There’s A First For Everything

First Time Exhibitor: To buy or not to buy, that is the question.  

–  Don’t be intimidated by the trade show buying experience don’t buy simply to buy.

– Develop strong marketing objectives and strategies to determine your trade show needs.

– Decide not to “under do it” or “over do it” at your first exhibit.

– Your goals will help you decide where to buy and what size exhibit you need

– Plan ahead with purpose and make good decisions that align with the marketing objectives


Getting Started

Exhibit marketing is the key ingredient to success at your trade show exhibit.  There is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to exhibit marketing.  Ask experts in the industry as many questions as you can. Seek the opinions of a wide range of trade show professionals and educate yourself in the industry. When you acquire information for yourself it will be easy to be make the most educated decision for your company.

Purchasing an exhibit for the first time can feel overwhelming. There are so many different styles of exhibits and ways of exhibiting, but fear not, you can do this. Your final decision should simply depend on 3 things:


1. Your companies marketing budget,

2. how you want to use the exhibit, and

3. what image you want to get across.

When it comes time to buy your exhibit, you are likely to go with a local exhibit company.  It is important to go with an exhibit company that has proven credible and knowledgable in trade shows and exhibiting.  They should be able to ease you into your first purchase by giving you proper advice, not by rushing you to spend a lot.  I always encourage newbies not to “over do it” or “under do it.”  The first show is usually about getting your feelers out there to experience the culture and flow of the show.  You have a lot to choose from and most of it comes at a hefty price. Take your time and do necessary research. Exhibit systems to choose from include: Portable,modular, and hybrid exhibits.  Ultimately, a knowledgable trade show professional or distributor will be able to help you develop an excellent marketing strategy and lead you to make a responsible purchase.

To Buy or Not to Buy?

If you expect to exhibit a few times of the year, a trade show professional may be in your best interest.  Shop until you drop, but don’t make a decision based purely on price.  The trade show professional you choose to work with should be experienced in exhibit design, trade show marketing, designing abstract graphics, and various trade show tactics.  Make sure they have credible and longterm experience in the industry. It is their knowledge that you will lean on for your upcoming exhibits.  They will help you avoid common mistakes and develop an outstanding exhibit.  You’d be surprised to know how many expensive pitfalls there are to fall into.  Overall, an experienced and knowledgable trade show professional will make the difference in saving you money and time.

Trade show professionals and/or distributors work along side exhibit system designers and developers.  Distributors can be exclusive to a system developer or carry a variety of exhibit systems. Some distributors are sales-only operated, while others offer services like: design, graphics, rental, and storage. The relationship between the manufacturer and distributor is supply based.  Manufacturers provide distributors with exhibit system literature and assist the distributor in design support.

These days, most distributors and trade show professionals do business online.  They also provide an online store for purchase of exhibits online via credit card.  The consultation and design stages are usually free.  Most distributor websites will have all the information you need to make a basic display purchase. Depending on the size of your project, lead times usually vary from 2-14 days. Communicating via email or phone with the company will ensure that you get the display finished on time.

Plan Ahead with Purpose

Plan ahead with purpose and save company money.  My advice is to study the show you will be attending.  You can access past show statistics online.  You can study numbers on the audience attendance, participation, and success record over a 3 year time frame.  Allow sufficient time for distributors to utilize their staff and resources to provide you with the best possible service and outcome for your exhibit.  Planning ahead will give you time to correct errors and make last minute changes or upgrades. This is very common in the trade show industry, so do yourself a favor and plan ahead. Thinking you have it all together doesn’t mean you won’t have glitches down the road. Plan ahead with purpose and give yourself time to address any complications and fix the minor mistakes.

Develop a Marketing Strategy 

There are three objectives in an exhibit marketing strategy; it includes a purpose, defined goals, and final objectives. Take the time to study your audience intently and you will find it easy to develop a solid marketing strategy. It is important to develop the three objectives in a way that will communicate specifically to your target audience.  Once you’ve addressed the target audience, it will be easier to decide what type of exhibit or exhibits will be best for your company.  If you plan to attend several shows using a 10 x 10 space, you could look at portable or modular exhibits.  If you are looking at doing a number of small inline booths and a couple major shows, you can consider portable/modular or hybrid exhibits.

Jot it Down

When you have decided on the trade show service, you can contact a trade show professional via online or by phone and request a quote. Call more than one company and ask for several quotes. Then you can compare pricing and design ideas. This will help you determine which trade show professional is the best fit for your company needs. Preparing for a show can be extensive and expensive. Take the time to find a trade show professional who not only has the product and price you need, but also the customer service and determination. This process is generally free and can provide you with a lot of trade show knowledge. When you have weighed your options and are ready to sign with a company, make sure that everything is in writing. Jot it down and develop a solid contract to keep yourself insured.

Looking for more information about trade show or event marketing?  Call us at: 303:973-5613.  It is our passion to brainstorm and work with you on your next, or first, exhibiting experience.

Written by Jeff Diers
Owner and Founder of Denver based Diers Exhibit Group