Category Archives: Planning for exhibiting at a trade show

Tips on Seminar and Exhibition Pop Up Stand and Shell Schemes

Once you have prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition, completed the trade show Marketing Plan and prepared the budget you will know how much money you have to spend on the exhibition stand and the graphics.

From the outset you should have an idea of what type of exhibition stand you want and what you can afford from your budget. Some exhibitions are part of a conference where you either get a table and chair or can have your own pop up stand.

If you are exhibiting at a trade show you may have a choice of a shell scheme or freestanding space. The size of the shell scheme can vary depending on your budget but they normally have set dimensions. Most purpose-built shell schemes usually have three walls with standard furnishing. Some are corner stands with two walls or a free standing space of a specific size where you can design and build your own bespoke stand. The choice will depend on the type of show, the schemes available, your budget, and what it is you want to showcase on the stand.

Table and Chair, or Pop Up Stand

  • Table and chair. This format can be rather limiting but you can usually use floor-based pop up banners as a back drop or table-based pop up. You can promote your company name, product or message on the pop up.
    There are a variety of pop up banners which come in different width. Single or double sided banners are retractable, easy to carry in a case and are available in a variety of prices to suit your budget. If you are going to be using the banner at a number of events it is probably best to have a more expensive durable one.
  • When paying for a table and chair an electrical connection is normally included along with your company name exhibition entry.
  • One graphic option is to use Foamex display boards which are inexpensive and can be attached to poster boards.
  • Portable Pop Up Stand. If you want something a bit more custom-made then a pop up stand is useful. Again it can be re-used and comes with its own travelling boxes.
  • Varieties of modular exhibition stand with interlocking components can be found online at different prices. They vary in size and can be single or double sided, straight, curved or L shaped. They usually have a magnetic locking system to hold the panels together on tubing which is used for rigidity.
    The company branding and messages can be placed on the banner sides.
  • Digital LCD displays can be used for graphics and, although they are more expensive, it is easier for the content to be revised and refreshed
Tips:
  • Ensure when putting away your stand that you pack the rolled graphics the right way to prevent them from getting scratched.
  • If using spotlights always carry extra bulbs and if exhibiting abroad make sure you have a European socket converter for an English plug!

Shell Schemes

Shell schemes are used at most major conference and event centres as a way of dividing hall space into individual sections or booths. Shell schemes are usually formed by a series of upright aluminium posts braced apart with cross-beams. The shell scheme normally has three sides but you can get a two-sided stand. The size of the shell will depend on the trade show floor plan. Shell schemes normally come with flooring, company name board, lights, basic furniture, and electric power. If more furniture is required you can order these from the trade show organiser.

To make your company stand out from other exhibitors use creative graphics and think of innovative ways to decorate the stand or shell scheme so that you are differentiated from the crowd. Solutions include using free-standing display stands and banners or attaching posters or panels to the walls of the stand using Velcro.

The problem with exhibition shell scheme systems is that the aluminium uprights stand proud of the wall panels. This causes problems when you want to create a large seamless back wall display rather than having a series of posters separated by the aluminium shell scheme uprights.

The Shell-Clad system provides a good solution for those who want to achieve maximum impact by decorating a shell scheme exhibition stand with edge to edge, mural-style wall graphics. It provides a simple yet ingenious way of attaching graphic panels to the shell scheme posts without the need for sticky tape or other messy fixings.

Shell-Clad adapters’ clips simply snap on to the upright pillars of the shell scheme and provide a Velcro-compatible surface onto which graphics can be attached.

Panels for the Shell-Clad system are normally produced in vertical strips using a durable, laminated, rollable material. This means that in most cases your exhibition graphics can be rolled and transported in a single box or storage drum.

Printdesigns is an example of a print company that produces panels for Shell-Clad exhibitions stands. In addition stand standard roll-panels Printdesigns can use materials like Foamex PVC or even dye sublimation printed fabric to create exhibition wall graphics for your stand that look good and are compatible with Shell-Clad adapters.

Normally the print company will provide both an artwork template and a plan of your stand to make it easy to design graphics and fit them later.

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Tips of Exhibitors – How to Budget for an Exhibition

Event_Budget-1Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the trade show Marketing Plan, you now need to produce a working budget. The budget needs to be flexible and, as a guide, the trade show cost is normally three times the cost of the exhibition space.
Setting the budget is important to ensure you have funds that are sufficient to fulfil the exhibition’s objectives and to make sure that the exhibition is delivered to the right standard. The details of how to set a budget are discussed below.

Budget Checklist and Budget Control

  • Compile a checklist of:
    – Fixed costs which are normally around 60% of the total budget.
    – Variable costs (for example, supplier costs). This is normally around 25% of the budget.
    – Calculate a reasonable contingency of around 15% of other budget costs.
    – Review your costs regularly. It is most important to establish budgetary control of costs at the beginning of the project planning. This will enable you to know where you are with the on-going costs during the build up to the exhibition. You may find you are able to add enhancements to the stand or you may need to cut back on planned expenditure.

Fixed Costs

These costs need to be covered regardless of the number of attendees or size of an exhibition. Dependent on the type of exhibition stand they normally include exhibition floor reservation and associated payments to the exhibition organiser, the stand build, and furniture which probably makes the largest proportion of the costs.

  • Fixed Production Costs – these include:
  • Exhibiting charges due to the organiser for floor space only or a shell scheme, online marketing entry, exhibition brochure promotion, logo, sponsorship, badges, and storage space.
  • Stand build – the design of exhibition stand and associated costs, the set build or refurbishment of a pre-existing stand, flooring carpets, backdrop, furnishings, graphics, banners, and lighting hire and installation.
  • Supplier costs for furnishings, hire of equipment, such as PC or demonstration equipment, products, lead collection, scanner hire, hostess, photography, security etc.
  • Audio Visual – such as screen, projection, video, camera recording, and laser projection.
  • Sound if using for presentation on the stand to include – speakers, microphones of all types, CD player, mixer, cabling, adaptors, music etc.
  • Speaker support – design, image production, animated images, script writing, and training rehearsals.
  • Crew – you may need to allow for the costs of people for design and equipment hire, installation, freight transportation, rigging and de-rigging and all the technicians for any equipment used in the exhibition (as listed above). You may need to allow for per diem allowances for the exhibition crew too.

Fees and Insurance – this includes event management fees if an agency is being used to help with exhibition management or logistics. You may also need to pay for equipment insurance, or event insurance to cover public liability etc.

Invitation process – although the exhibition organisers will be inviting the general public you may still wish to invite your specific clients or potential clients separately. This will be a once only cost and is not dependent on the number of delegates attending. This can include:

  • Invitation design costs.
  • Print costs for direct mail.
  • Brochure.
  • Website setup.
  • Database list of invitees.
  • Telemarketing follow up.
  • Any advertising, posters and promotional costs.
  • Follow up activity to boost attendee response.

Hospitality costs – This can include both on-site hospitality on the stand, such as food and drinks, and off-site hospitality such as a dinner or a party for your clients and prospects during the exhibition.

Meeting room hire –  if required during the exhibition for private meetings with clients. Normally you will have to pay a deposit on the room hire when booking for the event with a sliding scale of payment to be made as you approach the event. Note that some conference centres do not always include the same services as hotels and these can sometimes be an additional charge to the room hire.

Set up Services – this can include supply of electrical facilities, power, waste disposal, cleaning of the stand, Wi-Fi Access and telephone. Always check exactly what services are included and for what period they are offered.

Variable Costs

These are usually the smaller proportion of your budget and will be dependent on the number of staff and attendees that you expect to attend. It is impossible to be absolutely accurate on your variable costs as exhibitions are dynamic events and constantly change. This is why it is important to create a workable budget in the early stages of your planning. Past historical documentation can be valuable when looking at numbers and previous costs. The variable items need to be checked carefully if the budget is to be kept under control.

Variable costs include:

  • Staff food & drink.
  • Refreshment breaks.
  • Accommodation of staff.
  • Travel costs for staff.
  • Training of staff.
  • Stand promotional give-aways.
  • Graphics and print materials.
  • Press packs and promotion.
  • Flowers.
  • Insurance.
  • Client entertainment and dinners.

Contingency Budget

Always build in at least an extra 15 % of variable and non-variable budget costs as a contingency budget for the unexpected, such as additional drinks, crew overtime, additional catering, and unforeseen hire costs etc. You also need to put in here any currency conversion fluctuation that you may need to cover.

Reference: Planning Successful Exhibition Budgets – http://www.tradeshowinstitute.com/downloads/Trade%20Show%20Budgeting.pdf

Guest Blog: How to pick the perfect giveaway for your event

Swags gotta have swags!

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If you’re anything like me, and by that I mean cheap and love freebies, you would relate marketing events and fairs to a shopping trip for practical stuff you’ll need for the coming year or so. When I’m at such events, I’m usually also on the lookout for freebies I can get concrete use out of. Swags such as pens, notepads and T-shirts are very common at events and for good reason – they’re things everyone needs on a daily basis. In other words, they’re practical. But practical as they are, you don’t always have to go for the same old pens and T-shirts. If you prefer to stand out, you could opt for more creative giveaway ideas.

The basic aim of a swag is to lure event-goers to your stand. That’s the very first step to getting people interested in what you’re offering. Hook them in with a good freebie and proceed from there. From the point of view as a freebie-consumer, you could have the most mundane and mainstream product/service and your stall could be the dullest one in the entire event hall. But if you’ve got an attractive-enough giveaway, I’m making a bee-line for you.

The last event I’d gone to was a work fair some two months ago and while I was looking forward to seeing what job offers there were out there, I was personally more excited about the freebies. They definitely fulfilled their aim of luring me to the different job stalls as I managed to score a number of interviews. But I was perhaps a little over-excited about the freebies which may have compromised my composure during the interviews!

When it comes to choosing the perfect giveaway, you could always go safe or go for something less conventional. With so many options for you to choose from, it can be rather overwhelming. Here’s one easy tip to follow – swags needs to have swag. Given that I’ve never had a green thumb nor been a fan of flowers, a great example of what your giveaway (from my point of view) shouldn’t be like is a pot of flower. The best swag should satisfy the basic criteria of being practical, light, small and easy to print on and cost-effective. A pot of flower is simply the exact opposite of these.

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What the perfect giveaway should be

Practical

A pot of flower sits in the corner of the room and serves no purpose besides taking up space. Plus, I’d have to water it every day – what a chore!

This is key. Items such as T-shirts, pens and thumb drives (they could only be 512mb and I’d still take them in a heartbeat) fair well as popular giveaways for this very reason. They’re items people can use over and over again. I’ve been using pens I got from such fairs for as long as I can remember and in fact don’t even remember the last time I actually bought one.

Light & small

Imagine lugging a pot of flowers all around the fair and on the bus/train home. Sure, it could make for a good conversation starter but I’d very much just prefer a photo of it, thanks.

Nobody, not even freebie-loving me goes to an event with a huge bag with which I can fill freebies. That’s just a tad bit too excessive. That being said, a giveaway needs to be small and light enough in order for it to be practical enough to be taken away.

Easy to print on

Hey let’s print our logo on this petal and have it wilt and fall! No.

If you haven’t already figured this out, your primary purpose of having a stall at a marketing event is to – duh – market your brand! The whole purpose of giveaways is to *drumroll* give away an item by which event-goers will remember you. And if your brand or logo isn’t indicated on the giveaway, chances are that nobody’s going to remember where they got the swag from.

Cost-effective

Forget the pots, flowers are expensive enough – ask anyone with a girlfriend.

You’re guaranteed to be the most popular stall in the event hall if you’re giving away a trip for two to Las Vegas as a promotional item. But unless you’re also harvesting bills or Bill Gates from your pots of flower, that’s obviously unfeasible. Since you’re going to be giving away these items for free, you have to consider the trade-offs. It’s important to not go overboard. Set a strict budget and stick to it.

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Another great example of a good giveaway is food. It’s practical in the sense that it satisfies hunger, is a light snack and small enough to fit in your stomach. That’s unless, of course, what you’re giving away is free steak in which case does not satisfy criteria #4. I remember being so hungry at the job fair that I was absolutely famished by the time I got to the PepsiCo booth. I needed to satiate my hunger and drown out the dreadful melodies being churned out by my stomach juices. That resulted in my shameless munching on Doritos as I was speaking to the PepsiCo representatives – probably why I didn’t get the job. But hey at least I got a free bottle of Mountain Dew after – score! Kinda.

Other items I picked up from the fair include this four-coloured-inked pen and heart-shaped notepad. They do satisfy the criteria of a good giveaway but given that I already have loads of pens and notepads lying around at home from previous fairs, I haven’t had much use for them just yet.

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Hands down my favourite giveaway from the job fair is this tote bag from Estrella Damm’s stall. Given that many supermarkets are now charging consumers for plastic bags, this is an extremely handy item. You’re saving money as well as the Earth! Plus, it can be used to carry all the other freebies from the other stalls, unless someone inadvertently picked up a pot of flower. It’s also simple and versatile enough design that I’d carry it on a regular day out as well. In fact I loved it so much I took a second one when everyone had their backs turned – or so I thought. Suffice to say, I didn’t get this job either!

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In a nutshell (just FYI nutshells don’t make for good giveaways), the main purpose of a freebie is to market your product/service. You want your presence to be felt everywhere. Think of a marketing event as a point where you disseminate information regarding your brand. You’re there to promote yourself and besides networking and chatting with event-goers, another way to do that is through these freebies.

Have you ever seen anyone give away a pot of flower as a freebie? Have you ever shamelessly stuffed your face with food giveaways? What’s the favourite giveaway of yours that you’ve taken? What are some of the most unique freebies you’ve seen around? Do share some of your freebie stories with us!

AUTHOR BIO
Lin’s an all-rounder in terms of physical shape. Her weekly schedule revolves around Printsome, football and abhors cutting her nails.

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Tips for Exhibitors on how to compile a Time Line and Check List whilst planning a Tradeshow or Exhibition

 

Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the Trade Show Marketing Plan, you now need to review the project plan.

It is essential to know the deadline dates for completing key activities. Most importantly you need to ensure that you do not miss the deadlines of the show organisers.

It is vital to highlight all your own organisation logistics on your check list including what needs to be planned, purchased and organised before the exhibition starts. This time line and check list document is an aide memoire that should keep you focused on target and on track to accomplish your goals and objectives.

What is a Trade Show Time Line?

When creating an event time line for a conference or for a trade show and exhibition, start with the event date as the end-goal and work out all the timings backwards from that date. Everything has to be accomplished before the start of the exhibition.

For a trade show you should always check on the exhibition organisers’ website for the deadline dates for ordering services. Fill these dates into your time plan allowing for pre-planning logistics so that you can accomplish the actions by the deadline. Also note any restrictions or conditions of the contract. The more time you have to prepare before an exhibition the better the project should run and the less stress it will cause you.

An example of a timeline

Exhibition name, Place date Location Stand Hall stand #
Build date:
Breakdown times and dates:
Date Action Responsible Comments Completed
Week Ending DD/MM/YY [Start with the nearest to current date] Describe the action Initials of person or persons to accomplish this action Describe what needs to be done, how the action is progressing, any other useful comments usually with a date you have actioned items Date finished
Tends to be a week-ending date rather than an actual date unless its the tradeshow deadline date First add time critical deadlines from the exhibition organisers and then fill in with other check list items according to when they need to be accomplished by
Week Ending DD/MM/YY Show build time
Show date Dates of the exhibition
Week Ending DD/MM/YY Follow up items

What is a Check List?

A check list provides a step by step guide so that you can clearly see organisation and execution of the logistics for the exhibition. This should be incorporated into the time line so that the items covered are actioned with the person responsible within the deadlines required. Items to consider for incorporation into your time line include:

  • Corporate objectives as discussed in the blog titled Tips on How to Plan for an Exhibition , for example the theme of the show, strategy etc.
  • Budget creation (the budget and financial actions will be covered in the next  blog. It is important to note in your time line when the payments are due so you can schedule any deposits for the show or pay for required services.
  • Many trade shows have a conference running in parallel and this can be a good opportunity to promote you company by applying for a speaker slot. Note that the selection for the speakers is normally way in advance of the event so you need to keep an eye on the final date of speaker slot submission

The Logistics:

  • Exhibition space & stand build, or shell scheme, branding, graphics and displays will be covered in tip sheet
  • Ascertaining who is attending from the company, communicating with them the show plan, pre-show meeting and training and any rehearsals required, organising a stand rota for staff
  • Hotel and travel booking
  • Ordering services from the show organisers or your own suppliers such as:
  • Catalogue entry, power supply, Wi-Fi, cleaning, catering, furnishing, equipment, technical equipment, software, badge names, scanner for marketing leads, collateral for show, give-aways
  • Marketing of event – this is very important so that attendees know you are exhibiting and visit your stand. Do not leave this just to the show organisers’ marketing of their exhibition. You need to promote your company to your own contacts or potential clients and prospects. This could include: PR, press packs, advertising, website, on-line promotion, social media, twitter, database use, direct mail, invitations, fliers, promotion at show, sponsorship, email marketing, newsletter, collection of leads, telemarketing, competitions, internal documents and communications
  • Planning of on-stand presentations and demonstrations, organising meetings with prospects or clients beforehand, booking meeting rooms, hosting dinners and corporate hospitality
  • Shipping of exhibition stand, collateral etc. Be sure to check the destination customs and excise as to when road lorries are allowed to travel as certain countries do not allow goods vehicles to travel on a Sunday
  • Organising security and insurance, planning for health and safety considerations

Remember that the time line and check list document is not written in stone. It should be a working document and amended as required.

It is very important to check and re-check the items and progress throughout the pre-planning period, and not just before going on-site, to make sure everything is ready. Sometimes there can be misunderstanding so it is better to be sure all is in order. The main thing to remember everyone wants the show to be a success and the more pre-planning and checking you do beforehand the better prepared you are for the unexpected.

Tips on how your marketing plan can help you succeed in exhibiting

To be successful exhibiting at a trade show one of the most important actions after deciding to exhibit is to prepare a Trade Show Marketing Plan. You need to know what you want to accomplish and how to achieve it. A marketing plan helps you establish the strategy and decide what actions are required for you to exhibit and how to communicate this to others. It helps you to target decisions and it keeps you on track.

What is a Trade Show Marketing Plan?

A Trade Show Marketing Plan is the end result of a process. It gives you a format to follow and allow you to be consistent. The Plan should include:

  • An analysis of the market environment
  • The development of the exhibition plan
  • Writing an executive summary

 Market Analysis

Marketing analysis forms the basis for creating the goals, strategies and tactics used to develop the plan. This consists of your understanding of:

  • The market environment
  • The customers
  • The competition
  • The company

Information for a market analysis can be found on the internet, in trade journals and company reports, through direct customer research, by speaking to internal managers and sales people within your company, and by compiling a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis report.

 Market Environment

  • Look at the market as a whole and seek to understand the dynamics that can impact the company and its products
  • Examine the company’s market share and get a statistical evaluation of the market

 Understand your Customers

You need to understand why customers buy your products or services so that you can create an environment that encourages the behaviour outcome you would like from the exhibition.

This can include:

  • Demographics – the statistical characteristics of your customers
  • Psychographics – understanding the lifestyle and personalities of your customers
  • Buying patterns and preferences
  • Environmental influences

 Competitive Analysis

Consideration should be given to your own company as well as its competition. Use a SWOT analysis, speak to the sales personnel of your company and use post-show evaluations.

In the competitive analysis include all the questions you need to have answered regarding the exhibition such as:

  • Current exhibition strategy and trend
  • Size of space occupied
  • Style and theme of exhibit
  • Graphic message
  • Staffing levels
  • Lead capture and follow up
  • Pre & post show promotions

You also need to examine competitive positions outside the trade show environment.

After collecting and understanding the market analysis you then need to set the strategy and decide how you will accomplish your goals.

The Trade Show Marketing Plan should include

  • Market analysis – include the key findings from your study
  • Marketing objectives for the trade show. You can link the trade show programme to wider corporate marketing objectives. These need to be measurable and can include:
    • Who will be attending
    • What is the purpose of the exhibition
    • When are the dates of the exhibition
    • Where is the location of the exhibition
    • Why – define the objectives and purpose for attending
  • Marketing strategies – how you are going to accomplish your goals
  • Action plans – what are the tactics you will undertake to carry out your strategies
  • Resources and timings – what do you need to carry out the plan in the timescale
  • Executive summary – summarise the above elements as a distillation of your plan so that you can communicate it to senior management

Once you have written the Trade Show Marketing Plan, check that it is in line with your other marketing mix plans. Ensure you refer back to the Plan to make sure that you are fulfilling your strategy, objectives and actions. The Plan can be used at the end of the exhibition to review your return on investment.

Reference: Jim Burch, How to Write a Trade Show Marketing Plan You Can Actually Use

Tips on How to Plan for an Exhibition

Pre-Plan All the Elements to Exhibiting for a Successful Outcome

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Many of the following bullet points will be covered in more detail in future Exhibition Tip blogs:

  • Set strategy, objectives and goals. You need to know why you are exhibiting and what you want to achieve that is measurable. Participation in trade show should always be reviewed against measurable objectives. This allows return on investment (ROI)to be analysed in order to understand the degree of success of attending that tradeshow
  • Confirm buy-in from other company departments. Discuss with departments their participation and the need for their support resource and staff, both in the pre- planning and on-site stages, for the exhibition to be successful
  • Clarify budget available for the exhibition. You need to know what your budget is before embarking on the stand build, marketing and all the other items that will need to be included in in your plan
  • Start the planning process in plenty of time. The longer you have, the better prepared you will be. Create a timeline document with schedules of what needs to be done when, showing deadlines both from the show organisers and your own. This is a vital document to keep everything on time for payments, tradeshow catalogue entry and planning logistics. The date of the show cannot be put back like a product release: it is happening on the date publicized and everything needs to be ready
  • Keep an updated check list to run in conjunction with the timeline
  • Decide on the promotion and marketing of the exhibition both on-line and with traditional media, using invitations, sales initiatives, website, social media, advertising, signage, PR, and sponsorship. At the start of the planning process for exhibiting the theme of the company exhibition needs to be decided. All marketing and promotional material and communications about the exhibition should be of the same look and feel so that there is consistency in the show’s marketing and the branding of products
  • Select stand location: consult floor plans, traffic patterns and audience make up
  • Consider the design of the exhibition stand. Have you booked a shell scheme or space only? Are you using a previous stand or designing a new one? This needs to be incorporated into the timeline. You may need to allow additional time for briefing design companies to quote and present concepts for a new or bespoke stand
  • Plan the logistics. You may need to consider:
    • Reserved hotel accommodation for staff
    • Selecting and briefing speakers if a speaking slot is confirmed at the show
    • Shipping of goods to show, as well as transportation of staff
    • Selecting suppliers for food and beverage, hospitality, stand furniture
    • Ordering literature and give-aways for use on the stand
    • Reviewing technology to be used on the stand
    • Ordering utility services required for the stand
    • Creation of signage and graphics for stand
    • Products to be displayed
    • The process of lead collection and follow up
    • Press Packs
    • Creating an exhibition handbook for staff attending
  • Review internal communication and staff training. Having the right staff who are properly briefed and trained for the show is vital to make sure all the pre planning is a success and they know their roles on-site