Five Ideas to Steal from EXHIBITOR 2013

Five Ideas to Steal from EXHIBITOR 2013
Five Ideas to Steal from EXHIBITOR 2013 alt

From digital sketching to wall projection to social media inspiration, finding new and meaningful ways to connect brands with attendees was at the top of the priority list for many at EXHIBITOR 2013, held March 17-21 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.   “Everything that’s here is meant to facilitate face-to-face interaction,” said Brian Baker, creative director at MC2. “That’s what’s precious about a trade show.”   Baker noted that to create the right experience, it’s important to start with the brand’s goals and only then move to strategy and specific tools.   To capture imagination, and future business, of attendees at EXHIBITOR, several brands adopted a winning strategy of focusing on the guests and found innovative ways to do it.

Apps That Work   It’s hard to get attendees to download apps and even harder to get them to use them. EWI Worldwide created an app that attendees were happy to share with their peers, even during educational sessions.   Building on a concept of creative storytelling, EWI asked attendees various fun questions, such “What is your guilty pleasure?” and had an artist sketch out their answer.   Their photo with the drawing was uploaded to an album in the app, which also contained a dream journal, a brag book with case studies and more on the company’s creative process.

Social Media That’s About Them   Lots of brands encourage attendees to follow them on social media, but few offer something that can spark ideas. To help attendees find the right feel for their next exhibit, Hargrove created curated photo boards that track design trends on the visual-minded Pinterest social network.   “The worlds of fashion, art, retail, architecture and interior design are interconnected and can serve as inspiration for exhibit and event design,” said David Solsbery, executive director of design at Hargrove.   Attendees browsed through the boards on interactive screens in the exhibit while discussing what they saw with company reps and walked away with a personalized exhibit mood board.

Personalized Face Time   A captive audience is every trade show marketer’s dream. It might sound like a gimmick, but attendees crowded around the EventToon’s booth, where a digital artist sketched their image on a tablet – that’s at least five minutes of face time.   The caricature portraits were printed out and many attendees sported them in their badge holders as they roamed the aisles, happy to show off their personalized giveaways.

Five Minutes of Fame   Larger-than-life projected imagery may not be a new concept, but what about when it’s your photo on the wall? MG Design brought a 20-foot projection mapping wall that used Pandora’s Box system for traffic-stopping effect.    Attendees loved large dynamic imagery even more when they realized that for their own Times Square moment they could have their photo taken at the booth and in seconds, it would be part of the projection.   “If you’re doing multiple shows, you don’t have to redo the whole exhibit and you can adjust the content for multiple brands or product lines,” said Ben Olson, vp of marketing for MG Design.

Comfort and Joy   After a crazy day on the floor, it’s hard to resist plopping onto a comfortable couch in a cozy lounge environment.   Add to that a meaningful and inspiring conversation with a top creative, not a sales person, who is not following a script but actually knows how to help. Factor in a cup of coffee and an éclair. Priceless.

Confidence Strong at EXHIBITOR 2013

Confidence Strong at EXHIBITOR 2013 altConfidence Strong at EXHIBITOR 2013

Improving expectations of sales and the position of the United States at the top of global market drove increasing exhibitor and attendee confidence at 2013 EXHIBITOR Show, the annual gathering of the trade show industry that took place March 17–21 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Some 296 exhibitors presented everything from motion-activated displays to live sculpting to inflatable chairs, not to mention the latest in creative strategy and social media integration. The show attracted about 5,600 attendees and spanned approximately 67,000 square feet, up 13.5 percent compared with 2012.

“This is our best show since 2006 in terms of square footage and exhibitor count,” said Wayne Dunham, EXHIBITOR public relations consultant. “Exhibitors advisory council said that they’ve had a great show and that people on the floor are serious shoppers.”

Exhibit Surveys recently recognized the EXHIBITOR Show as the No. 1 show in America for Net Buying Influence, with 98 percent of the show’s attendees in 2012 having the power to specify, recommend or to make final purchasing decisions. It was also in the top 10 for Total Buying plans, with 62 percent actually preparing to purchase within 12 months.

First-time Canadian Exhibitor Matt Obst with Rhoddy was banking on this trend to continue. “We’ve had a fantastic time so far,” he said. “We’re growing fast and doing a lot of business in the States. We’ll be definitely back next year.”

Improving economic conditions in the U.S. also have attracted a growing international contingent that included attendees from 43 countries and exhibitors from nine. Dunham noted that for the first time the show had to arrange interpreting services for groups from Brazil and Japan.

Back after several years, the German Pavilion had a prominent presence with a gleaming exhibit and über popular “Made in Germany” bags.

Several exhibitors noted that the U.S. is among the fastest-growing global markets, along with China and India. They were looking for local partners to execute the trade show programs of their European clients in the U.S.

There also was a lot happening off the floor. The event offered a robust educational program with more than 200 sessions, 75 of which were new. Many exhibitors opted to share expertise and invest resources in the roundtables, receptions and other events where they could be face-to-face with attendees.

“People don’t want to be sold to, and there’re a lot of products here,” said Simon Fairweather, chief creative officer with EEI Global that had scaled back their booth this year but went heavy in other forms of engagement. “We do want to make a statement with our sho floor presence, but at the same time, we want to listen to what attendees have to say so we can help them address their problems better.”

Sherry Howell, corporate event manager for Texas Instruments, was one of the coveted decision-makers roaming the floor. She said she was impressed with the quality of exhibits and was excited to share ideas of technology use with her team.

“Exhibitors here are very cutting edge,” Howell added. “I love it how they use technology to demo products and to connect with customers. It’s a much deeper integration of touch technology and it’s very cool.” She said the budget for her is staying steady, but she’s hoping to see an increase next year.

The Best in Show Awards went to: Derse for best large exhibit, Armadilo Display Solutions for best small exhibit, Exhibitus for best staff and Blair Inc. for best new exhibitor.

EXHIBITOR is coming back March 16-20, 2014, to Mandalay Bay.

Bustling EXHIBITOR show floor suggests good year ahead

WRITTEN BY EXHIBIT CITY NEWS
Three days of face-to-face engagement and accelerated sales cycles during a record-setting EXHIBITOR2013 show bodes well for the tradeshow industry this year.

EXHIBITOR has been ranked the top tradeshow in the United States for net-buying influence among attendees, according to research conducted by Exhibit Surveys. About 98 percent of those who attended the EXHIBITOR show last had the power to specify, recommend or make final purchasing decisions within their organizations, according to Exhibit Surveys. And some 61 percent indicated they would make a purchase within 12 months of the 2012 show.

“These percentages are well ahead of the averages for all tradeshows,” said Lee Knight, CEO, EXHIBITOR Media Group. “Over the last 10 years, the profile of EXHIBITOR attendees has consistently ranked us among the top shows who have qualified decision-makers with buying power.”

More than 275 exhibitors occupied about 65,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Mandalay bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, making the 2013 show the event’s largest during its 25-year history.  Some 219 exhibitors took up more than 52,000 square feet of exhibit space last year. And educational programs topped 200 this year, making EXHIBITOR as critical for career success as it is sales success.

“It’s a great show to be in. I’m impressed by the amount of people who have stopped by and shown interest,” said Brandon Watson, owner and president, Streamline Show Services. “We hope to be back next year.”

Watson’s company is new to the tradeshow industry and was nominated for the new product showcase for its unique “Show, Stack, Ship” display system that doubles as a crate system for product transportation. The system eliminates the need to store crates and other moving materials while a tradeshow is in progress and enables quicker exit times after a show ends, saving on labor and drayage costs.

Although not new to EXHIBITOR, Reality Engineering made its return several years after going on a tradeshow hiatus at the start of the recent economic meltdown that crippled many industries. But with economic conditions improved at least slightly, a return to the tradeshow floor was in order to promote its new products for lead retrieval, business card capture technology and other services.

“We have so many new products to offer our industry,” said Shayna Metzner, account executive, Reality Engineering. “People more than ever need to measure their events – especially tradeshows. You need to qualify the leads you are getting.”

Participating in EXHIBITOR was the best way for Reality Engineering to introduce its new products and accelerate the sales cycle.

“It’s an excellent show and a really good turnout. We are seeing a lot of traffic, even on the last day,” said Metzner. “We got a booth right up front next year.”

Among other returning exhibitors was Expand International, which has been at EXHIBITOR for more than a decade and found the business pace to be brisk this year.

“The quality of leads seems to be better this year. There are fewer tire-kickers,” said Ed Fedorowich, marketing manager, Expand International. “We are seeing way more qualified leads, and the people coming to our booth know who we are. We’re going to be here again next year in the same spot.”

Another returning exhibitor was New York-based ExpoLinc, which was participating in its eighth EXHIBITOR event and was featuring its new panel base and magnet frame for banners and signage.

“This has been an exciting show for us. We’re seeing a lot of new people this year,” said Jan Firszt, national sales manager, ExpoLinc.

Exhibitors from all 50 states as well as Canada participated, but the international presence reflected the increasingly global nature of the tradeshow industry with exhibitors and attendess coming from 40 nations.

“We are especially pleased with the international contingent,” said Carol Fojtik, senior vice president, Hall-Erickson, the event’s management company. “The international exhibitors are telling us they are coming to connect with U.S. exhibitors both to find outlets in America and to help U.S. companies expand their overseas business.”

EXHIBITOR2013 ran from March 17 through March 21 and is slated to return to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center again next year. Its apparent success bodes well for the tradeshow industry, which generally matches the pace and tone of the EXHIBITOR show throughout the year. And that means lots of qualified business leads and shortened sales cycles likely are in store for exhibitors.

February tradeshows announce increased participation

Posted by Exhibit City News

Several tradeshows that took place in February recently reported increased numbers over the 2012 versions for attendees, exhibitors and net square feet of exhibit space. From Las Vegas to New York, these shows delivered positive results for exhibitors and the industries they serve.

concrete

The WOC 2013 show covered more than 605,000 net square feet of exhibit space.

World of Concrete (WOC) 2013, which took place Feb. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, surpassed all expectations in square footage and attendance. WOC is the only annual, international commercial-construction tradeshow for the concrete and masonry industries. The 2013 version attracted 54,869 professional registrants and showcased more than 1,300 indoor and outdoor exhibits in more than 605,000 net square feet of exhibit space, an increase of more than 53,000 net square feet over the 2012 show.

“Optimism was evident throughout World of Concrete 2013 with positive results from exhibitors as well as attendees,” said Jackie James, show director, WOC. “Exhibitors were so pleased with WOC 2013 that we have already booked more than 60 percent of the 2013 exhibit space for the 2014 show.”

Many exhibitors, including a significant number of new exhibitors, at WOC 2013 reported positive results from the show in 2014.

“We used to do other shows, but for the last 10 years this has been the only show that we do, and this year’s show is probably the best one I’ve been at in the last six years,” said Ron Turley of Ron Turley Associates Inc.

ireshow

Attendees at the IRE show stop to take in a show floor demonstration.

Professionals in the roofing industry also came out in full force at San Antonio’s Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for the 2013 International Roofing Expo (IRE).

Held Feb. 5-7, total attendance for the 2013 IRE expo and conference was 8,491 – a 1.3 percent increase over the 2012 show, marking the third year in a row the show has seen an increase in attendance.

“There was a noticeable energy on the show floor among the attendees and exhibitors,” said Lindsay Roberts, group director, IRE. “The energy was evident throughout the show.”

In attendance were representatives from the industry’s leading roofing and construction companies, including commercial and residential contractors, builders, remodelers, architects and engineers.

“I attended the show for the great sessions as well as gaining better insight into new and existing products,” said Christopher Knott, sales manager, Cherry and Clark Roofing in Mississauga, Ontario.

Attendees represented all 50 states. The largest number of international attendees came from Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Australia and Brazil.

Switching from the construction industry, the 110th American International Toy Fair welcomed a surge in international attendees as visitors from 92 countries descended upon New York City to preview 150,000 innovative toys, games and youth entertainment products.

Owned and operated by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Toy Fair 2013 was held from Feb. 10-13 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The fair saw a 4 percent increase in international attendees, a 9 percent rise in licensors, a 6 percent increase in international manufacturer’s reps, and an 18 percent surge in foreign press. Total attendance during the four-day show was more than 24,000.

A blizzard that hit the New York City-area on the Friday before Toy Fair 2013 resulted in just six cancellations from the 1,066 pre-registered exhibitors, who filled a record-breaking 375,000 net square feet of exhibit space. The Toy Fair also welcomed 239 first-time exhibitors.

“Despite airport closures, flight cancellations, train disruptions and the closing of major roads due to the snowstorm, Toy Fair 2013 had a terrific turn-out, and the atmosphere on the floor was upbeat and energetic right up until the very end,” said Carter Keithley, president, TIA.

Toy Fair 2013 welcomed nearly 9,500 buyers from 5,000 retail outlets, including buyer delegations from 22 of the nation’s top 25 toy sellers.

“Our initial concerns that the show would be off due to the snow storm were quickly allayed by Sunday afternoon when our booth was filled to near-capacity with both familiar and new faces,” said Jason Schneider, director of product development and marketing, Ceaco/Gamewright. “Overall traffic was up and sales were stronger than ever.”

The Rental Show 2013, held from Feb. 10-13 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, also reported an extremely active show floor with its fourth straight year of increased attendance. The number of rental businesses represented also increased this year and reached the highest total since 2006, which was the 50th anniversary of The Rental Show.

Attendees came from throughout the U.S., Canada and more than 40 other countries.

“Overall, The Rental Show reflects where this industry is headed,” said Christine Wehrman, CEO, American Rental Association, organizer of The Rental Show. “Everyone anticipated a great show because of the attitude, tone and urgency we’ve seen from attendees on buying equipment. Everything about the show was positive this year.”

The show also saw an increase in buyers versus browsers.

“Subaru had a very good show. We were really happy with the increased attendance and the overall energy and excitement level of the attendees,” said Pam Meyer, equipment sales manager, Subaru Industrial Power Products. “Many attendees were armed with purchase orders in hand or a long list of items they needed to purchase when they came to the booth. That has not happened for several years.”

If February is any indication, the tradeshow industry is off to another good start in 2013.

Tradeshow graphic design trends boost productivity

Posted by Exhibit City News 
The U.S. economy just posted its first period of contraction since 2007, and many exhibitors are looking for ways to reduce costs while improving their performance at tradeshows and other events. Fortunately, more print shops offer graphic design services with a greater ability to provide eye-popping custom graphics.“People are starting to really trust and value design services offered in a print shop. With the continuous upgrades in programs, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, stock photo-purchasing options and different design styles based on the general subject matter, designs are being taken to new levels in the tradeshow industry,” said Lauren Spreitzer, online graphic designer, Nimlok. “The tools at our fingertips allow us to createtradeshow graphics quickly and efficiently to meet our customers’ deadlines.”

With an increased ability to produce quality graphics in-house, customers can get their products faster and at reduced cost. And that means a greater ability to produce high-quality custom graphics for less money.

orbus-booth

Companies like Orbus are offering more graphic design services to its customers.

“Designing the artwork in-house gives us the flexibility to build files according to our guidelines and reduces the preflight file checks required on most jobs,” said Jaime Herand, director of graphic operations, Orbus. “This can help us get the customer’s final product out the door faster with less shipping expenses for them.”

As might be expected, Adobe products continue setting the industry standard for graphic design software tools and make it possible to ensure an exact match for customer needs.

“The Adobe Creative Suite is constantly upgrading its software along with creating different plug-ins and program tools to make graphic design more diverse among the 3D world of design,” said Chris Prince, art services supervisor, Orbus. “With the addition of the Solid Works CAD drawing program, we are able to give graphic designers the ability to work directly off exported templates from the actual booth design. This will ensure that when setting up and designing the files, the artwork is 100 percent to the correct dimensions needed.”

While total confidence can be placed in dimensional needs, understanding and communicating design limitations does help ensure customer satisfaction in the final product. Color, in particular, can be a subjective element where opinions might differ on final outcomes. But when customers can see beforehand exactly what the final product will look like, it is easier to reach a consensus.

“There are various color tools to help our customers understand color and the limitations of large-format digital printers,” said Prince. “With tools like the Pantone matching system, our clients have a better handle on what to expect regarding color.”

While print shops have an enhanced ability to provide custom graphic designs for tradeshow booths and exhibits, those designs and graphic elements must complement the overall presentation.

“Graphic design for custom booths tends to be very clean and streamlined. As booths continue to incorporate more technology, lighting and fabric architecture, it is critical that the graphics blend with the overall booth,” said Herand. “The message on the display needs to be simple and clearly understood. There will always be new trends regarding font styles and color. As a designer, it is important to stay current on what is popular in the industry.”

Products requiring short production runs have also proven to be very popular. And tradeshows make great use of products designed to not only inform attendees but to provide easy solutions to last-minute problems.

“We are typically seeing requests for step-and-repeat backwalls, informational banner stands and table throws,” said Jenny Prado, art services supervisor, Orbus. “These products generally have a quick turnaround time, and the customer will need a last-minute solution.”

Although last-minute solutions often are necessary, allowing enough lead time to complete projects helps ensure a job is done well and on time.

“The lead time for graphic design can be anywhere from one to two days on commodity products, such as banner stands, backwalls or table throws, and four to five days on a custom booth design,” said Herand. “We will always try to work with a customer, even if the project is under lead time.”

With reduced costs and enhanced design and production capabilities, graphical elements are becoming a much more cost-effective marketing tool for tradeshow exhibitors.

If You Really Understand Your Brand, You Can Sell on Value, Not Price

Posted by Katherine O’Brien, American Printer-GC WorldBiz

Do you have high quality, good pricing and attentive customer service? These are all great things, but unfortunately virtually every company can make these claims. “It’s not what or how a company does something, but why they do it that way,” says Ryan T. Sauers, President/Owner of Sauers Consulting Strategies.

Sauers, who spent 20 years running offset printing operations prior to launching his consulting firm, has first-hand experience in dealing with industry realities such as commodity pricing. “You can’t sell on price,” he says. “There’s got to be value in what you are selling, the value in the ingredients that make up your brand. Why would people pay more for your work? What’s your brand and expertise?”

On February 21, 2013 in Orlando, Sauers will help  Graphic of the Americas’ (GOA) attendees understand their BRAND aka the Barometer reading of their Reputation, Attribution and Distinctiveness. Sauers’ Thursday seminar is called “So What? Why You? Who Cares?” “Attendees will be challenged to re-examine what organizations could look like and become,” he explains. “They’ll be challenged to understand and articulate the Differentiating Sales Factor.”

5 Branding Considerations

According to Sauers, once you know what your brand is you can determine the ways you want to purposefully grow, change, re-frame, promote, and/or strengthen your current brand position.! Here are five things to keep in mind.

1. Please refrain from saying that “print is not dead.” Of course it isn’t dead. It has simply changed—as has the entire world.

“I argue that print is more useful than ever,” says Sauers. “Trust me. I spend a lot of time in the social media world and doing marketing research.”

2. Please don’t get caught up with the fact that you feel you must refer to yourself as an MSP (marketing services provider). “Personally, I dislike this term… unless of course you are an excellentmarketing organization,” Sauers says.

3. Please don’t become overwhelmed with social and emerging media.  “Always remember it is all about the psychology—notthe technology and these are simply new ways to communicate—if you use them correctly. They are a tool—not the tool—in your marketing mix.”

4. Determine what you are best at. Embrace it and then build and promote your brand around it. Shout it from the mountain tops. Print it. Email it. Tweet it, etc. But always be authentic in everything you do.

 5. Remember, your brand is that “extra value” you provide and the reason a customer stays with you over similar competition and other offerings in the market.  Says Sauers: “When pondering your brand, you must first determine what it is all about. So obtain feedback from those around you as a first step. Be sure to obtain this feedback from those close to you as well as those who are more removed from you.”

Marketing Ideas You Can Copy – try these simple ideas in your business

Posted by Judy Schramm

How to Use QR Codes in Retail and Restaurant Marketing

0I rarely visit a nearby giant mall, so I don’t know where the stores are located. Whenever I go to there, I head straight to the map first thing. Rather than memorizing the locations of the stores I want, I use my phone to scan the QR code on the map to take it with me.

This is QR code in action doing what it does best: giving businesses a way to help customers take an offline source online and mobile. It saved me the time of using my phone to search for the mall’s directory on its not very mobile-friendly website.

While some customers haven’t adopted QR codes, it’s a helpful tool. QR codes take little space and you can provide a service to customers who use them. Even teachers are getting in on QR codes. At a recent school open house, each teacher posted a QR code for parents to scan to get the teacher’s contact information.

Using QR codes in retail and restaurants

Here are some ideas of what retail and restaurants can do with QR codes:

  • Share basic information. This includes address, phone number, website URL, social media URLs and hours of operation.
  • List products. Restaurants can post menus, while retailers can list brand names and products sold in the store. If possible, include pricing so customers know what to expect. You don’t have to change the QR code every time you change prices. Create the QR code to deliver a document or a web page. Then, all you need to update is the document or web page.
  • Offer discounts. Customers who scan the QR code can get a code word or instructions for getting discounts.
  • Collect customer feedback. You can put a QR code on your menu or next to your cash register. Use the QR code to take customers to a mobile-friendly form (preferably a short one) that allows them to give you feedback about their experience.

What NOT to do with QR codes

Watch out for the following:

  • Lack of explanation for the QR code. Just posting the QR code and hoping people’s curiosity will compel them to scan isn’t enough. Give them an idea of what to expect when they scan it:
    • Scan for contact information and operating hours.
    • Scan for offers.
    • How’s our service? Scan to share your feedback.
    • Scan for our menu.
    • Scan for items we carry.
  • Create tiny or giant QR codes. We’ve seen some QR codes smaller than a dime. Phones can’t always successfully scan something that small. They should be at least the size of a quarter. But not huge. Creating a large QR code may be troublesome because customers have to work harder to capture it on the small screen.
  • Send traffic to the wrong place. If your QR code just sends people to your home page, that’s not helpful. Remember people scan QR codes on their mobile devices. You want to deliver something they can use while they’re mobile.
  • Fail to optimize for mobile devices. Whether your code sends people to a web page, form or something else, ensure it’s easy to see and use on a mobile device.
  • Put the QR code in an accessible place. The first time I saw the QR code on the map at the mall, it was over eight feet up! I was grateful when they redesigned the map and moved the QR code in a much lower spot.
  • Publishing the QR code on the website. What’s the point? One reason for doing that would be to share it with coworkers, franchises and others who might need it to use in their publications.

Going Beyond Price: 10 Key Buying Criteria For Trade Show Displays

Posted by Mike Thimmesch, TSNN

When you’re shopping for your next trade show display, it’s all too easy to focus just on the price.  After all, price is easy to judge – whoever costs the least, wins.

And yet, price is not the same as value.  When you buy based on value, you find that spending a little more money may get you a lot more value in return.

So here are 10 other criteria beyond price that experienced exhibit buyers know to look for.

Let’s start with the display:

1.  Quality:  Be careful about buying a disposable display online, only to last for a show or two.  A high-quality display will look great at your first show with its better fit and finish, plus look great longer with more durable materials and smarter engineering.

2.  Total Cost of Ownership:   Look beyond just the initial purchasing price.  Over the course of the life of the exhibit, you will spend – and potentially save – much more on exhibit shipping, drayage, I&D, storage, and refurbishing.  Get an estimate for the life of your exhibit, about 3 to 5 years.  You will be surprised how much an innovative modular exhibit can save you.  Your exhibit house should know when to offer exhibit rental to further stretch your budget.

3.  Flexibility:  How stuck are you with that exhibit shape you see in the rendering?  Will you be able to easily change your booth size up or down, and change your graphics to fit your evolving marketing messages?   If your initial display is not flexible, it may force you to buy another.

4.  Functionality:  Your trade show booth is more than a billboard; it’s also a work space.  Therefore, your exhibit needs to work for your trade show objectives and support your staff.  So if you need product demo spaces, storage, monitor mounts, meeting areas, wire management, leads slots, and the like, make sure that’s included in the designs you are considering.

Now, consider the factors relating to who you buy your exhibit from:

5.  Customer Service:  With your hectic schedule, buyers require a supportive exhibit house that returns your calls promptly.  Their responsiveness saves you time.  The best vendors genuinely want to help you long-term, because they have your best interests at heart.  A service-oriented exhibit house will even travel with you to your biggest shows to ensure your success, and has team members everywhere to help you away from home.

6.  Design For Marketing Results:  While anyone can “make it pretty,” you need an exhibit house that has shown it knows how to help you build your brand, generate sales leads, and boosts your trade show ROI.  They know how to translate your marketing objectives into a creative exhibit that gets attention and supports your booth staff.  They help your company win more business at trade shows.

7.  Trade Show Marketing Expertise:  While not brain surgery, trade shows are harder than they appear at first.  Find a vendor who freely shares their knowledge about what works in trade show marketing, and gives you expert guidance all along the way.

8.  Industry Knowledge:  An exhibit house that is more than just a builder, but also has demonstrated success for exhibitors in your own industry.  They know your show, your vertical market, and even what appeals to your buyer.

9.  Wide Selection:   Save some more time and get a better fit for you with a vendor that can be a one-stop shop for all your needs – from tabletops and portable inlines, to island exhibits of varying sizes.  So with just one call you get it all.

10.  Online Asset Management:   Because you don’t have time to wrestle with your exhibit assets anymore, innovative exhibit houses provide an online tool to manage your assets, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So you can say where you want your exhibit to go without the stress and hassle of phone tag and voice mail.

Buying a trade show exhibit is a big decision for a trade show marketer.  You are committing to a look that will define your company at its key industry shows, you are investing in a tool to help grow your business, and you are choosing a vendor who will make or break your success.

So when you are shopping for your next trade show display, consider value instead of price.  You may just find that it’s not how much it costs that matters, but how much it’s worth.

Textbook Case: Before You Say What You Think, See What Your Customers Say

Posted by Katherine O’Brien, GC WorldBiz

How well do you know your customers? Often, we find it easier to go with what we think they want vs. their actual desires. Why does this happen? Probably because our suppositions seem logical—so logical that we never test or challenge them. And sometimes we focus on one stakeholder without considering other equally important players.

I thought of this as I read “For Many Students, Print is Still King.” According to author Jessica Howard, “Even [textbook] publishers that have invested more heavily in new digital features say they’re not doing away with books but making them part of ‘customizable learning experiences,’ to borrow a phrase from Pearson, the biggest player in the field.”

WHO KNEW?

Other quotes that caught my eye:

“The vast majority of students still prefer print,” says Michael Wright, director of college sales at Norton. “…As people become more sensitive to the overall costs of higher education, these are seen as a good value, so that’s part of their staying power.”

“We still print everything,” says Jerome Grant, the company’s chief learning officer for higher education. Pearson’s aim is not “to bias print or digital but to offer the experience in multiple formats.”

“Our students don’t really want to have e-books,” says Julie K. Bartley, an associate professor of geology and chair of the geology department at Gustavus Adolphus College. “What I hear from them a lot of times is that they feel some sort of comfort in being able to hold the thing in their hands.”

Students’ major concern about textbooks isn’t format but cost. “Probably the second biggest complaint in northern Minnesota after the weather is the cost of textbooks,” Bartley says.

“We’ve found that, at least so far, students are not terribly interested in the e-books,” says Tanya C. Noel, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Windsor, in Ontario. “That surprised me at first because I thought students would want something they could access on their mobile devices.”

Howard reports that Norton’s editorial team plans to offer a digital edition of the company’s biggest seller when it creates one it’s satisfied with. “The big question in creating digital Norton anthologies is, how you replicate the reading experience?” says Julia A. Reidhead, editorial director of Norton’s college department. The company wants digital editions to share the distinctive aspects of its workhorse print volumes, with their annotations and a format “that keeps the student focused on reading.” Digital permissions are a hurdle, too.

THEY MAY HAVE SMART PHONES BUT THEY’RE STILL EATING TOP RAMEN

It would be easy (and logical) to assume that digital savvy students would gravitate toward e-books. Apparently, however, some things don’t change. Modern college students may have smart phones and tablet computers but most are still stocking their dorm rooms and apartments with ramen noodles. And most textbook publishers want flexibility—print as well as other options. (But as new e—platform developers court the “old school” publishers, things will really get interesting.)

The moral of the story? Don’t let your preconceived notions give you tunnel vision. Seek an objective perspective. And if you find evidence that supports your view (print is great, even college students prefer printed textbooks) spend equal time evaluating a contrarian view, such a  German study that found a person’s preference for the printed book is not an indicator of how fast and how well the information is processed. Most importantly—ask your customers what they want—and then give it to them!

 

How Facebook’s Graph Search could affect restaurants

Posted by Mark Brandau, Nation’s Restaurant News

Operators and marketers are closely tracking any effect Facebook’s new Graph Search might have on restaurant referrals and word-of-mouth, but so far the new search function mainly puts the onus on brands to continually refine their Facebook engagement strategies, they said.

Graph Search, a new function Facebook rolled out in a beta test to a limited number of people on Jan. 15, allows users to find, among other things, pages of businesses, such as restaurants, that their friends like while using search criteria such as a city or state. In addition to restaurants their friends like, users also could find Facebook photos taken at restaurants or recent check-ins posted to friends’ pages.

Experts speculated that Graph Search could complement search engine optimization strategies or perhaps lessen the influence of other online sites like Yelp.com if it achieves enough scale, though it is too early to know for sure.

“It will be interesting to see if Facebook gets a widespread behavior change and gets people to use it often for search,” said Dana Arnold, director of public relations and social media for Madison, Wis.-based Hiebing, the agency of record for quick-service chain Culver’s.

So far, Facebook has not opened Graph Search to brands looking for paid opportunities, Arnold said, so the operative strategy is to keep interacting with Facebook fans to get their likes, comments and shares, which would ultimately lead Culver’s and other brands to show up in results when someone looks for “restaurants my friends like” in Graph Search.

Hiebing is currently managing Culver’s “Mini Resolutions” Facebook sweepstakes to promote the chain’s Mini Concrete Mixer.

“If we look at how traditional search outside of Facebook works and try to apply that within Facebook, then we know we’ll need to have people engaging with us,” Arnold said. “We need likes and shares, and we need our EdgeRank score to be high, and we do that through compelling daily content and large promotions, which is what we’re seeing with Mini Resolutions.”

 

Thinking more locally

Joe Sorge, chief executive of Milwaukee-based multiconcept operator Hospitality Democracy, said his restaurants, notably two-unit casual-dining burger concept AJ Bombers, are showing up in Graph Search results for a few customers testing out the search tool because he has spent years growing their likes and check-ins.

“That work we do to connect to those customers walking through our door and getting them to like our page and interact with us is what has made us prominent in Graph Search,” Sorge said. “It has everything to do with how connected you are to multiple friends who know each other.”

 

 

He added that location-based social platforms that link in with a person’s Facebook feed, like Facebook Places or Foursquare, would be important sources of activity to increase visibility in Graph Search. “If you haven’t been encouraging check-ins on a mobile app, it’s worth doing so now,” he said.

Social-media experts noted that the part check-ins would play in Graph Search, as well as the fact that people would use the tool to search for recommended restaurants nearest to them, would necessitate brands to manage local Facebook pages for each location they have.

Rob Reed, chief executive of MomentFeed, suggested in a blog post that brands need to claim local pages of their units by managing all pages through Facebook’s “Parent-Child” function for brand pages, and then make sure all those pages are updated with accurate location information and contact information.

If companies do not have individual location pages, they “need to start building pages for local branches in order to reap the benefits offered by Graph Search, because it’s going to act as a digital Yellow Pages,” Erica McClenny, vice president of social-media software firm Expion, wrote in an email to Nation’s Restaurant News. “It works for Web or mobile platforms, making it the key factor in ensuring that your storefronts will show up in a user’s search.”

McClenny reiterated that each local page should have accurate location information, including a street address and GPS coordinates, in its “About” section.

Not quite a Yelp killer

Continued from page 1

Experts and operators have speculated that if users successfully find new restaurants in Graph Search, the tool could become competitive with other online services such as traditional search engines or Yelp.com.

Social Graph’s ability to use people-centered information rather than mere SEO terms engenders trust between Facebook users based on likes,” Jitendra Gupta, chief executive of mobile-loyalty firm Punchh, wrote in a recent blog post. “In other words, if my graph of Facebook friends likes these restaurants, then I may trust its suggestions more than those from a search engine.”

 

 

He added, however, that Social Graph might aggregate which restaurants have the most likes among a user’s friends, but could neglect “richer customer data such as details of actual restaurant visits and opinions about food and service.”

The fact that Graph Search results would be displayed only within Facebook and would not get aggregated by external search engines like Google or Bing means that Graph Search likely would have a long way to go before seriously blunting the influence of Yelp, Arnold said.

“Search within Facebook is only within Facebook, so that’s kind of the downside,” she said. “Today, when we search, it’s likely on Google or Yahoo, and nothing within Facebook plays into that. If I Google Culver’s, the Yelp review comes up much higher than the link to the Facebook page [in search results].

“I don’t think Graph Search is going to overtake Yelp,” she continued, “unless Facebook opens their capability up to outside search — which I don’t think will happen — or we all go to Facebook for searching.”

Milwaukee restaurateur Sorge was more optimistic that many customers would eventually use Social Graph to find restaurants — and trust their friends far more than anonymous Yelp reviewers.

“The relief from a ‘Yelp effect’ is probably true, but the best part about Graph Search is if you’re in a city where you know some people but you’re not from there, now there’s direct word-of-mouth instead of just Yelp reviews,” Sorge said.

Sorge projected that when Facebook likely opens up Graph Search down the road to brands for opportunities for paid search results, he could seed Graph Search results to reach a very specific audience.

“If I came up with a new bacon burger and bought a Graph Search result, I could reach people who like AJ Bombers and like bacon,” he said. “I spend money on Facebook ads every month to promote posts and increase our audience and likes. I absolutely see the value in Facebook advertising, so making it more relevant and content-specific with Graph Search makes me want to use it more.”