Viewing entries tagged
trade show strategy

Approaching Creativity

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Approaching Creativity

In a world where there is a constant flow of communication at not just trade show attendees, but all consumers, how do you showcase an exhibit with creativity and differentiation to drive impact? This is the question at hand for many trade show managers and executive leaders.

The process is a true partnership between client and agency. Together, we are always stronger because each group brings two vastly different perspectives to the table; which marries business objectives and understanding with strategic and executional trade show excellence.

We believe that finding creativity for a company must start with the precedence of why they are exhibiting in the first place. This understanding should be the thought stream that all creativity should stem from. As a company digs into the objectives of show attendance, they will naturally bump into further understanding their target market, specifically, the ones that attend the show and their rationale. Dialogue around objectives should be the catapult into creative discussions that surround addressing and solving their target market’s pain points through trade show marketing.

Often, people attend these industry events to learn about new products, gain valuable information, and network with others to be inspired and challenged. Being next to hundreds, sometimes thousands of other exhibitors, should push companies to understand why they’re attending and how they’re going to cut through the noise and reach their audience in a fresh, differentiated, and business-impacting way. 

Some people like to start with color swatches, trends, tactics (which, we are the first to love all these things); however, starting with objectives will help to make sure the creative direction and innovation is on-point.

Once objectives are clear, then the creative process can be informed. At nParallel, we bring in key people from across the organization to strategize around the outlined objectives. For us, it doesn’t matter where the best idea comes from for our clients; we just want the best. Sometimes, these story storm session, as we call them, include our clients. Again, we are looking for the creative concept that will support business objectives to reach our client’s prospects.

At a trade show, most companies shouldn’t be trying to attract everyone; they should be laser-focused on obtaining quality leads. Creativity for some brands, like a medical-device client of ours, looks like closing off their booth to only the ten percent of show attendees who received an exclusive invitation to go behind the curtain (which actually was a wall) to experience an innovative product first-hand. This approach is different and is tied to their business objectives of quality leads and sales.

Being innovative and creative in the trade show industry means understanding how to interact with the target audience in the way they want to be interacted with to help them achieve their business goals. Our team of trade show pros have been in the industry for decades and they get how to drive business objectives through trade show marketing.

Helping clients stand up and out is what we love to do.

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Exhibiting a Portfolio of Brands

Exhibiting a Portfolio of Brands

We all know that exhibiting takes strategy. What’s more is that exhibiting at a trade show with a portfolio of brands takes even more framework development.

Often, we find companies on a show floor exhibiting with multiple brands and the spaces look unorganized, unstructured, and unclear of what they are striving to accomplish. Most of the time, this is due to a lack of a strategic framework that was not completed in the planning stages, or as we call it, the Define stage, of the process.

There are companies on the show floor that are true category leaders as it relates to exhibiting multiple brands in one booth. Their defined approach showcases their thoughtful brand strategy and helps to achieve their company goals in a stronger way on the show floor. Organizations like General Mills, Pearson’s Candy, and Legrand exhibit their brands with methodology and clarity.

When we are approached by a company to help them with their brand activation, and they carry a portfolio of brands, we help them determine how to showcase all their companies in the best way to achieve success.

First, we understand the goal of exhibiting at the show; a crucial element to define so that business goals are achieved.

Next, we outline who the target audience is of the exact show that the client is planning to attend. If a client doesn’t understand their audience on the show floor, they can’t best position themselves to their audience.

From there, we begin to decide, from the perspective of the target audience, what’s most relevant to them, the individual brands within the company or the company itself? This is the linchpin for how to showcase the company and its brands. For example, General Mills is excellent at knowing their approach for each show. Some brand activations, it’s more important to showcase Annie’s Homegrown, Larabar, Cascadian Farms Organic, etc. And other trade shows, it’s more important for the name General Mills to be front and center. We call this prioritization and alignment, brand hierarchy.

A client’s brand hierarchy should often flow from how the company sells its brands and how the target audience of the company purchases products or services. A trade show is just one of many sales and marketing programs and so the trade show should reflect the overall company and shouldn’t be built-out in a way that is completely different than the everyday actions of the business.

If a client decides that for a specific show they should be showcased as a “house of brands” vs. a “branded house,” we recommend building out answers to the following questions to ensure the booth build-out supports the strategic brand hierarchy.

  • Rank the brands in order of importance for the show.
  • Do any new products or brands need to be highlighted?
  • What percentage of the exhibit should each brand share?
  • Can any of the brands be coupled together?

The tactical execution of the exhibit should follow the brand hierarchy – this includes messaging. The cohesive messaging should flow from the brand strategy and drive home the message on the show floor. The messages are the elements of the exhibit that helps to bring people into the space, to learn more, and engage in conversation. It’s crucial to think about the messages after a company has decided which track to take: a branded house or a house of brands. Messages should vary significantly depending on the approach.

There are some great leaders out there on the show floor, and we believe that any company, of any size, can be an example of how to exhibit with a portfolio of brands. If you need help on deciding how to best position your company on the show floor. You know where to find us!

Leading with Leads

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Leading with Leads

Leads. It’s what 95% of exhibitors want.

Unfortunately, not all these exhibitors are getting their leads. To get the most qualified prospects, it requires a strategic plan and framework. 

81% of trade show attendees are individuals who have authority at their organization to make purchases; therefore, most attendees are key decision makers.

As you build out your lead generation strategy, be sure to engage your brand activation company. We have lead generation conversations with our clients often and here are eight conversations to have.

1.     Set lead goals

Start by establishing goals for lead generation.

  • What does a successful, qualified lead look like?
  • How many leads are we aiming for?
  • Are there specific companies or individuals that are on our prospect list that we must get in front of?

2.     Captivate attention

Let’s be honest and agree that competition on the show floor is fierce; therefore, creating an experience that draws a qualified lead in, captivates their attention, and moves them through the sales funnel is important. Each of our clients requires a different approach to find success. Some execute through innovative technology approaches like augmented reality, virtual reality, projection mapping, flip disks, and more. Other clients engage through a nontraditional exhibit structure that draws attendees in from across the room. Our point here is that the exhibit’s presence must appeal to prospects.

3.     Qualify lead

Badge scanning is not a new technology but is one that should not be overlooked. It can help exhibitors better understand visitors and their level of engagement. The badge scanning we offer at nParallel ensures our customers are getting the most out of their exhibiting by tracking their conversations and metrics.  

4.     Discover pain-points

Understanding a prospect’s pain-point is crucial, no matter the brand activation. To get to the root issue and not an ailment of the problem, surveys can be instrumental. We help our customers discover their prospective customer’s challenge by using technology such as real-time exhibit surveys. A quick survey helps to qualify leads better, understand what products might be best for them, and drive them through the sales funnel by having a better understanding of how your solutions can help. If your team doesn’t want to execute a survey on the show floor, these surveys can be sent in pre-show marketing materials or post-show.

5.     eLiterature

Another obvious one that has benefits that are often overlooked is electronic literature. It’s a common practice now to forgo bringing printed sales material to the show and simply send the material via email to prospective clients. What’s overlooked is the opportunity to measure and further learn about your business lead through electronic literature. The technology that our team uses allows our customers to learn more about who they are sending the sales material to, what areas of the documents they’re interested in based upon clicks, forwards, read times, etc. The metrics derived from electronic literature is instrumental to understanding leads.

6.     Lead Management

If lead management is new to you, we can help. Our software integration allows our customers to capture leads on the show floor and easily merge into a CRM tool. If a client currently isn’t doing this, we can send a lead management expert with our client on the show floor to make sure leads are captured correctly. The last thing an exhibitor wants is to go to a show and not be able to reconnect with leads. Oh, and if we can say anything, please do not do the fishbowl lead capture!

7.     Merge to CRM

No one likes redundancies; therefore, no one should capture leads and then manually add them into their CRM tool. Technology these days should help, not create more work. If a software solution does not allow a company to automatically capture leads on the show floor and merge into their CRM tool, it might be time to reevaluate the solution.

8.     Evaluate

And speaking of evaluating, after a show, companies should be sure to evaluate their leads. Find out if lead goals were met and determine how to improve for the next show. All leads should be categorized and followed-up to close deals that began on the show floor.

Want to lead with leads on the show floor? We’d love to help.

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The Importance of Exhibit Space Selection

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The Importance of Exhibit Space Selection

Booth selection shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s truly a critical process and creative art to help provide the best experience for your exhibit visitors and support your company goals.

As an account planner, I facilitate the process of partnering with the show association, analyzing current options, recommending new exhibit locations, and selecting the best new or created exhibit space to support my client’s objectives.

When evaluating the location of an exhibit, many elements should be reviewed. We’ve created a top 10 list of considerations to help exhibitors evaluate the best location for their business on the show floor.

1. Know the show

It’s most helpful to understand the flow of the show to select the best location. Exhibitors should thoroughly understand the flow of the floor, busy areas, and areas to avoid before making their location choice.

2. Custom spaces

Inquire about custom spaces with the association if you do not see the most ideal set-up for your company. With the right conversation, you might be able to have them create a new space to help achieve your goals in a more efficient way with a stronger location.

3. Maximize middle isles

There’s a science behind the technique to make your exhibit stand out. It might take more strategic work to amplify in the middle, but it can pay off.

4. Front hall

Yes, the front hall seems to be a place where people can see you first; however, the front of the hall can be overlooked by show attendees who want to get into the exhibit hall. At the same time, you can set the stage for the best display if you choose the front hall.

5. Back wall

If you’re choosing the back wall, it’s helpful to think about how you can open the space and maximize traffic. For some clients, we recommend removing the pipe and drape and choosing the corner location to catch people from both angles.

6. Sponsorships

Is your company planning to sponsor a function of the show or activity like a happy hour, break room, exhibit-wide contest, etc.? If so, selecting a space close to your area of sponsorship can be helpful to increase awareness and traffic.

7. Traffic flow

With large shows, it’s important to ask the association how traffic will flow at the event. Sometimes what may seem like the entrance, labeled "front hall," might be the back hall regarding flow.

8. Exhibit company

Like mentioned earlier, utilize your exhibit company. They are truly the experts in the field and should understand your shows better than anyone, except the association. Ask them to develop a strategy, dig into the association’s floor plan and recommend the best way forward.

9. Competitors

As exhibit spaces are selected, be sure to watch where your competitors land. A strategy for companies launching a new product might be to place their exhibit close to a competitor to capitalize on their traffic overflow which can maximize the brand awareness of your new product launch.  

10. Neighbors

It’s important to evaluate who is going to be in the surrounding booths. You want to pick a location where your neighbors are complementary to yours. An example might be, if you’re a healthcare company, you probably don’t want to sponsor the happy hour that could be placed right next to your booth. Consider the moral of your neighbors; you want their moral to be like yours.

If you are still unsure of which exhibit location is best for you, we’d love to help. It’s a strategy that we are experts on delivering to help drive the strongest show results. Reach out to us; we’d love to help.

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nParallel Receives Top 40 Exhibit House Award!

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nParallel Receives Top 40 Exhibit House Award!

It’s been an incredible year at nParallel and it’s only March!

We were recently recognized as a Top 40 exhibit producer by Exhibit Media Group, an award-winning monthly magazine that features best practices in the trade show industry.

Exhibit houses across the United States and Canada applied for the award and were subjected to an exhaustive evaluation process including more than 50 individual criteria, all weighted to reflect how EXHIBITOR readers and Editorial Advisory Board members value them when vetting and selecting potential partners. 

“It is such an honor to be recognized as one of the best exhibit houses across the United States and Canada,” said Megan Diamond, president of nParallel. “Our team at nParallel is truly some of the best in the industry. We hold ourselves to a high caliber to ensure we are always providing our clients with strong creative, visual intrigue, inspired innovation and useful technology and we’re thrilled that our industry publication has taken notice.”

"This program is intended to spotlight the best exhibit producers in the industry, while also providing a valuable resource for exhibit managers searching for new potential partners," said Randy Acker, president and chief operating officer of Exhibitor Media Group. “The Find It – Top 40 represents the most exclusive list of U.S. and Canadian exhibit providers in the industry and serves as the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval when it comes to the companies behind many of the most successful trade show stands in the world.” 

The evaluation process also included a survey of current clients and a review of entrants' past projects, selling points, and innovations, conducted by corporate exhibit managers. The myriad criteria considered were categorized into five primary areas:

·       Company and Capabilities

·       Honors and Awards

·       Thought Leadership and Industry Participation

·       Reliability and Service

·       Creativity and Key Differentiators

All companies who made the 2018 Find It –Top 40 will be featured online at www.ExhibitorOnline.com/FindIt and in the June issue of EXHIBITOR magazine.

Not only was this a huge accomplishment, but we also were recognized by Event Marketer with their Fab 50 award, an honor that showcases the top fabricators serving the event and trade show industry.

Thank you, EXHIBITOR, and thank you to our clients who allow us to help them bring to life their incredible work.

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Natural Products Expo West

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Natural Products Expo West

Last week we sent our natural and organic foodie clients off to Natural Products Expo West – a show with more than 80,000 attendees all focused on healthy products and innovation. They arrived on-site with more than four nParallel semi-trucks and exhibited 3,200-square-feet. These powerhouse companies showcased their products with innovative recyclable material and greenery like moss and live plants.

Our clients drove foot traffic and sales for their brands and were thrilled with the creative execution that our team delivered upon to make their exhibits stand out on the show floor.

We’re proud to work with these trend-setting and pioneering companies!

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Our CES Takeaways

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Our CES Takeaways

We sent our team to CES – the Consumer Electronics Show – and we want to share with you what we believe are the top trends that trade show leaders need to keep in mind for 2018.

Draw a Crowd & Close a Deal

No longer can companies ignore innovation and technology customer engagement as a component of their trade show program – it is now vital to success. Companies are doubling down on this element of the exhibit and it’s becoming the number one way to draw a crowd and close a deal.

TVs are Still In

No one would have guessed that TVs would still be a hot item. At CES, TVs were everywhere and huge brands like LG and Sony made them center stage. Different types of TV displays were found throughout the show floor and brands were using them to communicate a message with high impact right on the show floor. TVs are ever-versatile and can be extremely useful within exhibits whether they are the walls, ceilings, tables, etc. there are endless ways to use TVs.

VR & AR at the Top

Both are growing at a rapid rate and companies are finding new ways to utilize this technology to be specific to their brand. No matter the industry, there’s a way to implement this experience into any exhibit. To have flawless execution, it’s imperative to have a partner who can help implement the technology with experience.

Sustainable Growth

Millennials have demanded more sustainability as consumers and this demand is becoming increasingly popular amongst other generations. Sustainability is increasing, and the trade show industry is learning that it needs to catch onto the wave to connect with its consumers. Now, more than ever, companies need to begin to transform their trade show exhibits to ones that are earth-friendly. Simple ways to start this evolution might include custom rental exhibits, resourcefully made exhibit architecture and more.

Education & Knowledge

It’s important to be educated within the realm of innovation. We see countless people swamped with huge workloads in their work life and little time to read up on trends. So, if this is you, we recommend having quarterly innovation conversations with your trade show partner to inquire and learn what’s new in the industry so that you can always stay ahead of the curve.

We love having these conversations with our clients – schedule time with us. We’d love to chat and tell you how we can help you to become more innovative and close more deals.

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Super Bowl LII

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Super Bowl LII

Super Bowl LII was incredible. We loved helping our client, the official cap of the NFL, New Era gear up for a presence that spanned across downtown Minneapolis -- our hometown. 

Our team of trade show strategists built three experiences for New Era to bring their nationally-recognized NFL caps and lifestyle clothing to Super Bowl LII.

“When our long-time client New Era approached us with this three-prong project of helping them create a cohesive brand experience across Minneapolis, we were ecstatic,” said nParallel President Megan Diamond. “Not only do we love when we get to work locally, but we’re huge sports fans, and we knew exactly how to bring New Era to life in Minneapolis.”

The official New Era kickoff took place on Saturday, Jan. 27 and New Era opened at the NFL Experience & Shops at the Convention Center. We helped the official cap company boast an 1,100 square-foot retail shop – the Super Bowl’s largest spot for exclusive NFL merchandise. With decades of experience in retail displays, we methodically created the retail shop that showcased the merchandise in a way that drew in attendance and built upon the Super Bowl excitement.

Our team also designed and constructed a 400 square-foot space in the old Dayton’s/Macy’s building as part of the Super Bowl LIVE experience on Nicollet Avenue. This retail and brand experience provided fans with 10-days of fanfare and featured activities for everyone. 

To continue the momentum and build upon the Convention Center and Nicollet Mall, we helped New Era design and fabricate two rolling kiosk display areas that were on-site at U.S. Bank Stadium for fans who attended the Super Bowl to pick-up their memorabilia on game day.

“It was quite the honor to support one of our national clients in our backyard for one of the biggest events in Minnesota’s history,” said Diamond. “Our clients and projects range from coast-to-coast, and when we have the opportunity to work in our home state, our home city, we can’t help but bring a creative lens that is inspired by the community in which we operate and live.”

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How Exhibit Dollars Were Spent in 2017 & the 2018 Forecast

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How Exhibit Dollars Were Spent in 2017 & the 2018 Forecast

2018 is here, and everyone in the trade show industry is in full swing with their focus on upcoming shows. 2017 is long gone from the trade show world, and it’s truly a thing of the past. 

Today, our emphasis is on helping clients strategize around how they can differentiate on the show floor, be more memorable with their on-site presence, and further help our clients engage at trade shows.  

Before we completely forget about 2017, we received a fantastic report from the Center for Exhibit Industry Research, also known as CEIR, called 2017 How the Exhibit Dollar is Spent. When reading through, we found some really interesting nuggets about how exhibitors allocated their resources in 2017. The study also outlined a few predictions for 2018 that we think you’ll find interesting. 

Takeaways from 2017

Roughly $25 billion was spent on exhibiting in 2017! Here’s how it breaks down: 

 

  • Exhibit space: 37.9% 

  • Show services: 12.9% 

  • Exhibit design & fabrication (including graphics): 11.4% 

  • Travel and entertainment: 10.9% 

  • Shipping & transportation of exhibit materials: 8.9% 

  • On-site promotional materials: 5.2% 

  • Off show floor promotional expenses: 3.9% 

  • On-site sponsorship/advertising: 2.9% 

  • Lead management & measurement: 2.7% 

  • Pre-show promotions: 1.7% 

  • Exhibit staff training: 0.7% 

  • Other: 1.0% 

Exhibitors with larger booths allocated more of their resources to the design of their space as well as shipping fees.  

When looking at companies with smaller budgets, they spent slightly more on giveaways, lead management equipment, and services. 

Look-Aheads for 2018

60% of exhibitors plan to either refurbish their current booth, purchase a new one, or rent an exhibit. 

We find this point really interesting: Larger companies plan to refurbish their booths, where slightly more mid-range companies plan to invest in a completely new exhibit. 

As it relates to industry specifics, almost two-thirds of medical and health care companies that exhibit plan to use the same booth as 2017. When looking at communication and IT companies that are exhibiting in 2018, more plan to use their same booth yet have a higher intent to rent. The industrial/heavy machinery and finished business inputs industries also have more plans to rent exhibits. 

The trends from the report showcased that companies with more square footage on the show floor plan to rent an exhibit vs. those who use a smaller footprint on the show floor. 

All of this to say, the trade show industry is not slowing down, it’s continuing to grow.  

Reach out if you want to chat with our team about 2018, we’re all ears and ready to help you strategize your program. 

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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.