Trade show tips

Get Inspired at Your Next Tradeshow

Get tradeshow inspiration by walking the floor at your next trade show

At every trade show we attend, we take time out for a little competitive review. We walk the floor with our clients, checking out their rivals so we can counter claims if necessary and best them experience-wise the next time around. (Though often we find that we’re the ones doing the besting – not to brag, but we know how to trade show.)

Of course it’s important to keep up with the competition, but that’s not the main reason we spend so much time looking at the work of others. We make sure to see everything on the show floor, even—and especially—booths for companies that have nothing to do with our clients’ products or services. Because the best ideas are sometimes found in the most unlikely places.

Inspiration is everywhere if you look with the right eyes. Here’s how to find ideas as you wander the aisles at your next trade show.

Notice what catches your eye.

A good booth captures your attention from a distance. Good branding at a good height is essential, but what else makes you want to approach and enter? Observe the use of color and lighting, the way various architectural pieces are configured. Are there any concepts you could incorporate into your next booth?

Look for great storytelling.

Perhaps it’s a fun theme, or an appeal to the visitor’s emotions. Or maybe it’s a great flow that takes people on a journey through the benefits of a product. Exhibitors vary in their sensitivity to letting other exhibitors tour their booths, so you might not be able to view presentations and other storytelling pieces in-depth, but you can often see a lot from the aisle. You’re not looking to steal an idea outright, you’re learning techniques for telling your own stories in more compelling ways.

Study how other exhibitors engage crowds and individuals.

Is there a pre-set flow? Do they have brand ambassadors actively welcoming people into the space? Are there live presentations and demos? What elements of the experience are people interacting with, and which pieces are sitting untouched? Find the booths that are packed and see if you can discover their special sauce. Then build on those ideas to whip up your own winning recipe.

Watch what they’re wearing.

If you suspect your team needs a more cohesive, snappy look, then check out what other exhibitors are doing to put their best folks forward. From matching polos and blazers to themed costumes, you’re sure to find lots of options to repurpose.

Take names.

If there’s a virtual reality game you love, or a presentation that’s especially well done, don’t be shy about asking after the agency/vendor that created it. Assuming the exhibitor isn’t a direct competitor, they will probably be happy to share, and you can explore bringing a bit of that magic to your next exhibiting opportunity.

Want more inspiration for your next trade show exhibit? Then give our team at MPG a call.

Discover the Power of a Great Trade Show Presentation

An interactive trade show presentation created by MPG for P&G skin care brands reached thousands of dermatologists at AAD.

Last month, our team went to the Exhibitor Show in Las Vegas to explore some of the latest trade show and event marketing trends and technologies. We always enjoy walking the show floor at Exhibitor, because it’s a sampler of what various vendors can do for their clients.

But this year, we felt like something was missing. During the times we visited the trade show, few booths appeared to have big numbers of highly engaged visitors. The ones that did have crowds weren’t a surprise to us at all. The vendors that had the most engagement were magicians and those that put on some sort of show.

In other words, those that had some sort of live presentation.

Over cocktails later, an attendee told us she was surprised to find the magicians her favorite experience at the trade show. “They kept my attention, and I remembered their message because they delivered it in a way that made me laugh. They were the only ones that had people really gathered around and getting involved.”

MPG brings a full arsenal of options to the table as we craft experiences that help our clients meet their unique objectives. But it’s no secret we believe in the power of great trade show presentations. It’s in our company name.

A great trade show presentation builds a crowd because it creates an event in your booth. Crowds draw more crowds. And because we run presentations back to back, expertly maneuvering traffic in and out of our presentation space, we’re able to help ensure that your booth operates as much to capacity as possible. Your space becomes the place to be.

Trade show presentations allow you to communicate your key messages to large groups of people before they filter out for more intimate encounters with your sales staff. And with the right creative approach (Magicians not your thing? Don’t worry, we’ll come up with an angle that fits you perfectly), you can help guarantee that people walk away remembering what you had to say.

Want to know more about how a trade show presentation can help you build booth traffic, increase engagement and maximize message retention? Check out these recent posts for tips and ideas.

6 Presentation Ideas for Your Next Trade Show

Must Haves for Successful Trade Show Presentations 

Finding Top Talent for Your Trade Show Presentations and Corporate Events 

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Booth Envy – Is It Time for a New Tradeshow Exhibit?

MPG and IGE Group created this stunning new booth to replace an older property for P&G's Home Away from Home at the BlogHer convention.

MPG and IGE created this stunning new booth to replace an older property for P&G’s Home Away from Home at BlogHer.

If you’ve been exhibiting at trade shows for any length of time, then you know the feeling: There, across the show floor, is a gorgeous new booth. Its elegant design, engaging presentations and drool-worthy technology make your exhibit look shabby and outdated in comparison.

At least, that’s how it feels to you. With a few updates, your current trade show booth might have some life left in it. Or, your hunch that it’s time to build something new could be correct. Here are 5 ways to tell.

1.       You’ve outgrown your current booth.

Perhaps your business has expanded, giving you more products or brands to showcase. Or maybe attendance has boomed at the trade shows where you exhibit. If space makes it impossible for you to accomplish what you need and want to do, or if your booth is so crowded that it creates a less-than-stellar guest experience, then consider getting something new. While bigger is better, it’s still a good idea to have your designer create a modular strategy so you can scale down at smaller shows.

2.       The wear and tear is impossible to hide.

Every trade show exhibit will eventually show its age. And occasionally, as with one of our clients whose booth was damaged in Super Storm Sandy, stuff happens that’s beyond your control. If you’re no longer able to cover the scratches and scuffs, it’s time to put that old exhibit out to pasture.

3.       Your current booth is too expensive to ship and assemble.

Trade show displays made of older, heavier materials can be more costly to ship and put together. If you exhibit at a lot of shows, it might be worth making the up-front investment in something that will be lighter and easier to haul around. Sometimes, the money to design and build a new booth can be taken from a budget separate from the one that covers the expenses of individual shows.

4.       You’re being outpaced by your competitors.

Everyone needs to put their best foot forward at a trade show, and for some brands and companies, it’s vital to look like a leader. The size of your booth, the quality of the design, the general impression it makes on the show floor speak volumes to attendees before they ever set foot in your space. If you really do appear smaller and shabbier than the competition, it might be time to step up your game and leave them with booth envy.

5.       You need more flexibility.

Your trade show exhibit was created around a certain set of activities, but now you want to shake things up and try something new. If your current design makes this all but impossible, then look into something that gives you more options. A good designer can help craft a space that allows you to evolve year after year.

Want to see what one of our clients did to combat booth envy? Check out what MPG and IGE did for Crest + Oral-B.

The new Crest + Oral-B Experience debuted at the American Dental Association convention in New Orleans, and it’s getting rave reviews!

Exhibitors: Avoid These 5 Common Trade Show Mistakes

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A new trade show exhibit can be a huge investment. The last thing you want is an oversight that could create a less-than-WOW experience for your guests, or stand in the way of ROI.

We’ve seen a lot of successes when it comes to trade show experience design. We’ve also navigated our share of challenges. If you’re considering a new trade show exhibit, then plan to avoid these 5 common mistakes.

1. Not reserving enough space — Sometimes you need to lock in booth space before you have a firm exhibit design and strategy. And space can be a tempting area for cost-cutting. But we have worked too many shows where the booth felt cramped and our clients weren’t able to execute new activities as well as they’d like, simply due to lack of space. And trade shows often have strict rules about experiences spilling into the aisles. When in doubt, go bigger. That extra 10 feet will pay you back in flexibility and a better guest experience.

2. Unclear agency brief — The brief is our Bible, so give it extra attention. Provide clear objectives and criteria for success. Lay out messaging musts. Clearly delineate the roles of any partner agencies. Let us know what assets exist and who’s responsible for providing them. Don’t be afraid to ask your agency for help with the brief. A good brief is vital to creating an outstanding, on-equity experience with maximum efficiency.

3. Not staffing with your A-team — A beautiful trade show booth is just a hollow shell if the people inside it stand like lumps, waiting for attendees to come to them. Even if you’ve hired a company like Moening Presentation Group to craft an amazing experience using professional talent, it all falls flat if your company reps aren’t ready to step up, engage, and close the deal. Trade shows require a special kind of personality and stamina, so be choosy with your internal staff. Or follow the lead of some of our biggest clients and hire professional sales hosts.

4. Not following up on leads — We see this too often: An outstanding experience brings tons of qualified leads to the booth, then those leads languish on a spreadsheet, in someone’s email, or—worse—in a booth crate. Building and creating new relationships is a trade show exhibit’s raison d’etre, so keep up the momentum and reach out to visitors who’ve shown they’re open to hearing from you. Good lead-management programs can help. Or simply assign someone to filter and distribute leads after each show. Then, make sure your team is committed to the all-important follow-through!

5. Not documenting the experience — A video recap is a must-have in your measurement arsenal. It’s all about capturing the excitement for leadership and other stakeholders who couldn’t attend the trade show. Showcase all major aspects of the booth experience, and be sure to interview attendees for raves. Weave in the results you’ve measured to demonstrate ROI, and you’ve got a powerful sales tool that can help ensure your trade show marketing program continues.

MPG followers, what are some common trade show mistakes you’ve encountered?

How to Work a Trade Show: 6 Musts for Successful Exhibiting

MPG’s trade show work has given us a lot of insight into what works, what doesn’t, and what companies are doing to keep their trade show exhibits fresh.  In our next few posts, we’ll be exploring some trade show best practices and offering ideas for successful trade show marketing.

A friendly professional host can draw people to your trade show booth and help engage them.

You’ve got a beautiful trade show exhibit with a great mix of activities that bring your brand promise to life. Now it’s up to you to bring in the leads. Here are some tips for getting people in your booth, then making the most of the relationships you build there.

  1. Get Your Team on Board: Hold a pre-show briefing to detail what will be happening in the booth. Preview all activities so team members know what to expect, and make sure all are on the same page with your key messages. We like to do one comprehensive meeting the day before a show opens, then a smaller “check-in” meeting each morning before the crowds arrive.
  2. Prepare ‘Em for the Spotlight: Your people are the face of your company, of course, but trade show days can be long and tiring. You never know when a VIP could catch someone letting down his or her guard. So lay some ground rules to help ensure your team is at its best. For example: No texting, checking email or playing on smart phones, no eating or chewing gum in the booth, and make sure all attendees are greeted with a smile. Designating an out-of-view spot to decompress and staggering lunches and breaks will help keep everyone fresh and on their toes.
  3. Use Professional Hosts and Crowd Gatherers: Marketing at trade shows is a special skill. You may have great company reps but drawing people into your booth might not be their strongest suit. Plus, when things get busy you want your best people closing sales. Professional hosts and crowd gatherers are engaging, approachable and expert at bringing a steady flow of attendees to your booth. A company like Moening Presentation Group can help you hire hosts whose look and demeanor best represent your brand.
  4. Pre-Qualify Attendees: Hundreds of people can go through a trade show booth every day, but not all are what you might consider prime prospects. Some are looking for swag, some are just browsing, and some are family members of attendees. You’ll want a plan to target those who are truly interested in your offerings and prepared to either buy or recommend. Your professional hosts and crowd gatherers offer a great low-tech way to find and send high-interest attendees to your reps. Or you can go high-tech with a digital pre-marketing campaign. Learn more about that here.
  5. Designate an Answer Expert – Arm everyone in your booth with basic talking points so they can handle most attendee questions, but have on-hand one or two super-knowledgeable brand ambassadors or thought leaders to take in-depth queries. Make sure booth personnel know where these folks are at all times. If your go-to person has stepped away, let the attendee know he or she will follow up as soon as possible.
  6. Turn Leads into Relationships –Today’s trade shows are more than a way to showcase your products and services, they’re openers to ongoing relationships. So make sure you’ve put a system in place to keep communicating.  If your marketing strategy includes social media, then encouraging Facebook likes is a great way to start. Even better is a program that collects attendees’ contact information and allows them to opt in for further conversations with your team.  If you’re curious about how this could work for you, contact us and we’ll fill you in on our suite of solutions.

Successful Trade Show Tips – Be Your Company’s Convention Superstar

Whether you’re just starting to exhibit at trade shows or you’re looking to reinvigorate your existing program, we’ve identified some “must haves” for trade show success. Check out these trade show tips, and let us know if you have any to add!

Let people connect with people at your trade show booth

This interactive presentation for IAMS allowed attendees to connect with a personable and professional brand representative in a booth that provided a welcoming “wow.”

Bring in the experts. It can be tempting to DIY, especially for a smaller trade show exhibit (and you’re probably thinking, “of course, a company that specializes in trade show marketing is going to encourage me to buy their services”). But professional designers and producers will bring the level of quality you need to be competitive—in fact, they could save you money by doing things right the first time. They’ll troubleshoot areas you probably haven’t considered, help with hidden costs and free you up to focus on your attendees.

Let people connect with people. The point of a trade show is bringing people together.  Technology can be powerful, but don’t overdo it at your booth; attendees can interact with touchscreens at the supermarket on any given weekday. Instead, take advantage of the face-to-face nature of tradeshows and create opportunities for them to engage with human beings.

Staff strategically. Make sure everyone represents  your brand with excellence. Choose only your best, most personable sales reps and thought leaders. Then back them up with professional hosts and presenters who can draw people to the booth and make them feel like VIPs.

See tradeshows as part of the conversation. These days, trade show exhibits aren’t on-off, once-a-year things. They’re a chance to start and continue conversations and relationships. Reach out to attendees before the show and invite them to visit you. Collect their data and track their interests while they’re at your booth. Then follow up and keep them engaged until the next time you meet. MPG is using event digital marketing to help clients do just that.

Be a spy. Make sure to get away from your booth for a little reconnaissance. Check out what your competitors are doing. Look for inspiration from other exhibitors: How are they engaging attendees? Is there anything you could take and make your own? Include your agency and designer in this exercise; it’s never too early to start planning for the next show!

Track ROI. With budgets getting leaner, it’s vital to demonstrate how marketing at trade shows benefits your company’s bottom line. Decide what trade show success means for you—is it number of visitors? Actual sales? Qualified leads? Whatever the benchmarks, track them and follow up. Also, consider investing in a good “sizzle” video to communicate the excitement to higher-ups who couldn’t attend.