Essential Keystrokes is…

where I share my favorite tips, tools, reviews and commentary on web design, marketing, blogging, new media and related topics. For more about this site and the voice behind it, check out my About page.


SubscribeFollow me on TwitterLinked In Stumble Upon What I Digg Email me

Exhibiting your product or service at a trade show is a great way to network with industry experts and customers but can be very, very expensive.  How do you know if it’s right for your company?  Glad you asked. You’ve come to the right place.  I’m going to take a minute to address the pros and cons of having a booth at a trade show so you can weigh your options and see what works for your brand.


Face Time: A trade show is a great opportunity to meet distributers, manufacturers, industry experts, and customers.  No matter how good your social marketing campaign may be, nothing beats meeting face to face in the real world. You could really amp things up by handing out specialized promotional products from QLP to booth attendees. The free swag may be enough to convert random passersby’s into loyal customers.

Credibility and Visibility:  Your presence at a trade show, even a small targeted show, demonstrates your credibility in your specific industry.  Also, just being there makes you visible to people who would have never encountered your brand on their own.

Observe Trends and Competition: Attending a trade show is a great opportunity to see what trends are hot in your market.  This is also a great time to take a look at your competition and see what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and how you can do better – or show off how much better you already are.

Demonstrate Your Product:  The trade show is the perfect venue to demonstrate your product and show how it works and show why people need it.  This also allows individuals to provide feedback about product and tell you what they like about, what they don’t like about it, and how it can be improved.


Expense: The expenses of having a booth at a trade show, even a small one, can get out of hand very quickly.  You have to consider the price of the space itself, installation, labor, cleaning, traveling, lodging, display costs, and numerous other factors.  Also, there might not be an immediate ROI on the expenses.  If you have a successful exhibition, it may be weeks or months before the people you impressed start to drive up sales for your brand.  The presence at a trade show can make or break a small company, especially in this economy.

The Competition:  Where as a trade show or expo gives you an opportunity to observe the competition, it does the same for them as well.  If your competitor outshines you to the point where attendees remember them and not you, then everything you’ve done has been for nothing.

Stress:  Just attending a trade show, expo, or convention can be stressful. There’s a definite sensory overload, with flashy signs, loud music, and unruly crowds all vying for attention.  Having a booth at a trade show is even worse.  You have to worry about scheduling and making sure there’s always someone present.  You have to worry that the products you brought to demo do not malfunction or break down.  There are also the customers and visitors.  Anybody who tells you the customer is always right has obviously never worked in retail or the service industry.

Is having a booth at a trade show right for you?  Only you can answer that.  Hopefully this article has helped to get you a better idea of what to expect.

Categories : Marketing
Comments (0)

First impressions are important, not only in social settings, but in business settings as well. The initial image a company or business presents is as important as the quality of work or products provided, if not more so. For that first sale or lead is never going to come if the customer isn’t satisfied that they’re dealing with a professional and reputable person or company.

Impress your business contacts with customized stationery. In addition to branded letterhead, nothing reinforces quality and professionalism like custom address labels and creative business cards. For added impact, coordinate the designs and production of all your stationery elements. A common and consistent theme is not only powerfully effective, but can be cost effective as well. Best of all, repeated exposure of a consistent theme across multiple platforms increases the chances of remaining memorable.

Beginning with your address label designs, reproduce your logo, brand or message onto other elements of your business materials. Using the same color scheme, design and even the same print vendor can reduce costs and eliminate unforeseen problems and surprises. Price estimates will often reflect a discount for multiple production elements like envelopes, stationary, address label designs and creative business cards.

Quality assurance is another important factor when you decide to impress your business contacts with customized stationary. Some items such as corporate apparel or large signs often require the use of individual flat colors. Other print pieces will utilize a four color process or a digital print method. For consistency and a professional appearance, it’s wise to use simple, common, basic colors in your creative designs. Colors that reproduce in the same tint or shade across all print platforms are best. Colors such as orange and green are notorious for being impossible to match from one print piece to the next.

Consult your printing professional for direction on color options and technical advice. And consider designing and printing all of your collateral together in combination. Not only does it cut costs, it increases consistency and diminishes the chances of any unwanted surprises.

Categories : Doing Business
Comments (0)

If you have a computer then you have valuable information on that computer, whether it is design projects you have done over the years, business files or just a few hundred photos of your puppy Rex making that puppy face for the camera. Losing all those valuable files is a great way to ruin your day! Computers are reliable for the most part, but we all know bad stuff happens to them all the time - laptops get stolen or left on the train, hard drives get the click of death, your daughter Suzy accidentally deletes all your files while trying to figure out where she downloaded that cool new video. It just happens.

So, how do you protect your data?

TDK 4.7GB 16X DVD-R 100 Packs Disc Model DVD-R47FCB100Over the years I have tried many different methods for backing up my computer files. Back in the 90s, I would burn files to CDs whenever I got a “hunch” that something might be getting ready to fail me. Then in the early days of this site, I got a Firelite external hard drive and while I could schedule how often I wanted to run backups, more often than not, the program just didn’t work as advertised.

Then last year, after one too many close calls with data loss, I decided there had to be an easier way!  After researching a variety of online backup options, I decided to sign up for the free Carbonite trial (which did not even require a credit card – another plus). Within days  it was apparent that I had found the solution that worked for me – I didn’t even wait for the 15 day free trial to end – I gladly paid $54.95 for the year.

Why Carbonite works for me.

  • First, and foremost, they give you a free 15-day trial to let you really make sure their product is a good fit for your needs.
  • It is real time -  within minutes of downloading a file or modifying a file Carbonite has identified the new file, put it in the queue, and has sent it up to to the backup server. Note – the very first time you set up your files for back up it is going to take hours, but once you get going, it is pretty close to immediate!
  • It is automatic. I am juggling waaay too many things to remember to schedule a back up for my files. Carbonite takes the stress off me, because it backs up my files automatically.
  • Carbonite is secure. They use the same encryption technology used by the online banking industry.
  • I can access my files from anywhere. If I am working on my laptop in my favorite Starbucks and need a file from my desktop computer I can get it. Simply login to Carbonite, go to Remote Access and get whatever file you need for the day. No remembering to put something on a flashdrive, it’s there.
  • The file recovery process is one-click easy. Nothing complicated here – a simple click of the restore button and you are back in business. With some plans you even have the power to decide which files are restored first, saving you even more time.

Put to the test, Carbonite came through.

How to survive a Computer disasterActually, Carbonite passed the test with FLYING colors. About a month ago a nasty computer virus managed to get past my virus protection and did some pretty crazy stuff to my system files. The only solution was to reformat my entire computer. I was a little stressed about possibly losing data, but since I could see every one of my files from my laptop through the Carbonite interface, I was confident all would be fine.

Once my hard drive had been reformatted I simply logged into my Carbonite account, installed the Carbonite software and ran the recovery program. Granted, it took about 12 hours to restore all my data, but EVERY last file made it! Talk about relief. That was 15 years of business and personal files that I could have potentially lost.

Carbonite is one of my essential tools for business – and at $54.95 a year, that is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing my files are there – where ever and whenever I need them.

Comments (0)


Team Training NE Celiac Family