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Tips For Successful Trade Show Displays

Jun 4, 2008
Many businesses find that trade shows are a great way to attract decision-makers, influence purchasing decisions, provide a point of contact for new customers, get in front of key media influentials and build a positive brand image.

Trade show displays represent a great platform to accomplish your goals with these key constituencies since you are at an event specifically developed for your target market and the attendees are in a learning mode.

A bit of upfront planning will ensure that your display attracts trade show attendees and conveys the right kind of image and message. Here are some tips to help you plan for successful trade show displays:

* Begin With the End in Mind

Make sure that there are clearly articulated and understood common goals & objectives for what you expect to get from your participation at the trade shows. This should guide the development of all trade show displays.

Depending on what your goals are objectives are, you could have significantly different requirements for your trade show displays.

* Set Realistic Timelines

Allow enough time to select, design and build your trade show display. Timelines differ greatly depending on the size and types of displays you are considering. If your past experience was with island-style kiosks and now you are considering custom-built trade show displays, there is a vast difference in the time required.

Lock in your plans for your trade show schedule as soon as possible and you can then take advantage of early show services discounts as well. Possibly even more important, you will be better able to ensure against glitches

Make sure you are working with a calendar that shows you the date of the
trade shows AND the date you can move in your display.

* Measure Twice, Cut Once

Before deciding on your trade show displays, determine space requirements and the number of trade shows you plan to participate in over the next 12 months. Why? For starters, it will give you an idea of whether you should consider a show display rental instead of buying.

If you do find it appropriate to buy, there are three main categories of trade show displays to consider: custom, custom modular, and portable. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

If cost is a major consideration, know that light-weight materials are less expensive to operate. Use tension fabrics, woods, colored metal, layered graphics that use fewer shipping containers, have a current design trend look, and save on operating costs.

Older, traditional trade show exhibit booths can be obsolete because they are expensive to handle due to heavy weight, require larger size and number of crates to ship, and they are not consistent with current design trends.

* Convention Center Logistics

Once you nail down your trade show booth number on the show management map, be aware of any booth rules and regulations that apply such as height limitations and any obstructions on show floor before planning your booth design. Determine the space size and dimensions of your trade show displays.

Reserve a good location early for your booth by studying the floor plans of the various venues that fit your display. Avoid dead-end aisles, freight doors, poorly lit corners, obtrusive columns.

Trade show attendees usually turn right when they first enter the trade show exhibit hall and they look up; be sure to make your booth visible with dramatic overhead signage.

You will need to have supplemental assistance from show services at the trade show exhibit hall. These are representatives and union laborers who provide a range of support services which include installation and dismantling, carpeting, furniture, lighting, phones, drayage and security. If you are aware of the nuances of these services and plan in advance you can save money while avoiding numerous pitfalls.

* Grab Their Attention

Start with a dramatic, attention-getting hanging sign. Upon entering the trade show exhibit hall the first thing attendees do is look up; your overhead sign should have a unique design, shape and movement to it. Gobo lights traveling across a tension fabric can provide changing color and mesmerizing interest.

New technologies bring high drama to your booth such as 3D video/laser image displays suspended above, your own interactive Website on large screen, robotics, holographics, waterscreen projections.

* Build Traffic in Advance

Trade show exhibit surveys report that three quarters of show attendees make out their schedule for exhibit visits and seminar attendance in advance. Set up meetings with clients, prospects, and press ahead of time.

Contact attendees months ahead, give them your trade show booth number and location and have an incentive at your booth that will be of value to them.

Link incentives to a direct prospect benefit and make it redeemable only by visiting your trade show display. One example is to cut a numbered gift certificate in two and send half in advance and have the remaining half available at your display.

These tips for successful trade show displays offer a few ideas for successful trade show exhibiting. Trade shows are a vital component to many companies marketing and sales efforts; getting this part right represents a wise investment in your time and resources.
About the Author
Dick Wheeler is President of Professional Exhibits & Graphics, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California with showrooms in Sacramento and Sunnyvale. Find more tips and ideas for successful Trade Show Displays in the news section on their website.
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