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  • 1. R E D 
 C E D A R 
 P R 
 A N D 
 M A R K E T I N G 
 “Face-to-face m arketing specialists” TRADE SHOW SECRETS “ANSWERS TO YOUR MOST IMPORTANT TRADE SHOW QUESTIONS” www.red-cedar.com 215.635.30167400 Barclay Road, Cheltenham, PA 19012 • telephone: 215.635.3016 • fax: 215.635.3041 • www.red-cedar.com
  • 2. YOU’VE GOT THE QUESTIONS WE’VE GOT THE ANSWERS Table of ContentsHow do I know what is the right show for my company to exhibit?.................2Does show size matter? ……………………………………………………………………3Does booth size matter? …………………………………………………………………..4How much should we budget for a show? …………………………………………….4But what if our budget is really really small? ………………………………………..5What’s the best starter booth? …………………………………………………………6How much should we expect to pay for a custom booth? ……………………….7Do we really have to exhibit? Can’t we just hang out? …………………………..8What’s the most important piece to the show puzzle? ………………………….8How do I make sure my staff is enthusiastic? ………………………………………9Does it make sense to hire professional booth staff to work our booth? ….10What’s the best way to handle an angry customer in our booth? …………....10Why would I want to be at a show next to all my competitors? …………...…11What should we put on our graphics? ………………………………………………..13What if our message is different each show we exhibit? ………………………..14What is the best give-away or premium item? ……………………………………14What is an Exhibitor Kit? ……………………………………………………………….15What is the worse thing you’ve ever seen go wrong at a show? ……………...16Where not to put your stuff? ………………………………………………………..…18Is shipping really that complicated? ………………………………………………….18What the heck is drayage and why is it so expensive? ………………………….19If I slip the union guy a $100 will my stuff get set up quicker? ………...….….20How will I get visitors to remember me after the show? ………………………21What’s the best way to ensure follow up on leads after the show? ..............22© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 1
  • 3. YOU’VE GOT THE QUESTIONS WE’VE GOT THE ANSWERSWe’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked (or should have been asked) questions bysmall to mid-sized business owners who are getting ready to add trade shows to their market-ing mix or looking to improve what they’ve already been doing. While it certainly does not an-swer every question you may have, it’s enough to get your started on your way to a successfultrade show. They say it’s good to learn from your mistakes but we think it’s better to learnfrom others mistakes and avoid your own. We want to start exhibiting this year and have found five different shows we think would be a good fit for our company. Some are national and some are smaller regional shows but we only have the budget to do one or two. How do I know what is the right show formy company to exhibit? Depending on what your goals are you may want to exhibit at a national show or start with a regional or local show. Regional and local shows tend to be much less expensive than national shows. A local show may cost only $500 to exhibit while a national show can run starting at $2500 for just the 10 square feet of space. If you are looking to expand your sales efforts beyond your regional area then, of course,the national show is for you. But if you don’t have the resources to follow-up on leads acrossthe country then as tempting as it is to go with the national show, you may be wasting yourmoney.You also want to make sure the attendees of the show match your demographic. If you knowyour sales team needs to call on senior level executives and middle management attends theshow you are looking at, you may want to think twice. You need to decide if exposure to thedecision influencers, not the decision makers, is worth the expenditure. Every show shouldprovide you with audience demographics. It’s important to find out if they use an outside audit-ing company for their data. You don’t want to take the show management’s marketing depart-ment’s word for who is attending the show. What you may get is inflated numbers as well asinflated demographics. We usually recommend our clients attend a show before exhibiting toget a lay of the land. This gives you a chance to see who is there first hand, what topics are© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 2
  • 4. hot, is there good show floor traffic, and find out from other exhibitors how productive theshow is for them.If you are trying to decide between two or more similar shows, you will want to create aspreadsheet so you can compare apples to apples. Some shows offer a lot more bang for yourbuck when it comes to PR and marketing help. Don’t base your decision solely on price. Aless expensive show may not provide the important extras a more expensive show does.Check for availability of a registration list (either for purchase or free) for pre-show promotion,a media list to help with your PR efforts, new product showcase options, and lots of formalnetworking events. For a sample spreadsheet go to www.red-cedar.com/news.html News andInformation and download our Show Comparison Chart. If we only have the budget to do one show, isn’t it better to go to the one with the most attendees? Does show size matter? We come across a lot of business owners who get very excited about exhibiting at a show because it promises to deliver 14,000 attendees. But that business owner is only sending herself and one other sales person to work the show. You have to be realistic. Let’s say the exhibit hall is open for 8 hours during the three days of the show. That’s 24 hours total. We know that the last couplehours as well as lunch tend to be very lonely in the exhibit hall so we can knock off 9 hours (3show hours x 3 days) from that total as unproductive and we are left with 15 show hours. Youwill spend an average of 10 minutes with each visitor and with two staffers in the booth at alltimes that means we can potentially talk to 12 visitors per show hour or 180 visitors during theentire show. That works out to about 1.3 percent of the total show attendees. Our point isthat even if there are only 5000 attendees you’re still able to only talk to 180 visitors. There isan even more complicated formula using the AIF (Audience Interest Factor) but again, you getour point.A smaller show with fewer exhibitors will certainly assure you have a better chance to be no-ticed. In a large show with hundreds of exhibitors your pre-show marketing is going to be muchmore important to get you noticed.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 3
  • 5. Does booth size matter? Surveys have shown that a bigger booth does draw more attention. Bigger booths have better placement and get more traffic. That said, we have seen small 10 x 10 table top exhibits in a sea of behemoth exhibits draw an incredible amount of traffic. Much more important than size is how you market yourself before, during and afterthe show, how well trained your booth staff is, and the amount of publicity you can generatebefore the show. These are the three pillars of successful exhibiting. Take one away and thewhole thing will fall apart. If you have a well trained staff who knows how to pull people infrom the aisle and effectively qualify leads you will be way ahead of your competitors no matterhow big they are. On the show floor everyone is equal. How much should we budget for a show? A general rule of thumb is to take the cost of the exhibit space and multiply that by three. You will need to factor in a bit more if you do not already own a booth structure or property. The good news for small businesses is booths do not have to cost you a fortune any more. There are wonderful lightweight fabric structures that start at around $3500 that you can set up yourself in less than a half hour. Pre- fabricated modular exhibits for 20 x 20 foot spaces, that look as though you spentbig bucks, can be had for less than $10,000.But for those that have a booth already, whether it is a pop-up or modular, a good place tostart budgeting is with the 3x rule. If your space for a 10 x 10 booth is $2500, figure you willspend $7500 when all is said and done on shipping, airfare, show services, hotel accommoda-tions, entertainment and marketing. This way, when you put together the numbers and findyou only have $5000 in the budget you can start getting creative and/or pare back on the less-than-essential items.For more information on budgeting (For more information go to www.red-cedar.com/news.html News and Information and download Trade Show Budgeting© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 4
  • 6. Are you kidding me? I don’t have $10,000 to spend on exhibiting…I’m just barely able to swing the exhibit space. Are you saying if I don’t have at least $7500 I shouldn’t be doing anything? The short answer is “absolutely not.” Exhibiting at a trade show is one of the most cost effective sales and marketing tools you have. It’s a way to expand your sales beyond your region even though you only have one or two local sales people. It’s a way to market your company in new regions as well as new market segments. It’s a place where you can do valuable market research andcompetitive analysis. All of this takes place in one room over the course of two or three days.Whatever you have to do to get there, make sure you get there.The one thing that is difficult to negotiate is the booth space. It’s not impossible; it’s just diffi-cult. By all means, please try. A show would rather sell space at the last minute at a discountthan have an empty booth.After securing the booth space you are going to have to get there. Most shows will list wherethey are being held for the next few years. Check the schedule because they may be closer tohome next year and you may want to hold off just to save money on the travel expenses. Ifyou decide you need to be there no matter where the show is then start searching immediatelyfor discounted flights.Your next expense is going to be housing. Even when the shows are in our backyard we like tostay at the show hotel instead of driving back and forth because trust me, you are going to becompletely worn out and having a room to refresh yourself is almost a necessity. Almost. Ifit’s a choice between doing pre-show marketing and staying in a hotel you’re going to want todo the marketing and drive back and forth each day. The same goes when traveling acrosscountry. You’re better off staying in the convention hotel rather than the Super 8 thirty milesaway just for the networking opportunities alone. But if you need the extra couple hundredbucks to put into your marketing then by all means, stay cheap.The amount of staff you send is also a place to save money. You’re going to kill yourself if youjust send one person. At some point you will need to use the restroom and Murphy’s Law saysthat’s when your prime prospect will wander by. If at all possible always send at least two peo-ple to the show, or, as an alternative, there is the option on hiring professional booth staff thatis local to the show city. They can answer basic questions and give a product or service over-view and act as backup for breaks.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 5
  • 7. Finally, there is the booth itself. Standing in an empty booth with pipe and drape may not bethe impression of your company you want potential customers to have. If you cannot afford asimple pop-up booth, banner stands are a good alternative. For the stand and graphic you willpay where from $800 - $1500 depending on the size and type. There are great banner standsavailable that are about 5 feet tall and have your graphic attached in such a way that they ban-ner rolls right up and into its own carry case. You can probably even manage to pass it off as acarry on, on most flights. You can always tell your customers you didn’t figure the cost of yourfancy booth into your pricing structure.I just saw a company the other day that had nothing but their products displayed on the showsupplied table with the standard black skirt. Their graphic displaying their company name andtag line was printed on 2 foot x 4 foot foam core. They hung it from the pipe and drape withfishing line through a couple grommets on the sign. They had an eye-catching colorful logo andit looked professional. They didn’t even ship their sign; they brought the file with them andprinted it at the local Kinko’s. They planned on trashing it after the show.The point of all this is to say it’s important that you get your name out there and start meetingpeople. Let your booth grow as you do. After all, one good prospect at the show could beturned into your best customer and pay for a bigger, better booth next year. We don’t have a booth. What’s the best starter booth? I read about tabletops, pop-ups and modular booths. Should I buy a new one or used...or should I rent? There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a booth if you have an extremely limited budget. First take a look at the shows you are planning on exhibiting. Some shows do not allow anything bigger than an 8 x 10 pop-up booth. If you invest in a bigger or modular exhibit you may not be able to use it at theseshows. A good quality pop-up booth that will last show after show will cost about $3000 forthe frame. You will probably spend another $2000 on the printing of the graphic. There arecheaper models available online for as little as $1500 for frame and printing but the quality isgoing to be low and won’t last as long.A budget conscious option would be a well-designed tabletop exhibit or banner stands. Thereare two important things to consider if you have a very small budget; but you can see the valuein exhibiting. The first is that you get out there and do it. If you are thinking I can’t exhibit be-© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 6
  • 8. cause I cannot afford the display; get that thought out of your mind. I’d rather see you standingin an empty booth because at least you showed up. Which brings me to the second point. Anenthusiastic, well trained, well prepared staffer who believes in the product or service they areselling will outshine any flashy exhibit.We’ve also seen some great new modular exhibits being produced for a 10 x 10 space that willtake your exhibit up a notch or two from the pop-up. Some start as low as $8000 includinggraphics. But be careful. This type of booth will increase your exhibiting budget on the backend. You will pay more to ship it and it will require you hire labor to set it up. Many unioncities will only allow an exhibitor to set up their own booth if it takes one person less than 1/2hour to put it up.As far as buying used exhibit goes, buyer beware. These things can get really beat up so youdefinitely want to see it before you buy. That said, there are some great deals out there onused exhibits. You’ve got all those companies that have what seems at times and unlimitedbudget for exhibiting and they are constantly changing out their exhibits for a new design.Some are only a year old but again, you are going to want to see it before you buy it.As far as renting vs. buying goes that depends on your company. New businesses go through alot of changes. You may not want to invest in buying a modular booth if it will be irrelevantnext year. Also take into consideration how many times you will be exhibiting in a year. If youare only doing one big show a year renting may be a more economical option. Remember, ifyou buy it you will also have to have a place to store it or pay for storage at your exhibit house.Have a talk with your exhibit house and accountant to find out what is right for you.Even if you decide to go with a larger modular booth, whether a rental or owning, you willwant to have a pop-up or table top exhibit on hand for those smaller shows. My company is ready to upgrade to a custom booth, how much should we expect to pay? You are going to want to budget about $124 per square foot (or $1238 per linear foot) for an inline exhibit and $139 per square foot for an island exhibit. An inline exhibit is one that is constructed in a continuous line along the aisle. And island exhibit is one with an aisle on all four sides. And, just for your information a peninsula exhibit is an exhibit with aisles on three sides.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 7
  • 9. Do we really have to exhibit? Can’t we just attend and hang out and network and pitch our services or wares? They have a word for this in the trade show industry and it is called suit casing and it is not allowed--ever. You will be thrown out of the convention center if you are caught doing it. You will also ruin your reputation as both exhibitors and attendees will view you with much disdain for doing it. We are talking about the hard sell here, passing out flyers and giving a sales pitch. If you are truly justattending the show to get a lay of the land and find out what is going on in the industry, then byall means, network, network, network. But if you intend to wander the show floor stoppingpeople in the aisles, please do us all a favor and get a job in telemarketing. Under no circum-stances should you ever be wasting exhibitors’ time by pitching your product to them in theirown booth. Aside from not being allowed and rude, while they are talking to you they mayhave neglected their next big account that just walked by. This is not a good first impression.We make our money on exhibitors. We often attend shows and walk the floor to see who isdoing it right and who may need our help. We take notes and gather information but wenever, ever bother them in their booth. Not even to ask for a contact name. We have beenworking in our clients’ booths when they have been approached during show hours by salesreps looking to promote their services. We give our clients credit in that they are generallypolite to these time wasters but as soon as they are out of earshot the general comments are,“do they really think they can get business this way? They are interfering with our job.”Look at the numbers we used in our “does show size matter?” question. That 10 minutes youtook of their time may have just cost them close to $100 at the very least...at the most it couldhave cost them a sale. What’s the most important piece to the show puzzle that will ensure our success? Otherwise known as the magic pill. Each piece is so important but the only one that you can absolutely not do without is a good booth staffer. You can have the biggest booth, the best giveaway, great pre-show marketing; but if you don’t have a well prepared staff you won’t have a successful show. On the other hand, your pre-© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 8
  • 10. show mailers could have gotten lost in the mail, your booth stuck in the back of a truck in asnow storm and your giveaways lost on the loading dock but your staff can save the wholeevent.You want to send your best people to the show. Notice I did not say your best sales rep. Insome cases your best person for the show may be a customer service rep or someone fromR&D. They must love talking to people and know your business well. You must prepare themby making sure they know how to engage and qualify visitors. You must also make it rewardingfor them. Standing in a booth all day is hard work. Make sure they know why they are there,how it helps the business and therefore them and a day or two comped vacation time or even agift certificate for a fabulous dinner when they get back doesn’t hurt either. (For more informa-tion go to www.red-cedar.com/news.html News and Information and download “Getting theMost from your Booth Staff”) Whenever I go to a show the staffers in a small booth look so bored. How do I make sure my staff is enthusiastic? Make sure they know what the goal of your participation in the show is. Set reasonable expectations with them for what you hope to achieve. Asking them to collect 100 qualified leads a day when it’s really only possible for one person to collect 20-30 is setting them up for failure. Work with them to create their own personal goals for the show. Perhaps there are a couple people they reallyrespect in their field that may be attending the show. Help them set up meetings before theshow opens or after it closes for the day or during networking events. Send at least two peo-ple so they can take a break without feeling guilty.It’s not easy spending three days manning a booth at a show that has not been well thought outor supported by management. If people feel as thought they’ve been sent into exile, they willbehave as that were the case and not put a lot of effort into the show. When they return tothe office they will cite bad booth placement and little or no floor traffic as an excuse for notbringing back any leads. On the other hand, if management treats it like it is an important en-deavor and gives the necessary support and training, then the staffer will have a higher level ofenthusiasm and try to turn a slow show into something worthwhile.Don’t send your shy or disgruntled staffers to these shows. Only send the ones who reallylove people and people watching, as they will be less likely to be or appear to be bored.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 9
  • 11. Does it make sense to hire professional booth staff to work our booth? You should not use them as your only staffing but there are some great companies out there that provide quality people to use as a supplement to your own staff. It can also help you cut costs on out of town shows. You always want two people in your booth at all times. One reason is two people can engage more people. But the other reason is that people need breaks and they need toeat. You don’t want to leave your booth empty at any time. With at least two people thereyour booth is always staffed even on breaks. You can send one of your staffers to the showand hire a professional staffer that is local to the show. This cuts down on your travel ex-penses.The temp staffer can learn enough about your product and service in advance to field generalquestions and provide information. If a question that comes up is outside their area of knowl-edge they can pass them off to your staffer.These temp workers are not the booth babes of yesteryear. These are men and women whoare smart, professional and well manicured. To visitors stopping by your booth they are indis-tinguishable from your own staff. What’s the best way to handle an angry customer that comes to our booth to vent? Great question because at some point, no matter how great your customer service record is, you will get someone coming to your booth to complain. For some of these people this is a chance of a lifetime. They get to vent to a real live person and it could even be the business owner. It’s best to have a plan in place and communicate it with your entire booth staff before the show so they are notcaught off guard.Step 1. The disgruntled visitor should be connected immediately to the highest level staffer inthe booth. If your exec is walking around on the show floor contact them and get them overto the booth. Tell the customer that you are doing this not to pass them off but to connectthem to the person who is in the best position to take action.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 10
  • 12. Step 2. Get them out of the booth gracefully. After allowing them to voice their initial com-plaint/concern try this. “Mr. Smith, I’d like to understand this completely but it’s a bit distract-ing here. Can we go and sit down over a cup of coffee so you can tell me exactly what hap-pened and we can figure out a solution.” It is highly unlikely that Mr. Smith really does want tocause a scene in your booth but he may have thought it the only way to be heard. Once heunderstands that someone is going to listen to him he will be much less aggressive and mostlikely willing to go somewhere to talk.Sure your potential customers just heard the commotion but they now have a favorable im-pression of how you handle customer issues and your concern to fix the problems.If you have only one lone staffer in the booth he can modify the above approach by inviting Mr.Smith to meet with him when the exhibit hall closes for the day so he can focus on the issues. Why would I want to be at a show next to all my competitors? This question always amazes me and it’s one of the most commonly asked questions. It begs the question, “Why would you not want to be there?” When someone is buying a product they will most likely be comparing several vendors. This process can drag itself out over weeks or even months whilemeetings are set up and proposals submitted. When all interested parties are in one room thecomparison part of this process can take place in hours instead of weeks. You are significantlyreducing your sales cycle by being at the show.Many small business owners worry about looking too small next to their giant competitors.Sure, you will always lose business to the big guy when dealing with a purchaser who wants toplay it safe. We know the scenario; they are afraid to go with the vendor who is either new orrelatively unknown because if something goes wrong it is on their head. If they go with the bigname and something goes wrong they cannot possibly be to blame...everyone uses those guys.It still gives you a chance to be seen so that if something does go wrong with your big competi-tor, they may just call on you to save the day. If you are not there, they will not have thechance to get to know you and you will not get that business.Do not discount the number of companies who do not want to be the small fish in someone’sbig pond. Many companies want to do business with the small guy because then they know© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 11
  • 13. they are important to you and that you will pay close attention to their needs. They want to beyour big fish.And again, there is your staff that will set you apart. I recently walked the floor with a clientwho was considering adding exhibiting into their marketing mix but they had this concern aboutbeing right next to their competitors. Two of her competitors were there in 10 x 10 booths,the same size she is considering. The first competitor had a female staffer sitting in a chair be-hind their table hugging a wrap around her shoulders and appeared to be very uncomfortableand cold. They had a monitor showing a video loop of their services running and we stoppedto watch it. So she now has two people in front of her who are clearly interested in what sheis selling. She is on her cell phone and ignoring us. Even if she was not on her phone she hasthree strikes against her as the is sitting, huddled behind a table, and showing obvious signs ofdiscomfort that say I’d rather be anywhere but here talking to you.Next we went to competition B’s booth. They had a very eye-catching graphic and a simple butnice inviting booth set up. Their staffer was standing near the aisle and smiling at everyone whopassed by. We slowed down to look at his booth showing signs of interest and he gave us a bigsmile and a “hello.” We said hello and kept moving.Now, understand that we would not have taken up their time if they did actually engage us, wewould have kept moving along or told him we were competitors. We did not take any materi-als or giveaways. However, to them we were simply showing enough of an interest that wewould have been easy targets. I showed my client that if she were there she could have all thesuccess at the show by simply actively engaging visitors and passers-by. Sure, if they are lookingfor her services they will seek out all the vendors that are at the show, but she would havestood out. They may have just picked up literature at the other booths and not even engagedin conversation.Your staff is key in separating you from your competition whether they are well known and inan 800 square foot booth; or in the 10 x 10 right next to you. Many times it is the enthusiasticbusiness owner in his little tabletop booth that gets his message across, not the junior staffer inthe fancy booth more interested in talking to his coworkers than he is a customer.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 12
  • 14. What should we put on our graphics? Ok, this is another one of those questions we wish we were asked more often. Chances are you will be at the show exhibiting alongside 50 or more other companies selling the same thing you are. You must put yourself in your customer’s or potential customer’s shoes. Listing all your product or servicesfeatures on your booth graphics is not going to work. For one, no one is going to stop andread it all. For two, every other exhibitor is listing the same features. Because you are sur-rounded by your competition you must stand out from the pack. Luckily for you, you are read-ing this and just may be the one who does take our advice.The only thing your graphic should say is how you address their need or pain or pleasure.What makes you unique? If your competition can say it then don’t print it on your graphic.That’s valuable real estate and you don’t want to waste it.I recently went to a medical manufacturing show with over 500 exhibitors. There had to be atleast 25 exhibitors selling oral drug delivery solutions. Every company was the same, listing alltheir features and benefits of which they all had the same ones. No one stood out. Then Icame across a 10x10 pop-up booth and their graphic was a close-up of a mother giving a babymedicine from a spoon and the mother and baby were both covered in syrupy medicine. Themother looked exasperated and the baby was screaming. They were pitching a no-mess, easydispenser. That just about says it all. It catches your attention, I get it without needing to readanything, and it solves my problem. Let’s talk.Try to keep the number of words on your graphic to fewer than 20. No one is going to readit; they will glance at it and keep moving unless it speaks to them in less than two seconds.That’s why you have your staff there. They can answer any questions your graphic does not.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 13
  • 15. That’s great but these graphics are really expensive to print and we have different products for different audiences. Are you saying we should have a booth for each product? You want to be strategic when designing your booth graphic because the cost of printing the graphics on a pop-up can run $2000 or more. Most of these booths are printed in three panels that join together. Your graphic designer can design a different graphic for each product so that only one panel needs to be switched outfor each show.Another option is to keep you graphics on the booth very generic and add a banner stand foreach specific product. This is our least favorite option because there is less opportunity for youto stand out.If you are using a bigger modular booth take this into consideration when ordering it. You willwant to order something where your graphics can easily be interchanged for each show youexhibit. What is the best give-away or premium item? The best premium is one that ties into and promotes your business as well as your overall show goal and theme. If you sell fermenters for laboratories and you are giving away a back massager, while it may be very popular with attendees, it doesn’t really say much about you after the show. If on the other hand you are a masseuse, it’s a great give-away.Handing out cheap pens or sticky pads to everyone who walks by isn’t necessarily going to helpyou. For about the same amount of money you can bring a more expensive premium item thatyou give to visitors to your booth who answer some qualifying questions. But that premiumitem has to be something that will make the visitor think of you every time they look at it oruse it and remember their conversation with you in your booth.If you are using the show to build a list of prospects in the industry but not necessarily qualifythem, a high-ticket item and a drawing may be the way you want to go. It’s a great way to builda marketing lead list for new companies. Sending out pre-show mailers saying that you are giv-© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 14
  • 16. ing away a Wii to one lucky winner just for dropping your card in a bowl will generate a lot ofattention. I’m not advocating this or saying it is right but we’ve seen companies who do adrawing like this but fix the outcome. The prize will always go to one of their top customersor to a potential customer where they are trying to get in the door.We’ve seen customers give away a car in the booth. Understand they were at the show to fur-ther position them as the industry leader. Everyone already knew who the company was, butas you know; you always have to work to remain the leader. A car may seem extravagant butthink of it this way. The car may have cost them $25,000. A similar sized client was givingaway engraved journals to everyone at the show. They spent over $50,000 between the costof the journals, the shipping and drayage, and hiring the engraving company. They could havegiven away two cars.There is no simple answer to this question. It really comes down to what are your goals, whatis your budget, what is allowed, and what is relevant. For everyone it’s a different answer. I reserved my 10 x 10 booth space and the show sent me a 140-page book called an Exhibitor Kit! It’s got ordering forms for labor and shipping and furniture. I’ve just got a pop-up I can set up myself...do I really need to read this thing? Unfortunately this is not a question we are ever asked until it is too late. This is where people get themselves into the most amount of trouble when they are first exhibiting. The quickest way to add up inflated charges is by not reading your exhibitor kit thoroughly. This should be your bible for the show. It will contain all your ordering deadlines to avoid late fees, exactly what comes with your booth andwhat needs to be ordered separately, installation and dismantle hours, labor and service orderforms, and show rules just to name a few.Extra charges can add up by the hundreds or thousands if you miss deadlines or have to orderservices at the show. We’ve seen people who did not read the book and did not know thatcarpeting for the booth was not included in the space reservation. What would have cost them$100 if ordered before the show cost $250 on site and they did not get the color they wanted.If you need an electrical outlet and you didn’t order it before the show it can cost you as much© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 15
  • 17. as an extra $1000 just because they have to install it during overtime and pull up the carpet andre-lay it not to mention possibly having the need to re-build your booth.Your exhibitor kit is where you will find out if you are allowed to serve food in your booth orif they allow balloons. Planning on using a hanging sign in your exhibit? Some shows won’t al-low it. Start tearing down before the show officially closes and you may find you are bannedfrom future shows. (For more information go to www.red-cedar.com/news.html News andInformation and download “The High Cost of Trade Show Mistakes”) What is the worse thing you’ve ever seen go wrong at a show? Every time I think it can’t possibly get worse...some story just tops the last one. The thing you need to know about trade shows is that they rarely go off without a hitch. All over the show floor in just about every booth something has gone wrong. It can be something as simple as a forgetting to pack the power cord for a computer, to damaged graphics by a forklift, and, believe it or not, missing boothsdue to snowstorms half way across the country. No matter how experienced you are, youcannot plan for everything that could potentially go wrong. But you can think through a backupplan for each show for some of the worst-case scenarios.We always ship a backup DVD/CD containing a copy of the booth graphics with the booth.We also bring another copy with us in our carry-on bag. I have never had both go missing--yet...Do a bit of research before you leave for the show and find the closest Kinko’s and Staples justin case you need to use them. One hour before the show opens is not when you want to beGoogling the closest place to buy a computer cable or get graphics printed.Yes, we have even seen entire booths go missing. It is usually due to someone shipping it tothe wrong location (did I mention you should read your exhibitor kit very carefully?) but I haveheard stories of rouge independently contracted truck drivers confiscating it because the ship-ping company is late paying him...or the truck got stuck in a terrible snow storm while drivingthrough Denver. What do you do then? You’ve already invested a lot of money in the show;you can’t just pack it in before it starts.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 16
  • 18. At times like this, when I was still a smoker, I used to go back to the loading dock and sit downand have a cigarette and clear my mind and try to reach a state of total calm. Now I go back tothe loading dock and sit down and inhale deeply and try to reach a state of total calm. I do thisbecause it will be the last three minutes of peace and calm that I will be having for a while.Once that three minutes are up it’s time for action.Do not waste your time trying to figure out who is at fault. There is no time for that duringthis process. That can be done after the show. The only thing you want to be doing is fixingthe problem or finding an alternative solution and you can’t be doing that while you are yellingat someone.If a cable is missing and you have time to run to Staples, get in a cab and go. If not, head overto show services desk and they may be able to provide you with the most expensive computercable you have ever purchased, but it’s better than no cable.If your graphics have been run through with a forklift immediately call the local printer and getpricing on printing a new one. Make sure you find out what their cut-off times are for a rushjob. You are going to pay a premium to have it printed in an hour. If your graphic can bepatched up just to get you through the first day you might decided to save the money and haveit printed within 24 hours.If your booth is missing, I mean really missing, you’ve checked with the shipper and it is in noway going to arrive in time. Suck it up tightwad; you’re going to have to spend some moneyhere. The first phone call I would make would be to your exhibit house (the place where youbought your exhibit) and see if they can help you figure out an alternative. They are good atthis because they deal with situations like this all the time. Many have warehouses in majorconvention cities and can probably get you a replacement in time. If this is not a viable alterna-tive then you are going to need to check with the show services desk for help. They some-times have spare pop-up booth lying around they will rent to you for an exorbitant amount ofmoney. The last alternative is, do you really trust your staff and feel they are extremely capa-ble? If so, they can save the day and get you some good leads even without a booth at all.Think of it this way, they’ll have a funny ice-breaker when talking to visitors.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 17
  • 19. Where not to put your stuff. Many beginning exhibitors make this mistake all the time. It’s not his or her fault, no one is born with this knowledge, it has to be passed on. While booths are being set up there is no carpeting in the aisles. Some of these aisles are marked that they must be kept clear at all times. They mean this. The other aisles are where you toss your garbage and empty boxes, whatever you want thrown away.You need to keep everything you want on your carpet at all times. If you put a box of litera-ture or graphics in that aisle while you are moving your booth around, they will scoop it up andthrow it in the huge dumpsters out in the back of the hall. You ask yourself, why would theydo that? Can they not clearly see it was a mistake and something we would want? Maybe--Maybe not--maybe they do it just because they can. Tell everyone working in your booth thisrule...because the one person you didn’t tell will be the one to put the graphics in the aisle andyou will be dumpster diving the rest of the afternoon. They have all these documents and rules for shipping in the exhibitor manual. Is it really that complicated? It’s really not that complicated, or rather it doesn’t need to be. There is usually a carrier that is the preferred carrier of the show. This doesn’t mean you get a discount on shipping from them by any means. What it should mean is that they know where shipments are supposed to go when and they will be the first throughthe marshaling yard...meaning what’s on those trucks get into and out of the show first.You by no means need to use them. You probably don’t want to if you have just a popupbooth and a couple boxes going to the show. UPS is a perfectly good carrier to use and theyunderstand how marshaling yards at convention centers work. Having your cousin Vinny run itover to the convention center in his pizza delivery truck is probably going to cause you moreheadaches than the shipping savings is worth. I often think the guy at the freight desk is justlooking for any excuse to screw with deliveries where the driver has no idea what he is doing.There is a very complicated process the truck drivers must go through and you want to makesure the carrier you use understands it and has done it many times.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 18
  • 20. To avoid mishaps you can send your shipments to the warehouse in advance of the show. Butbe aware that this is the more expensive option because you will be paying storage fees but itwill give you fewer points in the process where things can go wrong. But you have to carefullyread the exhibitor kit to know when the deadlines are for shipping to the warehouse and whenyou can start shipping to the convention center or hotel.One of the most important things you will have to do at the show close is to properly com-plete the Bill of Lading/Material Handling Agreement (MHA) form and turn it in to the freightdesk. If you don’t do this, your carrier cannot pick up your freight. If you did not take care ofthis important step on time you will learn another term, which is, forced freight. That is whenshow management, in an effort to get the hall emptied on time, sticks your booth on whatevercarrier is convenient and your booth will be shipped to the show services warehouse and runup storage fees for every day it is there.Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s always good to be nice to, and make friends with peoplewho look as though they’ve been doing this forever. Two of our favorite labor companies thatare at every trade show are Nth Degree and Sho-Aids. I don’t know how I would have evergotten through my first shows without Sho-Aids backing me up. These are the companies thatthose huge 2000 square foot plus booths engage to handle all their booth setup needs. If youhave the budget to hire a labor company by all means do it. It is well worth the money. Butyou probably do not need it for a pop-up exhibit. Anyway, our point is, these guys are not onlyreally good at what they do, they are really nice. Nth Degree guys where purple shirts andSho-Aides wear orange shirts. They are not going to work for you for free but they willprobably take a couple seconds to answer a question for you and they know all the ins and outsof shipping.As a matter of fact...if my booth went missing, these are the guys I’d contact first to help mefind a solution to the problem if my exhibit house couldn’t help me. What the heck is drayage and why is it so expensive? Oh the stories we all tell about drayage. It’s one of those insider jokes. Seasoned exhibitors sit around the bar after tear down and compare their ridiculous drayage fee stories. Drayage cannot be talked about without the use of expletives. Drayage is the process of getting your booth from the loading dock to your booth space. Ihave had people tell me stories of their drayage charges in certain cities (like Philadelphia) being© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 19
  • 21. twice as much as their total shipping charges. Yes that’s right. It cost them twice as much toget their booth 20 yards than it did to ship it from California to Philadelphia.What you have to understand that drayage is charged usually per hundredweight (CWT). Thatmeans you get charged for every item moved as if it weight 100 lbs. at an average rate of about$70 per CWT. If it weighs more you are charged incrementally more. Every time they pick upa box and move it you are charged as if it weighed 100 lbs. (Some shows start at 200 lbs mini-mums) Why am I repeating this? Let’s say you shipped five boxes of giveaway pens to the showeach weighing 15 lbs. You also have two boxes of literature each weighing about 30 lbs. Thenthere is your booth, which weighs about 75 lbs. Let’s say drayage costs $75 per 100 weight.You would be paying $600. Now let’s say you shrink wrapped all those things onto a pallet andsent them in one shipment. Your drayage fees would be $150. You just saved yourself $450.You can use that money to entertain clients while you are at the show.This is also why you want to store any extra literature boxes and giveaways you intend to usethroughout the show in your hotel room if there is no space to store them inside your booth.Every time you ask for another box to be delivered from quick access storage to your boothyou are paying for it. I have already had to squeeze into my bed through a maze of boxesstacked to the ceiling during shows to save a client several thousand dollars. It was muchcheaper to tip the bellman $50 to wheel over 20 or so boxes than pay the quick access charges. If I slip the union guy a $100 will my stuff get set up quicker? Your stuff won’t get set up any quicker--just the opposite. It is strictly forbidden to tip the union workers at a show. What generally happens is they will take the money and then report you and you are now last on the list for set-up as well as being $100 poorer. This means it is very likely your work will be done after regular hours so you will be paying time and a half or double time. On the otherhand being nice to the labor is always a good thing. Yes, it is true that the squeaky wheel getsthe grease; but the really nice wheel that let’s the labor have a couple of your giveaways duringset up, or asking them if you can get them a coffee or a water while you are getting yourselfone goes a very very long way.And it certainly does not hurt to be a woman either. If you are having an issue and need help,always send a female staffer to ask for it. Some people say that is sexist, but hey, whatever© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 20
  • 22. works. I have even heard of one exhibit manager who packs homemade cookies when shegoes to a show to pass out at the loading dock.So long story short, no, you cannot bribe the union workers. What you can do is just be niceand treat them like you would want to be treated and that will go a lot further. How will I get visitors to remember my product or service after the show? Don’t load them down with literature. It will all most likely get tossed in the hotel room trash when they start packing to go home and realize all the extra weight it adds. (Mine went in the garbage at the airport check-in when it put my bag 7 lbs over limit) Get their permission to send any information after the show. This will do two things, save you money on the amount of literature you have to send tothe show and, automatically gives you a reason to stay in touch with them.The key to people remembering you is “experiential”. You want your customer to be able toimagine and see what it is like to own your product or use your service. If you are selling awidget let them hold it, let them see how it connects to the whole. If you sell software letthem actually click through different screens and perform functions right there to demonstratethe ease of use. If you have a product that is indestructible let them try to break it. Try toawaken all their senses when demoing a tangible product.If you sell a service your job is a bit harder but still possible. Let them experience what itwould be like to contract your services by showing short video testimonials by people who arejust like them. Have your customers tell them how you solved their problems or made theirlives easier.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 21
  • 23. It always seems as though the momentum we build up in our company before and during the show breaks down after the show. How do we prevent that from happening? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that 70 percent of leads generated at the show are not followed up on. When you consider this statistic also consider that their research reports that 71 percent of attendees at trade shows are the ones who authorize/approve purchases and attendees at an exhibition have a net buying influence of 89 percent. And you are not following upon our leads why?Our experience has shown the reason leads are not followed up on is a lack of procedure andaccountability put into place before the show. If your follow-up plan consists of nothing morethan “get back to everyone after the show”, you have little chance of success. Your sales teamwill be faced with a pile of tasks that have built up while they were away that need to be han-dled immediately. Finally, three or four days after the show, at best, they will start to workthrough the leads collected at the show. The really ‘hot’ leads will be followed up on first andthe information seekers will be put on the back burner. A week turns into a month turns intothree months and now the lead is cold.We have found that when we have a system in place, whether it is manual or automated, be-fore the show begins, we are able to follow-up on every lead while it is still very fresh in theattendees mind. We create template e-mails, which are sent out every night during the showfollowing up on the leads collected that day. Notice I say at night, not immediately after the hallcloses for the day. You should be networking with attendees immediately after the hall closesfor the day. If the convention center is closed then the hotel lobby bar is where you need tobe. After that you should be at dinner with clients. Only when the last attendee has gone tobed for the night should you be in your hotel room following up. I know, you are exhaustedbut no one said this would be a cakewalk.Leads can be separated into two groups. Those seeking information, and those who haveagreed to a follow-up from a sales person. A simple two or three line e-mail is sent to eachperson (given they had agreed to follow-up by e-mail) thanking them for stopping by and apromise to send the information they requested (stating the exact information they requested)or a promise to have a sales rep/staff member contact them on a specific date upon return to© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 22
  • 24. the office. For those who preferred not to be contacted by e-mail the same note handwrittenon company letterhead is written and sent out in the next morning’s mail from the hotel.Someone should be assigned the task of putting all the lead information into a database. Thiscan be as elaborate as a CRM tool or a simple excel spreadsheet. Again, this person should beassigned this task before the show with a date of completion they are held accountable. Ideallythis should be before the show is over or the very first day back in the office. The good newsis, the larger shows where you would collect the most leads provide you with badge swipingmachines and hand you a database with all your leads at the end of each show which eliminatesall the hard work of this step.These leads can be divvied up amongst your sales and staff for follow-up. Again, making oneperson accountable to make sure this has been done on a timely basis. If you told a visitor youwould call a couple days after the show to set up on appointment then you better be callingthem in that time frame. Calling them a month after could lose you a sale. The CEIR reportsthat 77 percent of attendees find at least one new supplier at a show. If you competition is fol-lowing up with them the day after the show and you wait a month you may still be in the run-ning but you will have lost your leg up.We encourage you to go to our website at http://www.red-cedar.com/. Fromthere go to our News and Info page for additional information and tips. If yourneeds go beyond what is discussed in this e-book, please give us a call and let us putour experience and expertise to work for you.If you have purchased this e-book you have been registered for one half hour offree consulting. You can use this all at once or break it into two fifteen-minute in-crements. We suggest a 15 minute consultation before your show and a 15 minutepost mortem after the show, or heaven forbid, an emergency help call during theshow. Do not worry; your free consultation is just that and not a sales pitch.When you call have your questions ready and a pen and paper on hand.© RED CEDAR “Answers to the most important trade show questions.” 23