Being apprised of current trade show trends can make the difference of being recognized by the media or not being noticed at all. Similar to exhibitors seeking to make the biggest splash at a show, trade show media is contending with the challenge of covering the biggest splash or story as well as seeking alternative angles to cover. Secondary and spinoff stories quite often involve new techniques, approaches and tools that exhibitors are utilizing.
In order to receive PR/media coverage and achieve overall trade show success, exhibitors need to, above all else, stand out—especially in a strained economy when the pressure to outshine the competition is at an all-time high. Staying abreast of current trade show trends will ensure an exhibit reflective of a forward-thinking, newsworthy company that is in tune with the market.
Some of the following trends are costly while others are small investments that can have a big PR impact.
Bubbles can be an affordable way to catch attention and create booth buzz. Materials and equipment can be rented or purchased, providing exhibitors the option of more economically managing the components on their own or the more costly yet hassle-free alternative to have the special effects fully managed by an outsourced outfit. While clear, traditional bubbles can be magical and nostalgic, beware of spin-offs and gimmicks. Although color bubbles matching a company’s corporate color scheme sound good in theory, they can be risky due to the fact that the dye/chemicals used to colorize the bubbles often leave stains or film on materials, flooring, furniture and clothing when they inevitably bust upon impact. Bubble machines and materials can start at around $450 and work their way up to more extravagant costs depending on bubble size, volume and frequency.
Recharging stations can be a veritable electronic oasis amidst an attendee’s exploration through endless aisles of products and services. This feature, a courtesy most established at hi-tech shows but becoming increasingly more mainstream, offers visitors the convenience and luxury to refuel their communication devices and peripherals while drawing traffic and creating goodwill towards an exhibitor.
Many exhibitors will offer booth visitors the option to securely leave their electronic device to be charged while circulating the exposition hall by signing a simple liability release in exchange for an ID/reference number of the gadget. This almost guarantees the exhibitor double (drop off/pick up) exposure of their booth at the very minimum. And for those who stand and wait while their gear is getting a power boost, the exhibitor has a captive audience.
Photo booths, reminiscent of the festive nature of amusement parks and state fairs, not only create a traffic-drawing booth buzz but also can serve as a powerful marketing tool when an exhibitor customizes the photo printouts, CD’s and booth with their logo and Web site.
Photo booths are available for both rental and purchase and offer an extensive variety of mementos from the traditional black & white photo strip to full-color portraits, CD’s with electronic files of the shots, photo cubes and more. Some more sophisticated machines even offer lead-capturing and data-entry features.
A QR Code is a two-dimensional barcode derived from the “Quick Response” concept and is designed specifically for the ever-expanding market of smartphone users. Exhibitors can electronically produce QR codes directly associated with their trade show exhibit and related events and promotions through specialty technology companies easily found online. Most commonly scanned off a business card, table-top sign, banner or other literature by a QR code reader on a smartphone, the phone’s browser will be directed to the programmed information embedded within the codes.
This information can be anything the exhibitor wants to highlight, from sales promotions and coupons to events as well as basic exhibit location, product description and presentation schedule. QR codes basically serve as links offering the exhibitor a user-friendly, hassle-free manner in which to direct an attendee to information forgoing the usual circuitous and more time-consuming manner in which information is located online. In an effort to increase booth traffic and networking as well as enhance lead management, some show producers are starting to use QR-type codes for exhibitors and attendees to exchange information while some others offer prizes for those with the most scans at the conclusion of a show.
iPads and Tablet Devices
Since the introduction of iPads and PC tablet devices in the last few years, they have flooded the trade show floor due to their multifaceted usage, which includes a lead-capture device, literature distribution by sending electronic collateral immediately to prospects, mobile product demonstrations in high definition throughout the show location and for games and prizes associated with the booth and the show. They are also increasingly becoming the prize of choice by show producers.
Other benefits of such devices include moving with ease from application to application (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, dictation, etc.); continuous wireless capability, an extensive 11-12 hour battery life (although, always keep your charger handy) and interactive presentations as all exhibitors are competing with the ever-present chronic smartphone users. Additional tablet hardware enhancements hitting the market include mounting units, counter inserts and swivel presentation stands.
Other trends include “going green,” an environmental initiative that many other trends support. Other, less commonly seen trends are exhibitors offering shoe polish stations, video games, 10-minute mobile massage sessions and 3-D presentation screens. One thing is certain: stay tuned, as there is always another groundbreaking trend around the corner, and the media is always watching to see who’s got “it.”
Linda Musgrove is the founder and president of TradeShow Teacher, a trade show management firm based in South Florida. Follow her on Twitter @tsteacher.
Welcome back, students! I know we all want to be ‘cool,’ so this class is on something we all know about: being ‘trendy.’
Trends of tradeshows are trends as with anything else. They mark what is current, fashionable, cutting edge and competitive. Tradeshow success is defined in a number of ways, including how much traffic a booth draws, how much PR/media coverage an exhibitor receives, best-of-show recognitions and most off all, how this all translates to revenue. In order to achieve overall tradeshow success, exhibitors need to, above all else, stand out, especially in a strained economy when the pressure to outshine the competition is at an all-time high. Staying apprised of all that is hot and trendy will ensure that your tradeshow exhibit reflects a forward-thinking company that is progressive and enthusiastically in tuned with the market.
Some of the following trends are costly and while others can be small investments for big impact.
Bubbles can be an affordable way to catch attention and create booth “buzz” and really, who doesn’t love bubbles? Materials and equipment can be rented or purchased providing exhibitors the option of managing the components on their own or the more costly yet hassle-free alternative to have the special effects fully outsourced.
While clear, traditional bubbles can be magical and nostalgic, beware of spin offs and gimmicks. Although color bubbles matching a company’s corporate color scheme sounds good in theory, it can be risky because the dye/chemicals used to colorize the bubbles can leave stains or film on materials, flooring, furniture and clothing. Bubble machines start around $450 and work their way up to more extravagant costs depending on bubble size, volume and frequency.
Phone charging stations
Recharging stations can be a veritable electronic oasis amidst an attendee’s exploration through endless products and services. This feature, a courtesy most established at hi-tech shows, offers visitors the convenience and luxury to refuel their communication devices and peripherals while drawing traffic and creating good will toward an exhibitor.
Many exhibitors will offer booth visitors the option to securely leave their electronic device to be charged while circulating the exposition hall by signing a simple liability release in exchange for an ID/reference number of the gadget. This almost guarantees the exhibitor double (drop off/pick up) exposure of their booth at the very minimum. And for those who stand and wait while their gear is getting a power boost, the exhibitor has a captive audience. For hi-tech exhibitors who have endless and easy access to electronics, the costs involved can be virtually nominal while for mainstream participants – an initial investment of $500-$1,000 can contribute to a priceless return.
Photo booths, reminiscent of the festive nature of amusement parks and state fairs, not only create that traffic-drawing booth “buzz” but also can serve as a powerful marketing tool when an exhibitor customizes the photo printouts, CDs and booth with their logo and website. Photo booths are available for both rental and purchase and offer an extensive variety of ‘mementos’ from the traditional black and white photo strip to full-color portraits, CDs with electronic files, photo cubes and more. Some more sophisticated machines even offer lead-capturing and data-entry features. Photo booth costs start at approximately $750/show for rental and $5,500 and up to buy.
A QR Code is a two-dimensional barcode derived from the “Quick Response” concept and is designed specifically for the ever-expanding market of smart phone users. Exhibitors can electronically produce QR codes directly associated with their tradeshow exhibit and related events and promotions through specialty technology companies easily found online. Most commonly “scanned” by a QR code reader on a smart phone, the phone’s browser will be directed to the programmed information embedded within the codes.
This information can be anything the exhibitor wants to highlight, from sales promotions and coupons to events and presentation schedule. QR codes basically serve as links offering the exhibitor a user-friendly, hassle-free manner in which to direct an attendee to information. In an effort to increase traffic, networking and lead management, some show producers are starting to use QR-type codes to exchange information, while others offer prizes for those with the most “scans” at the end of a show.
iPads and tablet devices
Since the introduction of iPads and PC tablet devices in the last few years, they have flooded the tradeshow floor. Benefits include moving with ease from application to application, continuous wireless capability and an extensive 11-12 hour battery life (although, always keep your charger handy). Additional hardware enhancements include mounting units, counter inserts and swivel presentation stands. These devices affordably start at about a $500 price point.
Other ‘trendy’ movements include “Going Green,” which we have touched on in previous classes. Also, less commonly seen are exhibitors offering shoe-polish stations, video games, 10-minute mobile massage sessions and three-dimensional presentation screens. One thing is certain, be on the look out. There is always another trend around the corner.
- Meet with other tradeshow team leaders and planners to discuss “trends” and initiatives that will fit both your budget as well as your corporate image.
- Implement agreed plan of action.
- Smile, have fun and be trendy.
About Linda Musgrove, The Tradeshow Teacher
Linda Musgrove is founder and President of TradeShow Teacher, a full-service tradeshow training and management firm. Through her result-driven formula, she specializes in teaching companies to significantly improve tradeshow results through strategic, customized tradeshow management and training for individuals, departments or entire teams. Training options include phone consulting, webinars, seminars and one-on-one in person coaching. Musgrove authored “The Complete Idiots Guide to Tradeshows,” published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing. Learn more at http://www.tsteacher.com and follow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tsteacher
They say “Go Big or Go Home,” well Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher and founder of the firm of the same name, hasn’t been home in a quite a while. In fact, she has been to nine trade shows in the last five months. While remaining ever in touch with the office and working on other client projects from the road, Musgrove has been representing a multiple and diverse client base at exhibitions in destinations from Salt Lake City to Philadelphia to San Diego. The South Florida-based Musgrove donned countless hats during her exhibition travels including representative, on-hand consultant, trainer, manager, designer and more.
Her whirlwind trade show tour took her to the following shows on behalf of clients:
- BB World, Orlando
- GSA, San Diego
- FHIMA, Orlando
- DISA, Baltimore
- AHIMA, Salt Lake
- CTIA, San Diego
- EDUCAUSE, Philadelphia
- IACP, Chicago
Even at a quick glance, the list is unarguably impressive. Specializing in hi-tech, biomedical and medical verticals, Musgrove’s client list also boasts those in governmental agencies, retail and food & beverage industries from both the U.S. and abroad. Clearly, one has to love travel to be in the field that Musgrove has been impassioned and involved in for more than a decade. “I love seeing the different cities, the food; the culture when I am able to get out of the exhibition halls but mainly, I love the buzz on the trade show floor. I find it invigorating,” says Musgrove. “Everyone’s got their ‘thing,’ and this is my ‘thing.’”
Starting in the business back when she was working in the marketing department for an international online fax company; the responsibilities of a scheduled trade show fell on her lap. “I like to think I ‘inherited’ the trade show division,” she laughs. Several years after that, she opened up her own ‘specialty’ trade show shop and now she’s been in business for nearly seven years. “I am lucky, it’s what I do and it’s what I love.”
It’s easy to see why one would call her the consummate expert as she not only travels all over the globe from trade show to trade show, she is also the acclaimed author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Trade Shows, published in 2009 by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing,
and often serves as a qualified source for trade publications including the esteemed EXHIBITOR Magazine. She is a regular contributor to both famed PRNewsOnline.com and Exhibit City News from which she received a “40 Under 40 Honors” in 2009.
TradeShow Teacher provides full-service, result-driven trade show management helping businesses make the most of their Trade Show experience. This includes assisting clients secure qualified leads, conduct effective show selection, increase ROI, enhance and increase publicity/exposure and gain overall exhibit program growth. For more information, contact Sylvia Magnoli at 305-742-0982,
ext. 162. Learn more at http://www.tsteacher.com and follow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tsteacher
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Linda Musgrove the Tradeshow Teacher worked with her client leading up to the show on strategy, marketing, sponsorships, advertising and PR planning. We had many customer meetings in our meeting space, lots of media/analyst appointments and coverage…AND we won the Best of Show Award from Laptop Magazine!
Linda Musgrove is President of the Trade Show Training firm, TradeShow Teacher. She focuses on teaching companies to significantly improve Trade Show Results through strategic, customized Trade Show Training for individuals, departments or entire teams. Training options include phone consulting, webinars, seminars and one-on-one in person coaching. Musgrove authored “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows”, published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing. Learn more at http://www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the FREE monthly Trade Show Tactics newsletter. Follow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tsteacher .
Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher was interviewed by Exhibit City News about being selected as one of the “Top Women in the Trade Show Industry”
President of TradeShow Teacher
Years in the Industry
I have been in the Trade Show industry for 10 years, but was studying and working in the fields of Advertising, Marketing and Graphic Design since high school.
My formal educational background leading towards my current industry started with vocational Commercial Art programs at High School, during which time I participated in a variety of competitive activities. Due to my school’s affiliation with local marketing and advertising companies, several of my submissions ended up being implemented into client campaigns earning me awards and a marketing based college scholarship.
My need to mature somewhat more quickly than average was triggered by giving birth to my son while I was 16. The need to manage organizing your time around caring for an infant while planning a future and finishing high school on time was probably a more efficient logistics training than anything I could ever have learned in a formal logistics background. I continued to attend school during pregnancy and graduated with my class being on the honor roll and subsequently attended Art Institutes in New York and Miami, which I now call my home.
Discovery of Trade Shows
While working in the marketing department at a former employer I got asked to attend Comdex, which in those days was the by far largest show in the High Tech Industry. The show was enormous, encompassing the entire Las Vegas Convention Center and several surrounding hotel convention facilities.
As I navigated the scores of halls and rows, I felt invigorated and excited by the buzz of the exhibit hall. The creativity of the booths impressed me. This artificial world of lights, sounds and creativity was such a captivating experience for me and I instantly felt a desire to be part of it, and be part of shaping and building it.
First Job in the Trade Show Industry
After attending my first show I started to express my desire to be involved in Trade Show exhibiting. It wasn’t long after that for the company I worked for to start exhibiting at Shows and as it is often the case in small growing companies; the volunteers were chosen to lead the effort.
At that time I was already in charge of the company’s Public Relations and Corporate Events Planning; so Trade Show Manager was quickly added to my title. This position was a huge stepping stone in my career since it not only allowed me to experience firsthand all the things you can do wrong; it also led to formal training and allowed me to grow from blindly experimenting to consistently delivering impressive results with detailed planned accuracy.
Mentors and Their Advice
There are really 3 mentors that have impacted both my personal life and career significantly:
1.) The first one would be a former boss at a company I worked for: The Company already had a full time graphic designer, which was the job I originally went in to apply for. But I was offered a position as a general member of the marketing team. He told me he appreciated my enthusiasm and obvious desire to learn. So the job offer came with the condition that he would spend time teaching and mentoring me to produce a wide variety of projects in unfamiliar marketing areas for me. This was at a rapidly growing company where the marketing organization grew with every success and I was to grow into any area where I showed strength. I missed designing, but was excited about the opportunity.
When it became apparent that I have this natural ability to effectively plan the company’s Trade Shows, Public Relations and Corporate Events, he arranged for professional training. Those areas of responsibility became my new job description. Having such a phenomenal opportunity offered to me has made me eternally grateful to him for all of the growth, support and opportunities provided; he dramatically impacted my life and changed the path of my career.
2.) The second mentor would be my Dad: Though he was more of a passive or silent mentor, unaware that I was watching his actions as I grew up, he would impact me so significantly. What I learned was to be an entrepreneur in a field you are passionate about, provide top-quality work on projects, consistently deliver them on-time or early – every time and always deliver more than what the client expects. Focus on client relationship building; this is what consistently provided him with new projects for existing clients and a steady stream of referrals for new business. These priceless business lessons learned from my dad are now applied to my business on a daily basis.
3.) Finally, my Mom: She was also more of a silent mentor, who taught me valuable life lessons through her actions, which I have not only applied to my life, but my business as well. She showed me that every problem has a solution if you look long enough to find it; and never to give up. No task is too big to take on; stretch yourself and your capabilities to reach new heights. She led me to be a strong, powerful woman, work hard, assert myself and find opportunities to advance when possible. Watching my mom accomplish so many achievements and recognition, by applying these philosophies, has been inspiring to watch and learn from.
First Trade Show and Impression
The first Trade Show I exhibited at was the Internet Telephony Expo (or IT Expo) which happened to be in Miami at that time. Exhibiting for the first time was a great experience to learn from. Our results were very poor; we simply were not experienced enough and realized we had a lot to learn before exhibiting again.
After receiving trade show, public relations and corporate event training at my former employer, key departmental managers were impressed with the results delivered, all the way up to the CEO. In later years the company created a Channel Program. Once watching several partners exhibit at trade shows, I realized they often knew even less about exhibiting than when I went to my first trade show, they desperately needed training to improve results. I proposed and was supported to initiate the availability of a trade show training program for the Channel Program partners.
Really enjoying helping companies improve their trade show skills and see them so greatly improve their return on investment made me want to do this full-time. So, having an entrepreneurial spirit learned from my dad I started my own business and became the TradeShow Teacher.
Being a Female in the Industry
Since I started my career in the high tech industry, which almost by definition is one of the most progressive industries imaginable, gender was never an issue while I grew into my profession. So I got used to being judged solely on my performance. Having clear strategies and plans of action confirmed through results, I experienced no problems working with more traditional industries. If you show to be strong and confident in your capabilities, people accept that regardless of gender.
What I feel has been the biggest business benefit, as well as a competitive advantage is my attitude towards having an open mind when working with all sorts of clients. Taking the time to learn about their personal likes and style, then adapting to their surroundings.
If clients are conservative, I dress and act accordingly; if we are socializing, the locations selected and conversational tone would also be conservative. Then again, if they are a little wild and want to go dance on tables, I am fine with dancing on tables! Knowing to understand those details and building relationships that extend beyond existing projects has been the biggest benefit for me in client satisfaction levels, as well as having them add further training, consulting services and referring new business contacts to me.
Balancing Personal and Professional Roles
Balancing these 2 worlds is challenging at times, but I have a great support team of family and friends. Everyone pitches in as needed; my husband, son, daughter, parents and a network of other moms I have built; we always lend a hand to each other as needed. The combination of this remarkable support system has delivered me with the ability to work countless hours at times, always deliver projects on time, and travel as needed. I am grateful for their help and support.
There are so many professional achievements I am proud of having accomplished for clients, I wish I could share them all with you. But for many of them, somebody else has already taken credit for and who am I to spoil any of that? I am the TradeShow teacher, so my ability to take complex information and turn them into digestible bits and pieces and then see a client go from what is often an experiment in chaos theory to being one of the most successful exhibitors is tremendously rewarding.
I do like looking back at my fairly humble beginnings and now being considered an industry expert. I frequently get asked to speak at industry events, get contacted as an expert source for articles and write the monthly TradeShow Teacher column for Exhibit City News. Most recently I was excited to accept an offer presented to me by The Idiots Guide division of Penguin Publishing to write “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows”.
Working in This Field (EDIT)
I enjoy making a difference. There is so much that goes into such a simple sentence, but it really is the essence of what I enjoy about being the TradeShow Teacher. Every day I get to contribute to scores of businesses improving their Trade Show results and company revenue as a result. I also enjoy the opportunity of working with so many different, interesting people, businesses and industries. The Trade Show concepts stay roughly the same for any type of business, but I enjoy applying them in such a large number of different situations
Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher is an award winning trade show industry expert with extensive experience educating exhibitors to increase their Return on Investment. Her marketing career started as a graphic designer and she still uses those skills today when helping clients with their exhibits. Linda
understands why many exhibitors struggle with this commonly unfamiliar
marketing medium and often don’t achieve the results they had hoped for. Having gone through this herself early in her marketing career and then helping
partner companies to improve trade show results, inspired her to create Miami
based TradeShow Teacher, Inc which offers a variety of trade show training
seminars, webinars, workshops and workbooks to help exhibitors.
Linda is a frequent speaker at a variety of Trade Shows offering sessions such as Booth Staff Training, Networking Skills, How to Obtain Qualified Leads, How to Follow Up with Leads to Increase Post Show Sales, Post Show Reporting Strategies to Measure ROI & Enable Exhibit Program Growth. She also presents and educates at numerous trade show industry shows such as the Exhibitor Show, Exhibitor Fast Track Sessions and the TS2 Trade Show. She has been on the Faculty of a South Florida Business School, teaching a Marketing Course and writes a monthly column for Exhibit City News. Linda is the author of several publications including “The complete Idiot’s Guide to Trade Shows”.
A majority of businesses tend to struggle with achieving a high ROI from their trade show exhibiting. TradeShow Teacher gives you the tools and enhanced knowledge to significantly improve your trade show results.
Several key benefits of working with TradeShow Teacher are:
- Higher ROI
- Targeted Messaging
- Improved Processes
- Strategic Networking Skills
- Enhanced Publicity
- Exhibit Program Growth
- Increased Qualified Leads
Whether you are looking to improve your trade show ROI, start an exhibit program or simply want to boost your marketing career, TradeShow Teacher offers you the trade show training options you need to succeed. Linda Musgrove, the author of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Trade Shows has developed the trade show education you need at a price you can afford.
On Demand Webinars
Whether you need exhibitor training for your trade show staff or want to become a trainer yourself, Trade Show Teacher’s On Demand Webinars are available to you now.
TradeShow teacher provides training specific to your needs, such as exhibitor training. Customized Live Training is available as a webinar and in person at your location.
Books, Guides and Tools
TradeShow Teacher offers a number of training and planning tools to turn your exhibit program into a trade show success.
Linda Musgrove’s broad experience and comprehensive knowledge of trade show
exhibiting and marketing makes her the perfect choice for many corporate vents
When you need a trade show expert to help with planning your exhibit program or provide trade show resources, TradeShow Teacher’s trade show consulting options are for you.
FREE Trade Show resources and planning tips available to help improve your trade show program.