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Going Beyond Price: 10 Key Buying Criteria For Trade Show Displays

tradeshow booth priceWhen you’re shopping for your next trade show display, it’s all too easy to focus just on the price.  After all, price is easy to judge – whoever costs the least, wins.

And yet, price is not the same as value.  When you buy based on value, you find that spending a little more money may get you a lot more value in return.

So here are 10 other criteria beyond price that experienced exhibit buyers know to look for.

Let’s start with the display:

1.  Quality:  Be careful about buying a disposable display online, only to last for a show or two.  A high-quality display will look great at your first show with its better fit and finish, plus look great longer with more durable materials and smarter engineering.
2.  Total Cost of Ownership:   Look beyond just the initial purchasing price.  Over the course of the life of the exhibit, you will spend – and potentially save – much more on exhibit shipping, drayage, I&D, storage, and refurbishing.  Get an estimate for the life of your exhibit, about 3 to 5 years.  You will be surprised how much an innovative modular exhibit can save you.  Your exhibit house should know when to offer exhibit rental to further stretch your budget.
3.  Flexibility:  How stuck are you with that exhibit shape you see in the rendering?  Will you be able to easily change your booth size up or down, and change your graphics to fit your evolving marketing messages?   If your initial display is not flexible, it may force you to buy another.
4.  Functionality:  Your trade show booth is more than a billboard; it’s also a work space.  Therefore, your exhibit needs to work for your trade show objectives and support your staff.  So if you need product demo spaces, storage, monitor mounts, meeting areas, wire management, leads slots, and the like, make sure that’s included in the designs you are considering.

Now, consider the factors relating to who you buy your exhibit from:

5.  Customer Service:  With your hectic schedule, buyers require a supportive exhibit house that returns your calls promptly.  Their responsiveness saves you time.  The best vendors genuinely want to help you long-term, because they have your best interests at heart.  A service-oriented exhibit house will even travel with you to your biggest shows to ensure your success, and has team members everywhere to help you away from home.
6.  Design For Marketing Results:  While anyone can “make it pretty,” you need an exhibit house that has shown it knows how to help you build your brand, generate sales leads, and boosts your trade show ROI.  They know how to translate your marketing objectives into a creative exhibit that gets attention and supports your booth staff.  They help your company win more business at trade shows.
7.  Trade Show Marketing Expertise:  While not brain surgery, trade shows are harder than they appear at first.  Find a vendor who freely shares their knowledge about what works in trade show marketing, and gives you expert guidance all along the way.
8.  Industry Knowledge:  An exhibit house that is more than just a builder, but also has demonstrated success for exhibitors in your own industry.  They know your show, your vertical market, and even what appeals to your buyer.
9.  Wide Selection:   Save some more time and get a better fit for you with a vendor that can be a one-stop shop for all your needs – from tabletops and portable inlines, to island exhibits of varying sizes.  So with just one call you get it all.
10.  Online Asset Management:   Because you don’t have time to wrestle with your exhibit assets anymore, innovative exhibit houses provide an online tool to manage your assets, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So you can say where you want your exhibit to go without the stress and hassle of phone tag and voice mail.

Buying a trade show exhibit is a big decision for a trade show marketer.  You are committing to a look that will define your company at its key industry shows, you are investing in a tool to help grow your business, and you are choosing a vendor who will make or break your success.

So when you are shopping for your next trade show display, consider value instead of price.  You may just find that it’s not how much it costs that matters, but how much it’s worth.

WWEAs you prepare for your future event and trade show planning, learn from your peers in the What’s Working in Exhibiting Benchmarks and Best Practices white paper. Learn how exhibitors have improved results, stretched their budgets, and reduced risk. Click here to request you free copy and learn more.

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

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