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Playbooks

Exhibiting at Trade Shows: A Guide for Startups

As we start preparing for the Digital Signage Expo 2018, we share our tips on how to start thinking about your trade show strategy. The startup way!

Hello from startup land and welcome to our new blog series!

To quickly fill you in, we’re attending Digital Signage Expo 2018 in Las Vegas on the 26th-29th of March. This is our second year at DSE. Last year our CEO and Co-founder Mark McDermott picked up a last minute booth opportunity, and got all the organization done in a night, grabbed his laptop, took a flight to Vegas and stood in a booth by himself.

But this year Mark is a lone warrior no more. We’ve grown a lot since DSE 2017, and for DSE 2018 we’re sending a team to show off our simple digital signage software. This year we’re doing DSE 2018 the right way. Well, at least we think we are.

This is how our journey starts, with us getting our DSE 2018 together and taking you along with us. It’s hard enough doing a trade show on  a startup budget. But what’s even harder is competing with the big guys, with their huge budgets, who know the rules of the game inside out.

That’s what our blog is all about. To share with you what we’re doing, so you can either do it better or avoid it. No startup left behind.

If you’re currently considering or planning to attend a trade show, here are some of the things we’re learning first hand.

Enough with the intros, let’s dive deep into how to define your trade show strategy.

Have an ultimate goal (Should you even go to a trade show?)

Why are you attending the trade show in the first place? Is your goal to generate leads, create partnerships, attract investors or increase your brand awareness?

Defining your goal is a must before building your strategy. Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve will help you quickly identify which KPIs to use when you measure your success.

Then do some research and come up with an estimated budget. Before proceeding any further think carefully, what do you need to achieve to break even?

This could be X leads, X paid customers, X amount of capital investment, X partners.

Why don’t you make a list with all the stakeholders, investors, partners or type of customers you want to approach during the trade show.

Is it feasible? If yes, then you should attend!

Plan ahead

The sooner, the better. Someone once said, “Logistics must be simple - everyone thinks they’re an expert”. The truth is most logistics seem trivial, but they actually steal loads of your energy and time. Depending on your sector or the size of the trade show, logistics can range from booking flights to getting liability insurance to contacting contractors.

Make a list of your deadlines and start planning, what needs to be done, by when.

Find out if your trade show gives away any promo codes for accommodation, suppliers, insurance, design agencies or even advertising plans. DSE  offers promo codes for accomodation for example, but we did our own research and managed to find even cheaper accommodation.

Plan for the unforeseen. Your supply order might be delayed or your designer might bail on you last minute. Backup plans are a must!

An effective course of action when it comes logistics is to compile a list of all the questions you have and call  the organizers. Don’t be scared of sounding dumb. They’ll show you the right way and save you time.

For ordering our booth, we spent so much time trying to find some of the answers on google, website, twitter, but nothing. We called and our answers were resolved in literally seconds, but we had lost so much valuable time researching.

Find your core message and stick to it

Before delving into the sexier parts of trade show planning, the design and the swag to name a few, get your message clear.

What is your unique proposition? What are your products’ unique selling points? Why are you different from your competitors?

Your core message will be your compass when you start designing your booth’s experience.

Come up with an Event Marketing Plan

You’ve already spent time and resources to attend the trade show, right? It would be a shame if you missed out because you did not market yourself. Here are 3 simple steps to get your marketing strategy in less than an hour.

Step 1: Which are the different stages of your target audience?

  1. Pre-event/ On the floor: Attendees, who are unaware of who you are and what you do.
  2. Outside your Booth: Spectators, who are just acquainted with your brand or as marketers would say, your impressions.
  3. Inside your Booth: People who have expressed an initial interest in your brand. In marketing terms, they are your leads, your potential partner or investor.
  4. Post Event: Anyone who actively expressed an interest by for example getting your contact details, giving his or her contact details, booking a product demo, buying your product.

Step 2: What do you want to achieve at each stage? Remember your ultimate goal (Why?)

  1. Make attendees aware of who you are, what you do and where they can find you.
  2. Make spectators come inside your booth.
  3. Turn impressions into actual leads, potential investors or partners.
  4. Nurture.

Step 3: How?

Here is where you breakdown your strategy into tasks. You can ‘mix and match’ depending on your ultimate goal.

  1. Calls, Appointments, Email Newsletter, Event Landing Page, Social media, Blogs, Paid Media, People Branding, Networking Events
  2. Booth journey/experience: Booth Design, Swag, Competition (stick to your core message)
  3. Pitch, Demo, Salesmanship
  4. Follow-up: email, call, blog, social media, hosted drinks, coffee, appointment, smoke signals, be creative

The life-changing art of prioritization

At some point of the organization frenzy you will realise that maybe you have too much on your plate, maybe you are falling behind on your schedule or maybe you set very high targets. That is the time to start prioritising. Seriously.

Take a deep breath and think what is your ultimate goal? What is your estimated budget?

Which tasks can deliver the most staggering and cost-efficient results? Write it down. It is better if tasks live on paper than inside your head. Stick with these and if you have remaining time and budget, go for the next on your list.

There you have it. The life-changing art of prioritisation.

And if you ever feel like drowning, you can always ask for help.

This is how we started our DSE 2018 planning. We hope this guide helps you get started with your own events.

Stay tuned for PART 2! Title is currently under construction ;-)

Playbooks

Exhibiting at Trade Shows: A Guide for Startups

As we start preparing for the Digital Signage Expo 2018, we share our tips on how to start thinking about your trade show strategy. The startup way!

Hello from startup land and welcome to our new blog series!

To quickly fill you in, we’re attending Digital Signage Expo 2018 in Las Vegas on the 26th-29th of March. This is our second year at DSE. Last year our CEO and Co-founder Mark McDermott picked up a last minute booth opportunity, and got all the organization done in a night, grabbed his laptop, took a flight to Vegas and stood in a booth by himself.

But this year Mark is a lone warrior no more. We’ve grown a lot since DSE 2017, and for DSE 2018 we’re sending a team to show off our simple digital signage software. This year we’re doing DSE 2018 the right way. Well, at least we think we are.

This is how our journey starts, with us getting our DSE 2018 together and taking you along with us. It’s hard enough doing a trade show on  a startup budget. But what’s even harder is competing with the big guys, with their huge budgets, who know the rules of the game inside out.

That’s what our blog is all about. To share with you what we’re doing, so you can either do it better or avoid it. No startup left behind.

If you’re currently considering or planning to attend a trade show, here are some of the things we’re learning first hand.

Enough with the intros, let’s dive deep into how to define your trade show strategy.

Have an ultimate goal (Should you even go to a trade show?)

Why are you attending the trade show in the first place? Is your goal to generate leads, create partnerships, attract investors or increase your brand awareness?

Defining your goal is a must before building your strategy. Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve will help you quickly identify which KPIs to use when you measure your success.

Then do some research and come up with an estimated budget. Before proceeding any further think carefully, what do you need to achieve to break even?

This could be X leads, X paid customers, X amount of capital investment, X partners.

Why don’t you make a list with all the stakeholders, investors, partners or type of customers you want to approach during the trade show.

Is it feasible? If yes, then you should attend!

Plan ahead

The sooner, the better. Someone once said, “Logistics must be simple - everyone thinks they’re an expert”. The truth is most logistics seem trivial, but they actually steal loads of your energy and time. Depending on your sector or the size of the trade show, logistics can range from booking flights to getting liability insurance to contacting contractors.

Make a list of your deadlines and start planning, what needs to be done, by when.

Find out if your trade show gives away any promo codes for accommodation, suppliers, insurance, design agencies or even advertising plans. DSE  offers promo codes for accomodation for example, but we did our own research and managed to find even cheaper accommodation.

Plan for the unforeseen. Your supply order might be delayed or your designer might bail on you last minute. Backup plans are a must!

An effective course of action when it comes logistics is to compile a list of all the questions you have and call  the organizers. Don’t be scared of sounding dumb. They’ll show you the right way and save you time.

For ordering our booth, we spent so much time trying to find some of the answers on google, website, twitter, but nothing. We called and our answers were resolved in literally seconds, but we had lost so much valuable time researching.

Find your core message and stick to it

Before delving into the sexier parts of trade show planning, the design and the swag to name a few, get your message clear.

What is your unique proposition? What are your products’ unique selling points? Why are you different from your competitors?

Your core message will be your compass when you start designing your booth’s experience.

Come up with an Event Marketing Plan

You’ve already spent time and resources to attend the trade show, right? It would be a shame if you missed out because you did not market yourself. Here are 3 simple steps to get your marketing strategy in less than an hour.

Step 1: Which are the different stages of your target audience?

  1. Pre-event/ On the floor: Attendees, who are unaware of who you are and what you do.
  2. Outside your Booth: Spectators, who are just acquainted with your brand or as marketers would say, your impressions.
  3. Inside your Booth: People who have expressed an initial interest in your brand. In marketing terms, they are your leads, your potential partner or investor.
  4. Post Event: Anyone who actively expressed an interest by for example getting your contact details, giving his or her contact details, booking a product demo, buying your product.

Step 2: What do you want to achieve at each stage? Remember your ultimate goal (Why?)

  1. Make attendees aware of who you are, what you do and where they can find you.
  2. Make spectators come inside your booth.
  3. Turn impressions into actual leads, potential investors or partners.
  4. Nurture.

Step 3: How?

Here is where you breakdown your strategy into tasks. You can ‘mix and match’ depending on your ultimate goal.

  1. Calls, Appointments, Email Newsletter, Event Landing Page, Social media, Blogs, Paid Media, People Branding, Networking Events
  2. Booth journey/experience: Booth Design, Swag, Competition (stick to your core message)
  3. Pitch, Demo, Salesmanship
  4. Follow-up: email, call, blog, social media, hosted drinks, coffee, appointment, smoke signals, be creative

The life-changing art of prioritization

At some point of the organization frenzy you will realise that maybe you have too much on your plate, maybe you are falling behind on your schedule or maybe you set very high targets. That is the time to start prioritising. Seriously.

Take a deep breath and think what is your ultimate goal? What is your estimated budget?

Which tasks can deliver the most staggering and cost-efficient results? Write it down. It is better if tasks live on paper than inside your head. Stick with these and if you have remaining time and budget, go for the next on your list.

There you have it. The life-changing art of prioritisation.

And if you ever feel like drowning, you can always ask for help.

This is how we started our DSE 2018 planning. We hope this guide helps you get started with your own events.

Stay tuned for PART 2! Title is currently under construction ;-)

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