Trade shows are a big deal. According to tsnn.com, 81 percent of trade show attendees have buying authority. Additionally, a staggering 99 percent of marketers say nothing compares to the value of trade shows, especially compared with other marketing approaches.
However, the trade show circuit can also be grueling. Exhibitors vie for the attention of interested individuals lost in a sea of people. That single moment of connection, when a potential client or customer sees you and decides you are worth a second look, is a make or break moment. That moment is the hook.
According to the same report, 67 percent of those who attend trade shows are new prospective clients. That means more than two-thirds of those attending have never had a chance to engage with your brand. These are the people you are trying to reach with your display.
How, then, can you stand out, connect with new clients and expand your brand at trade shows? The answer lies in the display.
An expert trade show display builder can help you apply the latest and best techniques for grabbing attention while representing your brand authentically. You want to get noticed, but for the right reasons. You want your display to pop, but you also want it to have substance and reflect the quality of your product.
With that in mind, we have put together this handy guide for choosing an exhibit builder. If you take our advice, we are confident you will be well on way toward making an impact at trade shows.
As they say, quality takes time. The sooner you start your search for a trade show display company, the better chance you will have in finding a partner that understands your brand and your vision.
A great trade show exhibit isn’t thrown together. It takes careful planning and plenty of communication between you and the trade show exhibit company you’ve contracted. If your vision for your exhibit is particular with specific feature installations, you want to make sure the designers have the time to source the proper materials and implement them correctly. If, in the process of creating your exhibit, the display design veers away from your vision, you want to make sure you have the time and opportunity to make the necessary corrections.
If you plan on creating a large exhibit, we recommend beginning the process 6 to 12 months in advance. If you only need a small display, 3 to 6 months will probably suffice. Regardless, you can never start too early, so don’t be afraid to reach out as soon as you have an idea of what kind of display you desire.
Take Time to Figure Out What You Want
Before you even meet with a designer, figure out what you want your exhibit booth to look like. If you approach a designer with a haphazard vision, you are liable to get haphazard results. If you prepare ahead of time, designers will be much more likely to interpret your desires and express them in ways that are good for your brand while meeting your expectations.
We suggest putting together three or four concrete ideas. Too many ideas can be unwieldy, which will make coming to a final decision difficult. Conversely, if you go all in on one idea, you are liable to be disappointed with the results if it doesn’t come out exactly as you had hoped.
Think About Modular Pieces
If your vision requires a totally customized build, you will have to pay for that customization. If you’re flexible, you might be able to find some excellent modular solutions that will help you cut costs.
Just because a piece is considered modular doesn’t mean it isn’t customizable, however. Most display modules come with extensive branding opportunities. This is especially good if you have a strong logo that speaks on its own. If that’s the case, you don’t want your build to overpower the branding you have already invested in.
Plus, modular designs help cut down on production time. If the majority of your exhibit is built of standard pieces that your exhibit design contractor already has on hand, the turnaround time will be much quicker than if you are building pieces from scratch.
Finally, modular exhibits still offer incredible design flexibility. Counters, banners and media displays can be used in innovative ways, allowing you to retain design control of the exhibit’s footprint. This is especially good if you are a company looking to grow quickly. A smaller exhibit may fit your needs now, but you may want a much larger exhibit in the future. If your smaller display is made of flexible modular pieces, you can easily expand your exhibit for future trade shows without starting again from scratch.
Be Confident in Your Vision
Don’t be afraid to commit to your vision. You want what you want, and it is up to the contractor to make your dreams into reality.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make reasonable compromises. If your vision is architecturally impossible, you will have to come to grips with that. You also want to be open to other ideas. Display designers do this for a living, so they may have some thoughts on improving upon your vision by applying certain best practices to your proposal.
You shouldn’t be afraid to shop your vision around. Superior exhibit design companies will be able to take your vision and bring it to life. So if you’re meeting with a contractor and they brush your ideas aside and instead push their own vision, that might not be the best contractor for you.
Make Sure Your Price Comparisons Are Actually Comparable
When you start shopping around your idea, make sure you are exacting in your expectations, especially where size specifications are concerned. If you are vague with your ideas, one company may quote you a price for a gigantic walk-around display while another company may quote a price on a small pop-up. Even if the company proposing the giant walk-around offers a much better value, you might end up misled by comparing incongruent products.
The more specifics you provide, the better sense you will get of the true value of a contractor’s bid.
Take Prices Seriously
A good contractor will pass value on to you. If they know what they’re doing, source the right materials and don’t waste time, their prices will reflect their professionalism. Don’t assume a higher price means higher quality.
However, you don’t want to just chase the lowest price. Just as there are overpriced contractors, there are also exhibit display companies that cut corners and offer subpar work.
So compare prices and spend time getting a sense of what types of costs are standard. If it looks like one company is charging a lot more for the same product, they probably are ripping you off. However, if company quotes a price that is much lower than all their competitors, it’s probably too good to be true. You are likely to end up regretting your choice when you discover that the products you were sold are poor quality.
Get a Sense of a Company’s Strengths
Just as you should feel free to dream big, you should also take some time to scope out display companies and get a sense of what they do well. Display companies have invested a lot of time and effort into creating striking designs that are both effective and manageable, so why not let their expertise guide you?
By getting a sense of the kinds of designs certain companies are putting forward, you can make sure that your own exhibit transitions from vision into reality as seamlessly as possible.
Spend some time on a company’s website. Look through their galleries of various design options. If they have done work that resonates with you, take note of it. When you are discussing design ideas with them later, don’t be afraid to say you really enjoyed the design for company X. Having a common reference point will make communicating the specifics of your proposal a lot easier in the long run.
Take Stock of a Company’s Past Work
After you get a handle on the type of design work an exhibit company excels at, take a quick look at the brands they have worked with. Do they work exclusively with big brands, or is their work mostly representative of small local firms? If you are a small brand and the installation company seems to mostly focus on Fortune 500 brands, you may not be able to get the kind of personal attention you need. However, if you are a larger brand, you want a contractor that has experience with your level of exposure.
Don’t be afraid to seek out companies that have done work for both types of companies. Some contractors are flexible enough to work with brands of all sorts of sizes. Such a contractor is perfect if you are a young brand looking to grow.
After you find a good match, you also want to make sure to ask for references. Just because a contractor has worked for a recognizable brand doesn’t mean they did work that satisfied their client. A good contractor won’t hesitate to direct you to some satisfied customers.
Judge a Company by Its Customer Service
If you feel you aren’t getting the attention you deserve, you should follow your gut. A company isn’t going to be flippant with you at the beginning and then suddenly turn around and become attentive when crunch time approaches. If an exhibit builder doesn’t seem to be engaged, walk away. If they can’t give you the time of day and retain you as customer, do you really want them building you an exhibit designed to attract and retain new clients?
Let Them Do Their Jobs
There is a fine line between demanding the respect you deserve and suddenly becoming a backseat driver. If you could build your own exhibit to your exact specifications while keeping costs down and meeting deadlines, you wouldn’t need to hire a display builder.
If you selected a display designer that proved attentive during the initial consultations, then you shouldn’t worry if they don’t check in every second. They will keep you informed at every necessary point in the process.
If they are suddenly missing deadlines or ignoring important communications, then you have a problem. However, if you ask good questions, collect references and grade their pitch in the beginning, it is very unlikely they will suddenly disappear when you need them most.
Make Sure the Work Is Right
When all is said and done, don’t be afraid to be an exacting critic. A good company wants to get your display right, so they won’t be afraid of feedback. For those companies, constructive criticism is just another opportunity to get better.
Plus, if you and your contractor are both satisfied with the job, it will be easy to get future work done together. If specifications match and the branding is perfect, you will already know exactly where to go when you need to expand or replace a portion of your display.
The truth is, when you find a great trade show display company, you will want to go back to them over and over again.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Now that you’ve gotten your ideas organized, where do you start your search for a superior trade show exhibit builder? We offer a number of excellent trade show display products that are designed to perfectly fit into your vision.
If you are a small brand looking for strategic branding, we offer high-quality banner stands designed to be striking while durable under the constant wear and tear of the trade show circuit.
Are you looking to make a splash with your first branded trade show display? We offer a wide variety of modular and customizable trade show exhibits that are perfect for young companies looking to impress on a budget.
If you are ready to dominate the show floor with large walk-around exhibits, we also offer customizable premium exhibits.
We even have specially designed outdoor display options, so if you want to move your display outside the expo hall, you are covered.
Of course we have all of the exhibit accessories you will need to really make your display stand out in the crowd.
Finally, we offer extensive customization and design consultation along with well-priced, flexible modular displays. So no matter what kind of exhibit you are seeking, we are a great place to start.
We hope you have found this guide informative and helpful. We know your brand is your baby and you wouldn’t trust it to just anyone. Take your time, do your homework and really seek out the quality you deserve. We are confident that with our advice in hand, you will succeed in building a trade show exhibit that grabs attention, engages customers and represents your brand perfectly.