How to make a bang at exhibitions

The exhibition space is very much like the sky on fireworks night – crowded with bright sparks all vying for attention. So how do you avoid looking like a damp sparkler and make a bang at exhibitions?

Fireworks

Put on a good show

It’s not always the biggest and brashest fireworks that get all the ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the audience, there’s also clever little rockets that give an extra flurry right at the end. So while exhibiting can be an expensive business, don’t think that you’re out of the game just because you don’t have a budget to match big competitors. Think creatively about where to position yourself on the exhibition floor, where you’ll sit in relation to footfall and competitors, and how you can attract people to your stand. Lots of exhibitors use giveaway tricks and competitions to draw people in, so think about how you can do this without breaking the bank, whilst promoting your brand at the same time.

Sync to the music

We love a bit of music as the backdrop to a fireworks display, but when it’s an out of sync ‘80s rock ballad it can do more harm than good. We’re not suggesting you blast out a soundtrack on your exhibitions stand, but rather plan, practice and refine your approach. Exhibition marketing is a complex, multifaceted affair which requires a huge amount of planning prior to the event, with everything coming together for one key, non-negotiable date. Set one person as the project owner and work to a critical path to make sure that all elements are synced to deliver on time and to budget. The logistics alone are a huge job for the set up and break down of an event, so you might want to think about outsourcing this.

Live up to your name

There’s nothing worse than buying the ‘atomic blaster’ rocket only to find it barely gets lift off. And the same can be said for stands at exhibitions. Make sure your branding reflects the services you’re providing, so that any footfall you do attract is relevant and hopefully converts. Take time and attention and use professionals to create backdrops, AV, giveaway literature and general stand furnishing. Include your logo, strap line and if you’re at an event to promote a new product make sure that this is championed through branding on the stand.

Make some noise

Fireworks night is not just about the pretty colours in the sky, it’s about the big bangs as well. It’s all very well having a beautiful display stand but if nobody knows you’re at the exhibition then what’s the point? Set up a communications strategy for how you’ll promote yourself before, during and after the event. Use email to speak to existing customers and social and PR to speak to potential customers. Keep track on social during the exhibition to pick up on event conversations and make sure you follow up after the event to capitalise on PR and chase conversions on new contacts.

Be the main attraction

There’s hot dogs, the bonfire, candy floss, sparklers, toffee apples, the burning of the Guy, but at the end of the day the main attraction is always the fireworks display. On the exhibition floor you’ll be one stand among a whole of host of other businesses, some of whom will be competitors. As well good branding, an eye catching exhibition stand and clever PR, another way to boost your profile is to be the main attraction. If you think you’ve got some real insight into your industry and feel able to present an informative – rather than sales heavy – seminar or keynote speech then this is a great way to capture the undivided attention of the audience, build awareness of your brand, and drive footfall to your business.

Prepare your Zombie exhibition apocalypse plan

It’s a human-eat-human world on the exhibition floor and unlike a zombie apocalypse, you know exactly when it’s going to happen.

The most important thing to remember – which goes for both a zombie apocalypse and exhibiting –is that planning can save your life.

Take our quick and fun quiz below and find out how long your exhibiting zombie apocalypse plan will keep you alive on the exhibition floor, then read our tips on how to survive below.

Make sure you follow these top tips to make sure you leave as more than just a survivor, but as a winner – and of course leaving with your brain intact.

Zombie Apocalpyse

Keep together

Rule one that I’ve learnt from watching many zombie films is DO NOT SPLIT UP. We know that as soon as one person decides it’s better to split up, that something bad will happen. Solidarity and team comradery always wins out. The same can be said when planning for an exhibition.

This doesn’t mean that you should huddle together on the exhibition stand or take toilet breaks in twos, but you should all be working as a team. Before the exhibition put some time aside to focus everybody on the objectives of the exhibition, to make sure that everybody knows best practice for stand behaviour as well as discussing specifics about uniform and transport.

Making sure that everybody is on the same page will make sure that your team is acting as one and can survive the exhibition.

Arm yourself with the right tools

In a zombie apocalypse, you wouldn’t dream of going out without some form of tool –which pretty much consists of anything you have lying around that can take off a head with enough force.

In the exhibition hall, your tool of choice will be elements on your stand that can help you to convert visitors to leads or sales. Although we hope you won’t be decapitating anybody with banner stands or literature holders, these can help you achieve your objectives to bring them on-stand for more information and give your sales staff an opportunity to convert them.

Being armed with the right sales tools, as well as having lead generation forms ready will help to make sure your objectives of your exhibition are met.

Be prepared for anything

Anything can happen in a zombie apocalypse – those that will survive are those who can keep a calm head when in a crisis and can resolve any situation with speed and lateral thinking.

At your exhibition, don’t be caught out, so make sure you pre-pack an emergency stand kit that contains a few essentials such as pens, business cards, scissors, plasters, sticky tape and maybe even a stepladder. These are items that can help you resolve any potential crisis situation quickly and efficiently.

Photo credit: Elena Gatti “Zombie Walk” on Flickr (CC2.0)

Ready Freddie Go wins Marler Haley Charity Competition 2014

After two weeks of public voting, the winner of our annual charity competition with 65% of the vote is the Freddie Farmer Foundation!

Inspired by 10 year old Freddie Farmer who was born at 28 weeks with cerebral palsy, the charity was set up in 2011 to raise funds to set up a specialised physiotherapy centre in south-east London for children and young people with cerebral palsy and serious mobility problems.

Their prize for winning is £346 worth of Marler Haley vouchers to spend on new display stands.

Making a difference to Freddie Farmer Foundation

Speaking about the competition Anita Catchesides, charity officer at Freddie Farmer Foundation said: “Thank you all so much for voting for the Freddie Farmer Foundation.”

“Our faithful old banner stand has buckled under constant use and is no longer serviceable so this prize has come at just the right time.

“We entered the competition to win £346 worth of Marler Haley display vouchers to pay for a new exhibition stand and we were delighted to reach the final of the competition, and to subsequently win! Thanks so much for your support.

“We’ll use the new banner to promote the Freddie Farmer Foundation to the wider community, it’ll help raise awareness to help us support more young disabled children in the community.

“As soon as we get the new banner, we’ll share a picture of it on our Facebook page.”

Proud to support charities

Our charity competition has now been running for four years. Andrew Pocock, sales and marketing director at Marler Haley said “We’re very pleased to have announced the winners of our fourth annual charity competition as the Freddie Farmer Foundation.

“Our competition is a way of us celebrating charities to help further the work that they do. We understand the hard decisions that charities are often faced with when it comes to fundraising and marketing displays. Purchasing new displays when every penny can make a difference toward their core aims can be difficult.

“By supporting one charity a year to create great new displays without the cost, we can allow this difficult decision to be negated and allow them to make a real difference to their fundraising and awareness efforts.

“We’re so pleased to add the Freddie Farmer Foundation to our growing list of charity winners, joining previous winners of Camp Nibble, Pop ‘N’ Grow and Orpheus. Since winning, our previous victors have gone on to continue the great work they do with their displays still in action.

“As well as celebrating the victory of Freddie Farmer Foundation, we’d also like to thank the runners up of the competition who took the time and effort to enter – Womankind Worldwide and Winston’s Wish. As well as to everybody who voted for their winner – thank you!”

Keep calm and exhibit– Last minute checklist for exhibiting

Time is a precious resource and when it comes to event planning, there’s almost always never enough of it. For some, this provides a buzz of anticipation that makes them thrive under pressure, but for others this can be a nail biting time fraught with trepidation.

The most important thing to remember if your event is round the corner is to keep calm. Here is our handy three point checklist to keep the panic at bay and keep you on-track for success.

1.     Have a Dry Run

Keep calm and exhibitBefore your exhibition, check that your displays are in good working order by putting them up. Not only will this be a good opportunity for you to refresh your mind as to how to assemble your display to make light work of it at the exhibition or event, but it’s also an opportunity to check that everything is as it should be.

This involves checking your display for wear and tear and for out of date messages. If your graphics have been stored away for a prolonged period, it can be hard to recall exactly what they look like. So it’s always better to find out that you need to update your graphics before the event, rather than on the grand reveal at the event itself.

If you need to replace your graphics in a hurry, remember our 24 hour turn around on banners and 48 hours on other graphic based products.

2. Prepare emergency stand kit

The secret to success (and for a happier exhibitor), is to go prepared! Not only does this mean checking that you have your displays sorted, but also means creating a last minute emergency stand kit. These are items that can save your exhibition stand in its time of need.

It’s always hard to anticipate what can go wrong but being prepared with spares, disaster kits and staff aids can save your bacon. A few must haves in your kit include: pens, business cards, sticky tape and plasters.

3.     Team briefing

Holding a team briefing for your exhibiting staff is really important in order to focus everybody on the aims and objectives of the event. It also provides an opportunity to talk through transport arrangements, time that everybody should promptly arrive, expectations for behaviour on stand (no mobile phones for example) and where your stand is.

Follow these three simple steps before your event and you’ll be set to have a great panic-free exhibition!

For more tips on how to make sure you and your team are great exhibitors and follow best practice, see our naughty exhibitors caught in the act infographic.

Charity Competition Finalists 2014

Thank you everybody for voting! Voting has now officially closed… please bear with us, we’ll announce the winner week commencing 13 October 2014.

We’re pleased to announce three finalists for our annual charity competition! Please help to decide the winner by casting a vote using the poll below.

The winning charity will be awarded with £346 worth of Marler Haley vouchers to help them raise awareness of the vital work they do.

Please see the competition entries below which explain why you should vote for them and how they’d use their vouchers if they won. To cast your vote, use the poll at the bottom of this blog post.

Finalists:

 

Good luck everyone!

Please see the list of all other entrants that we’d like to thank for entering, who will all be receiving 10% off their next purchase made with Marler Haley, valid until 31 December 2014:

Ready Freddie Go
WomanKind
Percy’s Pals
Guild Care
Celia Hammond
The Rainbow Centre
Winston’s Wish
MBEEDS Scotland

Five top charity displays

Displays are great for making sure that you can be seen through a crowd, but it can seem difficult to know which display is right for your needs as a charity. Here are five examples of how displays can be used in different environments to gain greater visibility and awareness.

Charity display stands provided by Marler Haley1. At exhibitions, conferences and events Pop up stands can create a seamless backdrop to draw attention from afar. As Cancer Research UK did with their pop up (image left), keep your design simple with your logo and key message for maximum impact and to increase its potential use. Replacement graphics are always available to use with your existing frame which is a cost-effective solution to updating your display.

2. If space is an issue, then banner stands are a fantastic ‘turn up and go’ solution to making sure you can be seen above a crowd. With a small footprint, they take up little room and are very easy to set up. Grace’s Fund (image centre, bottom) used their banner stand at supermarkets, but you’ll also see them in busy shopping malls to gain greater exposure and to raise vital funds at the same time.

3. When exhibiting outdoors, there is nothing better than flying a flag for your cause. Marketing flags can be up to 5 metres tall which makes them perfect for crowded outdoor events. Newbury & District Cancer Care Trust placed their flags at the entrance of marquees to show their location (image right, top). You’ll also see them being regularly used to support charity fundraisers at large outdoor events such as marathons and triathlons.

4. For when you know you’ll have some table space available – such as at fetes where you’ll be selling merchandise for your cause – then printed, branded tablecloths are perfect. Christian Aid used their tablecloth (image centre, top) to cover up their table top to display merchandise and information, you can also choose any colour tone with your logo to create a professional display.

5. If your aim is to raise awareness of your work on a tabletop, then folding display boards are a very versatile choice for a display. With a Velcro-friendly backboard available in 14 different colours, your messages and posters can be stuck on using male hook fasteners which can easily be swapped when needed to create a fresh display. Friends of Bexhill Hospital used their display (image right, bottom) to show the latest photos and descriptions of how they support the hospital to raise awareness of their work.

Which displays make the best branded press backdrop?

As well as using display stands as a staple ingredient for exhibitions, they are also used to increase brand awareness for press and photo opportunities. If you’re looking to create a branded backdrop for your next event or press opportunity, follow these tips to choose the perfect stand and make it impactful.

Northamptonshire County Council using pop up display as award backdropSimple branding

When designing your backdrop, I’d always advice to keep the design as simple as a repeat of your logo(s). This will help to ensure that the logos will still be seen if they are stood in front of for photos. Which after all, is the point of having these displays!

Many people also like to have one large logo at the top to bring together all others with a strapline – make sure in this instance that it is above head height so that it can be seen and read even if tall people are in front of it! When designing your backdrop, I’d always advice to keep the design as simple as a repeat of your logo(s). This will help to ensure that the logos will still be seen if they are stood in front of for photos. Which after all, is the point of having these displays!

What size to choose

In the world of simple branded backdrops, size does matter. Think about the number of people who will be standing in front of the display to work out whether you need a standard banner stand at 800mm wide, a wide banner stand up to 2000mm wide, or a larger display, such as a pop up stand that can reach over 3000mm wide.

One person interviews and conferences

In a video interview, or conference with a speaker – all eyes are on the speaker and rightfully so. But the background also plays an important role. It both adds branding so that people can easily see your brand and provides staging to provide a more professional feel for visitors.

Use one or more banner stands in this instance to create a simple display that is not overpowering. If in a conference hall, consider using banners at either end of the stage area as well as behind the speaker (as long as it doesn’t cover up or intrude on any presentations).

Group photographs and awards

For photograph opportunities using a larger display, such as a pop up stand or a zip up stand would look great. Filling the photograph with your logo provides simple branding to associate your brand with photographs of award winners – perfect for brand exposure if considering using the photographs for press opportunities!

Top five blog articles to perfect your exhibiting skills

How are your exhibiting skills? Pretty good or just okay? As we reach high-season for exhibiting, make sure you’re up to date with the latest hints and tips. Whether you need to brush up on setting objectives, or remind yourself of the common pitfalls of exhibitors, here are five articles that can help you out this year!

Graph of tea and coffee to show that 20% of exhibitors use tea and coffee as a motivational tool at exhibitions

1. How to gain a good return on investment from display stands

Maximising the use of displays is really important to many businesses and charities. In this article, we tell you how you can make sure your displays can last for as long as you need them by: keeping your messages simple, considering whether you need an outdoor stand, choosing a stand that can have replacement graphics and how to spot quality suppliers. Read more.

2. Benefits of incorporating digital at an event for your business

Many businesses are now considering how they can add elements of digital engagement onto their future exhibition stands without spending a fortune. In this article, we explain why you may want to use digital on your stand as well as some ways you can use it to help engage with your visitors. Read more.

3. Setting objectives for exhibitions

Setting objectives before you exhibit is really important in order for you to know whether you’ve had a successful exhibition. This exercise will also help you to define your goals and understand what worked well and what needs to be improved for the next exhibition. Read more. 

4. 5 tips to stand out at your next exhibition

When exhibiting, you’ll want to make sure you’re drawing people toward your stand rather than repelling them. Read these helpful 5 tips, including removing any barriers, to make sure your stand is motivating people to find out more. Read more.

5. Naughty exhibitors caught in the act

We’ve saved the best for last. This one is our findings displayed in an infographic about whether exhibitors are following best practice. See what we found, and how you can follow a few simple tips to make sure you have exhibiting success. Read more.

In a hurry? Get your banner stand within 24 hours

We can now provide a faster, next day delivery for most banner stands!

Roller Banner Stand - GenesisWe know that there are times when a quick delivery is needed. When an event is around the corner and you realise you need a new banner stand, we’re here to help.

If you have your print-ready artwork ready to go by 12pm, then we can deliver your banner to you the very next day.

So if you’re in a hurry, and need to take advantage of this option, just tell us that you need a fast delivery and we’ll do the rest.

Banner stand sizes we can deliver in 24 hours

Our 24 hour service is available on all standard sized indoor banner stands up to a maximum width of 1000mm. An average banner stand width is between 800-850mm so this covers the majority of banners that we provide, but does not include extra-wide banners or outdoor banners, which can be delivered within 48 hours after receiving print ready artwork.

Don’t have print ready artwork?

If you don’t have print ready artwork for your banner stand then there are a few options available to you. You could:

  1. Design your own banner using our online artwork design tool – available on Genesis and Junior banner stands. This service is free.
  2. Have minor design amends suing our artworking service – send us your logo, text and images and we’ll put it all together. This service starts from £28.50.
  3. If you don’t know where to start, then we can provide a full graphic design service. For this service, we take your ideas and messages and create a display that suits you. This service is available from £126.00.

If you’re still in a hurry and want to use the above services, then tell us when you need your finished banner stand for and we’ll always try our utmost to deliver to your deadline.

Not in a hurry?

We know you won’t always be in such a hurry, so our quick delivery service has to be requested, else our usual delivery service will apply.

Delivery for other displays

We can deliver all print-based display stands within 48 hours of receiving your print ready artwork, depending on the quantity needed. This includes banner stands over 1 metre wide, pop up stands, outdoor displays and tablecloths.

Display boards can be despatched within 3-5 working days from ordering – although a few colour options can be delivered within 24 hours – ask us about this!

Literature stands and other accessories can normally be delivered within 24 hours, if the item is in stock.

How to gain a good return on investment from display stands as a charity

Choosing the right display as a charity can be tough. When funds could be used directly toward charitable aims, it can seem like a hard decision as to whether to invest in display stands.

But, we know that displays can provide an exceptional return on investment to help draw attention from afar, gain new supporters and vital funds to continue your important aims.

Here are my five top tips to help you maximise the potential of your displays for your charity:

Charity display stands provided by Marler Haley

1. Keep it simple

A great way of making sure you get the most value for money out of your display is by making sure you can reuse it time and time again, rather than for one off occasions.

Think about the design of your display. Some charities choose to use display boards to have a long lasting solution to interchange their messages and photos on a regular basis.

Other charities choose to use simple branded stands with a logo, which will only need to be changed when your branding does.

2. Weather proof

Does your display need to be weatherproof in case you want to take it outside?

Flags are designed to cope with weather, but most banner stands should only be used indoors. If you want to display a banner stand outside, consider using an outdoor banner which has extra stability to cope with breezes.

3. Replacement graphics

For banner stands and pop up displays, replacement graphics are available so that you can update your display without changing the supporting base. Not only is this a more eco-friendly option to updating your messages, but it’s also cheaper than purchasing a brand new display.

Not all banner stands can have replacement graphics, so check before purchasing your first display to see whether it is compatible.

4. Quality= reliability

If you’re looking to reuse your displays without having to purchase new displays every time, then look out for quality before purchasing.

Look for high quality materials on banner stands that will not curl or delaminate over time.

For tablecloths and flags, look out for those that are printed using a process called dye-sublimation that prints the design into the fabric, rather than transferring a print ontop.

These quality assurances will make sure that your display will look top-quality time and time again without fading or cracking.

5. Charity perks

Whether your budget is big or small, we know the work that charities do is important and we’re keen to support as many charities as possible. We are pleased to provide additional discounts on website prices for most products, so call us for special pricing if you are looking for a charity display.

Take part in our charity survey to tell us how you maximise ROI. Survey closes September 2014.

You can also enter our charity competition to be in with a chance of winning over £300 worth of Marler Haley vouchers to use on displays! Closes for entries in September 2014.

5 best kept event secrets to increase the lifespan of your marketing flags

Promotional_flagsPromotional flags make great displays to gain attention from afar. Whether you’re using them every day on a garage forecourt, or occasionally at outdoor events, knowing how to properly care for your flag will not only increase their longevity, but will also help make sure you are maximising your return on investment.

By following our step-by-step guide, you can be sure to maximise its use and extend the life of your flag:

1. Location, Location, Location
Consider where to position your flag to gain you maximum exposure but not at the cost of your flag! Air pollution will cause the white areas to become grey and UV can, over time, cause deterioration and fading to the fabric.

2. Maintenance
Life expectancy is entirely dependent on the climatic conditions and hours of flying. Realistically the maximum lifespan of a flag used regularly is approximately six months. After this time, you may wish to think about rejuvenating your flag with fresh graphics to make sure your display remains eye-catching and not tatty.

During the manufacturing process we bond our flags using a heat seal process, which minimises the chance of fraying. If any of the edges become frayed then a quick trick is to trim, reinforce and re-hem to extend its lifespan. This can be done on a standard sewing machine, but ensure that your needle is sharp. Standard cotton thread will suffice but a nylon thread will prove to be more robust if you are making your own repairs.

3. Wind and rain can be a pain
Dismantle your flag during adverse weather conditions, including strong winds over Beaufort Scale 6. Heavy rain combined with high winds can increase the weight of the flag and put extra strain on the pole. This can lead to damage. So if it’s blowing a gale, take your flag down.

4. Dirt be gone!
If your flag is looking a bit dirty then it can be washed. Wash it in a regular washing machine at 40°C with everyday detergents and air dry. Always allow your flag to completely dry out before storing as it may go mouldy. Your flag shouldn’t need ironing but if it does, iron it on a cool heat after testing a small patch first.

5. Give your flag space
Flags can often become damaged by being caught on other items. Ensure that your flag doesn’t catch or snag on its pole or any other surrounding objects. Do not place flag poles too close together.
If you have any questions a member of our team will be happy to assist.

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