Author Archive

What’s bugging you about your booth?

Written by Susan Ratliff on April 22nd, 2008. Posted in Uncategorized

Here’s your chance to tell me exactly what’s driving you crazy about exhibitng and ask me your most pressing questions about booth design, selling or marketing at the show.  I know that there is very little exhibitor training going on in most companies. Many associations that exhibit have no clue what to do with their booth to maximize their investment or their time.  Are you unsure about where to put your table?  Confused about why your service bill is so high.  Maybe you can’t figure out just how many brochures or freebees you should bring to the show.  Do you know how many people should be in a 20′ inline booth?   I want to help.  Ask me anything. If I don’t have an answer I know I can connect you with someone who does.  The ball is in your court. Talk to me.


Biggest Booth Blunders

Written by Susan Ratliff on April 12th, 2008. Posted in Booth Blunders

When I walk into any show, whether it’s a business tradeshow or a consumer retail show I am compelled to stop at any booth where I see an obvious, detrimental mistake being made that causes that exhibiting company to look unprofessional or unproductive. I know it’s a bold move, but I rarely have anyone react to my suggestions in a negative way.  Most people remark that they wish someone had told them about the problems sooner.  It really is a shame that more companies don’t train their staff.  Just a few simple changes can make all the difference in the world to the success at a show.

Here are a few of the Biggest Booth Blunders I come across most often:

1.  WASTING YOUR REAL ESTATE: If you are lucky enough to get a corner booth space in a show, or paid a premium for the privelege, by all means remove the side rail on the open aisle and give attendees the chance to come into your booth from the side and the front.  I just love showing an exhibitor how they can just lift that pole and drape out of the back upright and have show services cart it away.  They are amazed at how much room they now have and how people actually come into their exhibit more readily.  It’s your real estate. You paid for it. Use it.

2. LOOKING LAZY:  Nothing makes your staff look less attentive and approachable than sitting down in the booth.  Take the chairs away, unless you are offering consultations.  Actually, unless you are in a very large exhibit space with a conference area and a plan for closing sales you shouldn’t even be sitting down talking to people. You should be getting them in, getting a lead and getting them out.

3.KEEPING YOURSELF A SECRET Have you ever stood in front of a booth for more than 15 seconds looking everywhere for some clue as to who the company is and what they do?  What a waste.  Put you company name and logo where it is easy to see.  More importantly, make sure they understand what you do.

4. NO IMPACT GIVE-AWAYS:  Don’t waste your money on any old give-away.  Select something that ties into your theme or compliments your product.  Pens are cheap, but if I was a pest control company I would spend my money on an imprinted fly swatter instead. 

Think about these for awhile and I’ll share some more next time.  For more resources on how to exhibit better, visit my resources page at or


What’s new in the exhibit industry?

Written by Susan Ratliff on March 24th, 2008. Posted in Uncategorized

I had a great time at this year’s Exhibitor show in Las Vegas. This is the premier tradeshow for the tradeshow and consumer show industry.  Manufacturers of exhibit properties, from all over the world, present their wares to end users, distributors and interested parties.  It offers an entertaining presentation of what’s new and exciting to help you market your business and present your products and services.  Everyone is jumping on the “Goin’ Green” bandwagon.  There are some pretty creative marketing strategies being used to capitalize on the green buzz.  Some of the innovative new products available for your exhibit booth are carpeting made from recycled tires, counter tops created from crushed plastic milk bottles, fabric replacing hardwalls and lots reduced energy lighting options.   

In theory, manufacturing exhibits from sustainable materials is a great idea, but the reality is that many companies are not quite ready to pay the higher costs required for environmentally safe exhibit products.  I am sure acceptance will increase as manufacturers discover more cost effective engineering materials and systems. 

It is pretty exciting to see America heartily grasping the benefits of helping the environment.  There are so many small things each of us can do that will make a difference to the health of the planet.  Now, I am not a tree-hugger by any means, but it seems that we can all make small contributions to this cause, for the good of us all.  We all have to remember that it is not just the materials something is made from, but the energy exerted to manufacture, transport and discard products too.  By using fabric graphics in your booth you save the energy it would take to construct laminate or wood walls. You save gas that would be burned transporting the heavier exhibit to a show.  Where we waste, as well as where we can conserve,  encompases a very wide area.

What have you seen out there that is energy efficient for exhibitors?  How are you doing your part to conserve?  Let me hear your views or questions.

Till next time,


A fresh new year

Written by Susan Ratliff on February 10th, 2008. Posted in Uncategorized

It’s been a while since I last wrote. I have been decompressing from another successful Women Entrepreneurs’ Small Business Boot Camp.  Our 4th event was a fun celebration and tons of educational options for over 250 women micro-business owners in Scottsdale Arizona.  Check out pictures and info at  If you’d like to hear some of the great speakers that were featured you can sign up for Boot Camp On-Line.  Details are on the site.

As I said, it’s a fresh new year.  When it comes to exhibiting, that means you have a great opportunity to set the tone for success by changing bad habits.  You probably already have your next six months exhibit schedule confirmed.  I hope you and your staff have emptied out all your display cases, set up your booth materials and given them a good looking over.  There is nothing worse than getting to a show and finding out that the person who packed up  the show last November forgot to tell you they broke the (fill in the blank)  It happens all the time.  I get plenty of calls this time of year from frantic customers during their set up.  The lights were not in the case, the pop up frame is broken, can I send out an extra part?  It is also a great opportunity to introduce new booth staff to the display.  I know it might be costly to set up a larger exhibit, but your exhibit house might offer a yearly maintanance check that you can observe.  Let your new staff provide fresh eyes.  What about a new image this year?  Do the graphics  still reflect your company goals and current marketing messages?  Don’t wait. Pull out the exhibit today and check over every inch.  This small step will save you countless hours of aggrevation in the near future.

Let me know if I can help with some new ideas to stimulate your creative juices.


End of Year Checklist

Written by Susan Ratliff on December 20th, 2007. Posted in Uncategorized

As we wrap up 2007 this is a good time to look back at what we did right and what we did wrong at our tradeshows and consumer show events.   Through this analysis we can make a plan to generate more leads and make more sales in the months to come.   Take a look at my suggested checklist and comments and let me know if I can help with some ideas that will put more punch in your presentation.

1.  Preparation:  Are you a last minute marketer?  If you want to save money and avoid headaches as an exhibitor you have to plan ahead.  Book your space early so you can get a good corner location.  Prep your exhibit and freshen up your graphics well in advance.  Order services (electricity, decorations, carpet etc)  early to get the discounts.  Ship advance to the warehouse so you know when your exhibit will arrive. This way it will be in your space when you get there or your labor won’t be waiting for hours while your cases are on the dock waiting for a fork lift.

2.  Set some goals:  What do you want to accomplish?  Close sales, get leads, demonstrate a new product, take a survey, court the media?  Make a plan and be sure the booth staff buys in and is accountable for the results. 

3.  Get your Marketing plan in place.  This means decide on your theme and the sales messages.  What is your hook?  What do you need to do at the booth to accomplish the goals you listed?  When you determine that, then coordiate everything around the goal.  The graphics, the collateral, the sales pitch, the give-a-ways must be planned out with the end result in mind.

4.  Train the staff:  You time and money will be totally wasted unless the staff understands what the goals are, has incentives to accomplish them, has consecquenses if they don’t and is trained how to get there.  Bring the team in on the planning. Brainstorm the sales message. Script a succinct, 30 second presentation to get a lead or close a sale.  Prepare a list of the most common customer objections and craft the rebuttals.  Require consistency from the staff and ask them to memorize the presentation.

5.  Follow up:  Exhibit Experts rents displays.  I have been surprised more than once, to find the clients lead box full of leads shipped back in their case to me.  Everyone thought everyone else had them.  Don’t wait more than a few days to call, email or snail mail a follow-up proposal. 

Use these five ideas to start you own list with your team.  I’d love to hear what you have to say.  Be safe out there and have a wonderful holiday.