Ingredients for an Exhibit

A great chef does more than show up and cook. She sources ingredients, assembles them in the right order, and then presents them with finesse.

The same is true for being an exhibitor at a conference. It’s not as easy as just showing up in the booth. Many things need to be sourced, sent, and ultimately assembled to create the experience for your clients and potential clients.

This upcoming weekend we’ll be at the Association for Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) annual meeting. This is a conference attended by a most colleges of education, and it is a great opportunity for those organizations to interact with us as a company and a brand.

An exhibit space comes with one chair, one table, a paper name plaque, and a trashcan. Needless to say, this is a tad bit short of a great exhibit experience for conference goers.

edthena exhibit wallThere are many ingredients for creating a full exhibit space:

  • Pop-up display. We decided to go much bigger than a banner this year and upgraded to a 7-foot by 10-foot fabric wall which is printed with our logo. This is the image at right. We sourced from Northwest Creative Imaging.
  • Printed materials:
    • Rack cards. I fondly refer to these as our bookmarks since they’re bookmark proportions. The cards are a third of a page in size and printed on heavy stock paper. We sourced from HotCards.
    • Business cards. While I always have a slew of business cards, our sales guy needed cards. Go-to printer for this for several years has been UPrinting.
    • Success stories. We bought really fancy paper and decided to print these in-house.
    • Special invitations. We’re running an invite-only program for potential partners this spring. We printed a small batch of the quarter-sheet cards this week via Fedex Office and will pick them up in Indianapolis.
  • Pens. Educators love pens, yes, but a pen delivers impressions to a potential customer for a long time as long as it’s somewhat decent quality. We sourced from Discount Mugs.
  • Table cover. The standard-issue, 6-foot table at an event looks drab. We dressed ours up a bit with a cover sourced from TotallyTableCovers.
  • Furniture. Renting furniture from the exhibits company is more expensive than buying it new. We ordered a table and chairs from Ikea in Chicago and had it delivered to us for less than the cost of a rental. We also ordered a lamp for the table.
  • Computers. We utilize two computers in our exhibit so that one person can have a sit-down demo with prospects at the table while the other person can demo to those walking the hall.
  • Lead capture mechanism. As people stop by, you want to write down that you met them. We utilize an app called QuickTapLead for a better experience than a notebook.
  • Electricity. Yes, you have to order the electricity for your booth. In advance.
  • Internet access. We had to order this, too.
  • The other small stuff. Don’t forget… Surge protector. Holder for pens. Holder for rack cards. Holder for success stories. Duct tape. Snacks. Bottled water. Cell phone charger.

Time will tell if the ingredients, as assembled Friday, will create the right experience this weekend for our visitors.

Note: I am including the vendors we chose in case it is helpful to others. I’m not receiving any compensation from the vendors mentioned here.

One thought on “Ingredients for an Exhibit

  1. Hey Adam, great post. We’ve thought long and hard about the process of capturing B2B leads at events, and we’ve spoken to a ton of industry pros. From our research, most exhibitors fall into one of two camps. On the one hand, you have teams who prioritise scanning as many badges as possible. And some can be pretty strategic about it too, estimating how many potential prospects will attend and then creating goals for what percentage they want to scan. On the backend, they often use lead scoring techniques to filter the best leads up to their sales guys. They’re all about volume, and it works for them. There’s a bunch of case studies showing companies doing this successfully. On the other hand, you have exhibitors who need more than a badge scan. With long sales cycles and a need to uncover insights that can help their team sell to multiple stakeholders further down the line, these guys aren’t solely driven by volume. Perhaps they already have a pretty comprehensive database of prospects in their industry, and so “new leads” are a rarity for them. Sure, they still want to capture lots of leads, but they’re also motivated to capture insights which can help push prospects down the sales funnel. We’ve developed Captuvate (http://www.captuvate.com) for this second group. If your sales team need more than a spreadsheet full of names and numbers to call after your trade show, then check us out using the link above. Our app lets you schedule appointments for sales guys while on the event-floor. Even if your sales team aren’t all at the event, you can book prospects into their calendar so the prospects don’t go AWOL after the event. We’ve also included a feature to add voice notes to any lead, so that you don’t have to spend a ton of time writing down why the prospects is of interest. Just tap a button and talk into the app, and — with our Salesforce integration — your team can be listening to your notes within seconds. Speaking of Salesforce, the way we’ve integrated means that if you meet a prospect who you already ‘know about’, you can append that information to their contact record instead of creating a new lead. Why is this useful? Suddenly, you’re not only able to take credit for sales that are generated from your leads, but you can also show how your events influenced prospects who were already in the pipeline. If you can show that you spoke with a dozen existing prospects (and have the voice memos to prove it), then they closed business with you a few weeks later, that’s awesome. Few marketers have worked out how to prove the influence their events have on existing opportunities, so we think this is a step in the right direction. Apologies for the shameless plug. We just feel there’s a lot more companies can do to boost event ROI if they take these things into account. If you’re interested in learning more, let me know! Thanks, Brian

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