Anatomy of a successful trade show booth and show

 To Market, To Market

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Now is the perfect time to market your canine massage. There are all kinds of venues from agility competitions to county fairs; the opportunities are abundant.
Canine massage is becoming ever more popular. Most dog events there is somebody massaging dogs, somewhere. Maybe it is you. Maybe your booth could use a little help. After reading this article, please let me know if this was helpful. 
Have you walked through shows and seen the booths? Some are well thought out –and well-funded, some not so much. If you were looking for your competition, could you find them easily? If you had difficulty locating their booths that means that their booths had not been designed well enough to get your attention. And, you were looking for them!
Are you Ready? 

In the world of trade shows, dog shows, agility shows, and outdoor marketing events like adoptathons, rescue fundraisers, and community park events, there are a lot of messages vying for attention. Your booth, and the message it promotes, can make or break your attempt at marketing and exposure.
Here are some suggestions to create a successful trade show booth and how to make friends and influence people. Make the most of your events. The keys are: clearness of message, simplicity of design, consistency, and the image that is your intentional creation.
A great and effective booth does not have to cost an arm and a leg. It is all about the planning, design, and execution. The booth objectives are to attract attention and entice/invite passers by to feel the need to talk with you. 
For that to happen, the energy you project must be positively uplifting. They need to feel an immediate emotional connection with you and what you are promoting. Your guests need to see that you offer that special something they need that will enhance their lives and the lives of their dogs. Your booth is an extension of you. So, from this perspective, it is difficult to separate the booth from the boothee. 
Mark Your Territory

You know in PetMassageTM, we are all about defining yourself as the leader and owning your space. The first thing you need to do is define your space. A pop up tent is a good start. There are several options that are 10 x 10, the dimensions of most booth spaces. A quick online search shows tents from $50 and up. You can order one with your logo and message emblazoned on it. It can be made with a back, sides, curtains, mosquito netting, lights, air conditioning, and sound systems. Your only limitations are your budget, how easy it is to transport and set up, and how much the thing weighs. 
Plan the Layout of Your Booth

The amount of space you will have will limit what you can do with your booth. Find out what the dimensions are. Each show is different; though your allotted space is usually 10 feet wide and 8 – 10 feet deep. Once you know how much space you have, map out the square feet in your office and set up a mock booth. Visually decide what you can fit into the space. Walk around in it to make sure you are not bumping into things, knocking them over.
Need inspiration? Pinterest is a great platform to use for checking out some amazing trade show display examples. 
Create Pieces You Can Reuse

It can be expensive to put together a good looking trade show booth. Think of it as an investment that you will be able to derive value from for several years. Design multifunctional items that you can use at future events, or even in the office. 
Years ago, we had a large 4 x 4 black and white outdoor banner printed.  Between shows, it is the primary graphic in our school’s reception area. At indoor events, the banner is suspended from traditional trade show drape piping or mounted with Velcro tape on a black fabric panel. Outdoors, we suspend the same banner that has grommets, between trees, or between pillars in pavilions. Back in 1998 we designed a freestanding frame and was made at a local machine shop. The frame, made of metal and PVC pipes can be assembled or disassembled by one person in five minutes. When it’s broken down, it’s stored and transported in a small canvas golf bag. We still use it.

Our banner, our free standing frame, our tables, our chairs, our display receptacles for brochures are all easily packable and available. We also have sturdy reusable boxes for shipping books, videos, brochures and all the extras we take, such as extension cords, measuring tape, duct tape, packaging tape, bags, terrycloth towels, and display stands. I always bring a ceramic mug, since I do not like drinking coffee from paper or Styrofoam cups.
It’s a Small World After All

Within your tent you can create your own little world. Your world will be a reflection of who you are, as edited by you. Your space will be unique. Just like you. And just like you, it is original and special. Your booth must stand out from the crowd and scream, “Hey, look here. There is something – and someone- wonderful here you need to see.”
Draw The Right Kind of Attention 

Attracting attention is important. That’s why you are there. You could get attention by dressing up in a clown suit and twisting balloons. That’s attention; but, how can that possibly suggest the value and fundamental need dogs have for quality canine massage? Does that suggest that you have trained for this profession and that it is an important part of canine wellness maintenance and rehabilitation? Is that the impression you want people to have after they’ve left you?
Message Specific

Simplicity. Elegance. Grace. Style. Honesty. Genuineness, Confidence and poise. These are the qualities that attract people. These, while maintaining your professionalism are key. You just have to be yourself; and put your amazingly best foot forward. 
Does each detail in your booth project these values? Do your choices of booth design project the serious demeanor of professionalism? When designing your booth, remember: you are setting the scene for a performance. You are staging an event. Everything works for you; nothing detracts. 
Graphics: Large, Simple

Keep your message brief and simple. Keep your logo graphic simple and elegant. Refine and reduce your message until it is distilled to a short sentence; like an elevator speech. When you want to share additional information about various facets of your company, direct people to a table where your products and print media are waiting.
Our first PetMassageTM graphics were complicated, wordy banners with lots of photographs and lots of messages. Too many messages. It was overwhelming for guests. It was overwhelming for us to decide what to promote first. Is it the workshops, the books, the videos, the children’s afterschool/camp program, or the instructor training and licensing program? So many choices. So little time. We learned so we can now help you.
So, you have your space, as defined by your tent. You have your big fabulous graphic. You have your tables for products and print media. Your primary activity will be offering or demonstrating canine PetMassage. Make sure your canine massage table is clean and sturdy. If you are concerned about cleanliness, cover the table with towels or a bath mat. Use good, clean towels. Details, details. 
If you have space, provide a couple of comfortable folding chairs for pet parents and on-lookers to sit and observe, while you demonstrate canine PetMassage.

People are going to scope out different booths from afar before walking over and committing to talking with you. This means that your booth will have to stand out. Make it inviting. Make it simple for anyone walking by to strike up a conversation with you about your display. 
Just Do It

Now you’ve got what it takes to have a sensational booth. Go take what you’ve learned, build your perfect showcase and have a wildly successful show season!

Part II of this article with more specific recommendations and anecdotes will be in next week’s Newsletter.  

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