Archives for posts with tag: Hot Tips

I recently wrote a guest post for Women’s Agenda and I got a TONNE of comments and emails along the lines of “YES!” and “Thank you, I so needed to hear this right now” and “I’m up for shredding some motivational posters….can we create a meetup for that?”.

So if you are stuck, waiting for some sort of sign or still crafting your business plan for the jillionith time….you need to move it lovely!

Go here to read the guest post and I would love to hear what action you have taken recently to move FOWARD in the comments.  I am a BIG FAN of action takers so let me know what you have doing to get what YOU want!


This is not your normal motivational poster!

This is not your normal motivational poster!

See you next week!


You read that right. Screw the competition. It just doesn’t matter.

As marketers I know you are being encouraged to watch what your competitors are doing: you can set RSS feeds, notifications can pop up alerting you to news stories, you can get data on you competitors social media stats, insider gossip….and all for what? It will paint a vivid picture of what your competitors are doing, but question is, what service or product are you creating of value in the world? Every moment spent agonising over what the other mob is doing is time lost that could have been spent better marketing your own product or service.

Every business I know struggles with this. An event I sat in on recently for one of my large multinational clients addressed this very issue around competition and how you handle it. The CEO’s message was beautifully succinct: keep doing great work that matters in the world. Don’t get so distracted by what your competitors are doing that you abandon your ability to innovate or neglect talking with your customers to see what problems you can solve.

The competition….it just doesn’t matter.

Go give competition the two fingered salute!

Go give competition the two fingered salute!

Go give competition the two fingered salute!

I’ve got some examples about how I’ve given the competition the two-fingered salute in recent times.

First up, I was on stand at Ozwater 2014 waiting for my client at handover when another trade show provider sauntered up and thinking I was the client (top tip: check the logo of my shirt next time pal, you’ll save yourself some pain in looking like a arse hat) started banging on about whatever the stand cost, his firm could do it for half that amount. Notice a couple of things here.  There was no question to the “client” over what they are struggling with so they can gain a deeper understanding of how they could truly help, no offer of adding more value, no suggestions about how more leads could be achieved, no ideas about improving the post show follow-up ….the pitch was only about savagely cutting costs.  I smiled at the sock puppet, disclosed I was the stand builder and thanked them for being a dick.  Years ago I would have torn strips off them…and then hang around to then tear strips off their stand after hours.  But I got wise.  The competition…it just doesn’t matter.  My clients don’t come to me for the cheapest stand, it is because I offer shockingly awesome service and solid strategy backed up with amazing designs.  And I also believe that is plenty of work for all trade show providers.  Even sock puppets that can only compete on price.

I also stuck up my two fingers to the competition in the Rowing State Masters this past weekend. I got in my can’t-touch-this bubble a few days out from the event, fine tuning my warm up sequence with Nathan The Demonic Personal Trainer, not even looking at the event draw and who I was up against.  On race day I kept it tight, arriving well before my race to do a warm up and sauntering up to the boat just before we launched so I could not buy into the pre-race “What chance do we have in this race” speculation.  Rowing to the start, I kept my eyes in my own lane and I was so focussed on what I had to do in the race, I still can’t tell you how many crews I lined up against.  In the race itself, I was not aware of the other crews, just counting off sets of 20 strokes in my head and making sure each twenty was better than the last. When we crossed the line and I took a moment to pant….it hit me we had just won gold. Cue mass hysteria!  I can’t tell you how different this approach was to previous years of twisting myself into an anxious state scanning the start list trying to determine what crews I had a chance against and then in the race itself, swivelling my head around checking to see our position in the race.  Here’s my new plan: keep my eyes in my lane, focus on only what I can do that will make a difference to the outcome – that is, row like I stole it.

Hands up who doesn't give a stuff about the competition?

Hands up who doesn’t give a stuff about the competition?

Hands up who doesn’t give a stuff about the competition?

Here’s a kicky tune for another mob who could give a staff about the competition.  KISS.  Do you reckon they cared about the musical competition when they formed in the 70’s?  They totally created their own niche with face paint, platforms, a bass player with a tongue that may or may not have been an implant from a cow and some serious brain frying drug addictions.  But the competition?  It didn’t matter!

Want to get some seriously fab tips on creating an AMAZING display that won’t result in hair pulling….yours or someone else’s?  Go here to download your guide.

See you next week!

This post involves me climbing up on Dobbin, my personal hobby-horse so if you are looking for a sun-shiney, all things are AWESOME post….best you move right along. This is an old school RANT.

First up; the good news.  Australia is now seeing more international shows – especially in the medical field – being held in venues across this great land.  This is fab, it means a boost for our local industry and suppliers, brings cashed up delegates pouring money into economy and some kangaroos get patted.

The bad news: with international shows, brings international organisers and their way of doing things including their own suppliers.  Nothing too evil in that but a number of the international organisers have tie ups with international logistics providers and this means heart stopping charges in relation to getting your stand and client gear off a truck and onto the show floor.  By heart stopping I mean whatever you are paying now for forklifting to and from the truck and the stand and THEN the storage of your empty crates and road cases whilst the show is on, goes up by 3 or 4 times (or more) what you would normally pay an Australian provider to do.  Now I won’t be riding Dobbin so hard if the international logistics providers were providing logistics labour that looked like Tom Morello or Josh Homme, turned up with Haighs chocolates and offered to do my ironing but the level of service is on par with what is experienced at non-international shows. So on a straight comparison on services provided by an international organiser tie up and the local services, there is no perceivable difference.  And therefore, no reason that exhibitors and stand builders are being stung with charges 400% and beyond of what they normally pay for logistics services.  GAH!

We have been pretty lucky in Australia that we have been immune to the rort otherwise known as drayage that our American eagle friends have to live with on a daily basis.  Drayage is essentially the on site logistics handling services that get your gear on / off track and to / from your stand. With the prices you pay you would expect a team of white-gloved efficiency experts lovingly placing your goods on gold-edged flat-topped trolleys and then gently pushing them through the show aisles with the utmost care.  But no.  For costs that rival some countries GNP, you get some clapped out forklift driven by some bloke called Bubba get your gear to your stand sometime between “What? Never saw your gear lady…” and “I am on SMOKO”.  Hell, they are always on smoko.

Dobbin, my personal hobby horse

Dobbin, my personal hobby horse

So with some many companies questioning the value of their exhibit program, we need these high logistics costs like a NRL player needs another sleeve tattoo.  And I’m calling it as it is, it’s a rort, with kickbacks between the international organisers and the international logistics firms ensuring that the exhibitors and the service providers are getting billed way in excess of what they should. But it is just not enough to bang on about it in a blog post.  Here are some tips to tackle this bullshit:

  • Get in touch with the organisers and explain – perhaps with use of a map and a stuffed koala – that we are in Australia and we don’t do drayage.
  • Write letters to the organisers and telling them the costs are outrageous and ask what the hell they are on about.  People get all freaky with letters these days as so few people actually write them.  We get all worked up about something, like a post on Facebook thinking that will bring effective change and then forget about it.  But agitating for change takes work and we can’t be flakey about this.  It takes work but if you are committed, you can make a difference.
  • Demand a fixed price for the logistics services in writing.  This really puts the international logistics provider on the spot as they like to issue a sliding scale of fees, based on another currency, with penalty rates added in that are all so complicated to figure out they assume that you will give up and sign off on anything.  Be tenacious about this.  This is your money they are siphoning off. Insist upon measuring your gear yourself, compact your delivery into a small enough footprint as possible (think of these Russian Dolls with stuff sleeved inside other stuff) and give them the two fingers by bringing in whatever you can via the carpark and your own hand trolley.
  • Be pleasant about it but when on site ask the organisers why the charges are so high. Come at it from a curiosity point of view rather than white-hot anger that has the veins in your neck bulging as we are trying to get a positive outcome here, not an apprehended violence order issued against us.

Ok, so Dobbin and I have to move along as I feel compelled to tackle other issues like Christopher Pyne being…Christopher Pyne.  In the meantime, add to add your suggestion in the comments section to tackling the wackness that is creep in of drayage across this great land.

And!  Want to get your FREE 11 step checklist for awesome and stress free exhibitions and displays? Go here to get your immediate download.

Let’s end this rant on a happy vibe with a gorgeous slice of pop from LEN.

See you next week!

One of my favourite marketing mavens has a sticky situation on her cute paws where some of her brand mangers want an upcoming trade show stand packed and stacked with all their latest gadgets and thingos (technical term) whereas our Ms Maven wants a clean looking stand that invites delegates to come into the space and chat with the brand managers.

To help Ms Maven have some clout with her argument that a lean, clean stand will deliver the business more opportunities to dive deep with existing and potential customers and therefore open to the door to future business, I went on the hunt for some data or research on the stacked stand vs. the clean networking space.  I might have been looking in all the wrong places (I did get waylaid on the awesome and the sites, to be fair) but I did not find a comprehensive article arguing the toss either way.  So I decided instead to use this conundrum and let it form the basis of my blog this week.

Based on current trade show stand data out of the USA (from the Centre of Exhibition Industry Research) I was able to glean the following stats:

  • In 2011, 95% of exhibitors wanted to reach / identify new customers or sales leads whereas 80% wanted to either launch or promote new products or services.  From this data we can see that the face-to-face marketing (read: the ability to exchange information and present problems and challenges that require solutions in person) that exhibitions provide outweighed the need for product demos and displays.
  • The average spend on an exhibition stand in the USA (and this takes in every shape and size from the small inline booths through to the Brandzilla stands that take up entire exhibition halls) is shrinking.  In 2009 the average spend was $18.5K and in 2011 we were rolling back to $17.7K.  And I suspect that the dollar figure has shrunk further now as exhibitors are under pressure to do more with less.  By cutting the amount of product shown on a stand, you cut significant transport and storage costs.  The space that would have been given over to numerous displays could be configured more cost effectively with a hospitality or presentation area.  The majority of product displays are passive; they are unlikely to be powered up, operational and are shown out of context on an exhibition floor.  The use of space for networking, meetings and presentations on a stand guarantees active participation.  You can hold seminars, launches, host a keynote address, stage a happy hour and the good news with events and activities like these you are drawing people to your stand and encouraging their participation.  No longer are delegates simply moving through your stand space “looking” at widgets.  They are talking to your sales staff, they are participating in hosted buyer events, and they are asking questions of the special guest presenter that you have invited onto your stand.  One of the main aims of any exhibition should be capitalise on the unique face to face marketing opportunity that trade show displays provide by actually creating events and activities that will allow this to take place.  And added bonus to the networking focused stand is that delegates tend to spend longer on this type of stand as they will hang for the presentation, launch, hospitality and so on.
This stand is stacked with widgets!

This stand is stacked with widgets!

Lean, clean stand based around on stand networking

Lean, clean stand based around on stand networking

Further data I found backing up some of my main points above was drawn from the 2013 Economic Outlook survey and detailed in Exhibitor March 2013:

  • 25% respondents anticipate overall marketing budget will increase in 2014, 52% will maintain.  So my take away from that data is 75% of exhibitors will either maintain or reduce their marketing spend in 2014.  Or, exhibiting companies and their marketers will need to continue doing more with less.  If you want a hot tip of increasing your trade show marketing spend, you need to prove the return on investment in displays to your financial department, your board, your mum or whoever’s hand signs the cheques.  It is always hard to quantify people who cross your stand space and simply look at widgets and displays.  Contrast that against being able to do head counts and data capture on attendees to on stand events, participation in demos and launches and so on.  The benefit of a lean and clean stand that is focussed around networking is really beginning to sell itself, don’t you think?
  • 18% of companies will be reducing their exhibit space (over and above exhibit promotion / exhibit properties / show services).  With almost a fifth of companies shrinking the floor space they traditionally take at trade shows, now, more than ever, close scrutiny needs to be applied to every item, display, widget and thingo that is earmarked for inclusion on the stand.  Does the inclusion of this item fit with the overall objectives?  How can we use it to tell a story, create some buzz or leverage off it pre and post show?  And seriously what if we bucked the trend, ditched the item and did something different….what then?
Racked and stacked!

Racked and stacked!

Lean and clean!

Lean and clean!

You know, I get it totally.  There are many trade show booth staff that feel more confident and comfortable talking about the widget as it is a natural way of starting a conversation. You can stand in front of your “thingo” and wax lyrical about its benefits.  But the tethering yourself to a particular thing is dangerous as you miss so many other opportunities to hear about your customers other needs and pain points that your company can assist and even solve.  My most helpful tip I can offer with opening up a conversation on a trade show stand between exhibitor and delegate is start your conversations with open ended questions like “Tell me about….”, “What are you…”  These are such more user friendly that the standard questions that elicit a “Yes” or “No” answer. And once you have the delegate opening about their challenges they are facing or what they are really wanting to see or experience on the trade show floor, you are off and running.

So my latest musical crush is the Arctic Monkeys.  I had been indifferent to them but having heard sterling stuff about their new release “AM”, I dropped some cash on it, stuck it in my car’s CD player, pointed my car in the direction of my parents joint on the Central Coast and then lost my mind.  I listened to the opening track “Do I wanna know” sixteen times on repeat.  Yes, it was that good.

See you next week!

So you might have gleaned from a number of my posts, I have a deep and abiding love for rock music and one of my favourite bands is Nine Inch Nails.   This video I am sharing today shows the lead up to their new tour and the thing of particular interest for the exhibition industry is the showcasing of new lighting, staging and audio visual techniques.

Relocatable screens that register human movement?  Hell yes!

LED frames that are made of strips that show both content and then can be blasted with light from behind so they become skeletal?  Holy cats, YES!

Trent Reznor, my future husband being all intense striving for new effects and new experiences for his audience? Oh please make it so!

Ok, yes you do need coin to employ a lot of these techniques but even the firm with the smallest budget can draw something from this video even if it is to ape Trent’s desire to better serve his audience by delivering an immersive, authentic experience of his brand (and band) through the skewering of existing technologies and effects.  Don’t let all the rigging, audio visual set pieces and middle aged rocker dudes milling about obscure the message of “Do great work, repeatedly”

Now I must go done my tight black T-shirt and stick a pack of Winfield Blues up my shirt sleeve….time to ROCK!

See you next week and if you have any queries about the technologies shown, leave a comment below and I will try my best to answer.

I’ve found recently that the subject of “having a balanced life” has come up for a bunch of my marketing clients. And then I was only asked last night how I achieve balance. Errrrrrr….I don’t. And I don’t seek too.

Here’s why. A few years ago when I swapped Melbourne’s lane ways for Sydney’s Harbour, I decided I was going to make the most the city swap with a full tilt launch into getting my life into balance. I was seduced by the claims of self-conferred gurus extolling the virtues of a life in balance. How serene I would be, how unrushed I would feel and how I would float from one obligation to the next. Most probably in a white lace dress from Laura Ashley and patting a white bunny. As I carefully and lovingly placed my business and my personal life on either side of the scales I waited for perfect alignment.

What tosh.

After nearly making myself blind with anxiety trying to spend equal time on all my interests, I gave up and here’s why you should too:

1. Most of my marketing clients are female and they have the full buffet of interests and demands on their time: kids, partner (or no partner but dating. Or not dating. Until George Clooney dumps his latest broad and comes-a-calling), a career, friends, family, activities, running a household and finding time for themselves like sneaking a look at Who magazine while on a flight to somewhere.  With all of that and more on the table, how could you ever hope to achieve balance?!? So let’s make a pact right now to give concept of balance the two-finger salute.

Go give balance the two finger salute!

Go give balance the two finger salute!

2. We’ve been sold a pup and a very mangey one at that. The “life in balance idea” goes that if you get all your stuff into perfect alignment, suddenly you will be calmer. Happier. Less harried. And less prone to eating only processed cheese for dinner. Look, I’m not here to tell you desiring all those things and self-improvement is not valid, they most definitely are. But the image of the scales is instructive here. To get either side in line, you have to use equal measures. Who do you know that have an equal amount of interests and commitments at any one time? No one! Life is fabulously messy and it can be dirty and as unyielding as a feral donkey so why would you take on the mammoth and ultimately exhausting task of trying to tether your interests to some out moded concept of balance?

3. Once I kicked balance to curb, I have found a super power. I can bend time. And I reckon you can too.  The act of bending time comes into play when you decide what you will devote your attention to and discard the white noise that is distracting. We all have the same 24 hours, right? So you have the freedom to decide how to allocate your time.  I’ll give you an example from my own life.  Right now I am committed to doing a 45km marathon row of the Hunter River at the end of July.  (And flat out trying to stage an alien abduction to get me out of it) To get the necessary training up to even function over that distance, I have parked some of the other things I like to do (brush my hair, extreme baking) so I can swing over extra time to get this rowing training done. I guess I see time as like an ever-expanding container where I can drop things in and take things out as I need to do.  Sure, the container can get pretty jammed up and look very close to splitting but it holds together and I know that even when I am pushing too many things to get done, it will only be for a short period of time and the stretching of time will soon snap back to something more manageable.

I am going to leave you with a comment from a one of my recent dates.  (Hey, I date and I vote!) He asked “Do you even have time for a partner?!?” after I described what a typical week look liked for me.  I thought for a moment and then said in absolute truth “ I will always make time for the things that are important to me, I will create space for that”.  So ditch the concept of balance and instead embrace life in all its beautiful messiness and trust that you will find – and make – time for all the important things that matter to you.

I recently tripped over the delicious Kathleen Hanna ex of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre being her bratty best with her new outfit The Julie Ruin.  Check out this slice of awesome with bonus points for female lead guitarist with kicky solo!

See you next week (and share this post with someone you know that is struggling with balance)!

Earlier this year I was interviewed by IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events) about trade shows and one of the subjects I was asked to wax lyrical on was trade show registration. Here’s the Q & A:

(1) What are common areas of show registration that attendees find frustrating?

From what I hear – and from what I do myself – we are stuck in that sticky mud of filling out so much content into forms, not entirely sure how it will be used despite some well buried link about privacy and how your details will be used and then being given a paper form to print out and bring along to the event to gain entry.  Some shows are moving to providing a digital entry code that you can use with smart phones but the take up is still too small.  With this new technology available for registrations there is then too few people at the trade show entry to help with any glitches or queries.  I think there is so much scope for using App’s, QR codes, digital entry techniques but show organisers are just going to what they know, regardless of its suitability or pain points.

 (2) Why are they frustrating?

They are frustrating largely as they are time consuming (filling out all the information, printing out the registration form, remembering to bring it will you to the event due to be held in a few months etc) and added together with the missing in action support staff at show entry, people are thinking “Why is this so hard?!?”  (insert face palm) and “Why are we still stuck using last century methods when there are so many easier options out there?!?”

Yep, face palm time!

Yep, face palm time!

(3) Do they deter attendees from coming to a show and affect the image of the show in the minds of attendees?

I don’t know that these frustrations would actively deter attendees from coming to an event as you already have to be pretty motivated to go with making the time in your calendar, arranging travel and working out what sessions to attend but I do know that trade shows are suffering from an image issue and it the poor image is not helped by antiquated registration processes to even simply attend an event.  To have a strong, robust exhibition industry and to be able to explain to potential the exhibitors on why trade shows still matter, we need – as an industry – to keep finding ways to streamline the attending of events for both attendees and exhibitors.  People have enough frustration and demands on their time – the successful firms and trade events of the future will develop ways of removing this pain and thrive on.

 (4) What are some ways to simplify the registration process to avoid this frustration?

Ooooh juicy! Imagine just scanning your business card and someone in the back end of the show organiser entered in the details and then just sent it through to you to check before registering?  It’s is always easier and quicker to proof read a document rather than having to enter all the information yourself. Imagine having more payments for trade show linked to paypal or another digital payment system so you did not have to fill in your individual credit card details?  What about taking off all information on the registration form that relates to finding out why you are attending, what you want to see, are you responsible for the purchasing decisions etc and develop and show app that people can interface with as they attend the show and give feedback on the show floor?  I think the quality of information would be so much richer than the pre-show registration process where people are just trying to race through filling in the information.  What if an entrepreneurial person recognised an opportunity and gave you – the regular trade show attendee – a whole list of shows around the world that you might like to attend based on your interest and industry and once you indicated your choices, they could be responsible for the registration process and even the travel arrangements?  The cost for the service of registration could be paid by the show organiser and a percentage of the travel arrangements billed back to the attendee.  Sure, the service would not appeal to all but it is time the industry looked for ways of increasing premium options in line with the view that attending trade shows can deliver outstanding results.

This is one of the more succinct registrations going about!

This is one of the more succinct registrations going about!

 (5) How can show organisers best implement these ideas without taking things out of the process that are necessary?

Largely, I think show organisers need to partner with others to implement some of these ideas.  I think that so many show organisers are stuck on the “must sell space / must get delegates through the door” spin cycle they are oblivious to other opportunities out there.  And, you know, I think the whole registration process needs to be stripped back and look at it from a whole new fresh perspective: what information do we truly and really need from a delegate and does that extraction of information have to happen at the registration stage.

 (6) What are some do’s and don’t you would suggest to show organisers looking to simplify their even registration process?

Do: Nuke what you are doing now and take a whole new view of the registration process.

Do: Simplify and once you’ve done that, strip another 50% of what you have out

Do: Think of how you (the show organiser) would like to attend an event.  What are your pain points?  Once you answer this question, it is guaranteed that almost everyone else is facing the same frustrations and you are on your way to really innovating a broken system.

Do: Open up to new technologies / opportunities

Don’t: Keep doing the same damn thing and thinking that it is situation normal as everyone else is doing it.  Innovate or die.

Feel free to share these tips with your favourite show organiser (tell them I said and to lift their game) and leave a comment in the section below.

This week it is time for some flat out awesome hard rock by Foo Fighters.  Hit it!

See you next week!

I recently had a lunch date with a fav client and she shared her recent challenging experiences organising transport for her promo items at trade shows. She’d had a bumpy time arranging weekend deliveries and getting the actual gear from the loading dock to her stand. I think she was almost willing to look at giving up participating at trade shows all through the semi-trailer blues (there is a county & western song in that) and I’m sure she is not the only one scratching their head over trade show logistics.

So here are 5 tips to help smooth the logistics path:

1. Use the show service provider

That show manual is not just something to rest your coffee cup on. It also provides useful information about show providers or preferred suppliers. The really thorough manuals also include an address label for you to whack on your goods to be delivered. You do not have to use the show provider, say someone like Agility, you can use your own provider and there are pros and cons both ways.  The show service provider will have someone typically on site so you can eyeball and find out where you freight is. Hanging out by their on site desk is certainly preferable to hanging on the phone line listening to the umpteenth version of Greensleeves! On the other hand, being a preferred supplier could mean they are guaranteed the bulk of show logistics so cost might not be as competitive if there were a number of providers on the source list. A recent supplier to a show was trying to charge three times the going rate for 15 minutes of forklift glory. At that rate, a bullock team is looking pretty cost effective! A couple of bonus tips when dealing with logistics firms and your show freight:

  • Be honest about what you’re sending. Don’t tell them you are sending a couple of A4 boxes in the hope of getting a cheaper rate when you really have 800kgs of machinery requiring a chain block to lift. It’s not cool trying to gyp the transport firm and you’ll end up having to pay a premium anyway.
  • Not an A4 box!

    Not an A4 box!

  • Be a dog with a bone. If your gear has gone MIA, you are well within your rights to seek updates and ensure that someone is working on getting your wayward good to you ASAP.  Just be friendly about it and smile always – killer tip for always getting what you want!
  • Truck with your missing gear on it that is no where near your stand!

    Truck with your missing gear on it that is no where near your stand!

2. Ship less

Well, dur. I know so obvious, but so overlooked.  In these times where you have access to downloads, dropboxes, QR codes, digital files, splash pages, USB sticks loaded up with catalogues and manuals, it makes total sense to ship less gear to the show. Less gear = less transport costs and less time strutting the show in heels looking for your gear that is “somewhere” in the hall.  If you need further convincing, think of it as a transaction.  I meet you on the stand and you give me your brochure.  Or I meet you on the stand and you ask if you can send your  complete library of product info via a digital download.  You get my email address and contact details and now have the chance to extend our relationship beyond the show floor.  Hey presto!  No need for even a Stanley knife and a roll of shrink-wrap!

3. Ask your shows organiser for help

Ok, so if you do need to send a shedload of gear to the event and there is no way it will all fit on the stand as you are planning a give away of biblical proportions (the giving out of show bags at home and consumer shows springs to mind as a good example here), have a chat with your show organizer.  Those crafty little buggars tend to have a room or two available somewhere at a show or know of a nook you can stash excess goodies.  So ask them (nicely and all the time smiling) if they can help you with your tricky problem.

4. Keep notes like you worked for a spy agency

Booking a transport firm for your show logistics?  Take a note from the Bourne Identity movies and take notes like your life depended on it.  What is the driver’s name?  What number can they be contacted on?  What other number can they be contacted on? What are their know aliases i.e. Johnno, Maverick of Chook?  What is the consignment note number?  What is the after hours number?  You need copious and detailed notes including what you are shipping, how many boxes, the size and weights and the pick up / drop off points.  I’d even suggest going so far as taking a digital photo of your packaged gear before it left the depot for the show as it is much easier flashing up on your smart phone screen the photo of the goods you are looking for on site to a logistics provider rather than giving them the vague details of “Well I am looking for something big and wrapped in plastic” (that sort of vagueness could land you with Laura Palmer). You will rely heavily on these notes if something goes wrong so prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

Something big and also wrapped in plastic!

Something big and also wrapped in plastic!

5. Tap your exhibit builder for some assistance

It is likely that your items for the show will arrive to site before you will and it will usually happen when your stand builder is underway with the construction of your stand.  Why not ask your exhibition house to keep an eye out for the gear and to let you know when it has arrived.  Help your builder out (they will have a lengthy to-do list on site) with sending through the digital photos of the packages so they know what they are looking for.  I offer this service for my clients and it certainly helps knowing that either your gear has safely arrived or that it is time to hit the phones and start chasing up errant couriers well before show start.

Hey!  Look, I found my client's gear!

Hey! Look, I found my client’s gear!

If you have a query bout trade show logistics, leave in the comment section below or email me here.

Tune time! This week I’m really digging on some Queens of the Stone Age and their crunchy beats. Hit it!

See you next week!

In the past few days I have compiled some data for a client of mine on their yearly trade show spend and it has highlighted some interesting metrics around hiring a 1 off trade show for each event versus purchasing a trade show stand that you can use repeatedly for your entire trade show program.  More on that data later in the post but first let me explain some of the pros and cons for the 1 off and the repeat use stand.


The one-off stand usually refers to the one-off hire of a trade show stand or booth at an exhibition.  The cost will traditionally include the design, the hire of the items, transport to and from the venue and labour to install and dismantle.  At the completion of the show, in most cases, you will retain nothing and this can be also refereed to as a “build and burn”.  You can do a hybrid of 1 off hire items supplementing that with items such as banners and key graphics that you use and keep across your trade show run.

Bayer @ VNCA 1 off Hire Stand

Bayer @ VNCA 1 off Hire Stand

Bayer @ AVA 2012 1 off Hire Stand

Bayer @ AVA 2012 1 off Hire Stand


  • You can change the look and the theme for each trade show event you attend.
  • You are not locked into the same size space for each event as you have a stand that only fits a pre-determined size eg. 6m W x 3m D.  This allows you to take more space at the shows where you want to make an impact and downscale at the shows of lesser importance.
  • You do not have to pay for storage of your stand in a warehouse when not in use.


  • You have to re-start the design and sourcing products and services anew each time you do a show.
  • There can be a lack of consistency across the look and feel of your trade show as it has a different vibe every show you attend.  Consistency in the marketing of your brand to existing and prospective customers is SO vital, so don’t underestimate how valuable consistency is!
  • It can do your head in.  All you want is the same freakin’ stool in green because it matches your logo and across the 5 shows you do in a year, you have more variation in your stool that there are discoverable languages in the world.  So the key take away from doing one-off stands is that you will have to build in some flexibility with finishes and selections as there is A LOT of variance from both supplier and  hire location!


This typically refers to the stand that you, the exhibiting company own and store.  Normally you would partner up with an exhibit firm to design a stand that you can use across your trade show program and the exhibit house is responsible for the warehousing, transport and install / dismantle of it.  I think my best advice here it to go with a kit form of items that allow you to have large or smaller stands depending on your requirements rather than be looked into a permanent size footprint – say 6m x 6m.

Thiess @ Ausrail 2011 6 x 3 Reusable Stand

Thiess @ Ausrail 2011 6 x 3 Reusable Stand

Thiess @ Ozwater 6 x 6 Reusable Stand

Thiess @ Ozwater 6 x 6 Reusable Stand


  • You have a consistent look across your trade show program and once you have developed and locked down the stand design, you aren’t faced with “what the HELL are we going do for THIS trade show”.
  • You can predict your costs for the trade show calendar up front.  As you know the stand you will be using, you can then get your exhibit house to provide costs for each show you attend well in advance.
  • Although the stand is reusable, you can build in the flexibility of updating graphics and messaging and even changing the colour of the stand.  Just because it is a reusable stand does not mean that it is set in stone!


  • You will have to store the stand – at either your own premises or that of a third-party.  Your exhibit house will usually have a network of storage facilities that you can park your stand in.
  • If you make the investment in building a repeat use stand, you will be locked into it to get the return on investment for around 2 – 3 years.  Upshot of this?  Don’t build yourself a stand so ugly it burns your retinas.  Take time to get it right and ride your exhibit company like a pony at a church fete to make sure they develop something that will blow your hair back.  In a good way.
  • Make sure you have buy-in from all the stakeholders in your company to have a repeat use, modular stand.  I know of one company a few years ago who decided to do a reusable stand that did not run it across the desk of the CEO with enough detail so the response when Boss-man turned up on site was “What the (rhymes duck) is THIS?!?”  He was right, it was particularly ugly stand done by an inept contactor with bubbling laminate and 300 x 300 bathroom tiles used on the floor.  And the poor buggar was stuck with it.  So start well in advance and get everyone on board the “YES!” bus.

You will notice that I did not mention cost benefits for either the 1 off stand or the repeat use stand in the pros and cons above . That’s because – largely – it is determined on a case by case basis.  But I can tell you from the data I have collected based on my client’s example I mentioned in the intro above, the repeat use stand is more cost-effective than the 1 off stands across a 2 year show run. Figures? About $400 difference from the more cost-effective repeat use stands to the higher cost of doing 1 off’s.  Any exhibit house of value can run the figures out for you if you want to look at your options so why not do just that?

Tune for this week is one of my favourite one hit wonders…Plastic Bertrand!  God with talent like that, I can’t believe that bloke only knocked out one single killer song….

See you next week!

Setting a budget for a trade show program is fraught for most clients. So don’t feel like you are in the minority if you are burying you face in your hands or rocking in the fetal position.  After 18 years in the industry I would like to share with you four techniques you can use to set trade show budgets that will stop the angst and hair pulling (yours or someone else’s, your choice).

 1. Use a budget from previous years

I know, I know, this seems so Captain McObvious but since it really is SO apparent, it gets totally forgotten about. Here is what you do:

  • Look in previous years marketing reports to extract the figures from the trade show program of past years.
  • On average, add CPI (consumer price index) for each year since the last record of trade show spends. For example, if 2010 was the documented trade show spend take the base figure x 3 years x CPI and voila! There is your budget!
  • The fine print: Be real about this. For example, don’t include a touch screen in you wish list if high cost hardware was not a part of your past show budget. You need to throw a bit more coin in if you after this sort of high spend gadgetry!

 2. Use your spend for the floor space as a guide

I have seen this method work with taking both the square meterage and total cost as the key-determining factor. For example, if your stand space cost $100K, then clients sometimes allow an equivalent amount for the design and build of a stand. Alternatively, some clients use a dollar figure for each square metre. A quick and dirty guide: 6 x 3 (18 sq metres) stands allow $100-$150 per square metre for a custom stand. 6 x 6 (36 sq metres) allow $80 – $120 per square metre for a custom stand. Everything under 18 sqs: $120 – $150 per square metre and over 36 square metres: $120 – $200 per sq metre.

The disclaimer bit:

  • This is plus GST
  • This is based on a 1 off use custom design and build
  • This does not include 2 storey stands, catering, high-end technology, ponies (dude, they are HIGH cost and HIGH maintenance) and elaborate anything. This is a guide only, not something carved high on the mount!

3. Tie it back to your objectives

Say you had a million dollars for your marketing budget (steady now) and your objectives for this year include launching a new range of products that require in person demos with the intension to book meetings with key customers for a more detailed demo. The aim is to book 80 meetings with 20% of those visited buying your new technology product and placing orders within 60 days. Fantastic! Trade shows will serve you well and with such a major objective, you might allocate around 80% of your marketing spend to achieve this goal. But what if your major goal for the year was to launch a new website that was compatible across all platforms and showcases your entire suite of products. Now this a different beast and you would best tipping say 60% of your budget into a flawlessly built out website and the rest of that budget into promoting the shit out of it and yes, some of those promotion activities might include trade shows with your key audience in attendance. These examples show how important it really is to set clear objectives in your marketing plan as it provides a road map on how to achieve those aims.

 4. Make it up

No, seriously. Often when I see clients and I ask what the budget is, there is some nervous shuffling about and then those despair-inducing words are uttered, “there is no budget”. Hogwash. There is always a budget, it is just people might feel uncomfortable talking coin, they are worried that you will use every last dollar and want to see what they can get for less or they really don’t have much clarity around what a trade show stand might cost. So what I advise is this. As a marketer setting a budget for the stand, write down any figure you get an intuitive hit on. Now double that. How does that sit with you? Too much? Too little? Keep feeling you way through this writing down numbers, crossing out, dividing by 3, adding another 20% and so on until you get a figure that you think is a fair price for your stand brief. Next step is to tell the design firm that you partner with and they will – if they are solid operators – if you budget is too tight or super workable. Both extremes are met with raised eyebrows so this is no guide for which end of the spectrum your budget sits!

Hey!  Bonus infographic!

Set your trade show budget.  Stress free style!

Set your trade show budget. Stress free style!

Got a burning question about the budgeting for your own trade show program? Please leave a comment below or get in contact here and I would be happy to get my abacus out and see how I can help!

In my quieter moments I like thinking of who I would be in an alternate universe and when I saw this hot clip from MIA with ladies who are doing some hell-yeah stunt driving, I knew who I wanted to be this week in my alt-universe.

See you next week!