Tag Archives: Trade Show

What’s Up? Tradeshow Giveaways – New Promo Product Ideas

I’m always on the lookout for new and different ideas for tradeshow giveaways and client gifts.  Here’s a few that caught my eye at a recent trade show geared to sellers of promotional products (also known as ad specialties).  For variety, they include tech, kitchen and pet based ideas.

Tech Promotional Gift Ideas

OK, no surprise, these get a lot of my attention because many of our clients are techy and/or sell to techies.  Plus I’m a geek myself from way back when.

  • Phone Holders

The Griptyte Stand holds up any smartphone or mp3 player, without magnets, at a great angle for reading or glancing at on your desk, and has a nice sized message area.

The idea is not new, but many existing products are cheesy, in my opinion.   This stand works great on my desk.  I predict these will be kept and used.

  • Headphones, speakers and docks.

Also not a new category.

But I like that everything is getting more compact, less pricey, and frankly easier to carry around or use.

  • Styluses

Actually I saw some styluses at the show, but our favorite is the one we just did for a longtime manufacturing client of ours. So I’m showing it.

Dual function design means you get a “capacitive” side that works with all touch screens including phones and tablets, and on the other end, a traditional stylus for PDAs or for IRL keyboards.

  • Tablet holders with built-in keyboards

This one grabbed my eye even though it would be more likely to be a raffle prize than a giveaway at a tradeshow, based on its price.

It  would also make an awesome gift for a client, important prospect or sales person.  They’re never going to throw it out.  Unless someone else already gave them one already.

Office Products

  • Really big highlighters.

Nowhere near as sexy as tech.   I thought these huge highlighters were a fun idea any way.

If you have prospects or clientele that need ’em and don’t want to lose ’em, these 8 inch-long highlighters will definitely stand out, be used, and keep your message front and center.

Kitchen Products for Promos?  (Really? Yes, really.)

In talking to one of our long-time vendors – they sell the best pizza cutter in existence – we got reminded that people have been hunkering down in their kitchens lately and do a lot more home cooking.

  • The World’s Best Pizza Cutter

Gifts for the kitchen don’t have to cost a lot, and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll be kept and used where they’ll be seen often.

I’m showing the latest incarnation of the greatest pizza cutter in the world, but we also sell a lot of corkscrews, wine bottle caps and … You get the idea.

Pet Products – Another “Sticky” Category

Pet products is a fairly new category of product for the promotional market.

  • Paw-shaped Pet Food Scoop with Clip

We all know how much people spend on their pets these days. With that in mind – how likely are they to toss out a gift that could make Fido or Fifi’s life more comfortable or less time-consuming for themselves?

Pictured here:  paw shaped pet food scoop with 1 cup capacity that also tightly seals pet food bags with a clip.

Interested in more ideas?

Search for More Tradeshow Giveaway Ideas

We have two search options for you:

Example categories: Tech, Trade Show, Green and Holiday Products.


You’re always welcome to give us a call and we’ll help you develop or track down a great idea.  Tell us your target audience, your industry and your theme or message, plus a budget and a quantity.


Related topics:





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.


Exhibitor2012 – The Tradeshow and Exhibit World Gathers & Makes Its Own Show

Exhibitor 2012 came early this year, the first week of March, almost as if to show how eager the members of the trade show and exhibition world are to head out of the doldrums of past years.  And the results seem to suggest we are well on our way.

If you don’t know, Exhibitor is a trade show “of and by and for” the tradeshow industry: including exhibiting companies and their marketing mavens, as well as the manufacturers and distributors of products and services.

Imprinted Originals Goes to Las Vegas for Exhibitor Trade Show

Imprinted Originals management treks to Exhibitor every year or two, motivated by the desire to visit our existing manufacturers to see “what’s new”, track down potential new suppliers to see who has “the right stuff”, check out the competition.  And keep an eye on the trends.

We sound pretty much like any attendee at any tradeshow, right?

Which is part of the point – being on “that side” of the show.  Of course, with us, it’s something of a “busman’s holiday” as the booths themselves “are” a large part of what we come to see.

While Deborah the Marketing Director glad-handed company representatives in each booth, and talked product benefits, target audiences, and positioning, Veronica the Creative Director poked around and looked at all the details, the stitching, the materials, the print quality and the overall look. Together we vetted the businesses and their processes, as well as approving (or disapproving) the products being shown.

The Results of Our Vetting Process?

Foremost in our minds was to check in with our main manufacturing partners, and we were not disappointed.

They had the right answers to our questions and were eager to step up to client challenges we presented them. We liked the quality and range of new offerings, ranging from very portable through island sized modular booths and rental design properties. And it’s always great to see the folks we work with over phone and email, in person.

We also were able to look closer at products from other vendors.  There the results were mixed.

One potential new resource (that we “met” for the first time at the show) was crossed off our list when the “white glove” approach revealed they’d dressed their own booth in a sloppy way.  There’s no way we could trust them to provide the quality and reliability we expect, if that’s the best they can bring to a show like this.

In another case, a supplier of one product we are happy to represent is trying to expand into truss systems, and the result was not pretty.  We will stick with our current supplier, whose products are solidly built in the US, look great and carry a lifetime warranty.

On the other hand, we ran into a supplier we had used for exactly one job (in a rush situation).  His was a small but well-prepared booth. Our client had been very happy, and so were we when we looked more closely at what else he could offer.   We also liked what he had to say about his company’s business practices – predictable, based on quality and focused on support.  His products will be coming on board in a bigger way as a result.

Last but not least, there were specific exhibitors we went to the show to check out.  Based on what we knew, we wanted to add their product lines, but – there’s nothing like experience first hand and face-to-face for this kind of evaluation.

The good news is they did meet our standards, and as a result we are expanding our offerings with some very exciting new product lines which we will be introducing this spring and summer.

What Were the Trade Show Exhibit Trends ?

Part of attending any trade show is looking for trends in your industry.  You can see if you’ve been keeping up, and if there’s anything new you should be tracking down.

This year – I wouldn’t say there was a lot of new new things.  Some people seemed to be disappointed by this.

The biggest “trend” in my eyes was actually balance – nothing over dominated the show.  Last year it seemed everywhere you turned, it was about technology and electronics; the year before it was “green”; and before that it was fabric and extrusion. 2012 feels like a year in which what have been “new ideas” got the validation of being continuing trends.

But don’t get me wrong, there were new ideas and new approaches this year, with new fabric booth systems options, event technology that’s less about promises and more about results, and the evolution of lighting options.

A More Normal Booth Size Distribution

One thing that struck me in 2011 was the huge number of 2-story 20×20 booths.  It was as if the manufacturers were all trying to signal a positive trend, that tradeshows were coming back, without sticking their necks out too far.

In 2012, there was a much more organic distribution of booth space sizes.  What had been a 10 foot booth for a few years, might now be a 20 ft inline.  20 foot inlines grew to 30 ft.   And the 20×20’s that had been stacked up in a line, like a parking lot full of double-decker buses grew in 2012 into true island booths.

Fabric Display Options

Fabric of course retains its prominence in the design world because of its flexibility, ease of use and light weight – and now can be handled with extremely large format printers.  What was a bit new this year was that fabric didn’t have to dominate to make the point – so there is a balancing of fabric and form.

What were custom ideas are now being turned into systems and kits that can be used in semi-custom designs like the ones we specialize in.

Representative of some of the new fabric booths and display product lines we are bringing on board:

Event Technology

Event technology remains important, but now it includes a balance of large touchscreens and iPad/tablet kiosks of all sorts, which we’re excited about because let’s face it – with a large percentage of enterprise technology and manufacturer clients, we deal with a lot of requests for these tech display options.

Booth Lighting

Everything was not LED lighting (was that last year or the year before?) but LED was used in  creative fashions.

One of our lighting companies’ booth programmed their lights to outline a 6 foot high light bulb which changed colors.  Another had a display “cube” with internal lighting that could be set up to rotate its colors or otherwise grab attention for an exhibitor’s products.

And backlighting can now be fabric panel-specific at a very reasonable price for one of our client favorite portable displays, the Xpresssions Snap.

There are lots of opportunities for impact using light and color!

Trade Show Best Practices at Exhbitor2012

One thing that stands out at industry tradeshows is whether exhibitors there practice what they preach – do the conferences themselves use (or even invent) best practices?

Here’s two that impressed me this year:

  • After the show, I was emailed the list of booths that scanned my badge. It’s incredibly smart to give the attendees the same information that the exhibitors are getting. And it was refreshing not to have to wait for exhibitors to get back to me to have this information so I could reach out myself.
  • Exhibitor Media Group – the magazine publisher behind the Exhibitor shows – always publishes pictures of “Best in Show” booths and New Products (as submitted by exhiting companies).  This is a slam dunk – they publish the magazine Exhibitor in hardcopy and on the web.  I noticed this year they went a step further and published pictures taken at the show of each booth next to the name of the exhibiting company. (it’s possible I simply realized this for the first time this year).  This is very supportive of both of their sets of customers – the exhibitors as well as the show attendees.  This should be a new standard practice to keep the connection going between exhibitors and attendees.

The Exhibitor Show’s Statistics – Harbinger of What’s Coming in 2012?

You can probably tell from my comments that this felt like an even more positive year than 2011, where the optimism felt just a bit forced.

And the stats about the show apparently bear me out.   There were 12% more exhibitors in 2012 compared to 2011, as well as 9% more attendees.  The show floor was expanded twice to account for new and larger booths, including the growth from 53 to 65 exhibit spaces larger than 20’x30′ .

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2012 brings to the world of tradeshow exhibiting.

Why I Love Tradeshows – If It’s Not Obvious

If why I love, and believe in, tradeshows is not obvious from the above, I’ve done a very poor job writing this piece.

What we gain as a business from attending tradeshows in our industry is irreplaceable. I find it hard to imagine any industry or profession where learning about new products, services, skills and/or trends is not equally important.

Many of the businesses whose booths we visited gained from their new or expanded relationships with us.

And our clients, current and future, gain when we attend industry shows. Expanding our product and service options, and deepening our skillsets,  allows us to help them achieve greater exhibiting success at their own trade shows and special events.


Written by Deborah Elms, 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.


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


High Impact Exhibiting: Bring Your Event Marketing into the 21st Century – 09/28/10

High Impact Exhibiting: Draw Crowds and New Business at your Next Event or Tradeshow — a workshop presented by SMPS Long Island as part of its Marketing Tools Series

Whether you’re a new or veteran exhibitor, you will learn how to take advantage of event sponsorships and tradeshows.

  • Avoid making the 10 biggest mistakes of exhibiting
  • Discover how to take steps to go beyond “talking green” to showcase your commitment
  • See — for yourself — why new display trends are worth noticing
  • Explore integrating new digital and traditional techniques that will lead to event success.

Pre-registered attendees receive a free exhibit assessment.

This workshop by Imprinted Originals is presented as part of the SMPS-LI Marketing Tools Series.

When: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 8 – 10 AM
Where: RXR Building Lower Level Conference Room 68 South Service Road Melville, NY 11747
Cost: Free for SMPS, IABC & USGBC members, $25 for non-members


Note: Do you have event and tradeshow experiences — good, bad or “interesting” — in the architecture, engineering, and construction world?

I’d love to gather additional examples, so I can be sure to address specific questions from within this industry.


What’s the News about Tradeshow Exhibiting? Notes from TS2

I made my way to Boston a few weeks ago for The TS2 Show, also known as “The Tradeshow for Tradeshows”, one of two primary annual shows within the industry itself.

Since we are expanding our reconfigurable, island booth and rental offerings, it made sense to take advantage of what makes trade shows irreplaceable — being able to investigate new vendors and get an up close view of potential new exhibit products, to make sure they meet our standards for quality, impact and usability.

That effort was very successful — we have many exciting new product offerings.  We are still in the process of adding them to our website and in our “Introducing … ” new products blog category, but they are available now.

Exhibitors at this show include both manufacturers reaching out to companies to resell their products and companies like ours, looking for new and updating existing clients.  In addition, the show offers a great opportunity to check out what’s new, what’s working, and what should probably be avoided.

I will highlight some of my impressions from the show, as a way to share some current trends.

Illuminated Fabric Displays

There were wonderful examples of some of my favorite new products in use– illuminated fabric displays.  Created with beautifully “living” dye-sublimated fabric graphics, backlit and side-lit within handsome aluminum supports, these products provide a true high-end look at an almost unbelievably affordable price.

Sized in portable dimensions, tower and custom sizes — they can add emphasis to an existing booth or can be put to work in a central role within newly designed structures.

One example of this type of product — at a size perfect for highlighting a key message, introducing a new product or service, or simply reinforcing the brand visibility — can be seen here:  Double-sided Backlit Fabric Lightbox Display.

Note: there are also Tower and custom-sized versions available, not yet on the site.

Creative Uses of 10′ x 20′ Booth Spaces

An in-line booth which consisted of an approximately double-height backdrop was quite dramatic in a relatively small space. I thought its hodgepodge design, meant to show an array of effects, may not have made the best use of it, however.

Even more interesting, to me, were Island Booths created in 10′ x 20′ spaces.

One used its wood-colored flooring very much like an island, positioning at its center what would normally be a cabinet style display for the back of a booth. Props of lobster traps were positioned around the booth to support the theme which was nautical, also well represented within the display design.  Staff correctly positioned themselves facing in the different directions to engage with passersby.

Another 10′ x 20′ island booth was used to show off features of the exhibitors’ offerings using three distinct elements in a way that suggested a larger booth but left open spaces for visitors to walk in from any direction and engage in conversation with booth staff. This setup reduced costs involved in shipping, drayage and set up, while still projecting a much larger and very finished look.

Even the larger footprint island booths seemed to accentuate their open space at this show, rather than walling in their “turf”.  Chances are some exhibitors were given upgrades to larger island spaces, which could account for less “display” per square foot of booth, but the net effect was quite positive. It felt good not to be hemmed in, and allowed for more natural interactions.

Social Media on Tradeshow Floor

Professionals in the tradeshow, meetings and events industries are paying a lot of attention to social media tools, and the benefit they bring both to show organizers and exhibitors.  So of course there was a Twitter hashtag promoted by the show organizers, and used widely by electronic “participants” from afar and on-site.  If you do a search at search.twitter.com using #TS2show as your query, chances are you may still find comments being made weeks later.

I was also impressed to discover that the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center’s twitter handle @bcecnav was actively engaged in providing information throughout, alerting us to lunch hour, where there was free coffee, and when shuttle buses were available, etc.

The InZone

Then there was the InZone — a 40′ x 40′  space dedicated to gathering, entertaining and educating an interactive “hybrid” audience, made up partly of tradeshow attendees and partly those who watched via video feed and participated via Twitter and other online communities.

A professional tradeshow presenter (Emilie Barta, interviewed elsewhere on this blog) led conversations between experts and end-users about tradeshow and social media topics, especially but not exclusively focusing on the technologies and techniques which were making this experiment possible.  In addition, many of the participants who had previously “met” through networking using Twitter groups such as #eventprofs or #engage365 were able to have a well-appreciated face-to-face conversation.

This was basically a pilot for a concept that associations can use at their conferences, or an exhibitor seeking to create special “buzz” at an important show could implement.  There is great potential in this idea.

To see videos from the InZone, and learn more visit: http://ts2.3d-mediagroup.com/index.php .  And yes it  had/has its own Twitter hashtag #inzone.

I have yet to write a blog entry about my experiences participating in and helping create these kinds of hybrid events – but it’s coming!

Electronics and Event Technology

There were a range of electronic products for lead capturing, as well as interactive and 3-D displays for when it is impractical to bring actual products for demonstrations.  Many of these either used or mimicked iPad or Smart Phone technology.

There was also a product which provides Internet access for a reasonable rental fee — look out convention centers and exhibition organizers in the habit of overcharging!

I look forward to addressing some of these new products in a later blog entry.

Also Worth Noting

Let me mention a few other things that I believe are worth noting from the show, even though not brand-new ideas.

Not surprisingly, based on the work we’ve done for our own clients the last several years, the show was dominated by fabric booths and display components, including portable booths such as: Xpressions Snap, Entasi, and HopUp, as well as reconfigurable and rentable extrusion frames with silicon edged graphics (SEG).  There is good reason for that — lowered shipping and set up costs, ease of use, dramatic results and versatility appeal to essentially all exhibitors these days!

Though sometimes experts warn that using colored carpeting which contrasts with the show’s can create a barrier to attendees entering one’s booth, what I saw reconfirmed my experience that a well chosen color scheme which coordinates flooring with a booth’s graphical theme or coloring can have a quite positive result.

It is so easy to install one’s own wood-style flooring tiles now that there were several booths where exhibitors used it successfully to highlight their space.  It’s also worth noting that we now can offer standard carpeting and carpet tiles that are “green”.

What’s A Tradeshow Without Giveaways?

One odd thing I observed was a booth which made a very big deal about having barrels of beach sandals of different sizes to give away — but made no connection between them and any theme, message, or action item that I saw.  And I can think of so many ways to tie a message to those particular gifts!   It seemed to be a lost opportunity to create a deeper impression.

On the other hand, I will admit that a small part of my choosing to attend the show on the first day that the exhibit hall was open was an offer made by one of the exhibitors, “free flexible keypad for the first X visitors to our booth”. Despite the fact that I can get a sample of almost any promotional item for free or at a reduced cost, it set this exhibitor apart and motivated me even that slight bit more to get to their booth early enough to snag one.

The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

This was my first visit to the new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and from what I saw I was impressed.  They seem to be dedicated to providing a 21st century electronically-enabled experience — complete with Twitter handle and messaging mentioned above.

It’s also extremely handy to get to the BCEC from Logan Airport on the T via the Silver Bus Line SL1, and it only takes a few minutes.

Even though TS2 was smaller in size than previous trips, I found it very worth my while.  Participating in industry shows doesn’t just help us, it enhances our ability to support our clients exhibiting successfully at tradeshows.  I could only capture the tip of the iceberg here but I’ll be sharing more with clients throughout the fall season I’m sure.

Because someone will ask – the other major industry tradeshow is Exhibitor, held in March in Las Vegas and much larger.  I was disappointed this year to see that social media was not used particulary effectively by organizers or exhibitors in 2010, but I predict that will change in 2011.  If you are looking for implementation ideas, or help – feel free to reach out to us!


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.

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/D_Elms
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/deborahelms
Exhibiting Success: http://www.imprintedoriginals.com/blog


Not Green Enough For a Green Tradeshow or Event?

When is green not green?

Recently a client told me about a “green product” tradeshow for businesses to showcase for purchasing agents at a large local governmental facility.

When I wrote for information about participating, I received a reply that said that, based on our website, our products are not green.   I was flabbergasted.   Then I realized, it was just a matter of perception:  we’re not selling anything “solar”, don’t provide organic cleaning materials, and trees don’t get planted in the Amazon basin through our efforts.

Because we DO sell “green”.   The last several years have seen the development of many “green” or at least “greener” products for exhibiting at tradeshows.

What makes a tradeshow display product “green” or “eco-friendly”?

When one or more of the following are true:
  • Designed to use less materials, reducing both direct and indirect impact on the Earth.
  • Uses less or no VOC inks in the printing of the graphics  –  referring to Volatile Organic Compounds which give off toxic gas fumes.  Think of your typical “ink” smell.  Now, erase that smell, and you see the difference.
  • Replacing toxic PVC-based vinyl graphic panels (printed using VOC inks) with fabric material (printed using low or no-VOC inks).
  • Built with significant amounts of recycled materials  – e.g. plastic bottles turned into fabric panels and old aluminum within new extrusions.  This not only reduces what goes into landfills, it helps preserve natural resources that otherwise would need to  be extracted, prepared and shipped.
  • Many components can be recycled after use.
  • Designed-in flexibility allows components to be re-used instead of being jettisoned after one show, or used only rarely.  They can often be re-configured either for small 10’x10′ or 10’x20′ booths and as elements within larger island exhibits.
  • Designed to reduce weight, dramatically, which minimizes the jetfuel and gasoline required to ship them.  Not just by a few pounds but in many cases by half, three-quarters or even more.  Why set up carbon offsets when you can reduce the carbon load?
  • As a side-benefit of their re-configurable and light-weight structures, these display products generally require much less time to install and dismantle, reducing I&D costs, or removing them entirely.
  • Collapsible aluminum structures, constructed from smaller components, means smaller storage requirements too.
  • Easy adaptability.   A change in branding or message requires nothing more than printing and sending light-weight fabric panels weighing a few pounds, in what could be as small a package as an overnight letter!

As you see, many of our display products and the processes used to decorate them are directly and indirectly “green”, whether or not it is obvious.

So hearing about our “not being green” did make made me realize that there’s still a need – on my part and on the part of many people in the tradeshow and event industry – to explain that everything that is “green” does not need to contain solar panels.

In fact, I am surprised at the number of “green” businesses which exhibit at tradeshows using very un-“green” displays.

Looking to green your tradeshow booth or event display products?

The rep of “green” products, in any industry, is that they must cost more.  As you can see from the above list, even when products occasionally have higher up-front costs, many of the costs associated with shipping, storage, drayage and I&D are so reduced, that very soon, your earth-friendly products have become budget-friendly as well.

We are dedicate to helping our clients understand and act on green initiatives, in a cost-effective way, whether it’s a big push or an incremental-over-time policy change.

We’ve started coding products to make it easier to spot what is green, and why.  If there are any questions about your options, and how to move in the green direction –  we’re happy to help.

~ Look for an upcoming list of The Twelve (Easiest) Ways to Green Your Tradeshow ~

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.