Category Archives: Trade Show Marketing

Image 4 exhibit design and tradeshow marketing

We were talking “demand generation” with a client today…

Demand Generation. Sounds pretty simple, right? Take an action, generate a demand for you, your service, your company…it’s a basic tenet to marketing in the pursuit of sales.

But what does that mean really? Our clients work with us to create sales through a platform we call a trade show exhibit, or an event environment, or a retail store. And we all know just “opening shop” does not mean prospects will magically arrive!

So Image 4 focuses our client on preparing the marketing ground, on telling prospects what they will find and how it will better their businesses. We strive to quite literally “generate demand” on the part of the prospect to visit the environment we created for our client.

All good marketing and sales teams should be using broadcast email as a demand generation tool. Contrary to popular myth, E-mail is not dead. In fact, it’s growing more rapidly than social tools in the B to B sphere. Even with all the challenges of CAN-SPAM, bad addresses, server junk settings, etc, the opt-in email is a great way of letting people know who you are, when you will be where, and why they should come and visit you.

Here are some thing we guide our customers to consider when developing a campaign:

Look at your Mobile Device Stats

Our design team is continuously amazed at how many people are doing business on their device, and when. We are seeing campaign responses of 45-55% to B-to-B prospects read on a mobile device. You MUST design your content to be mobile friendly. Make your response buttons large and contrasty so you can easily use a finger on the phone. Don’t ask for a lot of feedback in text boxes.

Design your Positioning and Content Carefully

Before starting a mailer or an entire campaign, think through your sales goals. Do you want to drive traffic to an exhibit? Do you want to have people schedule a visit time? What precise action do you want your prospect to take?

Then work your content. Short, pithy, simple to absorb. Your prospect will judge your validity to his needs within seconds – don’t waste those seconds. Humor works, but be cautious of going to far or missing a social context.

Use First Names if You Can

Personalizing any communication tells the recipient that “you care enough to send the very best…”. We all like to see our name, we all appreciate the 10 seconds thought or planning or research that went into spelling it correctly. Your measures of email effectiveness will soar!

If your email manager has a programmable auto-responder, use it to close the communication loop. Thank the prospect for taking an action.

Segmentation and Targeting

Every prospect and customer has their own opinion of their specific need. You can (and should) broadly classify opportunities into segments of your list. Those prospects who share a need or opportunity should receive the same content. Other segments may be looking for a different solution – put thought into this.

Research tells us that a well-segmented email campaign creates 50% more click-throughs than a generic broadcast message. Opening rates are commensurately higher as well.

Social Sharing and Forwarding

Use the Twitter, Linked In and Facebook links within the email manager. By allowing prospects to share your content you gain mileage from your efforts, free! We have seen sharing rates increase over the past year from the single digits to the mid 20% range on B-to-B content that is well segmented and relevant to the audience.

Good luck with this part of the demand generation program. If you need help, feel free to connect with me or our client support team at Image 4. We can show you real-life programs and data to support the concepts here, and perhaps help you generate more demand.

Exhibitor Show: In and Out are done, Now comes Services

The past two posts have dealt with the complexity of completing the show book, all around moving our exhibit in and out of the space. Now we’re moving on to completing the show book.

At this stage, we think about how the exhibit will be built. If we have an overhead hanging assembly, we’ll install that before anything else goes in to the space. Then we work from the ground up, starting with electrical, then carpet, then the display, then accessories.

Next, we look at the electrical needs. Our display will need 2 overhead lamps, a large LCD flat screen, a CPU, the lead reader, and an open plug to charge phones and i-pads. We add up the wattage of these (75+75+30+40+3+6=229) and we know that the order has to be placed for a single drop at 250 watts.

Always check your wattage math. This is one place where many exhibitors go awry, and where budgets start to get out of whack. You cannot exceed the line wattage – if  you do, you risk shutting down the entire electrical feed string. This will cause great angst and a visit from the chief electrician. It will also require that you unplug items, or purchase more wattage.

We will send over our overhead floor plot indicating where the electric feeds needs to be placed, and off we go!

Now we look at IT feed. In this day and age, you might think that it’s easy to get wireless connection on a show floor, but it’s not. It’s very mysterious as to how all cell phone signal evaporates within a show hall. Ask me about that sometime…

So we place our order for either a T1 cable or a wireless router. This is also the order form for technology staff who can any sound system you are deploying in the space.

We are bringing our own carpet, so we don’t need to think about either carpet or pad. Any experienced exhibit road warrior knows that nice carpet, and especially a nice pad, helps manage those long hours on your feet. If you want your sales staff to be fresh and energetic, put some extra money in the budget for the good stuff!

Now we work on the display assembly. At this point, we schedule labor and supervision. Generally, we want labor to arrive within an hour after the carpet and electrical goes down. We think about how to unpack the display, and hopefully, we’ve loaded and labelled the crates so that the materials we need first are clearly identified. We use a bright yellow label that reads UNLOAD FIRST.

This load works into the labor order form just like everything else.

We will be setting up a combination of extrusion, custom fixturing, tension fabric and furniture. We plan on 2 men 4 to 5 hours to complete the project.

Here’s where experience makes a difference. Having more labor available to build the display does not always translate into a faster set up. It;s more complex to manage a large group of I&D staff, and the staff needs to be really clear about the unload and build sequence. Also, a more experienced, smaller group may be more effective than a less experienced, larger group.

Managing this is how and why we get paid. Effective installation strategy can save thousands of dollars in a large event environment.

At this point, we are pretty much through the show book. Once our exhibit is assembled, our own staff members will detail it. We personally want to clean it, position literature, business cards, furnishings, etc. to support how we interact with the space. We work all this out in advance in our warehouse, especially with a new build such as the one we are revealing at EXHIBITOR.

So off we go! Show book is done, payments are confirmed, and we are ready to work on the exhibit design.

Come visit the Image 4 team at space 1870. Exhibitry Starts Here.

 

 

Getting to (y)our Show: Shipping to the Show

Now that I know the date we’re shipping out of Exhibitor, I’m working on getting the display and our staff TO Las Vegas.

Our display will be a custom linear 20-foot, with seating. Seating is bulky to ship, but it’s a critical part of our design so we are not renting at the show site. This means we’re shipping our display in a 50x50x100″ crate, thus managing the freight cost is paramount.

I start by looking at the move-in dates. Look for the move-in date for YOUR SPECIFIC footprint number, especially in a very large show such as IMTS. Large shows often schedule move-in dates by footprint number to allow the riggers and set-up staff to build from the rear of the hall. Don’t assume your hardware will move in on the first day of the show!

Once I’m sure of the move-in date, I check the cost of direct-to-venue freight vs. ship-to-warehouse freight. There’s some savings to be had here if you look carefully, but there are some things to be wary of:

1. Will your delivery truck have to wait for an unloading slot? If so, there’s a good chance you will be charged wait time by the freight carrier

2. The ship-to-warehouse trucks ALWAYS have dock priority over the direct-to-show trucks. Especially in a smaller venue such as the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, your truck WILL be bumped from the dock until the warehouse pre-shipment trucks are unloaded.

3. Be cautious, particularly in winter time. Weather has a direct affect on how a truck moves, and the direct-to-show dock will accept your freight only in a very specific day and time window. If your truck is delayed and misses the window, you’re either going to pay a lot of money for a special unloading, or you may be standing in your spot with no exhibit! We’ve had this happen.

4. On the positive side, if you ship direct-to-show-dock, very often your crates will be the last moved onto the show floor. This means they are last OFF the show floor into storage, and thus generally are the FIRST to come out!

This year, we want to ship to the warehouse. It’s slightly more expensive than shipping direct, but our airline schedule is such that we want to get off the plane and go directly to the show hall to set up. It’s important that the crates be on the floor when we arrive. Also, it’s winter and we are shipping from New Hampshire to Las Vegas. A lot can happen in 2800 miles.

Take a look at the first and last dates that the warehouse will accept your shipment. This is a safety window for you, and good project managers use this as “buffer” for clients who might be late in preparing for their show. (I know, that NEVER happens). We ALWAYS tell our clients the first date that the warehouse will accept the shipment, and we manage the production timeline to that date. Trust me, this hint will make you a corporate hero one day!

Now, back up from that date and figure your transit time. It seems obvious, but remember to take Sunday out of the transit days. From New Hampshire to Las Vegas, we figure on 4 transit days, then we add two more as safety.  This is your RELEASE DATE.

The RELEASE DATE is a very important moment here at Image 4. In our project planning software, we mark this date in CAPITAL LETTERS in RED. This is the date that the truck arrives to pick up the crates from the outgoing staging section of our warehouse. All work must be completed before this date, and all transit paperwork must be taped to the side of the crate on the night prior.

Now that you have the release date, you can go to bid with your freight requirement. I’ll share some ideas about that in the next post.

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Image 4 website landing page

New Website Launched and Integrated!

Just like working for our clients, Image 4 goes through a design brief, Scope of Work and project management process for our major internal initiatives.

For the past year, we’ve been working on our own website, in conjunction with the fantastic web design firm “fuse” in Concord, NH. #fusenh

Today we completed the link to our blog, Experience. Space, and completed the last bits of content upload and proofing.

Our new site boasts a clean layout much easier to navigate than our prior site. We also have embedded all social media connections on the front page so you can connect with us in any way you wish from our landing page.

As always, we try to be helpful and informative. Our popular “Exhibit Design Search” is easily searchable and findable, and our portfolio is being re-formatted into an “Ideas” section.

Feel free to shoot us an email with your input about the functionality and information. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Image 4

7 Perimeter Road

Manchester, NH 03103

800.735.1130

http://www.image4.com

Show Services and Getting it Right

I’ve been in the trade show industry for close to 30 years – back in the days when the Exhibitor manual (show book) arrived in the mail in a large package along with those quaint ID badges. And when you opened it, the 3-ring binder was 120 pages.

This is the industry’s busiest season. All of my project managers are busy completing our client’s showbooks for the next quarter, so I’m on my own, pecking way at the EXHIBITOR showbook for Image 4.

Today, of course, everything that can be web-enabled has been. First of all, it’s cheaper – for the sponsoring organization (no printing and mailing costs) and for the customer (you/your company). It’s also more convenient – I’ve worked on showbooks on-line sitting in airports, sipping at Starbucks, and yes, even at my desk.

So what’s the point of my intro?

Everyone in our company is directly involved in the mega-system that is the trade show industry. We deal every day with precisely what our clients deal with. And, today I have the opportunity to experience first-hand again how complex it is to get to a show!

I could use this as a plug for our show services offering :) (Try us sometime, our project staff is superb!)

But what I want to share is a little of the magic of how we execute a show book when we’re being paid to be perfect – and how we think about a project. Take it as advice from the other side.

First, find a quiet spot with no interruptions. Really. Get a coffee, take a personal break, and settle in for 30 to 60 minutes of high-focus decision-making and execution.

Next, get out a tablet. I write the dates of the show at the top of the page. Why? when you’re making the plane reservation for the 6th remote staff member who cannot fly Monday…you will probably need to remember the dates.

Once I know the dates of the show, I work the take-down and shipment window going OUT of the hall. Why? Because most of our return freight and schedule problems happen on the outgoing side – late crate arrivals, late tear downs, running out of labor on overtime, late truck arrival to the dock, weather-related delays…and ESPECIALLY if you are heading off to another show, this part of the program needs to be water-tight.

As always, check your days in transit. Holidays don’t count. Sometimes, Sunday does not count. This goes for tariff freight on trucks as well as for UPS and FedEx, etc.

Getting the back-end worked out informs me when my sales staff are freed up to either have the closing sales review meeting, make fresh prospect connections, or return to the office for the daily routine. After all, shows are about developing sales!

It’s also the easier side to accomplish, and it gets my head into the HARD side – setting up the show on the front end.

I’ll talk about the front end when I get to it tomorrow.Image

A colleague asked recently: Taking Photos of exhibits on the show floor…ethical or not?

This has been a long term discussion in the exhibit industry. But I think the question is really slightly different.

Let me put this out there. A  graphic designer I know has a literal photographic memory. She retains 100% accuracy of anything she chooses to recall. So, if she walks onto the show floor and looks at your booth, is her accurate retention of that image unethical?

I think not.

So perhaps, capturing a photograph of the display is not unethical.

The ethical question is in what you do next.

An old professor of mine once said “Using one person’s idea is plagiarism, using 20 is research.”

If you duplicate something for personal gain, that is unethical. See: Chinese Manufacturing in the dictionary.

If you use the concept/design/execution as a starting point for your own journey, I believe there is some grey area as to how far you need be from the original to have created an individual element.

If you, like my company, encourage all your employees to develop a visual vocabulary, and as part of that to photograph things that affect them – a great sign, a great building, a lovely architectural element, a striking exhibit – then you are creating an encyclopedia.

And if you proceed from that with integrity, then you look into the encyclopedia for ideas, executions, details that you can employ in your personal execution of a design.

Chime in – What’s your perspective? Who are you – designer, exhibitor, marketer, manager?

 

 

The LITE trade show exhibit system is so easy, we’re bringing it to you!

Image 4, New England’s premiere custom portable exhibit designer, will be in Burlington, MA August to demonstrate this brand new trade show display system. Let us know which day will work best for you to be able to come learn more about LITE, August 11th, or August 12th?

Learn more about LITE: http://www.image4.com/thatlite​thing/

Kalypso Booth – E3 Show

Here’s a sneak peak of the 20×30 Kalypso display that will be traveling across the country to LA, California for it’s debut at the Largest Gaming Expo, E3. 

- Emily King, Project Manager