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Ingredients for an Exhibit

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A great chef does more than show up and cook. She sources ingredients, assembles them in the right order, and then presents them with finesse.

The same is true for being an exhibitor at a conference. It's not as easy as just showing up in the booth. Many things need to be sourced, sent, and ultimately assembled to create the experience for your clients and potential clients.

This upcoming weekend we'll be at the Association for Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) annual meeting. This is a conference attended by a most colleges of education, and it is a great opportunity for those organizations to interact with us as a company and a brand.

An exhibit space comes with one chair, one table, a paper name plaque, and a trashcan. Needless to say, this is a tad bit short of a great exhibit experience for conference goers.

edthena exhibit wallThere are many ingredients for creating a full exhibit space:

  • Pop-up display. We decided to go much bigger than a banner this year and upgraded to a 7-foot by 10-foot fabric wall which is printed with our logo. This is the image at right. We sourced from Northwest Creative Imaging.
  • Printed materials:
    • Rack cards. I fondly refer to these as our bookmarks since they're bookmark proportions. The cards are a third of a page in size and printed on heavy stock paper. We sourced from HotCards.
    • Business cards. While I always have a slew of business cards, our sales guy needed cards. Go-to printer for this for several years has been UPrinting.
    • Success stories. We bought really fancy paper and decided to print these in-house.
    • Special invitations. We're running an invite-only program for potential partners this spring. We printed a small batch of the quarter-sheet cards this week via Fedex Office and will pick them up in Indianapolis.
  • Pens. Educators love pens, yes, but a pen delivers impressions to a potential customer for a long time as long as it's somewhat decent quality. We sourced from Discount Mugs.
  • Table cover. The standard-issue, 6-foot table at an event looks drab. We dressed ours up a bit with a cover sourced from TotallyTableCovers.
  • Furniture. Renting furniture from the exhibits company is more expensive than buying it new. We ordered a table and chairs from Ikea in Chicago and had it delivered to us for less than the cost of a rental. We also ordered a lamp for the table.
  • Computers. We utilize two computers in our exhibit so that one person can have a sit-down demo with prospects at the table while the other person can demo to those walking the hall.
  • Lead capture mechanism. As people stop by, you want to write down that you met them. We utilize an app called QuickTapLead for a better experience than a notebook.
  • Electricity. Yes, you have to order the electricity for your booth. In advance.
  • Internet access. We had to order this, too.
  • The other small stuff. Don't forget... Surge protector. Holder for pens. Holder for rack cards. Holder for success stories. Duct tape. Snacks. Bottled water. Cell phone charger.

Time will tell if the ingredients, as assembled Friday, will create the right experience this weekend for our visitors.

Note: I am including the vendors we chose in case it is helpful to others. I'm not receiving any compensation from the vendors mentioned here.

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