Friday, June 10, 2011

Are You Still Renting Flat Screens?

We find it hard to believe that many companies are still renting LCD, Plasma or LED flat panel TVs and Computer Monitors for their trade show booths.

Considering that the cost to purchase these screens has come down so much in the past year, it is actually cheaper to buy them than to rent them even one time in many cases.

We are now recommending that our clients purchase new flat screens for their trade shows and then give them away to either their employees or raffle them off at the end of the show.

In the above scenario you are actually spending the same money or less than when you were renting flat screens, but you now get the added benefit of a very happy employee, customer or prospect while also saving some money in the process. In addition having the screens in advance eliminates the stress related to hoping you have the proper mount or cables that will be compatible with a rental screen.

For one example we had a client who was renting two 50" flat screens for their trade show display and were paying an average rental cost of $1,200 each. They now buy these units for $900 each and have had some really fun contests in their office and at the show for the 50" giveaways.

Our company CDS Displays ( used to rent flat panel monitors to our clients and although we miss the revenue that it generated, we now suggest to all of our clients that they purchase flat panel screens.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How to use Microsites to Increase Booth Traffic at Trade Shows

One of the most successful "pre-show" marketing campaigns I ever executed included a show-specific microsite and a direct mail postcard.

For those of you who don't know what a microsite is - the best explanation I can provide is that it is a secondary, topic, event, or keyword specific website that lives completely outside of your main website. A good example of this is our "trade show display rental" microsite. Our main web address is ( ) but we also have several additional websites that are technically "microsites." One of them is ( ) this is a keyword specific microsite that shows up on the first page of Google when someone specifically searches for "trade show display rentals." Another one we use for our business is ( ) We are a dealer for Expand and the microsite allows us to focus on their product line and also comes in on the first page of Google.

This particular "pre-show campaign" included a product specific microsite that housed a video demo of the new product launch that was to be showcased at the upcoming industry trade show. This was for the medical device market. In order to create buzz before the show and additional traffic at the booth, we created a contest with a laptop giveaway.

A postcard was sent to pre-registered attendees that provided teaser information about the new product launch and drove traffic to the microsite with a contest promotion. Once at the microsite attendees could enter to win the laptop. Of course the entry form included some pre-qualifying questions and asked if the visitor would like to schedule a meeting during the event.

Approximately 3,000 postcards were mailed and the site received 1,800 visitors which is by far the highest response rate we have ever seen from a single postcard mailing.

Surprisingly only half of the visitors entered the contest, but of the nearly 900 who did enter 22 of them also scheduled an appointment for a one-on-one meeting at the show and 16 of the 22 actually showed up and met.

I don't know about you, but anytime you can have 16 pre-qualified, interested party meetings scheduled at your booth 30 days before a show from a single postcard and microsite you are off to a great show.

In addition to the microsite response, bringing the postcard to the booth would also enter you in the laptop giveaway and over 300 attendees showed up at the booth with the postcard. This pre-show marketing campaign was one of the most successful that we have seen and the microsite was the anchor in its success.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why do prices vary so much for similar products?

Have you ever wondered how there can be such major price differences for similar products from different suppliers? We get that question quite often and the answer is very difficult to answer. Consider the following examples.

I recently needed a new clothes dryer and went to Sears. I was surprised at the range in pricing considering that they all do the same thing. (dry clothes) The least expensive option was only $319 while the most expensive unit was over $1,500. How is this possible? Who would pay $1,500 for a product when there is a competitive option for only $319? (I bought the $450 option by the way.)

Obviously the same scenario plays out every day at car dealerships across the country. You can buy a new car for as little as $14,000, but most people spend between $25,000 - $35,000 for their new car and many people spend $50,000 - $60,000 or even more for a new car. Why?

There are many reasons that there are such a wide gaps in price ranges for cars, appliances and of course trade show displays. The main reason is quality. We all know that quality matters, but how do you compare and put a value on quality? Considering that almost everything comes with a warranty and usually all options (even the cheap ones) have a minimum quality standard that is "good enough." So why does anyone ever spend so much more for similar products when dramatically less expensive options are available?

Is it brand? Does marketing really hypnotize us to spend our money foolishly? Is it service? Maybe. I know that I am willing to spend a little more for excellent service. How about features? Oh yeah, now I'm seeing it - its features. We need to have those power windows, leather seats, and satellite radio right?

Features really are the most logical reason for price differences. That $1,500 clothes dryer was red bright and it was as shiny as a new car. It also had a big circle glass door and a chrome handle - plus a digital display and 32 different temperature settings. Wow!

In the trade show display industry "features" include reconfiguration options, portability, and of course design styling. But what happens when someone "knocks off" a unit that includes all the features, but it is simply made with less expensive components and materials? That's where quality comes back in to the equation.

CDS Displays offers a good quality economy retractable banner stand display for $299. A similar unit from the top "brand" name sells for nearly $600. You can also buy similar display stands online for as little as $99. What would you do? We would love to hear your feedback on this. We know it is entirely possible that the $99 stand may be good enough for some people. We also know that very many people buy the $600 units.

So why do prices vary so much for similar products?
 Please comment - we want your opinions on this topic.