Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How To Choose a Display Brand

At least once a week we are being contacted by another new display manufacturer that is looking to sign us up as a dealer for their products and systems.

Founded in 1983, CDS Displays was a pioneer in providing lightweight, custom, portable and modular display and exhibit systems. Back then there were only a couple manufacturers and very few dealers/distributors in the US.

Most of our competition was building everything out of wood and metal which was very heavy and had to ship in large wooden crates. We competed by offering products that were much lighter weight and very portable. These solutions provided our customers significant savings and flexibility.

Back in the 80's there were only a handful of brands on the market including Featherlite, Nimlok, Channel Kor, Tiger Mark and Skyline. Today there are probably close to 100 different brands competing for space in our showrooms.

It is nearly impossible to introduce our clients to all of the brands and options available. Our approach now requires a stellar interview process regarding our customers needs and goals for their exhibit program.

Not every company is budget conscience regarding their exhibit program, but if we try too hard to understand budgets we risk being viewed as pushy. The truth is that budget concerns is the best place to start when trying to decide on a brand or system to recommend. The following are the factors that need to be understood to help a dealer figure out which of the endless brands and products to recommend.

1 - Budget (How important is it to reduce shipping and storage costs?)
2 - Design (Do you need a completely customized solution?)
3 - Ease of setup (Would you ever set this up yourself or are you concerned with show labor costs?)
4 - Flexibility (Will the exhibit always be used in the same size and configuration?)

With this information an experienced exhibit consultant can surely find you a product that will meet all of your needs and concerns.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Introducing the Featherlite Medallion Display

A smarter, better looking display has sparked a resurgence.

2 years ago when we were invited by Graeme Nelson (President of Featherlite) to visit his hospitality suite at "The Hotel" in Las Vegas during the annual Exhibitor Show our sales numbers with Featherlite were at a 10 year low. CDS Displays has been a Featherlite Dealer since 1986 and had been one of their top dealers during many of those years.

Unfortunately with the flood of lower priced (and lower quality of course) manufacturers hitting the market combined with cost conscience, recession-stunned exhibitors it had become increasingly difficult to sell the premium brands such as Featherlite.

However, what Graeme had to show us in Las Vegas was exactly what we both needed to reverse the trend and rekindle our position as a top Featherlite dealer. We knew immediately that Featherlite had a winner and CDS Display's customers have proved we were right by adopting the Medallion as the new, must have addition to their exhibit programs.

The Medallion has even opened the doors to many new clients we had been trying to meet with for years.

Some early adapters included United Rentals (The largest equipment rental company in the world), Nuance, (makers of Dragon TM Dictation software) and Emhart Technologies (Stanley, Black & Decker Inc.) just to name a few. Here are a few photos of them.

Click here for more information on Featherlite Displays or the new Medallion Display line.

Corporate Display Specialties, Inc.

Find out why the Featherlite Medallion is setting the standard for lightweight portable trade show displays and exhibits. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trade Show Traffic Builder

A Simple Traffic Stopper - The Prize Wheel

You know that you have looked around to find the source of the "clicking" wheel with people cheering while walking the floor of a trade show. We all do it. I actually won a Playstation Portable at a show in New York. That's much better than a t-shirt.

We recently rented a Prize Wheel to the Dr. Pepper group and when it came back it had some great prize slots including NBA tickets. (and some t-shirt spaces too)

Some times the main prize can be as simple as an entry to a drawing for a large prize such as an ipad or a large dollar value gift or gas card while the rest of the slots are filled with small prizes like t-shirts or flashlights etc.

Everyone like a free chance to win something and the sound of the wheel spinning will bring more people to stop and look than you would think.

Prize wheels come in many different sizes and can be floor standing or table top units. The prize slots most often can be printed out on your desktop printer and adding color including a photo of each prize will add to the magic. See on our website Prize Wheel.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What actually constitutes a "Pop-up Display?"

The term pop-up display is often misunderstood since there are several types of displays that can fall into that category. To an experienced trade show industry professional a "pop-up display" usually refers to a standard 10 x 10 curved display that utilizes magnetic front panels that are either fabric covered or graphic printed. Pop-up displays often utilize their shipping case as a front counter or podium. The industry term for this is a "case-to-counter" conversion kit.

There are several newer types of displays that fall into the "pop-up" category including big fabric displays and flag frame displays. The difference between a traditional pop-up display and a big fabric pop-up display is that with the newer style, big fabric displays the graphic actually remains on the frame when the display is setup and taken down. Where the traditional pop-up displays need to have the graphics detached and reattached for setup and breakdown.

The flag frame style of pop-up displays also keep their graphics in place when setup and taken down. This obviously makes it much easier to and less time consuming to setup and break down the newer styles of pop-up displays versus the traditional pop-up displays. The main difference between a flag frame and a big fabric pop-up display is the graphics configurations. A big fabric display utilizes a large single graphic graphic where a flag frame unit allows for multiple graphic panels which adds a level of versatility and style.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to Identify Dates and Locations for Industry Tradeshows

One of the most common questions we hear from clients is: "How can I find a list of tradeshows in my industry?" Of course we want to help our clients to find trade shows to participate in because that means more displays and graphics which is what we produce. For years we would do the research and follow up with the customers who asked with one or two recommendations. It was a lot of work and a frustrating task.

After many years of researching this information the hard way, B2B Communications comes along with a great resource known as "The Trade Show Calendar" which we quickly installed on our website as a tool for our clients to use self-service style. You can see the tool at

The Trade Show Calendar lets you search for trade shows by industry, location, date, and much more. The results include important data such as square feet of the show, number of exhibitors and attendance. Possibly the best feature is that the results also include a link to the website for the show itself.

This feature has been a great addition to our website and provides a great resource for our team internally and our clients. We hope you enjoy its value as well.

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.