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Trade Show Good, Bad, and Ugly

By Joe Miller | March 10, 2015


We have witnessed trade show good, bad and ugly. For as many businesses that we see do great shows, there are always a bunch of bad and ugly ones. Why is that? I guess that’s why we’re writing about it. Plus, we are attending a few trade shows this spring and summer.

So is it a problem if your team falls asleep in your booth during a show?

Asleep at show | Branding at trade show

Bad news if your team eats their lunch at the front table in your booth?

Tradeshow Failure | Brand Trade Show

Your big beautiful booth display is all beat up?

Bent Booth Display | Brand Trade Show

Your design didn’t work out quite the way you planned it?

Display bad | Trade show brand

At dRC we have designed and written trade show materials, including displays, videos, signs, contests, handouts and more, for many of our clients. Over time, we have developed a pretty good idea of what can work to attract an audience of prospects. We’re not right 100 percent of the time, but our percentage is good.

Here are some questions and concerns we try to answer and alleviate before we work on trade show vendor displays (and it doesn’t matter if your budget is small or large or if the show is regional or international):

Who is your audience? (And will they be at the show?)

What is their primary concern and/or desire?

Can you reach out to them before the event?

What are your goals for the show? (leads, contacts, sales, etc.)

Is your goal-related show messaging developed? (theme, tagline, giveaways, promotions, talks, etc.)

Is your booth or space branded big so that it can be seen and recognized?

Have you considered every aspect of the space you control and how you can control it? (Carpet, stage, lights, displays, sound, video, traffic flow, events, temperature, staff, furniture, product demos, etc…)

Does your space stand out from the ones around you and from competing brands?

Great Display | Trade Show Brand

Does your team know exactly what they’re doing?

There are always more things to consider, or less, depending on your budget. And we can help. Please let us know what your all time trade show successes were.



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Joe Miller

Joe delivers copy, generates concepts, and helps determine strategy. He’s been doing it since 1991 when he started working with a small downtown Cleveland marketing firm. Joe joined the designRoom team as a freelance writer in 1993. He has an annoying knack for finding the core of a problem and the heart of a solution. He also makes the best coffee in the office.In early 2008 he joined the Marketing & Communications team at the Ohio Lottery. While there, Joe led the team that developed and implemented the Lottery’s first-ever social media initiative and crafted the Ohio Policy and Procedures and Terms of Use that guided all the Lottery’s social media involvement. In addition, he created a Winners are Everywhere campaign and managed the creative agency responsible for its implementation.Joe is also a professional musician and educator and occasional composer. He’s the Jazz Trumpet faculty and Jazz Combo conductor at Cleveland State University and has performed all over the world.

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