that can impact the bottom line.

Exhibitors need to be more nimble, more targeted, and quicker to differentiate themselves with their prospects.  How?  They must compete less on the superiority of their products or services and more on their ability to “get” – and help with – their own prospects’ “New Normal” in order to make a connection.

Got questions on how the “New Normal” is impacting you?  Or need ideas on how to implement?  Let’s start a conversation.  Reach out at http://www.twitter.com/d_elms, leave a comment, or call (631) 979-0283 or (888) 912-9116.

~

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

~

Duane Cashin http://twitpic.com/1cmqrq next to one of displays Imprinted Originals designed and produced for TAB Prosperity Event (as well as for most of the sponsors).  Duane Cashin’s website: http://www.duanecashin.com

Duane after his presentation.  (Like the bannerstand?)

The Alternative Board of Suffolk County:  http://www.tabny.com

The Alternative Board of Naussau County: http://www.tabli.com

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Workshop: “How to Make the Most of Your Trade Show Experience”

Workshop: ” How to make the most of your Trade Show Experience”

Learn tips and traps in preparation for exhibiting at the SCWBEC Exposition and other tradeshows.  Bring questions!

Organization: Suffolk County Women’s Business Enterprise Coalition

Speaker: Deborah Elms, CEO, Imprinted Originals

Date: February 11, 2010 from 10:15 – 11:30

More information: http://www.scwbec.org

Postponed due to snow:  February 25, 2010

Location: Small Business Development Center

Stony Brook University’s Research & Development Park, Building #17

1512 Stony Brook Rd, Stony Brook, NY 11794


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