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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tips for exhibiting at trade shows

This week I'm excited to share some images from my booth at the National Stationery Show 2008 along with tips, ideas, and links to further examples.
image for blog
Let's talk signage- 
  • The obvious: Your company name and logo should be large and legible. The materials don't have to be fancy - my sign was made using foamcore, razor blade, tissue paper, and tape.
  • The hidden detail: Often it is difficult for buyers to find the booths they are looking for in a sea of people. Don't make it more difficult.  Include  a sign with your booth number that can be seen from the aisle. 
  • The "uh-oh": What happens if your sign arrives damaged? Have a backup plan and easy access to your graphic files in case you need to come up with something quick.
Booth, tabletop display, & sign
Booth walls and lighting-
  • The Mainstay: White foam core is the cheapest hard-scape choice and sometimes all that's in the budget. Draw, paint, or paste things on it.
  • The Secret Sauce: Order the extra pole that goes across the front of the booth. Including some lights across the front increases illumination and is worth the expense.
  • Take a tip from retail: Displays should be easy to see without buyers having to bend over or look down or around crowds of people.
Examples of clever build-outs using variety of materials: Two Trick Pony, Hello Lucky, Cielo Blue, Tiselle, Pancake & Franks
birthday wall
wall of chaos
The first couple of times I participated in shows my cards were removable. I ended up spending a lot of time readjusting everything and being fussy. This last time I attached the cards to the walls. Still, a few people tried to remove them, so I'm glad I had some extra tape around during the show. The craziest moment was when a guy turned to me and said "I just don't understand, what is somebody supposed TO DO with these? .. Frame them?" As I try to body block him to prevent him from pulling more items off the wall, I responded: "Sir, this is a stationery show and this is a greeting card." He blinked twice and I'm sure he was still confused. Click on any of the photos above to visit Flickr for thoughts and details.

In a nutshell-
The Good: I ate all my meals at the crepe cart (inside) or the hotdog cart (outside)
The Bad: My electrical outlet was put in the wrong place and when I requested it be fixed, I was essentially blackmailed into signing a document authorizing the electrical people to charge me for something they refused to estimate up front. Thankfully it was less than $50.
The Ugly: Kinkos in the Javitz charged $.83 for a color copy and I spent a fortune making extra copies when handouts went fast.
The Crazy: I bought a cheap bubblejet printer and had it shipped to my hotel.
The Totally Insane: I was on my own during breakdown and was overwhelmed from hunger and sleepiness. I decided to flee the chaos and come back later. Thankfully I packed up all of my samples and order forms, etc. and took them with me in my trusty rolling suitcase ... because when I got back there was nothing left besides my floor and a string of lights. It was like the scene where the Grinch steals Christmas. All my props and even the shipping container were GONE. Being fully responsible and obviously naive, I have forced myself to shrug this off and am thankful nothing irreplaceable was lost. Bye bye ceramic deer. I will miss you most of all.

My next post will touch on what materials are needed for the show (order forms, catalogs, pricing, pr kits, etc.) and some cost saving tips. I'll also quickly cover some of the basics - how stores place orders, methods of payment, etc. Check out
my recent tweets for a sneak peek at a few of these tips.

Copyright 2009 Jennifer Erts unless another artist credited. Do not copy, reproduce, reuse, modify any of the content or images from this site without permission.