Prepare yourself for Success at Your Next Trade Show

Selecting the proper trade show can be a challenge. The best way to make sure you choose the right trade show is to speak with colleagues who have attended the show before. Another way is to attend one of the earlier shows you are thinking of attending. Review it for yourself.

You will always get a great deal of promotional material from the show management. Usually there is a discount to sign up for display spaces early. Take advantage of this.  Try to have your booth space selected in a high traffic area, especially near larger booth in your industry

After you have determined your booth location, sometime later you will receive your booth service kit. This will have information about ordering material, labor and many other services. Most services like electrical and items dealing direct with the conference will be in this kit. Most of this can be very overwhelming for someone that is not use to doing this. Most exhibit companies can assist your with this part.

Custom trade show displays are always a good choice when exhibiting, it however can be costly. A great alternative is a custom rental trade show booth. This enables you to get a great looking trade show booth for a fraction of what it would normally cost. A great company to look toward for this is ELDS, INC.

Budget, Budget budget, I cannot stress this enough. Consider all expenses transportation, room and board, exhibit booth, transportation and last your trade show booth. Make sure your budget is realistic

Get your press release kit in order. Make sure it is distributed thought-out the press conference. This is great preshow advertisement, do as many interviews as possible. This can make such a difference in show traffic you would not believe. Press releases and blogging are a great way to your product and services in the show attendee’s ears.

Always arrange to have a great giveaway. These giveaways help the attendee remember your company. Make sure that your company name is printed somewhere on the giveaway.  Do not give away random or generic product give away. If you supply computer service a mouse pad would be great with your name company name on it.  I do have some of my clients giveaways from 5 years ago still hanging around. They keep your company name in the public eye.

Staff your booth with your best employees that are friendly and energetic.  They should be knowledgeable about your product and services. They should also be approachable


Lately show management all through-out the trade show industry have either been dropping certain fees as well as adding incentives for exhibitors.  SEMA has also joined in this year in offering free incentives.  One of the best incentives being offered to the smaller exhibitor is the non-payment of drayage if the overall weight is less than 1000lbs.  Smaller exhibitors should certainly take advantage of this. Get a great looking trade show booth for the SEMA show that meets this requirement. You do have certain dates which you must meet. To view the full news letter provided by SEMA please see below


Take Advantage of Special Deals to Save Money and Draw Buyers

The nearly 2,000 exhibitors who will present their products and services at the 2008 SEMA Show (November 4–7, Las Vegas Convention Center) invest substantial sums to bring their wares to buyers from around the world. This year, SEMA and the Show managers have developed a number of programs to save exhibitors money and help them draw buyers. Listed below are 10 free programs that qualified exhibitors can use to make the most of their investment as they plan their displays.

Free Small-Exhibitor Material Handling: SEMA Show management and Freeman—the company that handles the event design, décor and movement of exhibit materials in and out of the Las Vegas Convention Center—are offering free material handling for qualified exhibitors. If a company’s total exhibit freight is 1,000 pounds or less, can be delivered in one trip to its booth, and arrives in a privately-owned vehicle (car, pickup or minivan), SEMA has made arrangements with Freeman to deliver the freight to the company’s booth at no charge.
    This service will be available from 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 1 through Monday, November 3. If the exhibitor’s total exhibit freight exceeds 1,000 lbs., the free service is not available. If the exhibitor utilizes the free service, but then ships additional freight to the Show, Freeman will charge $567.80 for the 1,000-lb. service.
    If you have any questions regarding freight-handling assistance, contact the General Service Contractor at 702/407-4694.

First Product Entered Into the New Products Showcase Is Free: SEMA presents a New Products Showcase at the SEMA Show each year, providing exhibitors with an outstanding opportunity to introduce products, packaging and merchandising to industry buyers and media.
    For 2008, the first product entered into the New Products Showcase by each company is free if it is entered by Friday, October 3 using the company’s exhibitor password. The password was sent to each company’s Show contact and is the same password used for exhibitor registration and SEMA Show Directory listing updates. If you need to obtain your password or require further information, contact Michelle Lowery at 702/450-7662, ext. 119, or e-mail
    Each additional entry has a $75 fee per product if received by October 3. After October 3, exhibitors must submit product entries at the Show for a $250 fee per product. All products entered are professionally photographed. The photos are then made available to media for use in newspapers, magazines, websites and other outlets. Photos and details of each product are also published in the January issue of SEMA News.

Free Distribution of Press Releases/Press Kits: Exhibiting companies may deliver press releases and/or press kits to the SEMA Show Media Center Sponsored by Continental Tire, room S219, on the Skybridge between the Central and South Halls. The Media Center serves as “home base” for thousands of editors and reporters during the Show, and media members visit there often to find press information and obtain releases and press kits.
    To ensure that your materials are available for the media when they arrive, we recommend delivering your materials before Monday, November 3. The Media Center will be open from 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 31 through Sunday, November 2 for the delivery of press releases. We suggest stocking 75 to 100 copies of each release or kit and checking the inventory periodically during the week.

Free Press Conferences: Communicate newsworthy information to the media by holding a press conference. Media at the SEMA Show are given an official press conference schedule and are encouraged to cover every session. Media unable to attend  a conference will receive details of all announcements through a Daily Briefing that SEMA distributes at the end of each day in the Media Center Sponsored by Continental Tire.
    Note that exhibitors are not authorized to hold media conferences outside of the official schedule or off-site during SEMA Show hours. To be included in the official press conference schedule, complete the Media Conference Application located at Each media conference is limited to 20 minutes. For more information, call 909/396-0289, ext. 130, or e-mail

Free Listing in the Official SEMA Show Directory: Every SEMA Show exhibitor is entitled to a free listing in the SEMA Show Directory. Each listing includes the company name, address, phone number and website address as well as a company description. The listing also includes details about the products that each company will be exhibiting as well as the vehicle applications and the market segments it deals in.
    The company’s membership status is noted in each listing along with any SEMA council affiliations. The information used to compile each directory listing is taken from the company’s Exhibit Space Rental Agreement, but be sure to check you company’s information at to ensure that all of the data is up-to-date.

Free Listing in the SEMA International Buyers’ Guide: Expand your business worldwide with the SEMA International Buyers’ Guide, an exclusive directory of companies involved in sales outside the United States. There is no charge to be listed in the guide; the only qualifications are that your company be a manufacturer or exclusive distributor of the product lines(s) listed or an export management company. The company also must be either a member of SEMA or an exhibitor at the 2008 SEMA Show.
    The SEMA International Buyers’ Guide will be distributed worldwide, including to every international buyer that attends the SEMA Show and throughout the year at international trade shows, such as PAACE Automechanika (Mexico), the Essen Motor Show (Germany), Automechanika (Germany), Equip Auto (France), the International Automotive Aftermarket Expo (Japan), and Australia Auto Trade Fair (Australia).
    It will also be available at more than 50 U.S. embassies throughout the world, including offices in Germany, United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Italy, Brazil and South America, and from SEMA’s offices in China, Mexico and Europe.
    For further information about all of SEMA’s international programs, contact Linda Spencer at 202/783-4032 or via e-mail at

Free Listings About Products for Project-Vehicle Builders: Each year, the SEMA Show features nearly a thousand project vehicles, and the products displayed on them are viewed and noted by the thousands of buyers and media who attend the Show. The “Products for Project-Vehicle Builders” program is an exclusive opportunity for manufacturers to showcase their products on the exhibited cars and trucks by offering products to project-vehicle builders at no charge or at a substantial discount.
    SEMA compiles lists of exhibitors who offer free or discounted products to project-vehicle builders. The listings appear in SEMA eNews (the association’s weekly electronic newsletter) and are then posted on Listings appear in SEMA eNews on a first-come, first-served basis.
    To be included in a listing, contact Jason Catullo via e-mail at

Free Listing in Manufacturer’s Rep Matching Service: Is your company looking for a manufacturers’ representative to enhance its sales and marketing efficiency? Don’t miss this opportunity to find the rep you need.
    Download and complete the Manufacturers’ Representative Matching form and fax it to 702/450-7732. Your information will be posted in the MRC Manufacturers’ Rep Center at the SEMA Show so that reps looking for product lines may contact you. Every major rep is a member of SEMA and will attend the SEMA Show. The deadline to receive the Manufacturers’ Representative Matching form is Friday, October 17.

Free Meeting Rooms In Members Lounges: Complimentary conference meeting space is available in either the Grand Lobby Mezzanine Members Lounge (upstairs from the Grand Lobby between the North and Central Halls) or the South Hall Members Lounge (located at the front of the upper South Hall).
    These rooms are available exclusively to SEMA and TIA members (non-exhibiting manufacturers are not allowed) and can accommodate up to 10 people for a maximum of one hour. Meeting times begin and end on the hour from 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. on Monday, November 3 through Thursday, November 6, and from 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 7.
    Rooms can only be reserved for two non-consecutive one-hour time slots per day and may be reserved in advance or on site based on availability.
    For more information, call 702/450-7662, ext. 247, or e-mail

Free International Buyer-Locator Service: Exhibitors may use a free service to find out which International Buyers are attending the SEMA Show and Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW). Check out which products they are seeking and download a list of all registered international buyers here
    Invite international buyers to visit your booth. Check back often, as the list will be updated every two weeks prior to the SEMA Show. Then download a final database of international buyers attending the 2008 SEMA Show/AAIW or after the SEMA Show.”

Adding Fabric Structures to Your Trade Show booth

Lately more and more exhibitors are adding fabric structures to their booth. The main reason for this is due to the high cost of shipping and drayage (the cost to move your trade show booth from the convention dock to your booth location and back to the dock for the ship out )  Shipping and drayage are both based on weight and size .  Keeping both down will result in lower cost to get to the convention hall. The other cost saving item in using fabric structure is the set up time and cost. While large panels and ridged printed graphics take more time to put up fabric structure are light weight and easy to handle.  

The draw back in using the typical fabric structure which is fabric stretched over aluminums structure is the handling of the fabric, which in time get dirty and worn. The cost to replace this is expensive. Well to get to my point, along come the Delta Fabric system. This system comes with an aluminum frame typical to a 4×8 panel structure but weight quite a bit less. The structure holds the fabric in place by snapping into a frame groove , this can be done prior to the show  unless you are using both sides with fabric. Delta Fabric  can be shipped in one standard crate a 16 panels while the typical trade show panel structure you can only hold 8 in a crate  (typical crate ).  The fabric cane be switched out without any big hassles, just snap it on on-site.  The typical fabric structure usually zips on around an aluminum frame, from my experience the fabric usually tear after a few time out. The structures are not usually very structural. In this case you trade out the weight etc for strength. The Delta Fabric provide the strength of a traditional panel system, the ease of setting up and the ability to use extremely large fabric inserts graphics,  this a win win situation

Delta Fabric booth
detail delta fabric

The “Delta Fabric” system is a modular, graphic presentation system that combines lightweight aluminum frames and graphic messaging in a choice of sizes and display options. The aluminum frames and columns can be ordered in custom sizes to fit display needs. The frames assemble with an Allen key, and feature a variety of optional connections that allow frames to connect to other aluminum systems. Build large unique and dynamic structures to match your company’s image, set it up less hassles for more on this system contact

Understanding The Language Of Trade Shows

I decided to write this to help some exhibitors understand the terminology of the trade show industry.  In order to get what you want done on the trade show floor you must first understand the terminology.   I remember years ago when I first entered the trade show industry, I simple did not know most of the terminology. In that I decided to see if I can help a little by putting some terms together to see if I can help others

Blueprint drawings is the drawing of a particular booth etither for set up ofr for building

Bill of Lading (B/L)
The Bill of Lading paperwork sets the fees and terms between transportation companies and shippers regarding transporting goods.

To back-light means setting a light source from behind to light up frontal area

Cam lock

This is usually a locking device used mainly to attach panels; it can also be a  timbler type lock

CWT (Certified Weight Ticket)
the CWT unit of measuremnt used to messure the weight by th hundred pound weight. example 4 hundred pounds in CWT is  4cwt

The process of drayage involves moving show materials from the  convention dock area to your booth space for set up and then back to the dock again at the end of a trade show.

Foul Bill of Lading
a transportation carrier issues a Foul Bill of Lading which is a document showing that material received was damaged

Grid System
A grid system includes a structural network of support systems and electrical conduits.

Hard Card
A hard card is a work order requesting services or labor. .This is a document that time will be recorded on

Junction Box
Junction boxes of “J” box is a point where a electrical cords will meet in one metal box.

Labor Call
Labor call is when you set up a specific time for you to receive your laborer for your booth. Example you have a labor call for 4 men on friday at 8:00am. Your labor will be there waiting at 8:00am on Friday ready to work

 Less Than Truckload (LTL)
Less than truckload, or LTL, is the set rate charged for freight that weighs less than the minimum weight specified.

Light Box
Light boxes are boxes containing light fixtures, usally to light up graphics from the rear

Linear Display
a linear or in-line display is a display which is set up straight inline with the Aisle.  This space can only be approached from aisle unless this is at the end of an aisle

Marshaling Yard
the marshaling yard is the area where trucks wait for dispatch. Truck drivers check-in with a trade show facility and then proceed to the marshaling yard to wait for loading and unloading instructions.

Masking Drape
masking drapes are cloths that cover storage areas. Usally in rear of booth space  or covering columns etc .

A union is an organized group of workers who protect the rights of workers and increase the bargaining power with employers on the issues of hours, benefits, and wages.

Modular Exhibit
A modular exhibit is built with interchangeable components able to be set up in different sizes and arrangements.

O.T. Labor
O.T. labor, or overtime labor, is worked performed outside of regular work hours.

Rear Illumination
Rear illumination, also called back-lighting, involves lighting a translucent image from behind.

Workers who handle and assemble machinery hanging signs etc  .


 This is the person who goes out to get anything for your booth, may it be carpet tape or light bulbs etc

Trade show displays

This is the actual component that make up your booth space. These structures display your product or service

 S.T. Labor
S.T. labor, Straight time this is usally between the agreed 8 hour time frame, any thing after this is either Overtime or Doubletime

Scissors Lift
a scissors lift is a motorized platform that can lift people to a certain height. Usally used to do high or above the floor work

Set-up Drawing
Set-up drawings are installation instructions to set up the booth in question.

Shipping Crate
shipping crates is used to transport the product to and from trade show. Basicly it is a container for transporting items

Show Manager
Show managers organize and manage the trade show and or event.

Subcontractors are individuals or companies hired by a general contractor to provide services for a trade show. This person or company usally have to file a EAC form , Exhibitors appointed contractor.

Turnkey Packages
Turnkey packages all inclusive trade show booth and components, labor to set up and dismanatle booth .

Velcro is the trade name for hook and loop fabric that joins when pressed together and separate when pulled apart.

Exhibit Designer/Producer
The exhibit designer/producer is the individual or company responsible for the design and construction of exhibit booths.

Choosing The Best Trade Show Booth Design

The design of your trade show booth is very important. A great deal of exhibitors makes the wrong choice every day due to lack of knowledge of the trade show industry.  No two companies are the same and therefore now two designs should be the same. There are many companies out there that just pull generic designs from their portfolio and expect it to work for their clients.  Some actually do work to degree.   If you have choice of choosing a design that is specific to your firm and have a choice of picking one out of a catalogue, what would you do?  I would hope that the specific or custom design would be your choice.  Why?

Custom design are much more indebt as to what the exhibitor wants and needs.  Custom design makes you stand out from the rest of exhibits and competitor at the show.

I recently provided a booth to a client at a particular show which was a small 10×20 booth; we applied a large graphic cut out of a giraffe to the back wall.  The image hung over the back wall. This giraffe had nothing to do with the client product. It just carried a theme “head and shoulders above the competition” needless to say it was smash at the show. More conversation about the giraffe was at the show. Leads were generated and when the sales representative  contacted these leads all he or she had to say is we are X Company, you remember the company that had the big giraffe at the show. 

I say this to say stay away from “cookie cutter designs” if you can they say nothing about your company ask your exhibit house to provide a custom design for you, show some personality.   Do not run from exhibit house to exhibit house choose a good design and exhibit house to work with and let them work out your design. To get a no obligatory design contact

Exhibiting At Your First Trade Show

Having been in the trade show industry for over 20 years as a designer,
manufacturer and collaborator with exhibitors and show management has been
very enlightening. What always seem to get my attention are the new trade
show attendees who come to the show with great expectations only to find that
at the end of the show they have made neither leads nor sales. I am here to
tell you that you have either exhibited at the wrong show or most likely you
went to the show totally unprepared. In this article we will offer some
pointers to the unprepared exhibitor. Here are a few suggestions:Â Goal:
First thing and one thing only, ˜sales and leads” Sure you want product
branding, but ultimately sales and leads ought to be the exhibitor’s primary

For the new exhibitor’s first trade show I would suggest taking this approach.

Secure your booth location preferably a location near the front of the main
entry to the exhibit hall, It’s also always good to get located near one of
the larger veterans of that particular trade show. This will help to get you
in the traffic spot light. Many people feel that getting on the front line of
the exhibit hall is the best location, but that’s not necessarily so,
sometimes people move through the exhibit hall pass the front line before
they truly begin to focus on what they want. Therefore, a location near the
front, but not right in the immediate front line.
The exhibitor’s booth should be a ˜crowd pleaser” while still projecting the
company’s image – a good way to get traffic to your booth.Secondly, offer a
good product give-a-way or a prize. Please make sure that this prize is a
good one, if you specialize in tire changing equipment do not give away iPods,

or plasma screens. Everyone in the convention hall would love to get a
plasma screen or an IPod. They will sign up for this, even if they are not
interested in your product. This is a waste of time. Smart move is to have a
drawing for a top of the line tire changing equipment or some service you
provided. This will ensure that whoever signs up for this has some knowledge
of systems and would prefer part of your service. They most likely are
interested and need a tire changing machine and are willing to spend that
kind of money on one. The list of sign-ups for the give-a-way/prize you have
a list of leads, remember you what you are there for hint leads which can
eventually turn into sales. How easy would that be to follow up a lead from
your list of people who signed up for your drawing to win a tire changing
equipment? Let’s call this a targeted lead, why? you know what they are
interested in – mufflers

Second thing, at your first trade show always have a theme for your trade
show booth. I have seen exhibitor at trade show with great looking custom
trade show booth
, crowds form around the booth and say wow what a nice
looking booth, but five minutes later after leaving the booth they do not
remember the exhibitors name or his or her product, but they remember the
theme the booth had. Use this to your advantage design your booth with a
theme that relates to your product. Incorporate your product name as well as
your corporate name, now you are cooking with grease. I remember a few years
ago I met a childhood idol, Jerry Lucas, yes the same Jerry Lucas who played
for the world champion New York Knicks in basketball. When I met Jerry Lucas
he was promoting a way to remember names of people he met. Well I am here to
tell you it works, he simply would pick out some unique feature about that
person, it could be the voice, the person’s height or some unique feature, he
would then make a mental tie to the person’s name. This way he would remember
a unique feature and the name would follow. The same principle works with
trade show booth, remember the design and theme and then you will remember
the corporate name. That same theme should not only be reflected in the exhibit booth design but it should also be carried through onto your literature and give-away. That’s your “corporate branding”  for more


Exhibiting In Bad Economic Times

Exhibiting at trade shows in these bad economic times is a major issue for the trade show industry. Many exhibitors are deciding not to attend various trade shows and are cutting back on the size of their booth.   Some seasoned exhibitors are now visiting the shows only as show attendees and not as trade show exhibitors. Why? The costs that accompany these events.  Other innovative exhibitors rent suites and invite their clients to their suites to demo new products etc.  In attempting  to  address these issues I would say that despite innovative measures to be a part of the tradeshow marketing process in these economic times, pulling out of the show is not the answer 

Here are some of the draw backs in not attending the shows that an exhibitor  normally attends:  a) exhibitor’s seniority is lost – putting you at a disadvantage in placement for the next show when you decide to re-enter that particular show  b) prime locations that were usually allotted to you as an exhibitor is now given to other regular exhibitors, thus only allowing some off-the-beat traffic location to you.  Another ill-advised alternative is to reduce your usual booth and show site.  An example, say, your company usually attend a show using a 20×20 or 20×30 and you now are using a 10×10. Reason? Your company’s image has a tendency to be diminished giving the impression to both clients  and competitors that your business is not doing well. Would you depend on this company be around in the future?

Few pointers: The best thing to do in this case is keep the same size booth and location. Try and reduce your labor cost, your shipping cost and your drayage cost. These are all changes that the consumer as well as competitor will never see nor notice.  The next sensible thing to do is to rent a custom trade show booth as opposed to purchasing one.  Custom means exactly that – your company is still doing well and still has the ability to exhibit your products in a custom booth. There will be no signage on your booth saying “rented”. You are still giving the impression that your company is not affected by the dim economy.  Renting a custom booth will cost you a lot less than purchasing one.  Advantages?  Exhibitor has no head-ache for transportation and refurbishment costs. Clients can now enjoy a full turnkey operation, while knowing  exactly what their cost will be in the end. This way there are no surprises, nothing over the budget unless added by the client.   Custom design rental booths are generally life savers for those exhibitors trying to keep abreast with this economy and still remain regular tradeshow exhibitors under a strict budgetary constraints.

Lately we have seen many larger exhibit companies trashing their custom exhibit booth and resorting to the use of a full turnkey rental trade show booth.  Multi rentals are also an advantage for most clients who attend numerous  show.  Different shows may require different  configurations as well as different sizes and locations. In the past client would have have to invest in two or three different booth, not so anymore, rental booth can be supplied in most major cities  with the same look and all are generated from one source