For blog posts directly to your inbox, sign up for the Maker’s Row newsletter.
Getting ready to show at a new trade show, market, or showroom? Having branded collateral supporting your product can go a long way in getting your message across and securing new clients. For this seasons SOURCING at MAGIC, Maker’s Row branched out into the world of custom display banners. Here’s how we got started:
1. Initial Conversation: Designer
One month before SOURCING at MAGIC
Have a clear timeline established before reaching out to design partners. This season, we knew upfront that we were working on a tight timeline and had to be sure the designer we worked with could commit to the turnaround. Also, in explaining initial concepts to a designer, it’s often helpful to provide a visual representation. This will help them gauge if they’ll be able to create the desired product in the time available.
2. Initial Conversation: Printer
One month before SOURCING at MAGIC
Reach out to your ideal manufacturing partner (in this case, a printer) ASAP. Similar to your conversation with designers, providing initial project specs + requirements will allow the manufacturer to determine if they can hit your ship date, or it will leave time for you to find an alternate. This is also a good opportunity to confirm how the printer will receive the artwork (file types, sizes, bleed markings etc). You can then pass this off to your designer to maximize efficiency.
3. Design Revisions and Process
One month – two weeks before the trade show
We went through five rounds of revisions, with over 80 emails between the design / printing teams. Again, if possible, use visual mockups at each stage to demonstrate exactly what you’re looking for. Most importantly – keep a written track record of all requested changes so you avoid future confusion and wasted time. Even if you discuss in-person or over the phone, always send a summary in writing.
4. Pass Off Finalized Designs to Printer
Two weeks before the trade show
The timing on this might change based on provided lead times from your printer or producer. Thankfully, our printer was able to partner with us to make production happen quickly – they’re a Maker’s Row factory too! Check out International Sublimation, we worked with Greg there.
5. Initial Approvals on Printing Tests
Approximately two weeks before the trade show
It’s important to request images of a test run, especially if you aren’t sure on technique or material. This was our first time working with the fleece fabric International Sublimation suggested, and our first time doing full panel presentations. So, we asked for a test run to make sure it was 100% what we were looking for. If your printer is not able to provide a test, don’t worry, it isn’t considered standard industry practice, but it’s always worth asking! Don’t be nervous to get your printers feedback on your artwork, they’re the experts and will generally know if something will turn out OK.
6. Final Approvals / Shipping
One week before the trade show
In our case, the show was in Las Vegas, and we’re in Brooklyn. To cut down on turnaround time, we had our printer send imagery instead of shipping the final banners to our office. If you’re able to visit the printer in person, or have enough lead time to have multiple revision rounds, take advantage.
7. Set up
The day before the trade show
Ask your printer for their advice on the best way to hang your banners, and be prepared. We ordered our fastenings one week ahead of the show to guarantee arrival before we left. For our booth, we used industrial-strength velcro in one-inch pieces for every foot of framework. Don’t wait until you get to the trade show to figure out how you’ll hang your banners!
8. Take Down: Last Day of Show
Be careful! Take everything down slowly so you can reuse your creations. Make sure to read the exhibitor manual carefully to make sure you aren’t charged for incorrect clean up after the show.
- Be patient. There are tons of moving parts when designing show collateral, and treating your designers and manufacturers with respect will get you a long way.
- Think about the details. How will the booth be set up, and how will prospective clients interact with your designs? What message are they primarily supporting?
- Always get photos / written confirmation of everything.
- Consider your options. There are many techniques you can use to get great collateral for a booth or trunk show. Talk to your printer and designer to understand each option, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You want the right fit for the space.
Want to know more about Production?
Enroll in Maker’s Row Academy for a 6-day e-course to help jumpstart your design process. In this introductory course, you’ll learn everything from setting brand goals, budgeting advice, and how to prepare for the factory sourcing process.