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How to compile a trade show portfolio

Trade shows can be an effective sales and promotion tool for your business large or small, but they can also be a complete waste of time and money if not done correctly. Whether your trade show booth is a huge success or a resounding failure depends on your advanced preparation. Get the best return on your investment by adding an organized trade show folder, price sheets and solid promotional materials to your booth.

When you exhibit at a trade show, there are five essentials you need: your booth, trained staff, promotional materials, a laptop, and a trade show binder.

The contents of the trade show kit, which is a reference guide, includes the tools and information your staff needs while talking to booth visitors.

Here’s how to compile a trade show portfolio and what to include:

The three ring binder

Your trade display binder should be a three-ring binder with D-rings that can hold a large number of materials. Choose a brightly colored folder that is easy to place on your booth.

What materials will you need at the fair? Use the folder tabs to separate materials into categories. It will help your staff to find the information quickly. Make tab labels as general or specific as you like. Main categories may include:

  • General company information. Important people, departments, corporate offices and phone numbers.
  • Training. Pre-show training instructions and materials. Cheat sheets with sales information and exhibit staff phone numbers.
  • Dirty. Up-to-date lists of contact information for your sales office, dealers, distributors, and demo center in this section. This section will probably be used most often. List the names, phone numbers, and addresses of key people and facilities in your sales organization, and include locations in case a booth visitor asks, “Who’s your rep in Philly?” Price sheets must be added.
  • Product. Copies of all product brochures, spec sheets, photos, samples, and more.
  • Marketing. Company and product logos, CDs, specialty fonts, and all display graphics. If your graphics are lost, damaged, or incorrect, you can easily recreate them at the show.
  • Staff. Place copies of your staff’s airline itineraries, hotel confirmations, and exhibit staff schedules in this section of the binder.
  • Finance. Company earnings statements should be in this section. Staff may be asked for the latest annual report or recent news articles about the company’s latest earnings report.
  • press kit. If the press stops by your booth, be prepared with a press kit that includes current press releases. If you’re planning a press event, pack extra invitations in the sturdy sheet protectors in this section for handing out.
  • Stationary. If you’re sending leads to the office, include pre-printed overnight corporate forms. Put some fax forms and corporate stationery in sheet protectors at the back of the folder, including #10 and brochure-size envelopes. As you gather resources, talk to the sales, product, and marketing departments to find out which materials they find most useful. Lastly, set up a folder table of contents. You can color code this section to match the colored tabs used to separate the categories.

4 tips for trade show folders

  1. In each tabbed section, insert heavy-duty sheet protectors or inside pockets to save the documents you will collect. Alleviates the need to punch documents.
  2. Keep the folder in a central location in the cabin. Make sure staff members know where to find it and what’s in it.
  3. Updating your organized binder is easy. Keeping it current prevents your booth staff from answering “I don’t know” or time-consuming searching for someone who knows the answer when attendees ask tough questions.
  4. The information in the folder is confidential. You must not leave the information desk. Keep the book locked up when not in use.

Following these tips ensures that your booth staff are safe, efficient and productive.

Don’t visit a big retailer for your company’s trade show, sales, product, marketing and other department binders. Get a quality, durable three-ring binder the first time. Consult a three-ring binder specialist to help you find the perfect binder for the job.

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