Dear Purchasing Professional,
We usually don’t get to speak with you directly when we respond to an RFP. But if we could, this is what we’d say.
We’d like you to know that to get the best value when buying custom tradeshow exhibits you need to take a slightly different purchasing approach. These products require creative thinking (like advertising), and work best when uniquely crafted to fit your company’s needs.
Custom trade show exhibits are not one-size-fits-all. They differ from system or portable exhibits such as standard pop-up and tabletop exhibits. In a nutshell, they are properties created specifically for your company and should not be valued strictly on a basis of price.
“Will this design represent our company better and thus generate more leads, sales, and press coverage?” is what you really need to ask yourself
So how can you assess one exhibit house versus another? Here are eight suggestions you might want to consider:
- Begin with the end in mind. Start the process by understanding your own internal exhibit team’s objectives and measures for the end results they are seeking.
- Provide access. Rather than having contenders submit blind proposals, ask the exhibit companies on your short list to work with your team to create their proposal. At the very least, allow each company to ask questions, in private, without sharing the information to the other bidders. This allows your bidders to do their best work for you. Plus, the internal tradeshow team will be able to provide great feedback on who they like working with.
- Share budget. Rather than ask companies to design blind, give them a budget limit. Then you can compare what each can deliver at the same price point.
- Research client turnover. How long does this company keep its customers?
- Check financial stability. Will your exhibit house still be there in six months?
- Price for your program, not your project. Some exhibit houses will ‘low-ball’ the upfront property purchase planning to make it up in the long run from services. Asking for a quote that includes your needs over the entire year-and not just for that first big show-helps reveal this cost-shifting tactic.
- Assess for long-term efficiency. An exhibit house should be able to outline their plan for keeping your costs down over the long haul.
- Assess synergy. Which company does your in-house exhibit team feel would make the best partner? Once the exhibit is built, your team will likely be working with these people to deploy the exhibit for several years. Chemistry matters.