Show and Sell

Here are the tricks of the trade show circuit and how to expo your way to profits

what kind of display you will have. As president of 21st Century Expo Group, Ray McFarland has created attractive and eye-catching exhibits for dozens of clients, including Mobil Oil, Toyota, the NAACP and the National Education Association. McFarland suggests, “If you’ve bought a 10 x 10 ft. space, re-create that in your warehouse, shop or home before you come to the show. Do a dry run. Make sure all of your products will fit in that space and decide how you will present them.”

Get a good spot. Ideally, you want your display set up in a location that has a steady flow of foot traffic. McFarland advises that you try for an island space. “That gives you exposure on all four sides of the booth and greater access to your exhibit.”

It’s more likely you’ll get a pick of prime locations if you turn in registration materials early, McFarland notes. But, while some organizations do give early birds the best spots, others charge an additional fee for prime locations such as those near the exhibit hall entrance or in a corner. According to McFarland, you can expect to pay $100-$200 extra to locate a 10 x 10-ft. booth in a corner location.

Cut costs where possible. Depending on the size of the show and the industry it addresses, an average 10 x 10 ft. exhibit space will cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,200. For example, a 10 x 10 ft. space at shows sponsored by groups like the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP or the Urban League can cost $1,000$1,200. The same-size booth at a large science or computer trad
e event can cost up to $1,500.

Says McFarland, “If you’re a small company with a limited product line, you’d probably want a 10 x 10 ft. space. If you’re medium size with a considerable amount of merchandise, you might move up to 10 x 20 ft.”

It’s not so much the size of the booth, but what you put in that space that can run your budget through the roof.

For example, within a 10 x 10 ft. booth, you’re likely to pay $3,000 for a basic display unit. Add lights, graphics and other custom features, and the cost can run up to $15,000. Other average costs include $85 for carpet rental, $50 for a draped table, $40 for chairs, and $80-$100 to install electrical lines for a standard 500-watt outlet for lights, computers and audio/visual displays. McFarland adds that you can expect to pay $150 for a telephone line and an additional $50 to rent the phone. Most trade show organizations offer freight handling services, which include transporting your materials from the loading dock to your booth and back to the dock. The cost is $30-$50 per 100 pounds.

Pool resources with others. Some black businesses have joined forces at major trade shows to create more visibility for their products.

At last year’s Book Expo America, Perkins and five other African American business owners exhibited near each other to form what he jokingly calls

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