Exhibit Design and Build

What We’ve Learned from 10+1 Years of Growth and Success

Unisys

Ten years ago, our presentations often included song and dance numbers, like this one.

November 2013 marks a special milestone for MPG. We’re celebrating 10+1 years of being in business!

“But wait a minute,” you’re saying. “Eleven years isn’t a big anniversary. What happened to celebrating #10?”

The truth is, we were so busy that we let our tenth slip by without fanfare. Now, as we head toward Lucky 11, we thought it would be fun to take a look at how much MPG and the experiential marketing industry have changed.

It’s not the same old song and dance. Years ago, we routinely created flashy numbers and other theatrical tricks to sell everything from fire equipment to home security systems. These days, clients still expect an unforgettable experience to communicate their messages, but substance is every bit as important as style. Today, our presentations are more science-based, often with demos that bring tough concepts to life. We’re ready and able to bring out the singers and dancers, but we’re also equipped to talk hard science with the most discerning audience member.

AAD presentation

These days, our presentations are much more science-based, incorporating a broader spectrum of technology and presentation techniques within lighter, more environmentally friendly properties.

Properties are lighter and more sustainable. Companies want to reduce costs. They also want to be kinder to the environment. So they’re requesting booths made of materials that are easier and less expensive to ship and assemble—properties that can be put to multiple uses, that, if possible, are created from recycled goods, and that require less fuel to move from one place to the other.

Technology has boomed. This is no surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock. The tools at our disposal to wow audiences and help our clients build relationships are simply amazing—and they seem to be evolving by the minute. Through it all, we’ve challenged ourselves and our clients to remember that “whiz bang” for “whiz bang’s” sake isn’t a winning strategy. Technology only makes an impact if it connects and communicates in a meaningful way. And technology is still no substitute for the face-to-face interactions that happen at live events.

Travel is tougher. We definitely are not immune to the challenges posed by fewer flights and higher prices. We’ve gotten very good at teleconferencing and reducing costs in other ways. But when our team needs to get to a show, we have to get creative so that travel costs don’t eat up the budget.

Giveaways are no longer throwaways. Trade show attendees used to be happy with a tee-shirt or a pin. These days they want something they can use, something that helps them connect with a company or brand in a meaningful way. Samples are more sought-after than ever—the bigger the better. Attendees also appreciate clever gifts that help keep our clients top-of-mind.

Timelines are tighter. Yesterday’s deadlines now feel leisurely thanks to technological advances, shrinking budgets, and a culture that demands quick thinking, fast response, and ultra-efficiency. Our clients are under pressure to deliver more, faster, which means we’ve grown accustomed to doing great work in record time.

Despite the challenges of a growing industry, some things remain the same for our team at MPG. We’re just as passionate about our work as we were when we started this company. We still have a great time together. And we’re still 100% committed to bringing our clients creative solutions that make their messages unforgettable while forging lasting connections. We’ve been honored to work with amazing companies and partners. Thank you for helping make the last 10+1 years so great.

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?

Trade Show Booth Tips: Exhibits That Go Beyond Expectations

Your trade show booth is your company’s home and identity when you’re on the road. It’s how prospective customers experience your brand and, depending on the show and the size of your booth, it’s no small investment. So you want to make sure your trade show booth does all it can do for you. Here are some tips for creating displays that leave a lasting impression.

Good trade show booth design brings a company’s brand promise to life, while cutting through the clutter of a busy show floor.

Invest in good design. “A brand experience is the promise of the brand on the show floor; it has to look like you,” says Gino Pellegrini, President of InterGlobal Exhibits. “Having a good designer on board really makes a difference. Anybody can cram in your programming needs and slap on your brand colors. But a great trade show booth needs a soul.”

A good designer also will make sure your trade show exhibit communicates quality in the details. Lighting, fabrication, and reproduction of graphics—it’s easy to assume attendees won’t notice, but they do. “Sometimes companies want to have lots of structure, instead of going more simple and focusing the budget to make less with more quality,” Pellegrini says. “Level of detail is important.”

Make it easy to find. Trade show real estate is like all real estate—location is key. Study the floor plan and think about traffic flow. Which spots give your booth the best visibility? It’s worth spending a little more to make sure your booth is seen. Take a look at your signage as well. Too often, we see booths with graphics that are too low or don’t prominently feature a company’s name and/or logo. You want attendees to be able to pick you out immediately when they scan the busy show floor. If it fits your branding and overall booth design, then raise those banners high!

Fill it with engaging activities. We’ve seen too many trade show booths, big and small, that feature little more than signage and a counter behind which stand bored-looking sales staff. There’s really no excuse for that considering all of the options available these days. Hire an engaging professional to conduct can’t-miss product demos. Give an interactive live presentation—these work well in big or small spaces. Video backup will help provide visual interest while a professional presenter engages and educates the crowd. Check out our 6 presentation ideas for your next trade show.

If it fits your branding and message, then create opportunities for attendees to have fun and make a little noise.

Make it an event. An empty booth evoking the sound of crickets or one filled with people who are laughing, cheering and actively engaged: which would you visit? Crowds are drawn to crowds, and attendees naturally follow the sounds of others having a great time. Hire professional hosts to invite people into your booth. Then incorporate ways to make a little noise: Have people shout out a key buzzword. Have a competition that gets people fired up and cheering. Weave a camera crew into the experience to create the appearance that you’re making news.

Get the word out. Wouldn’t it be great if people came to the trade show ready to seek you out? You can let prime prospects know about your booth though pre-marketing efforts that put you on their must-visit list and help continue your relationship after the show ends. If the trade show you’re attending allows it, get the attendee list and send a pre-mailer inviting them to a personalized URL. There, you can tease show specials, offer VIP perks for visiting the booth and allow them to opt-in to receive future communications. Click the link to learn more about Moening Presentation Group’s digital pre-marketing solution for trade shows and events.

For advice on how to make your exhibiting efforts a success overall, check out our most recent post on this topic.

.

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.

Now’s the Time to Build a New Trade Show Booth

For companies considering a new trade show booth, the time has never been better. That’s because the U.S. Government recently passed new legislation that lets businesses fully expense in 2011 the cost of capital equipment.

What does this mean? Instead of depreciating the cost of a new booth over several years, companies can write off the full purchase in 2011. The result? You get most of the tax benefits of investing in new exhibits now, giving you more working capital up front.

It’s all part of an effort to boost job creation and keep the economy energized. For companies that routinely appear at trade shows, it can mean making a splash with a new custom-designed booth—one that you own.  It also can mean added cost savings in updated, lighter-weight exhibit structures that lower operating costs and increase flexibility.

Moening Presentation Group (MPG) and our design partner, InterGlobal Exhibitions (IGE) Group, have already helped a number of brands and companies take their trade show presence to the next level with new booths that combine award-winning design with expert messaging, plus a commitment to sustainable materials and practices. You can see some examples of that work right here.

The new legislation provides for full expensing of new property eligible for bonus depreciation, including exhibits, which are placed in service between Sept. 9, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011. So the clock is ticking! Consult with your tax advisor to learn more about bonus depreciation, then call MPG to discuss how we can start designing your new booth today!

Page 2 of 212