Archive for June, 2011

Get that best booth award-continued

Here are the other four criteria I use to separate the drab from the
fab booths at a show to determine who are worthy of an award of excellence.

6. Is lighting used to
illuminate the booth, spot light products or set the mood?
Studies show
that lighting attracts attention to an exhibit. Lighting up your display graphics is a must, but don’t forget the unique
effects of fiber optic lighting, chase lights or flashing lights to catch the customer’ eye.  Set the mood in your booth with
colored lighting or spotlight a new product or bring attention to an improved service.

7. Are the graphic messages customer-focused?  Do they speak to the needs and concerns of the customer or simply list the serves the company provides.  Attendees are looking for solutions to their most challenging problems. They want to know you understand their issues and can solve them.  How you do it is of less concern.  Lead with benefits.

8.  Is the exhibit space neat and tidy? Clutter is not attractive or professional.  Supply boxes stacked in the back corner of
your booth, messy  papers on the table, too many racks of products, counters or tables blocking entry into the space will
detract from your image and turn customers off. Less is more and a clean exhibit space makes a good impression.

9.  Is the exhibit attractively merchandised? How are products or services presented to the customer? Are there interesting methods used to demonstrate the variety and quality of the offerings?  Are there multiple levels of elevation used used to display products or literature? Are there examples of products available to touch, feel and inspect?  Is the booth filled with too much product making it unattractive?

Consider all these factors when creating your display and conceptualizing your graphics and you could get the next Best of Show prize for you company.    If you want additional tips for creating an award-winning exhibit contact me at

Could your booth win Best of Show?

Many times the organization or show producer that hires me to give an exhibitor training seminar will also be creating a booth judging contest for their exhibitors designed to motivate them to creatively decorate their exhibits in order to win a prize. The company that takes the time to tie into the show theme, add interesting elements to their display, illustrates professionalism and visual interest will be selected, awarded, photographed and often times will receive some good publicity too. The catagories selected for representation vary from show to show. I have presented awards for best theme, best use of color, best overall, best of show, best use of props, most professional staff, best exhibit etc. If you’d like to plan ahead to win one of those coveted awards at your next tradeshow here are a few of the criteria I use to separate the weak exhibits from the wow exhibits on the show floor.

  1. Upon approaching the booth can you immediately tell who the company is and what they
    do or sell?
       If it takes more than five seconds for a prospect walking past your display to figure out the name of
    your company and have a clear understanding of what you can do for them you are going to lose a lot of business.
  2. Is there a clever, unifying theme used to present the marketing message?  One of the ways to make your exhibit
    memorable is to decorate your space around a theme. Themes can tie into casino games, sports, a holiday, circus or Hollywood for example.  Work that theme into every element of your display to drive home your company’s sales message
  3. Does the Booth have the wow factor? Is the overall company presentation a head-turner? Do the graphics grab your attention?  Is there a coordinating color scheme?   Is the exhibit structure inviting and professional? Does it all come together in a dynamic beautiful way?
  4. Does the display incorporate unique props to enhance the company image?  Instead of the usual elements you find at
    every booth this exhibitor will display unusual props or accessories that help attendees understand what they do or sell. Items that may not normally get seen by the general public or tools of the trade to touch and feel
  5. Is there a lead generating process present? Collecting information from interested prospects should be the number one
    goal of every exhibitor.  Is this company using a game, contest, drawing or survey to capture leads?

Next time we will look at the rest of the criteria that could make your booth best of show

Is it safe to go back into the meeting?

I was reading Successful Meetings Magazine this morning and was encouraged by the positive tone of many articles indicating that the stigma of luxury meetings is diminishing and it might be safe to hold an event in a nice, resort setting again.  The recommendation is to bill it as a deluxe location and not a luxury one, just to be sure. Hey, whatever it takes to get the ballrooms filled, the exhibits built, the speakers booked, the excursions scheduled and the fabulous food flowing.  It’s time to climb out of this rut and dismiss the depression that has hung over this industry and me personally for two years.  Get up, get out, get traveling.  The deals are out there and it’s time for every event manager, meeting planner, show producer and exhibit company to cash in on the great locations and terrific incentives offered by venues all over the country.  I am ready for it.  Bring on the tradeshows, conventions, meetings, conferences, consumer events, summits, seminars and retreats that make this industry great.  See you at the next show

susan ratliff  the exhibit experts  www.susanratliffpresents

Slow economy? Let’s exhibit

When capital is in short supply, the tendency for most small companies is to slash the marketing and advertising budgets.  It is with this knowledge that the shrewd business owner seizes the opportunity to increase market share and get an edge
on the competition.  While everyone else is waiting it out, the smart entrepreneur is finding new ways to reach their
customers.  One of the most effective ways to capitalize on a down market is by exhibiting in a tradeshow.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research says you will reach 7 times as many prospects at an exhibition than you would through any
other type of marketing. In addition, the leads you collect will cost you 56% less to close.  The caliber of prospects
attending a tradeshow is excellent. Research shows that 49% of tradeshow attendees come to buy
something.  82% have buying influence, while 29% are the decision makers. 26% will sign a purchase order and 94% will
compare competing products.  It’s an audience ready to spend money with your company.

There are 11,000 tradeshows and 2,500 consumer shows a year attended by 120 million people who spend 100 billion dollars.  Nine out of ten companies ranked exhibitions as the #1 most useful source of purchasing information, because they could
examine and evaluate competing products in one location. Big business has been capitalizing on the benefits of exhibit marketing for years.  With a little knowledge and some careful planning, even the smallest business can tap into this lucrative marketplace.

The key is in the planning. To maximize your exhibit marketing budget consider working with experienced professionals that know how
to save you time and money on everything from labor and decorations to those last minute emergencies at your booth. When it comes to problem solving on the show floor, turn to your show decorator. Their knowledgeable staff is able to resource solutions in quick fashion to most any challenge and they will often partner with local entrepreneurs who can offer unique products and services that fulfill every show producers or meeting planner’s needs.

Small exhibits can produce big profits

I recently exhibited in a local Chamber of Commerce business expo. There were around 120 exhibitors offering a wide range of products and services to see. I estimate that 1200 attendees passed through in a four hour period. That’s a pretty good amount of traffic in a short period of time, especially when you compare it to the fact that the average sales person can only call on about 6-10 client in one day. The quality of the attendees was excellent, most being business owners themselves so the environment was perfect for gathering leads, finding valuable resources, branding and networking. Many of the exhibitors had tabletop displays which are economical, compact and can still make a great impression on the show floor. Unfortunately, the majority of booths I visited seemed to be under the impression that all they needed to do to get me to stop was stick a stack of flyers on the table with a bowl of candy. Hey, they were there, what else did I want? The truth is, I didn’t want anything from them because if they didn’t think enough about their company’s image to take the time to look professional why should I think they would give any attention to detail to my needs as a customer? Large or small, image is
everything on the show floor. Whether you are in the show for four hours or four days you better make a good impression. A droopy vinyl banner hung from the back curtain and a foamcore sign with the contents of your brochure printed on it will not get my attention.  Here is what will:

  • Professional signage/graphics that tell me who you are along with a short tagline or slogan that explains why I should do business with you.  (be sure to remove that awful cardboard ID sign that comes with the booth. That should not be your company sign).
  • Text that is short and sweet.  I don’t have time to read more than a few lines of text on your display.  Make sure your message conveys that you understand me, my needs and the solutions to my problems.
  • Pictures that tell the story and explain the product and how it relates to my needs. Show people in pictures using your product or service or how the product works.
  • Provide me with a simple takeaway that addresses my interests. Not a five page portfolio of your company history.  Target the needs of your audience.
  • Loose the candy bowl.  It’s not Halloween.  (unless of course you are selling candy)
  • Elevate the items on your tabletop area so you display your literature and offerings at a variety of heights.  Boxes covered with cloth or acrylic holders or baskets work well.
  • Invest in an imprinted table cover with your logo on it or at least a nice cloth that color coordinates with your exhibit.

I’ll cover more next time