Attract Attention to Your Exhibition Stand

Having a stand at an exhibition, conference or trade show is a great way to grow your business and build a customer database, making sure that your exhibition space attracts plenty of interest and attention from the most suitable visitors.

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A trade show is the best possible way to promote your company to a wide market in a short space of time, even though you are against a high number of other competitors.

Creating the most successful exhibition stand may sound like a daunting challenge, but don’t worry! Here are some top tips to pull in the punters and attract the interest your company deserves.

Make it Visual

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Think of your stand as a portable shop window – you want it to say ‘come in and have a look!’ to visitors and be a welcoming space to enter without feeling intimidated. Choose visuals such as posters and products in order to boost the image you want to communicate. Your objective to sell should be noticeable, but not in a pushy or dominating manner. Employ a company to design and build your exhibition space specifically to suit your objectives. Companies such as Apex create and deliver custom built exhibition stands to promote your business, whatever your budget.

Be Creative

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The most attractive stands are often the ones which having something a little different about them. Be creative with lighting, sounds, screens or signage to grab attention and keep it. Follow visitors around your exhibition space to see what they see, and make sure there is no visual overload or too much text to read. Check out these creative exhibition stands for design inspiration!

Keep It Simple But Effective

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Remember, small is beautiful too. Exhibiting is all about having great ambitions and a product that people want, not having a huge and extravagant budget! Planning a space that suits your brand can be a little challenging, and it is often presumed that the larger the stand, the more attention you will attract. This isn’t always the case; if your objectives and business values are present, a small stand may be just what you need!

Use Colour… Well

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Colour, if used well, can be one of the most successful marketing strategies available to any business. Colour can quickly create a relationship between brand logo and human emotion, giving a person an instant connection to a product. The connection between that of colour and psychology is an extremely interesting theory, and if understood can provide your company with a successful, recognisable and highly respected brand and business rapport. Check out this article on the psychology of colour in marketing, and make sure you brand your company with the colour of success!

Practice Makes Perfect

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Before the exhibition day, set up your space in the workplace or an accessible location and explore how it feels and how it looks to passersby. Having a dress-rehearsal is a great way of eliminating any unnecessary elements, and helps you to focus more on what works rather than what doesn’t. It’s also a great way to gain some time during set-up and enables you to know exactly how to assemble on the day!

Get the Right Staff

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Pick your team members with both event and customers in mind. Many exhibitors use the ‘hook’ candidate (someone who attracts people to the stand), or the ‘spotter’ (who approaches people and brings them to the stand) – but if you have neither, do not worry! You can hire promotional staff who are perfectly selected to suit you and business values; companies like Breeze People audition and hand-pick the ideal staff team to suit your event!

Have a Secret Weapon

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Secret weapons can be anything, but make sure they are something that is going to attract attention, and even provide a customer with something they need or want. Preferably for free! Promotional gifts are ideal for exhibition freebies or to distribute throughout the trade show to encourage people to come and find your stand. The key to promotional gifts, though, is to create something fresh and something completely different to a competitor – often the most unique promotional gifts work the best. Companies like EMC Advertising Gifts offer fun alternatives to the traditional promotional product, and will provide you with something that visitors will want to keep!

In order to be brand-successful at exhibitions and conferences, just keep the above tips in mind and give yourself plenty of time to make arrangements, organise and make any last minute changes that may crop up. Time is key to any successful company! Don’t forget to promote and let people know which exhibitions you are appearing at and what dates to put in their diary! Here’s a helpful trade show planning guide to help you along the way. Good luck!

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How To Start Your Own Fashion Label

Whether you are a Fashion graduate, or have a passion for the industry, starting your own clothing line is often the pipe dream of many designers and those with an interest in fashion. While you may not ever be the next Viv Westwood or McQueen, you can still create good designs with great determination and a fantastic marketing strategy.

Catwalk

Many young designers often rush into setting up a business due to the perceived glamour and success of the fashion industry, ignoring the ups, downs and failed companies that we tend to hear far less about amongst the success stories. However, a business depends on the founder’s determination and aims, so if you are hard working and want to give your company the start it deserves, here are some great tips and advice to starting your own fashion business.

Do your research

Laptop & Notebook

Before you even start planning and designing, learn as much as you possibly can about the industry you are entering and fill your head with knowledge. Take the time to learn, expand skills and be sure of your abilities. By doing research, including watching interviews, attending classes, reading articles and taking the time to talk to fellow practitioners; you will gather a much stronger insight into what the industry expects and what is required to succeed. It may seem boring, but it is essential for success!

Check out HTSACC for articles, advice and top tips regarding start-up cost and licensing information specific to the fashion industry.

Be unique

Jumpers

There are plenty of UK based companies that started small-scale and progressively grew to worldwide distribution. In order to be set for success, your clothes will have to offer something a little different from the competition. Think outside the box, and use proven-popular ideas in modern concepts to encourage customers to purchase your designs rather than those of existing brands. Avoid making the same things as everybody else, give the market something new! For inspiration visit lookbook.nu – a great source for everyday people and everyday style!

Source and secure

Piggy Bank

In order to start to build up your business, you’ll need the money in order to produce it. “Indie” clothing lines are companies that aim to produce high-quality products and plan to extend in the future, once the brand has grown. There has been a particular boom in “indie” companies recently and it is estimated that brands of this type require a minimum of £300 to get going, and if you want in-house production – costs can increase to £5,000+ to get started.

There are plenty of ways to get started, and a lot of companies that will help you secure the funds if you haven’t saved up enough. Here is a great article from The Guardian with ideas on gaining alternative funding outside of bank loans. Another possibility is implementing pre-orders to get money from customers before the clothes are produced.

Plan the manufacture

Industrial Sewing Machine

Making your own clothes by hand is a great cost-effective way to get started, however, as the brand starts to grow – you will need to produce higher numbers on shorter timescales. Plenty of good sewing machine companies offer fantastic business start-up deals, including a wide range of industrial sewing machines that are affordable and the ideal option for first-time company starters.

If you choose to source your manufacturers out of house, be sure to approach professionals with a clear business plan. Potential partners are far more likely to be confident in your entrepreneurial ventures if they can see a clear growth strategy and an organised and dedicated individual behind it.

Learn how to market

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As with any business, knowing how to market your product is critical for success. Firstly, create a good, strong and easy-to-purchase-from website. A clear website will allow customers to shop and online presence is one of the most productive forms of advertising for new businesses. Other ways to spread business by cost-effective methods include word of mouth – if your customers are happy, they are far more likely to return and tell their friends.

Social media is a fantastic way to reach a large audience without spending much money! Visit popular social sites including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Youtube which offer huge audience communication and engagement worldwide.

Fantastic ways of reaching large audiences through simple and cost-effective marketing include traditional methods such as leaflet and poster advertisement concepts. For a fashion company, you will need to create a ‘buzz’ around your brand before you release your first line – so make sure you target your audience well in advance and get them excited to view your new range! This can be achieved through offering launch-day promotion codes and bargain deals, enticing future custom and giving the customer something back for logging in and purchasing on the first day of fashion-business. Promotional advertisement companies such as Direct Letterbox Marketing can create quality leaflet and promotional design advertisements in order to get your brand out there and start making a name for yourself in the creative industry!

Listen to your customers!

Customers

Market research is the key to any business. Your designs may be beautiful, but if they are too expensive to purchase or too difficult to wear, they simply will not sell. Listen to customer feedback; don’t be afraid to remake old styles if customers are asking for it, or kill a best-seller if it seems like the right thing to do. Your design and fashion aesthetic may change numerous times, but it is important to make a conscious effort to make changes that affect your market in a positive way. For the basics on market research, visit this great post to get started.

Stick at it!

Don't Give Up

Like anything, a clothing line takes a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed, alongside a few sleepless nights and stressful times. But don’t give up! You are sure to meet challenges along the way, but if you believe in your brand and yourself – you’ll succeed! Good Luck!

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How do they Make That? A Brief Guide to Product Development

For anyone who has ever wondered how products come into existence, this blog post is an (extremely) abridged description of the process that product gets from an idea to one that you are able to buy from a shop shelf.

Prior to all of the following steps, someone somewhere has to have a great idea that they identify will fill a gap in the market, or as being an improvement to an existing product.

Step 1 Research

After a potential product has been thought of, a research phase is entered where the potential market for the product and the expected retail price identified. There’s not much point taking a product further if it the market for it will not provide a decent return on the investment required to manufacture it. Specialist product marketing firms such as Power Decisions are often used to carry out this phase of research. You can find out more on the Power Decisions website.

Step 2 Concepts and Prototypes

3D product drawings are usually produced using computer CAD software – these precise drawings are then used later in the manufacturing process. You can see examples of the kinds of drawings on the website of CAD software manufacturer, Autodesk.

Prototypes of the product are assembled, often requiring the manufacture of one off components to be made where parts are not already in existence. One such company that provides one off components for prototypes is European Springs who can be seen here on their twitter page.

DVD factory

Step 3 Testing and Refinement and Evaluation

The concept product then enters an intensive stage of testing, the results of which can lead to refinements to the original design – this may need a return to the previous concept drawing prototype stage. Ultimately an entirely new product prototype may need to be created. The final evaluation of this development phase brings all the data gathered about the product performance and usability and functionality together prior to manufacture.

Step 4 Manufacture

It is commonplace for the manufacture of outsourced to a manufacturing company with particular expertise in the field. Probably the most notable example of this is the manufacture of Apple’s iPhone which is carried out by electronics giant foxconn. Whilst foxconn do not manufacture every component of the iPhone they are responsible for the final assembly in their electronics facilities in China. The original CAD drawings and prototypes will be passed to the chosen manufacturing facility for them to begin the process of final product manufacture.

Step 5 Distribution and Marketing

The final manufactured product is now at the stage where it can be sent via a distribution network to its intended market place. The product will not arrive at its retail location unannounced. Clever marketing campaigns are behind nearly every product to create anticipation of and demand for the product before it is available for sale.

This blog is really only intended as an overview of the concept to product process. There are many other steps that were above the scope of this blog post, such as safety testing and packaging design and production. Many products take years to make it through all of the design and development stages that are required.

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5 Photography Tips for Beginners

Making stunning pictures involves nothing more but a bit of thought. While it often helps having decent equipment, all you really need is to take a moment before each shot to think clearly about what are you attempting to capture or create!

Step 1 – Be Selective!

Find exactly what you want in that photo, and remove anything else from the shot. If you’re trying to take a picture of a flower, you don’t want a bunch of other flowers or trees in the shot. Get as close and focused on the subject as possible to get the best possible photo. According to famous photographer Arnold John Kaplan, (check his article for additional photography tips here: http://photoinf.com/General/Arnold_Kaplan/The_Magic_Of_Selective_Vision_-_Photo_Composition.htm) a photo composition is the foundation upon which we build our photo images, and produce a harmonious and pleasing photographs. So, be selective!

Step 2 – Look at the light!

By this I don’t mean look into the sun – no, that won’t help at all! But it is good to see what kind of light you are working with. Ask yourself – which way are the shadows falling? How is the light affecting your subject? Is the light blazing directly and brightly upon your whole subject? Also, a blogger and a photographer James Kerr in his blog ‘Sweet as photography’ (if you are interested you can read his article here:  http://www.sweetasphotography.com/blog/the-importance-of-lighting-in-photography/)   argues that light is everything in photography! For instance, side lightening can add drama and cause extreme to your work, while indirect lightening, on the other hand, can be used to make your subject glow soft and pretty!

Step 3 – Keep it simple!

Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away!  The more photos you take, the more you’ll know about what kind of camera to get when it’s time to upgrade. Just don’t bother with an expensive camera! It is certainly not necessary while you are learning. If you are seriously want to take up photography then I will recommend you learn on film first before using digital, or maybe buy both at one. Many people are selling their photo cameras at affordable prices, so you, a beginner, can really find one and start your journey! For instance, check such internet websites as www.ebay.co.uk, or http://www.cameraexchangestore.co.uk/  for price ideas! Also, don’t forget to try before you buy!

Step 4 – Experiment with time!

One of the most basic, and overlooked aspects of photography is that you have the power to slow time down or catch a split second! One image happens so slowly that we could never see it and the other happens so quickly in real time that we would never notice it. Play with shutter speed! Use a slow shutter speed and a tripod to make a pretty picture of any creek or stream. On the other hand, you can use a fast shutter speed (1/500 and up) to capture an object in motion.  Remember, catching the moment in fast-paced action photography may take a little more practice so hang in there!

Step 5 – Enjoy!

Photography is so much more than taking a picture. It is an art and a science combined when done correctly.  It affords the hobbyist a chance to make a profession, and to preserve memories for people. With a little guidance one can go from simple daytime picture taker to master photographer!

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Stand Out: Creative Exhibitions

For those of you who are unaware, Marketing Week 2013 is just around the corner! Marketing Week offers a fantastic chance for experienced and budding marketers alike to learn from the industry’s best. Should you be attending this marvellous excuse to show off your brand, you will need to know a couple of things first. A market designed for marketing is going to have your senses reeling; think about all those colours and slogans hitting you from every angle, your poor brain won’t know where to turn. As a marketer, this is where you need to know what attracts a customer, and what bores them to tears.

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Know Your Brand

I found this blog post on HubSpot extremely useful for explaining the golden rule of exhibition marketing: understanding why you’re there. You may have what you’re going to say all readied, and you think you sound like the business, but a well-timed ‘what is your role?’ can derail your train in an instant, so don’t just prepare clever answers. People want to poke and probe your brand to test for holes, not listen to your corporate jargon. Be realistic: answer the questions like a human being and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Remember to sell the value of your product, not just what it does. Function is pivotal to the product’s image, but it’s definitely the image that you’re selling.

The Christmas lights Coca-Cola truck makes for a very shiny marketing ploy.

Walk the Walk

You might be a snappy talker, but how do you dress? Appearance is everything. Let me say that again, appearance is everything. The Marketing Donut outlines these 12 reasons why exhibition stands fail to engage new customers, learn these basics and you can’t go wrong. On that note, if you want your stand to speak for itself, take a look at the services offered by Skyline Whitespace for some truly impressive, dynamic exhibition stand designs. I remember attending their Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 release in London. Admittedly I was more eager for the game than my next breath, but it was well and truly taken away on release day thanks to solid marketing.

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Silver-Tongue

This goes hand in hand with knowing your brand; being able to talk to people. Number 2 in this blog on ‘5 Reasons Customers Don’t Buy’ from About.com I would consider the most crucial point of exhibition marketing. Why would a customer invest their time and money in something they don’t think they need? Who really needs an iPhone 5 when the other 4 function just as well? The key comes from your dialogue. You need to make a big enough impression as a brand, as a product, and as a person for just one customer to be interested, so think about how that translates to a bigger audience.

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 Pack It In

Last but far from least, function as a team, not a rabble of hyenas. If someone inquires, they want a quick answer, not a team song and dance. Passersby aren’t buffalo; you don’t need the whole team to bring them down (so to speak), you should be able handle yourself. Forgive all the animal metaphors here, but this doesn’t mean you have to be a lone wolf; it simply means that being crowded by a host of white shirts and ties all explaining the same thing is unattractive. Simply knowing your team is with you should give you enough confidence to engage new customers: that and a huge customized stand.

Team

I hope you find these tips useful, though I have no doubt you already know what you are going to do. If you only take one thing away, let it be this: be realistic and don’t try to look like a salesman.

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