When it comes time to plan for a new trade show exhibit, you may not want to jump immediately into designing the specifics of the booth. Many of the booth’s details will depend in large part on the planning and visioning you complete before you ever sit down to discuss room sizes and display cases with your exhibit company. To help you create a display that works for your business’ unique needs, here are five steps to take before you hit the design phase of your trade show exhibit.
Select the events where you plan to use your trade show exhibit.
One of the first steps you need to take when thinking ahead to a new trade show exhibit is what events you plan to attend with it. For example, do you plan to go to just one or two events a year, or multiple shows? Multiple shows are more cost-effective when you are considering the costs of purchasing a custom exhibit.
In addition, it is likely that who your target audiences are will depend upon the show you attend. For example, a show focused on healthcare equipment is likely to draw different attendees than a show focused on healthcare professionals. Knowing which shows you want to attend, and who will be going, can help you narrow down the focus and messaging your trade show exhibit should have. And that can help you create a design that speaks persuasively to your target audiences.
Reserve your booth space and note any special space needs you have.
Once you know which trade shows you want to attend, you will need to reserve your booth space for each. Doing so well in advance (often a year ahead of time) will help you to lock in the lowest rates and save the best spaces for your trade show exhibit.
In addition to reserving your booth space, you will need to note any special space needs you have. For example, be aware of any oddities in the shape of the space, and any regulations from the venue that restrict the height of certain walls, limit the types of lighting you can use, and so forth. Know where your electrical outlets are, and how high you can hang materials. All of this information will allow you to design a trade show exhibit that does not break any rules or prevent you from fully using the booth on the day of the show.
Identify the target audience you want to reach with your trade show exhibit.
This step goes hand-in-hand with the first step of selecting which shows you plan to attend with your display. As mentioned above, every show will have different audiences you may wish to target. Determining who will be attending your chosen shows, and who from those groups you most wish to target, is important to developing a trade show exhibit that will attract qualified leads.
For example, that healthcare event focused on professionals may attract both executives and doctors. However, your business may be most interested in attracting the executives who have the power (and the budgets) to sign off on the purchase of your medical equipment.
Knowing who you want to target can help you to develop a trade show exhibit that speaks to their pain points, needs, and desires in order to convince them to come find out more about the medical equipment (or other products and services) your company has to offer.
Create your trade show exhibit budget.
The cost of a trade show exhibit can vary widely, depending upon the type of display you choose, its features, its size, and much more. For example, a custom-built 20×20 display is going to cost more than a 10×10 portable trade show display.
Knowing how much you can spend on making your exhibit dreams a reality depends on your budget. As a result, before you sit down to design your booth, create a comprehensive trade show budget. Do not forget to add in major expenses, like display transportation, space reservation costs, and airfare and lodging for staff, as well as hidden costs of a trade show, such as drayage, cleaning services, and rigging.
It is not uncommon to spend anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of your total budget on the display itself. These percentages can vary depending on factors such as custom trade show exhibits vs. rentals, the cost of the hosting city, the distance to travel, the number of staffers, and other factors. Once you have that number, you can work with your exhibit company to determine the best (and most affordable) trade show exhibit options for your budget.
Clarify your trade show exhibit strategy and vision.
Finally, you will need to clarify your trade show exhibit’s strategy and vision ahead of time. For example, using the information you have about your target audience and your own company’s needs, you should be able to build a picture of what you want to accomplish with your display. Setting specific attendance, lead, and messaging goals can help you both to measure the success of your trade show exhibit and allow you to develop a look that makes it easier for you to meet your goals.
At Imagecraft, you always have the chance to sit down with our design services and flesh out your vision for your exhibit. This meeting allows you to communicate your company’s unique brand values and needs, as well as the specific goals you have for your display, in order to ensure that we design just the right look for you.
Planning ahead can save you a world of frustration down the road. And with an investment as significant as a trade show display, you want to be sure that it will effectively serve your needs for years to come. Do not hesitate to reach out to Imagecraft to get help planning for and creating a trade show exhibit that meets your needs in an effective, profitable, and long term way.
Trade show displays are true investments. The money and effort you put into them up front will reward you for years with trade show traffic, brand awareness, leads, and conversions for your business. In fact, the average trade show exhibit lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 years. As time goes on, however, even the best displays wear out or lose their usefulness and must be replaced. Following are a few signs that it may be time to buy a new trade show display.
Wear and Tear on the Old Display
Your display’s appearance is vital in capturing the attention of trade show attendees. In fact, when you designed your display, you and your exhibit company likely spent a great deal of time creating a look that would stand out on the exhibit floor. Because your display’s appearance plays such a large role in convincing trade show attendees to visit your booth, anything that detracts from that look can potentially harm your trade show success.
This is why signs of wear and tear on your display signal a need for a new trade show exhibit. While some things (such as burned out light bulbs) can be fixed, other kinds of damage (such as stains, dents, and scratches) become permanent parts of your display. And, a damaged display can call your professionalism and expertise into question in visitors’ minds. As a result, if you notice wear and tear on your display that cannot be easily fixed, you may need to consider replacing the display.
New Products and Services
Chances are, your current display is focused on specific products and services offered by your company. This focus is a smart marketing choice, because it allows you to inform visitors about the specific benefits they can gain from your company. People will naturally be drawn to a display that represents new, innovative, and unique products and services that they can take advantage of.
However, if your business releases new products and services, your display may quickly become outdated.
An outdated display is a reason to purchase a new one, because it is an inaccurate representation of your business. By using it, you will miss out on customers who could use your new products, and you may attract visitors who are looking for something you no longer offer. As a result, consider a new display anytime your company’s offerings begin to differ from what is represented in your display.
If done correctly, your trade show exhibit should reflect your company’s branding and personality. Logos, colors, and overall feel should all accurately represent what your company is about. If your branding changes, therefore, it is likely that your display will need to change as well. There are a number of reasons that your branding (or messaging) might change.
For instance, occasionally, businesses will undergo a rebranding that introduces a new logo, changes the colors or styles of the original brand, etc. In these cases, your old display will quickly become outdated. In addition, you may occasionally find yourself with a new marketing message that can change the overall appearance of your display.
You may also find that your branding changes when your business undergoes major changes, such as mergers and acquisitions. These changes mean that your business becomes part of another business. It may adopt the branding of the other business, or receive entirely new branding that merges your company’s brand and the other company’s brand. In these cases, your display will need to change in order to reflect these shifts in your brand.
Even if your booth is up to date and reflecting your most recent products and services, you may still need a new trade show exhibit if your old display is not meeting your marketing goals at trade shows. In particular, you may need to consider a new display if you find that your old display is being ignored in favor of your competition’s booths.
If you notice that your competitors are regularly bringing in noticeably more business, visitors, and attention to their booths at the same trade shows you are attending, you may need to revamp your own display in order to better compete with theirs. You can do this by using an exhibit company’s design services to create a new display that incorporates and improves upon many of the features that make your competitors’ booths stand out.
Finally, you may need to consider replacing your current trade show display if you find that it is inconvenient to transport, install, or dismantle. For transportation, drayage, and other trade show expenses, pricing is often based on weight. The heavier the display, the more you will pay. If you want to cut down on the expense of getting your trade show exhibit from place to place, you may want to consider a new display that is lighter and easier to move.
In addition, set up time can cost you money (and stress) on the exhibit floor. If you find that your display is taking a long time to set up, or causing headaches during installation and dismantling, you may need a new trade show exhibit. Exhibit companies today can create relatively lightweight and portable displays that can make your set up and tear down experiences much less stressful.
If you think you might benefit from a new trade show display, consider hiring an exhibit company to help you think through the possibilities for a new display. Whether you choose a rental exhibit, a portable display, or custom exhibits, obtaining a new display can help you to better meet your marketing and trade show goals.
Purchasing a trade show display can be a significant investment. In addition, because these displays are responsible for making positive first impressions with trade show attendees, their design is extremely important. That is why it is essential that you select an exhibit company that offers you comprehensive services to support every stage of the design and display process. If you use a company that offers the following services, you will be far more likely to receive a stunning and effective display for your next trade show.
In order to obtain a trade show display design that works for your business, you must be able to clarify your design needs for the exhibit. Often, this can be difficult to do on your own. If you do not have exhibiting experience, you may not know what design elements will support your goals. Even if you have exhibited before, you may not be aware of the latest developments in exhibit design. In addition, you may not know what options are available within your particular budget, or whether or not certain elements can be modified to make them affordable for you.
This is why it is essential to find an exhibit company that offers design guidance as part of their process of creating custom trade show displays. For instance, at Imagecraft, we sit down with you in a discovery meeting to help you flesh out your vision for the display. In this meeting, we learn about your goals for your exhibit, and we offer design suggestions that might work for you. The result should be a clearer picture of what you need in your display so that the trade show display design we create meets your needs.
Each business’ display needs are different. Sometimes, they need a stellar design on a shoestring budget. Other times, they need a unique meeting area or are dealing with a difficult display space. Addressing these individual needs requires creativity. As a result, you should look for an exhibit company that is capable of innovation when it comes to meeting your specific design needs.
For instance, if you find that a certain material is too expensive for your budget, the designer should be able to create a solution that works for your budget and for your overall design. If you need a lightweight display, the designer should be able to locate materials that look stunning without weighing too much. It is the ability to creatively solve problems and manage budgets while delivering a stunning display that sets the best exhibit companies apart.
Another service to look for in an exhibit company is an array of budget-friendly options for your design. Often, especially in today’s marketing world, businesses find themselves working with tight budgets. At the same time, a trade show exhibit must have a compelling design that will allow your business to meet its marketing goals. Finding the sweet spot between meeting a budget and meeting your marketing goals will require an exhibit company that is creative and flexible when it comes to its design options.
For instance, you may want to consider using a company that offers options such as custom rental exhibits or modular displays. These types of displays often allow you to customize their look without costing as much as a custom trade show display. Alternatively, you might consider a custom design that has been carefully crafted to minimize expense and maximize impact. Regardless of the choice you make, finding an exhibit company that can meld style and budget can make the entire design process less stressful.
Transportation and Storage
Once your trade show exhibit has been designed and built, you will need to undertake the sometimes-mammoth task of getting your display to the exhibit floor. Custom exhibits can be heavy, and you typically need to arrange for two types of transportation: From storage to the exhibit hall, and from the exhibit hall to your display space (called drayage). In addition, you will need to have your display installed and dismantled, and you will need a place to store it once the trade show is over.
While you can arrange for these services separately, some exhibit companies offer transportation services, trade show services, and storage for your display. This means that they will oversee your display’s transportation and drayage, help you set it up and take it down, and provide you with a safe, long-term storage area. The advantages of selecting a company that offers all of these services include convenience and peace of mind. The best people to handle your display are the people who built it and know what it needs to be safely transported, set up, dismantled, and stored. In addition, when you keep your display in the care of the company that built it, you may find it easier and less expensive to perform maintenance on it and to make tweaks to it, because it does not have to be transported back and forth from the exhibit company.
There are many qualities to look for when choosing an exhibit company. When it comes to the particular services a company offers, however, it is important to pinpoint a company that provides design guidance, innovation, budget-friendly options, and transportation and storage services. By doing so, you can be sure that your exhibit company is equipped to offer you a compelling design and convenient services to make your next trade show a more successful event.
There are many options for adding lighting to your custom exhibits. Each choice has its own unique features, and the one you select will depend on your display needs. However, for trade show displays, LED lighting is easily one of the most popular and versatile options. This type of lighting has quickly become a multi-billion dollar industry due to the advantages it offers over incandescent lights. For exhibitors, they offer a bright, energy efficient, cost-effective way to light up the exhibit. Following are just a few of the benefits that LED lighting provides for trade show displays.
LED lights last about 100 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. This means that an LED light can run continuously for up to 11 years before needing to be replaced. If you use it for just 8 hours a day, you can expect your light to last about 20 years. This exceptionally long life means that light replacement only happens rarely, allowing you to enjoy dependable light for many years.
This long life is ideal for a trade show exhibit because it means that you almost never need to replace your LED bulbs. As a result, you do not have to worry about your lighting failing partway through the show. In addition, even if an LED light begins to wear down, it gradually becomes dimmer, instead of just turning off altogether. The result is an extremely long-lasting and reliable type of light for your trade show display.
In addition to their long life, LEDs are extremely energy efficient. This means that they waste less energy than do more traditional forms of lighting. For instance, incandescent bulbs only use about 20 percent of the energy they produce to create light. The other 80 percent is lost (usually in the form of heat). In contrast, LED lights use 80 percent of the energy they produce, and lose only 20 percent of their energy to heat.
This more productive use of energy means that LED lights will cost you less money in the long run, be better for the environment, and produce a cooler light than do incandescent bulbs. All of these features make LED lights a smart choice for many trade show displays, as exhibitors try to cut down on expenses related to their exhibit and avoid hot lights that can burn visitors.
As mentioned above, LED lights tend to lower your electrical bill thanks to their more efficient use of energy. Because they use more of the energy they produce to make light, they need to draw less electricity overall to meet your lighting needs. In addition, LED lights are cost effective because they rarely need to be replaced. Because they save you money in two ways, LED lights tend to be much easier on the budget than are incandescent lights.
The budget-friendly nature of LED lights is one of the reasons that they have become so popular among trade show exhibitors. They allow you to achieve the type of lighting you need for a compelling display while keeping your display costs to a minimum. Such economical results are ideal for companies seeking to create a successful display on a tight budget.
In addition to their long life, energy efficiency, and cost effectiveness, LED lights are good for the environment. For instance, they contain none of the mercury that is sometimes present in other types of lighting. Each LED bulb, because it lasts so long, also replaces up to 25 incandescent bulbs. This means that it saves on the materials it takes to produce these bulbs. Finally, each LED light is recyclable, meaning that its materials can be reused once it is worn out. As a result, choosing LED lights can be a way for your business to cut down on its carbon footprint while achieving the type of eye-catching display you need.
Low Heat Output
LED lights are also a good choice for trade show displays because they produce less heat than do many other types of lighting. As mentioned above, their energy efficiency allows them to produce only 20 percent of their energy as heat. Compared to the 80 percent of energy that incandescent bulbs convert into heat, this is a very low number, and results in a very cool light.
When it comes to your trade show display, cooler lights are preferable, especially for lighting close to your booth visitors. You want to avoid the chance that visitors will bump your lighting and get burned. By using LEDs, you can create a safer and more pleasant lighting experience for your booth visitors, without compromising the quality of your display.
Finally, LED lights are a good choice for trade show exhibits because they are versatile. For instance, this type of lighting comes in a wide range of colors so you can choose the ones that best suit your display. In addition, they can easily be arranged in different patterns to achieve the look you want. Finally, they can be used in rail lighting, as back lighting, and in many other areas of your display. The result is that you can use LED lights to create the type of breathtaking display that will set your trade show exhibit apart.
LED lighting is only one choice from among many for creating a compelling display. Your exhibit company should be able to provide you with your options and guide you regarding the best methods for your particular needs. However, the LED’s long life, energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, environmental friendliness, low heat output, and versatility make it a sound choice for at least some of your trade show display needs.