A Case for Projection Mapping

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A Case for Projection Mapping

InQuest Marketing approached nParallel to create a custom rental exhibit solution that incorporated projection mapping for its client GREX, an industry-leading railway maintenance technology company. The goal of the exhibit was to generate excitement and awareness around the official launch of the company’s latest solution at Railway Interchange, as well as highlight its entire portfolio of products. The latest solution, the Aurora XivTM truck, combines the company’s best technologies and innovations into one vehicle.

Projection mapping is an audience engagement digital technology that nParallel offers its clients. nParallel committed to highlighting, promoting and communicating to the industry and potential customers how the new Aurora Xiv makes railroad inspections more efficient and cost-effective. In partnership with InQuest Marketing, nParallel designed and implemented the technology for GREX.

The entire custom rental exhibit solution, including the projection mapping experience, provided a heightened presentation and experience that stood out above the entire show floor at Railway Interchange. The project allowed GREX to successfully launch the Aurora Xiv while also showcasing existing product lines, generating excitement and increasing overall brand visibility.

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Trending: Modernization

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Trending: Modernization

Trends are always changing, and one that we’re seeing become more prevalent is modernization and a refreshment on the show floor.

As we gauge the industry through the thousands of trade shows we attend each year, we see an uptick in interest to lean on the modern, European design and esthetic while at the same time changing the way brands engage on the show floor.

Here are a few elements we see across the industry.

Fabrics for architecture

The tension that fabrics allow when used for walls and ceilings produces a lightweight look, yet offers a great way to create unique shapes and dimensions for an exhibit. Fabrics offer the clean lines and simplicity that many exhibitors are looking to portray through their on-site execution. This clean approach isn’t just for the trade show industry, but home designs, clothing, architecture, and more. It’s a trend that goes across industries.

LEDs for architecture

Speaking of architecture, another way that exhibits are transforming their space to be more modern is through large, high-resolution format LED screens. These digital constructs are being used as walls and dividers to allow for endless multimedia solutions on the show floor while still adhering to the modern approach of clean lines. LEDs have become a staple for most exhibits because of the endless customizations available.

Simple messaging

Trade show attendees are bombarded with content, content and more content. Exhibitors are standing out by providing a refreshing experience with a visibly singular message. Brands are driving home fewer messages, less content and less stuff. This allows for their focused message to be dominating and memorable so that their potential customers remember the exhibitor’s focused delivery and their unique selling proposition.

Mandatory technology

As we progress in society, we progress with technology. Technology on the trade show floor is no longer an option – it’s a requirement. Brands are finding more modern uses for exhibit guests to engage with technology in a futuristic way. We have an entirely separate blog post that talks about gesture technology, projection mapping and other ways that technology is part of the modernization of the trade show exhibit.

In 2017, we had countless clients revamp their trade show presence to reveal a new, commanding presence on the show floor. If 2018 is your company’s year to modernize, we’d love to help! Send Don on our team an email at dgonse@nparallel.com to see how we can support.

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2018 Technology Planning Tips

2018 Technology Planning Tips

Technology is one of our favorite topics at nParallel. We’ve been growing this area of our business for years now, and we’ve hired a new technology leader whose experience and passion for the industry is going to help us continue to revolutionize our digital integrations.

Technology isn’t a shoot-from-the-hip type of plan. It requires methodology and a team that can think right and left brained. Given all the emerging technology and digital work we do – from projection mapping to touch screens to technology integration work to apps and more – we have a few tips to share to help you continue to bring tech to the forefront and give it a seat at the trade show experience table.

Create a tech strategy 

It’s important to ask yourself when planning your trade show experience: what are we trying to achieve for our organization by attending XYZ trade show and how can we differentiate on the show floor with our customers? This question often can lead to developing an experiential strategy that is focused all around technology. Thoughtfully designed and implemented technology can visually pull trade show attendees from across the room to your exhibit. A tech strategy can help define how to bring your target customer to your exhibit, determine and develop what will cause them to stay engaged at your booth, and will help make your experience memorable for them.

Lean on your trade show partner, a lot

At nParallel, we believe that we are responsible for much of our client’s success on the show floor. We believe in defining the exhibit, designing the experience, and delivering – above and beyond – for our clients. And this includes technology. We are our client’s partner and designer to ensure that the technology is exactly what they need and when they need it. Our clients trust us to come up with the ideas and implement them on their behalf. So, lean on your trade show partner for everything related to technology. That’s what we’re here for! To make you look good – and technology-wise, differentiated and a cut-above.

Budget for technology

It’s important to add a technology line to your trade show budget. When creating your annual budget and plan, talk to your trade show partner - they should be able to give you a rough percentage or number based upon your exhibit’s goals to allocate into the budget. We help our clients with annual trade show planning and help them earmark an amount that allows them to stand out on the trade show floor and create an experience that truly engages their customers.

Let us know how we can help – we’d love to tell you all our ideas about how you can stand out on the trade show floor.

The 2017 World of Retail Trends

The 2017 World of Retail Trends

What's crazy about the retail world is how fast the speed of change is. We live in a customer-driven economy and the customer is in charge. Without knowing, the demands being made upon the retail industry are about keeping up with transformation and providing a disruptive and memorable experience to keep customers engaged. 

The trends in the retail space feel as if there is something new every month, if not every day. This category is one we watch very closely as our team partners with some of the world’s [yes, we said “world’s”] largest and most successful retailers.

We’re wanting to share the top five trends that we’re seeing across the board in the retail industry. The impact of these five trends is encouraging retailers to do away with the traditional department stores and focus on a concept that is unique and different.

With the pendulum swing taking place, brands quickly realize they need to make changes to keep up with the ever-changing industry.

The five trends of 2017 that are exploding with clients and retailers across the board include:

Local, community-based

Shoppers want a different experience. They want something in their community, involved with their community, and for their community. This might manifest in different ways such as same-day delivery, local and specific philanthropic programs and products designed for the area.

Technology

This one is incredible. People use Apple as an example all the time: it’s because they are continually raising the bar. They’ve shown customers and the retail industry what it’s like to think outside of the box and have technology work for you in such a different way.

If you think about Apple stores, there isn’t a check-out counter, the person who supports you at Genius Bar helps you through the purchase cycle, and you pay via a phone or iPad. Customers love this, a personalized technology component that is more intuitive and smart than any other check-out system. Their standard is making retailers think differently.

Oh, and we can't forget about the online experience and how it's evolving almost overnight.

High-experience

Nordstrom is another retailer that drives trends and sets the tone. We love their new Nordstrom Local concept where this new format is all about the experience. With eight dressing rooms and personal stylists curating outfits – all the while offering manicures and beverages – the customer gets to enjoy a trip to Nordstrom where it is all experiential. Nordstrom is seeking to provide customers with a differentiated experience that is high-touch, high-engagement, and high-experience.

Authentic, quality & transparency

Earlier this year, Deloitte produced a study that showcased that the retail community seeks, “authenticity, newness, convenience, and creativity.” They want products to meet their high standards and seek the information on the products, processes, and company to make informed decisions. In short, transparency is the key to ensure customers have a line-of-sight to the vision, beliefs, and workings of the company which helps them view the company authentically. Customers find quality in the way a business is run, and the products sold based upon the level of transparency.  It seems to be a retail circle that makes businesses go around.

Convenience

Need we explain this one? We all desire convenience whether that’s a quick coffee through a drive-thru, Amazon Now, online order pick-up in store, you get the point. Convenience is king, and this is where we are seeing so many of our clients come to us for help.

With smaller footprint stores trending in the biggest name brands, they need new fixtures and displays to facilitate sales within their new store format. Our team has been rapidly designing, prototyping, testing, and rolling out features for stores of every size to support their convenience strategy.

What trends of 2017 intrigue you most?

Technology Trend Must-Knows

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Technology Trend Must-Knows

Technology is ever-changing, ever-emerging and often for clients, ever-overwhelming. At nParallel, we make technology integrations for our clients seamless.

We love when our customers allow us to think outside the box for them and generate technology concepts that impress their customer.

If you haven’t start thinking about technology integration, here are some ideas to get your technology juices flowing.

·       Mobile Apps provide opportunities to connect with show attendees throughout your event. These tailored, event-based apps helps companies communicate with customers, even before they arrive at the booth.

·       Virtual Reality is one that nParallel has tapped into frequently for clients. When companies have large, over-sized equipment that they would prefer to not ship onto the show floor, we’ve created on-site technology opportunities for our client’s customers to experience products, virtually and instantaneously without having the actual products on the show floor.

·       Gesture Technology has been a favorite of ours. This technology is exactly what it sounds like: customers who visit show floor exhibit can interact with products and experiences by using hand gestures to discover and learn.

·       Projection Mapping is the process of digitizing a 3-dimensional object and displaying its image on a non-flat or non-white surface to educate depth, context or detailed information. We have so much to talk about on this topic that we'll create a separate blog post just on projection mapping.

·       Upgraded Exhibit Designs use technology more and more to communicate the company’s message in a stronger way. We’ve been helping our clients with large format LED walls and screens as architectural and branding elements to provide dynamic movement and visual impact.

What technology has been your favorite that you've seen this year?

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Timelines and Budgets

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Timelines and Budgets

We have partnered with countless successful companies and executed upon thousands of trade shows. Our line of business allows us to witness trends in the industry and two trends we’re seeing is the increasing costs of trade shows all while the associated timelines are growing shorter. With these two realities working against companies, it is crucial for organizations to plan and prepare ahead of time by building a timeline and budget appropriately, and we’re here to help.

Importance of a timeline

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” and this couldn’t be truer for companies working hard to participate in a trade show event that could launch them into further success within their industry. Unfortunately, companies without a sufficient and known timeline are often rushed and forced to make decisions. Instead of having the time to ask the “why” behind the what, companies are obligated to make decisions more quickly than they’d like – which can be costly to their organization.

Mapping out a timeline for each trade show event will ensure to optimize the company budget. nParallel has found that timelines, in general, are getting shorter. The time to design, engineer, fabricate, and execute is expedited as a result, and companies often find themselves rushing into more expensive decisions.

Creating a timeline

At nParallel, we like to partner with our clients to create a schedule and timeline well in advance of an event. Unforeseen glitches can happen, and so we are firm believers in timelines that offer leeway in the schedule to allow sufficient margin. So, when creating a calendar, make a generous one. We suggest beginning the timeline a year before the event and starting the process with S.M.A.R.T. goals. Companies should discuss their goals and objectives on the front end so they can understand their priorities and be prepared to make decisions in-line with them when the time comes.

Creating a budget

When setting a budget, there are many things to consider. Trade show costs can vary from year to year, especially if there is a show relocation. Right along with the timeline, budgets should be created a year in advance to research and prepare for all the different financial plays a trade show demands.

The biggest area that we see companies forget to add to their budget is drayage. Let us quickly give you a synopsis of this so you can be sure this is in your budget for next year.

Drayage

Drayage is the transportation of the exhibit. The detailed work it takes to move hundreds of thousands of pounds of freight and material to an event is vast. The proper understanding of what exactly drayage encompasses will help companies get ahead in eliminating unnecessary overhead and reduce trade show costs.

Labor

A big part of the drayage cost is in labor. Every step of the process takes workforce. From directing the material-handling process from one place to another to checking shipments as they arrive - there are always people making the process happen. Labor costs associated with drayage are determined based on where shipments are delivered. Surveys have discovered that labor costs are lower when companies ship directly to the show site versus to the advance warehouse.

Shipment

It goes without saying, but the heavier materials are, the higher the cost will be to handle them. The type of packaging used is also key, as some are cheaper than others because they’re easier to handle and lighter. The kind of transportation carrier used is another reason prices tend to increase. A specialized carrier is going to cost more than a standard carrier.

With 2018 quickly approaching, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’d like to talk through timelines and budgets. The process can be daunting, but our team is always ready to have timeline and budget conversations.

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Exhibiting Good

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Exhibiting Good

Lots of good things are happening around the office.

Today, we gathered all of our employees to kick off a new program to help us give back to the community. At nParallel, we've always been passionate about philanthropy and this year we wanted to take our efforts to a new level and offer each employee $250 to give to a nonprofit of their choice. Our new program that kicked off today is called Exhibiting Good, a play off the work we do here at nParallel.

We gathered around tables this morning, and each employee had the opportunity to share what organization they wanted to give their $250 to and why. It was an opportunity to learn more about each nParallel employee and nonprofits that are working hard to further advance our society for the better.

We love the work we do at nParallel; we get to help organizations build exhibits and develop retail spaces. Today we had the chance to step back from our work and take a look at the progress that nonprofits are making in our own backyard to make a difference, and as a team, we want to help.

As a company, our 36 team members will be donating $250 each to the outstanding organizations below. We couldn’t be more proud of our team for advocating for charities that are making such a huge difference.

My Very Own Bed

JDRF

Secondhand Hounds

Autism Society of Minnesota

Animal Humane Society

The Sanneh Foundation

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

International Justice Ministry

Groves Academy

Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery

West Metro Firefighter’s Relief Association

Wounded Warrior Project

The OsteoPETrosis Society

Houston Food Bank

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance

Pitch in for Baseball

Ruff Start Rescue

Good in the Hood

American Red Cross

C2i

Second Harvest Heartland

Epilepsy Foundation Minnesota

American Heart Association

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5 Trade Show Don’ts

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5 Trade Show Don’ts

When a company participates in a trade show, it’s an immense amount of pressure to “get it right.” Companies have a million priorities to sort through, and as they gather together the right “DO’s” it’s important to take hold of a few trade show “DON’Ts” as well.

1.     DON’T Minimize Staff Selection

When it comes to a trade show, the staff a company selects to represent itself is everything. Exhibitors may only have a few seconds to engage with potential customers, and those staffing the exhibits are the ones responsible for multiplying the time in that window and closing deals or at least having strong leads. It is so important to choose staff carefully and wisely given that these few seconds can be the ones that lead to new clients. Most companies have the options of bringing their own people, hiring from an agency, or a little bit of both. Don’t skim on selecting who goes to the trade shows. We highly recommend investing in the best of the best; whether that’s your people or an outside group.

2.     DON’T Leave Your Leads

Whether a networking opportunity or a lead opportunity, follow-up is crucial. As they say, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Have a plan to follow through with leads and begin right after the trade show ends. Likewise, know this follow-up plan before the show begins, and have it in mind so you know what kind of contact information you need to gather at the show and what specific conversation points you’d like to bring up later.

3.     DON’T Fail to Network

One of the purposes of a trade show is to lead generate and network. Sitting back at a trade show and watching business cards collect in a fishbowl is an event that we don’t recommend for anyone. Companies need to be aggressive, making a certified effort to meet and greet everyone at the show. This allows exhibitors to sift through the best prospects, establish a presence and generate leads. The only way to reap qualified leads is to engage with them.

4.     DON’T Use Company Jargon

Companies tend to have their own general business jargon. Whether it’s acronyms or industry-specific words, be careful to use them only with potential clients and customers who understand the jargon. It’s easy to assume that those entering your booth know the industry, but in the small chance that they don’t, using jargon unfamiliar to them could deter them from doing business with an exhibitor.

5.     DON’T Look Like Everyone Else

Exhibitors don’t need to go over the top to establish a unique presence, but it is important to differentiate among competitors. The goal is to attract people to the booth. Whether it’s a new product update, a new product launch, make it unique and creative through your exhibit display.

We could keep going with don’ts, but we want to hear from you. What other don’ts would you share?

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How to Set SMART Trade Show Goals

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How to Set SMART Trade Show Goals

Many of our clients desire to know the best way to evaluate the performance of a trade show. It's an excellent question and one that is answered very simply: business goals. When business goals are established, the performance of your trade show can be evaluated by how these goals were, or were not, attained. A company can put together very basic and helpful goals through a few simple steps, as well as using a helpful acronym: SMART.

The first step is answering a QUESTION. This question is foundational as companies seek to move forward in creating and executing goals: what is the company's purpose for this event? This will set the entire foundation to the goals created. Perhaps the purpose is to increase sales, showcase a service or product, or maybe this is strictly a marketing opportunity. Regardless of what it is, this question is crucial for companies to answer as they seek to establish goals for a trade show.

The next step is RESEARCH.  Let us help you with this. We know the trends and love to talk about ways to implement your ideas improve your current initiative or brainstorm a direction to take your aspiring trade show exhibit. Some specific questions we like to research and show our clients are new ways to communicate your message, service or product and how we can differentiate our clients on the show floor. Throughout this research phase, you will be able to see weaknesses in your current situation that can help identify opportunities for improvement. As you do this, remember that no team or company is perfect. Many clients of ours believe they need to have their goals written before engaging with us; however, we love to help our clients write their goals. 

Lastly, step three is WRITING SMART goals. This acronym is broken down into five key words that are guidelines to use when writing business goals. The key words are Simple & Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. All business goals should encompass these concepts. An example of a goal like this would be, "to increase attendance at trade show booth by 20% over the next year." As you can see, this goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Knowing this goal, we can help you plan for and achieve it by implementing plans and components that attract and drive attendance to your exhibit.

Once the SMART goals are established, be sure to prioritize the preparation and follow-up of each event. Many of our clients' goals are executed in the preparation and follow-up of their trade shows. They set up a social media campaign, send follow-up emails or build a customer contact list – all of which would never be reached if they were not proactive in organizing the bookends of their event.

SMART goals should be evaluated after every trade show, not only to determine if goals were accomplished but also to observe areas of improvement for future events. In the end, goals are foundational and matter greatly to the success of a trade show event. Companies are guaranteed to experience consistent growth as they routinely circle back to goals - goals that are Simple & Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Have you built goals for your trade show?

 

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How to Increase PR at a Trade Show

How to Increase PR at a Trade Show

Trade shows are excellent ways for companies to interact with the industry press. Maximizing PR initiatives during a trade show is a low-cost solution to gain positive media coverage. Frequently the press will walk these trade show floors and mingle with brands with the intention of writing a story (or multiple). This is the time when brand’s get to set themselves apart from others with reporters.

Distinction

What makes a company distinct from others? Is it a new product or service? An area of expertise? These are the important questions companies need to be engaging with to set their booth (and overall brand) apart with key differentiator messages when connecting with reporters. The press is hungry for strong first impressions; they want to be captured and allured by a company’s presence. Trade shows often drive competitors into the same room for a week, which heightens exhibitor’s needs to express their unique personality and flare. Once a company makes its presence known, the media will be hungry for more and launch more opportunities for conversation and publicity.

Be Cutting Edge

The media values innovation and a pioneer spirit. This naturally draws in consumers as well, but when talking PR it is crucial to be cutting edge. For example, providing an exclusive demo of a new product or a reinvented product is an easy way to attract a crowd. Demonstrations can help to explain the service or product in greater detail than an advertisement otherwise would. We recommend reaching out to media weeks in advance of the event and offering an exclusive demo during show hours, or even after show hours, to allow them an opportunity to have focused engagement with the company as well as experience the new product or services first-hand.

Post-Show Networking

Following most trade shows, networking events pop-up that allow for a casual interaction between companies and the press, and customers as well. This sort of event provides an opportunity for companies to gain an objective opinion of the industry and discover any competition that may be rising. Taking advantage of these events creates a more personal relationship with the press, allowing companies to ask questions. Ask the press what their best part of the trade show was or what products most impressed them. Ask them what sort of exhibits drew them in, and what didn’t. This sort of information cannot be matched and is invaluable to companies seeking to enhance their exhibits in the future.

Host a Hospitality Suite

Hospitality goes a long way in events like these. Providing a more comfortable, warm atmosphere is assured to draw people in and cultivate conversation. Host a hospitality suite as an evening event following a trade show. These suites can be located in hotels or restaurants located near the exhibit hall, and are an excellent way to dialogue with clients, potential clients, and media in a low-pressure environment. Serve hors d'oeuvres, beverages, or a meal - whatever it takes to woo a client. Offer promotional discounts, special treatments of sorts, and one-on-one consultations. Companies should extend the invitation to any and all individuals they have a desire to engage with during the event: clients and leads, specific reporters or media outlets, etc. Schedule and invite guests weeks in advance to ensure they put it in their calendars and work it into their travel itinerary. Creating tangible invitations to this exclusive event speaks value and importance to the recipients - they will feel they are a priority to the company.

Taking a few simple, extra steps to maximize the PR of a trade show event is truly an invaluable tool in the hands of a company. Trade shows are already such incredible opportunities for marketing, but why not make the event even more successful?

 

Practical Tips for Trade Show Staff

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Practical Tips for Trade Show Staff

The success of a company’s trade show presence is supported through its on-site show floor staff. This is no small feat. Floor teams represent a company’s voice, posture, heart, mind and of course, product or service. It’s a role that should be taken seriously as these are the individuals who bring in leads, increase the company’s ROI, and showcase the overall brand experience at an event. Once you have your staff selected, it’s important to always communicate the practical elements of managing a booth, no matter how perfect they may seem for the show floor. Communicating proper show etiquette and mistakes to avoid will go a long way to ensuring your staff feels prepared. Here are a few important tips for your team to remember at your next event.

DO’S

Anticipate unexpected questions

The question isn’t if trade show staff will be asked unexpected questions - it’s when. If unprepared, these questions can easily blindside an employee and hinder a smooth sale. To prevent this from happening, staff should stay up-to-date on the industry and dig deep to find if there’s anything going on in the present culture of the industry that could prompt new questions. Be on-point with any disruptions or negativity taking place in the industry or company. For example, has there been a recall? Has the industry taken a hit in recent quarters, months, or years? Is sustainability a topic within your industry? As a show floor staffer, it’s important to anticipate all the questions and work as a team to expect comments that are outside the normal bell curve of questions.

Before the event, talk through these unexpected inquiries as a team and develop messages to support each. After each day of the event, debrief together and discuss any unusual or particularly difficult questions that came up and forge out answers.

Ask good questions

The best opening line is an open-ended question. It’s easy to reflex with questions like “can I help you?” but the most fruitful conversations stem from questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Before the trade show starts, encourage your team to develop a list of strong openers and use a different one for each engagement. We always recommend starting with a conversation, not a sales pitch. People are pitched all day long at a trade show – make your exhibit one where it’s not just about the sale but a memorable conversation.

Maintain eye contact

It’s something many of us do without thinking about it, but when presenting a product or explaining a service, be sure to keep eye contact with the customer. We don’t maintain eye contact for the sake of it; we do it because it helps us understand the person we’re speaking to. By making eye contact a priority, you’ll be able to read the person better and understand if they are truly interested and if you should continue to take them through the sales funnel or if they’re ready to keep moving throughout the show floor. 

DON’TS

Eat or drink in the exhibit

Eating and drinking in your company’s exhibit send an unprofessional message to your customers [unless of course, the event is the Sweets and Snacks Expo, Fancy Food Show or something of the like]. We realize everyone needs to eat, but at a trade show booth, it presents an awkwardness and unprofessionalism that will deter potential leads.

Thankfully, most exhibit halls have an area for exhibitors to eat and take a break. We highly recommend networking in these break rooms. These rooms are often filled with media, potential partners for your brand and sometimes even clients. When you take your break, be sure to connect with those around you, it’s an opportunity waiting at hand that you don’t want to miss.

Don’t trash talk the competition

Trade shows are intense environments that bring all the industry competition into one room for a concentrated amount of time. Every company is fighting for leads and is making deliberate efforts for their brand to stand out. As a staffer, you’re likely to get questions about how the company you represent holds up to other brands in the room. As a rule of thumb, keep competitor names and language out of your exhibit space completely. Refrain from all negativity regarding another brand and allow the silence to reveal your professionalism and the overall company character.

Likewise, savor every minute with a potential client by keeping it about your brand and your unique selling propositions. Don’t waste precious seconds discussing another company or product - use it all as a time to generate interest in what your brand offers. If you are in a bind where a potential client says, “tell me about the competitor over there and their product compared to yours?” again, talk about your brand and the differentiators you offer, not the issues they have with theirs.

We hope these tips were helpful to you, feel free to share this article with your team to ensure a smoother trade show floor execution.

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How to Plan for Trade Show Relocations

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How to Plan for Trade Show Relocations

The trade show industry is complex and the variable costs tend to change from year to year. A common issue we find is that our clients are dealing with budget changes due to the increase in annual same-show costs specifically related to show relocations.

A show in Ohio this year may cost drastically more next year if the show is in San Francisco. Some locations are more expensive than others, and companies are constantly challenged by their budget considering these unpredictable year-over-year changes. So, the question remains: how can companies confidently set a budget in light of location changes from year-to-year?

With economic inflation, it’s safe to say that businesses will never be free to rely on the same budget from the previous year. Show relocations impact the company dollar, but so does labor costs and gas prices, which frequently change as well. Having said the obvious, we know that relocation costs are frustrating because of their inconsistencies, and we’re here with a few tips to help companies better plan for this influx.

How to estimate the overall budget

Multiple industry surveys have revealed that exhibit space floor rentals account for about one-third of an exhibitor’s total-show costs, this is relative, but something to keep in mind. The cost of floor space will always vary depending on the type of trade show and the location where it’s held. Be proactive in understanding this massive expense by determining what the floor space will cost in that area, and then multiply it by three. By doing this, exhibitors can see an estimated value of their overall trade show expenses in that location and can move forward with their budget outline from there. Again, this is a very rough cost but is a starting place. 

Travel expenses

After floor rental and booth space, travel expenses carry a large portion of the budget. Travel costs add up, especially when a show in based in New York City or San Francisco. Companies need to be prepared for these expensive changes tied to show relocation, and budget accordingly. Hotels, meals, show services, air travel and car rentals - they all add up, and some cities more than others. Know the number of staff you want present, as it may change according to where the show is held, and research the average travel and hospitality costs associated.

Never underestimate drayage

Shipping and drayage are two expenses that often shock companies. Don’t let the show relocation fool you: drayage is notorious to fluctuate. Shipping can carry a hefty expense, especially when the distance increases a few hundred miles. It’s crucial to not overlook these types of costs – we plan for shipping and drayage on behalf of our clients for every trade show.

Be sure to leave extra room for both shipping and drayage and just plan for an expensive city. You’d rather plan for too much than not enough.

Trade show relocations don’t have to eat company budgets alive. With careful planning and a strong trade show partner, you should be prepared for every cost. Shows are great for brands, and they’re certainly ever-evolving; every exhibitor can embrace these changes without intimidation when they understand the intricacies involved in them, and how that impacts their budget.

As companies plan for the next year, we hope these tips keep them moving toward success. If you have questions on the topic, reach out, we’re more than happy to bounce ideas around with you and help you plan accordingly.

 

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5 Reasons to Consider Custom Rental Exhibits

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5 Reasons to Consider Custom Rental Exhibits

There are a variety of reasons companies consider a custom rental for their trade show exhibit versus purchasing a custom-built booth. Whether they’re looking for a more low-cost investment option, trying to beat the clock, or simply need flexibility, custom rentals can be a great solution for many organizations.

Lower investment

Trade show marketing is an investment, but one with a very strong ROI. Many of our clients pursue custom trade show rentals to test new markets or events as a trial run for a potential long-term solution. If the new market or event goes well, our clients will often invest in a full, custom exhibit. The custom rental option allows our clients the financial flexibility to invest at their comfort level for a one-time event before making a commitment to a full, custom exhibit for the long-term.

Customizable

At nParallel, we offer our clients the opportunity to utilize our custom rental inventory of materials in conjunction with custom built elements to create an exhibit that is uniquely theirs – and for a portion of the cost. Our clients choose from a vast array of designs, sizes, and custom features to create an exhibit that is perfect for them. We may use different components from around our warehouse, but we can promise that no two exhibits will ever look the same on the show floor. Our clients never run the risk of a duplicate next to another exhibitor. Something that we love about custom rentals is the ability to change a client’s booth from show to show by using different components each time.

Flexible

Renting gives leeway on timing. If, for example, jumping into the trade show market is a recent decision and you only have a two or three-month window (or less) until the event, building an entirely new display may not be possible. Renting, however, provides a prime option for this scenario. A custom exhibit can take up to several months to complete, depending on the size of the project, whereas our custom rental booths are created in a matter of weeks.

Convenient

Renting is easy. We have more than 100,000 square feet in our warehouse – home to hundreds of thousands of materials that are ready for a custom rental package. We also produce all our very own graphics in-house, providing a unique and personalized look for each exhibit. This all saves an immense amount of time since much of the fabrication has already been done in-house, allowing us to focus on using our time to make our client's exhibit perfect for the event.

Test it

We provide the opportunity for our clients to test layouts that have already been created and have been successful. This allows each client to discover the qualities important to them in a future booth.  If you are considering investing in a booth in the future, we strongly encourage taking the time to test drive with a custom rental exhibit. We find that clients value this as it provides a hands-on opportunity to customize the booth to the company needs and try it on for size.

Not sure which option to choose? Shoot us an email at info@nParallel.com, and we’ll be sure to help you process which direction is best for you.

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Choosing the Perfect Giveaway

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Choosing the Perfect Giveaway

Every booth at a trade show is different. Each exhibitor works long and hard to create that unique experience that will draw attention and ultimately potential clients, to their booth. In a room full of prospective leads, you can bet that companies will go above and beyond to make that touch-point connection. And what we’ve noticed is that sometimes the perfect takeaway items can draw a crowd.

Giveaways, if executed wisely, are an investment in brand equity and relationships. In contrast, if executed poorly, these giveaways can be a waste of money, time, and even sour a company brand-name if perceived as cheap or useless. So, the question is, how do you choose an appropriate giveaway? Here are a few questions to consider as your company looks for the perfect option.

What is the purpose?

A giveaway item should make a statement. No company wants to spend money on something that will be thrown away. It’s important to utilize the opportunity to give away an item that has an intention and purpose to the company. These giveaway items ought to communicate and promote a message or increase recognition in some way. So, as a company, decide what purpose the giveaway will serve and make sure it leaves an impact.

Is it desirable?

Is your giveaway a pack of company pens? If so, the demand for it will most likely be low. Though more desirable giveaways may make you fear your company dollar, it doesn’t have to. Your company can find a quality, budget-friendly giveaway item that, in the end, may even serve you more ROI. Because the truth is, even clients who make top dollar, will still stand in a long line waiting for a giveaway that speaks to them. However, make a dubious effort to understand your target audience before you choose a giveaway - for it to truly speak to them, it’s important to know who they are. Once that’s understood, choose a giveaway that has people running to your booth from every side of the trade show.

What is your budget?

There are ways to cut costs when looking for a quality giveaway item.  Quantity discounts do exist, and we recommend using the same giveaway for multiple trade shows to save on quantity shipping discounts. Give yourself room in the budget for a quality giveaway that creates “buzz,” knowing it will generate leads and ultimately that return on investment you long for. A giveaway is ultimately an investment in a relationship - a relationship that could turn long-term and be worth millions of dollars to your company. Be sure you set these giveaway dollars aside in the budget each year.

Should VIP customers have different giveaways?

If you want yet another reason to use a quality giveaway, let it be that it can also serve as a marketing tool for your company, especially your more VIP clients or potential clients. Whatever the item is, coin it to your brand. Also, look for an item that effectively ties into your overall marketing theme. Imprint the message on the giveaway item, as well as your company’s logo, but make it special. For example, if you do decide to go with a water bottle, make it a desirable one that everyone loves and wants. Many know the brand Yeti and the fad for their stainless-steel tumblers – it’s a desirable brand with a lot of buzz around their beverage holders. This product is probably too high of a price for an everyday giveaway, but, it could be an excellent choice for your VIP giveaway. Offering your VIPs a specific, desirable and more high-ticket giveaway can build intrigue and appreciation.

Giveaways need to be selected strategically. They’re smart resources that are more often than not overlooked by companies. These products aren't just trade show “swag” so-to-speak, but they’re marketing tools, brand generators, lead-catchers, and also cultivate memorability long after the show ends. They’re worth it - if done well. So, don’t fall into the lie that says giveaways are petty; instead, put forth strategic effort into the resource and watch how it affects your trade show impressions. You won’t be disappointed.

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5 Reasons to Consider Custom Rental Exhibits

There are a variety of reasons companies consider a custom rental for their trade show exhibit versus purchasing a custom-built booth. Whether they’re looking for a more low-cost investment option, trying to beat the clock, or simply need flexibility, custom rentals can be a great solution for many organizations.

Lower investment

Trade show marketing is an investment, but one with a very strong ROI. Many of our clients pursue custom trade show rentals to test new markets or events as a trial run for a potential long-term solution. If the new market or event goes well, our clients will often invest in a full, custom exhibit. The custom rental option allows our clients the financial flexibility to invest at their comfort level for a one-time event before making a commitment to a full, custom exhibit for the long-term.

Customizable

At nParallel, we offer our clients the opportunity to utilize our custom rental inventory of materials in conjunction with custom elements to create an exhibit that is uniquely theirs – and for a portion of the cost. Our clients choose from a vast array of designs, sizes and custom features to create an exhibit that is perfect for them. We may use different components from around our warehouse, but we can promise that no two exhibits will ever look the same on the show floor. Our clients never run the risk of a duplicate next to another exhibitor. Something that we love about custom rentals is the ability to change a client’s booth from show to show by using different components each time.

Flexible

Renting gives leeway on timing. If, for example, jumping into the trade show market is a recent decision and you only have a two or three-month window (or less)until the event, building an entirely new display may not be possible. Renting, however, provides a prime option for this scenario. A custom exhibit can take up to several months to complete, depending on the size of the project, whereas our custom rental booths are created in a matter of weeks.

Convenient

Renting is easy. We have more than 100,000 square feet in our warehouse – home to hundreds of thousands of materials that are ready for a custom rental package. We also produce all our very own graphics in-house, providing a unique and personalized look for each exhibit. This all saves an immense amount of time since much of the fabrication has already been done in-house, allowing us to focus on using our time to make our client's exhibit perfect for the event.

Test It

We provide the opportunity for our clients to test layouts that have already been created and have been successful. This allows each client to discover the qualities important to them in a future booth.  If you are considering investing in a booth in the future, we strongly encourage taking the time to test drive the product. We find that clients value this as it provides a hands-on opportunity to customize the booth to the company needs.

Not sure which option to go for? Shoot us an email at info@nParallel.com, and we’ll be sure you get the solution you need.

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4 Trade Show Tips to Rock This Year

Trade shows are amazing opportunities for companies: they provide an interactive display space to meet new clients and market new products or services. However, exhibiting at a trade show can often come with the added pressure to have the most compelling trade show set-up and make the best impressions possible. Here are a few tips to help meet your visitors’ expectations, and to alleviate stress for your company:

Plan early

One of the prime things you can do to prepare is to start your trade show planning as early as possible. Six months should be the minimum amount of time spent in preparation. Make sure to clearly define your goals, objectives, marketing plan, management strategy and appropriate budget.

Find the right partner

Exhibit houses can be found across the world, but finding the right one for your brand will be crucial. Exhibit companies should make their clients’ jobs easier by accomplishing the company’s business goals through strategic and creative interactive displays and trade show booth ideas. At nParallel, we always start by asking a lot of questions. Our goal is to ask all the right questions up front so we can move to designing a concept that our client loves.

We value an "open-door policy" with our clients, and find this helps with the success behind our partnerships. This "open-door policy" means that at any time during the project, our client knows exactly where we are at in the process. We work hand-in-hand and communicate effectively with our clients to streamline approvals and alignment.

Build a great team

Your trade show setup will only be as effective as the people representing it, so verify that your trade show floor team is at the top of their game. Choose your best people for the job; not everyone is suited for customer service and standing on their feet for several days at a time. Choose individuals that are welcoming, approachable, direct and quick on their feet. We suggest that trade show staff go through a training session, which is also something we help many of our clients create and execute. This ensures that teams feel prepared to present the brand and products with strong etiquette and expertise.

Follow-up

Always prioritize follow-ups with the clients, or even potential clients, you made connections with at the trade show. Whether through an email, handwritten note, social media, or an in-person meeting, always make sure to go above and beyond with follow-up materials. It is always good to reach out within one day to thank them for visiting your booth and offer to send more materials, if applicable. 

2 Different CTAs to Use for Your Trade Show

Truth be told: there is not a single layer of trade show planning that is insignificant. Much like the engine in a car needs every piece to function correctly and efficiently, so an interactive display needs even the most minor details in line to achieve company goals. However, there are aspects of these events that play a more significant role in generating business - one of them being a company’s call-to-action (CTA). 

A company’s CTA should propel customers into action with your brand, particularly at a trade show. Your on-site trade show CTA should always position your potential client to be in direct communication with your associates. Whereas social media, website or other CTAs may encourage your audience to engage with a 15-day-trial, subscribe to a newsletter or watch a product demo video.

We’ve experienced working with many organization that unintentionally neglected to create or build a trade show plan around this action. Let us share a little bit about how important it is to have two different CTAs to support a trade show.  

On-site CTA

Often, trade show attendees leave an event excited about a few companies, only to see it fade into a distant memory shortly after. This is a problem for businesses because they want to generate long-term leads, not short-term fanfare. We recommend creating an on-site CTA that is different from CTAs that you may use in other places.

The on-site trade show CTA is what takes the attendee from fan-status into a committed client. If an exhibitor is strategic, they’ll be sure that the on-site CTA leads to being in direct contact with an associate from your team. This moves the potential client from being a visitor at your booth to an individual who is having an email conversation, phone call or lunch with one of your salespeople.

Your staff member is then responsible for moving the potential client through the sales funnel and on a trajectory to becoming a long-term customer, all through the on-site CTA of making the personal connection. If the CTA doesn’t lead to direct communication with your team, you might have no way to creating longevity with your potential client, and that leaves the ball in their court and a chance at a competitor being in direct communication, instead of you.

Off-site CTA

CTAs should change per platform. For example, your social media or website CTA would be different than your on-site trade show CTA. Social media is at the top of the sales funnel; it allows you to be in front of your client until they’re ready to pull the trigger. It’s a place that allows you to encourage them to learn more, hear your thought leadership and seed opportunities for them to try your product. You may use this platform to communicate a 15-day trial or encourage them to think through their current product or service and how yours may differ in a stronger way.

It would be great if a brand saw your social media post and directly called your sales team to set-up a meeting, but most the time it doesn’t happen that way. Social media and online are great places to share compelling content that can later lead to a sales conversation.

As you continue to develop and improve your trade show planning and trade show booth ideas, be sure to keep these two different CTAs in mind. And as always, we’re happy to help you determine the best CTAs for your brand.

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NParallel Named Top American Fabricator

At nParallel, there is always a secured effort to go above and beyond. As an exhibit builder, we take the representation of our clients’ brands as serious as we take our own. Throughout the years, we’ve taken time to celebrate the successes of our clients and we are thrilled to take a moment to celebrate a success and milestone of our very own. This week we have learned that nParallel has been named one of the 2016 Fab 50 from Event Marketer. This recognition is given to 50 event and trade show exhibit builders in North America and we couldn’t be more honored and thrilled to be part of this announcement.

As a two-time recipient of this recognition and the only Minnesota company on the 2016 Fab 50 list, we receive it with honor. We know and believe that it is the partnerships we have with each of our clients that has allowed us to be a recipient of this great award. We want to express our sincere thank you to all of our clients that have helped make this recognition possible. We could not do what we do without you, your commitment to nParallel, and your support. We highly value each and every one of you.

We look forward to finishing 2016 out strong and we want to thank Event Marketer for this opportunity and privilege to be a part of this year’s Fab 50. To see the full list and learn more about the Fab 50, please visit Event Marketer.

 

 

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We Don't Believe What Happens In Vegas Should ALWAYS Stay In Vegas.

The 2015 Digital Signage Expo is wrapping up in Las Vegas and our team was able to walk the floor. They brought back some ideas that we hope to incorporate into either retail or trade show solutions for our clients in the future.

A. Realfiction holographic displays
This is a rentable product display that uses a hidden flat panel monitor and reflection to create the illusion of floating holographic imagery over a physical object.  The devices can be built into a branded pedestal allowing us to customize them for a client and their website offers a collection of stock animations that can be customized for quick low cost solutions for a client looking for an easy wow factor.

B. Planar Transparent Screen
We’ve worked with the Planar Box here at nP for a couple of our clients.  Now Planar is offering a larger clear screen that can really give customers that Hollywood effect.  The screen is as transparent as glass but when an image appears it is opaque and easy to read.  Oddly, you can’t see the image from the back!  The screen simply appears clear.

C. Kolaz by AGAM
AGAM’s new addition allows designers to create clean modern retail fixtures using SEG, powder coated cladding or hard panels.  By incorporating a shelf standard slot along the outside of their regular SEG channel, they have allowed for retail hardware to be incorporated into the panels in a visually clean way.  We’re looking forward to using this one!

D. DS&L Backlit Panels
This was a very cool product.  Not a video display device, this was more about dynamic color and movement in an unexpected media.  DS&L combined a SEG frame with a dark grey fabric and back lit it with an array of LED RGB tiles.  The effect was like a lava lamp and did not feel like a monitor or projected image that you would normally expect.  They make these to spec so it’s definitely a purchased item but in the right place it could make for a really cool effect.

E. Projection Mapping in Retail
While hardly a plug-and-play option this technology is making it’s way all sorts of applications.  While you may have seen projection mapping used in events and in movies, this technique has been finding its way into trade show and retail.  In this image, the car actually has no color or detail at all.  It is simply a grey shape.  All of the detail ( paint color, windows, wheel rims, etc) is being projected onto the model via 3 hidden projectors.  This allows an attendee to select different paint schemes and options from the touch screen and see the result in real time on the model in front of them.  The illusion is quite stunning!

F. Micro video for retail
These little video players were designed to mount to the front edge of a shelf in a retail setting.

G. Flexible LED
Video content keeps getting more and more flexible.  Gone are the days when video has to live within the confines of a 16x9 rectangle.

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