Is Your Trade Show Display Presentable?

Attendees at a trade show

Simple Steps to Ensure Your Collateral is Ready to Help You Sell

Whether you’re handing out sell sheets, T-shirts, stress balls, or something more exciting, making sure your trade show collateral looks new and professional is a top priority for any exhibitor. After years in the custom shipping and transport case business, this is a subject near and dear to my heart, and one to which I’ve given perhaps too much thought.

Beginning with a (usually sizeable) investment for just the booth setup before any collateral is accounted for, trade shows are big business — and a big business opportunity. With increasing competition driving the rising costs of exhibiting at trade shows, your business wants to ensure that their investment is protected. And when something as simple as damaged collateral can affect your bottom line, these simple steps can be exceedingly valuable as a way to help your trade show efforts result in sales.


Check your materials

Ensure a good first impression.

Your banners, posters, tablecloth, etc., are most often the first thing potential prospects see of your company, and often the reason they approach your table in the first place. Hence, the huge dollars spent on pimping out booths. But regardless of the money spent on your visual materials, if they don’t look crisp and neat, they won’t be nearly as inviting. Keeping a few household items in your kit will guarantee a good look at every show: a hair dryer on hot can remove wrinkles from vinyl banners, an iron or hand steamer can tackle the creases in your tablecloth, and in a pinch, even a spray bottle of warm water can get the kinks out of a backdrop.

Make sure paper products aren’t folded, creased, or stained.

It’s fine (even encouraged) to reuse collateral materials, but consider the reality that your collateral often is the most lasting impression your trade show interactions and connections are left with, so you want to make sure it looks as professional and engaging as you were when you met the prospect. Seventy percent of collateral gets thrown away in the host city — don’t give your prospects a reason to toss your opportunity in the trash.

Wrinkled t-shirts don’t speak well for your company.

Yes, you have staff to engage and network with potential clients, but in a lot of ways, your trade show materials are the public face of your business. Those materials are the only thing that goes back home with your prospects, so making sure that collateral is in perfect condition is paramount. You’re beginning a conversation with a potential client that will hopefully end with a lasting business relationship — you want to make sure that your collateral is consistent with the importance of that aspiration.

Packing and unpacking collateral is a great time to check for damage.

Make sure imperfect collateral doesn’t make it onto your table in the first place by doing a quick but thorough check as you unpack. When putting the day’s collateral away, do another check, so you can remove anything that’s been damaged during presenting.


Prevent damage

Invest in quality.

The easiest way to avoid damage is to begin with quality materials created just for this type of use. Trade show materials can take a licking — but they should keep on ticking. Choosing vendors who specialize in creating trade show collateral will assure that you’re starting out with materials that stand the test of time. In the same way, you’ve got to use the right case to store and transport your collateral. You need a solution that fits your needs, and doesn’t leave your materials in tatters—and you scrambling for last-minute solutions. I always remember that old saying, “Buy cheap, buy twice.” A sound investment now, can prevent a disaster later.

Packing matters.

How you pack and store your materials matters. Double check that t-shirts are properly folded. Make sure flyers, brochures, white papers, etc., are stored in a neat and secure fashion to prevent damage in transit. And take the extra time to arrange your prizes or giveaways safely, so they don’t break. If you are transporting the same materials each time you exhibit, custom cases can provide an efficient solution to your traveling woes, and help ensure that you arrive to the show with crisp, perfect collateral every time. Unusable collateral is money wasted, so make sure you’re putting enough thought and initial investment into how to store and transport collateral.


Wrapping up

Successful collateral keeps the conversation going. Don’t let laziness or poor planning sabotage a potential opportunity. Follow these simple steps to start every trade show off on the right foot. I’m always excited to hear about other techniques exhibitors have developed over the years. Please share any of your personal strategies in the comments.


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