Exhibition Display Stands and the “Swag” Index

One little-known way to judge the health of the economy is by attending trade shows and checking out the many exhibition display stands. In fact, perhaps we should invent a new economic index – call it the “Trade Show Swag” index (or TSSX) that tracks the total dollar value of the pens, yellow sticky notes holders, squishy balls, candy and other tchotchkes given out by vendors at shows across the country!magellan 10x20 exhibition display stands with tension fabric graphics and custom counters

Had this index been developed in say, the year 2000, it would have shown a steady rise 2000 – 2007, followed by a decline from 2008 through 2010, a crash really — as vendors tightened their marketing budgets in a bid to squeeze every possible bit of ROI from trade show appearances. 2011 would show a reversal and slight increase, which has strengthened a bit more in 2012.

Attending any conference lately illustrates just how the Great Recession has affected American business, with vendors that previously offered some high quality swag at their exhibition display stands – items like nice personalized tote bags, laser pointers, wine bottle coolers, neat toys and even portable iPod speakers cutting back dramatically — now perhaps displaying just a simple banner accompanied by a bowl of stale Tootsie Rolls and a few pens.

Well, maybe it isn’t that bad:). The point is, while the need to save money is real, this doesn’t mean that businesses should abandon their trade show plans or, perhaps worse, show up with ugly exhibition display stands that drive prospects away.

Here are a few simple tips on how to retain a good trade show presence in a tight economy:

1. Invest in attractive exhibition display stands that won’t break the bank

The number one attracting factor at a trade show is undoubtedly the trade show booth itself. Plain, ugly, black-draped booths with perhaps just a banner don’t do anything to help in attracting passersby; exhibitors need exhibition display stands that show some sophistication and “splash”.

Fortunately, even small and midsized businesses can sport economical but nice looking exhibition display stands like a Waveline display. They are quite affordable and look great.Other great options include the Sacajawea, Magellan, and Segue hybrid tension displays. All offer options from tabletop displays to full size floor kits complete with lights, and all are light-weight, tool-less, easy to assemble and transport.

2. Be proactive with the handouts

Some vendors act like they resent visitors to their booths that take their handouts, like scrooges at Halloween giving little children “the evil eye” if they take more than one piece of candy. Stand out by actively and generously handing out the goodies, and you will find that this attracts much more traffic.

Even better, train the “greeter” to quickly qualify visitors to your exhibition display stands. The qualified traffic can be directed inside your booth to drop in a business card or fill out an information form in order to qualify for a higher quality, unadvertised give-away.

If you have any, keep the higher-value giveaways towards the back of your trade show displays, making visitors enter the booth (where feasible) or otherwise get face-to-face with your sales team in order to get their hands on them.segue exhibition display stands with tension fabric graphics-resized-600

3. Smile. A lot.

The people that represent your brand at a show should be smiling, inviting personalities who leave great impressions on attendees. Gruff, over-aggressive staff should not work a trade show, as they will intimidate or otherwise repel visitors.

4. Its all in the list.

Although some trade shows lend themselves to direct sales, the purpose for most vendors is to capture identities in order to increase their marketing database. This means collecting business cards, having people fill out forms, or scanning conference badges.

Make it easy for people to get on your mailing list. Don’t use use forms or clipboards, those are outdated! Instead quickly scan visitor badges or business cards, or opportunities will be missed. These days, no one wants to wait in line to fill out a form – unless you’re giving away iPads or laptops, chances are they will simply walk to the next booth.

To sum up, invest in a few great looking exhibition display stands, be as generous as possible with the handouts, smile, and focus on building your marketing list rather than direct sales. Simple, right?

For more, learn about understanding your customer’s personality and what to do if James Bond visits.

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