Are you stuck in an exhibiting rut?
Are you doing the same thing at each show? Over and over…
Do you think there’s “nothing” left for you to do but see out the rest of your show calendar?
Are you going to these shows because you have to. Or because your competition are?
Is your budget is non-existent and you’re just trying to work with what you’ve got?
Is Your Exhibit a Money Pit or an Embarrassment?
I’m sick of seeing people throw away money on extravagant structures and then thinking a show OWES them a return.
Or people believing they don’t get much of a return from a show, but not really doing much to EARN their return. (And this is me, the Gen Y speaking!)
These guys either invest in the stand space only to stick up some posters or set up camp in their booth WAITING for the one-in-a-hundred lead they expect to get from the show. (Kill me now! I bet, the visitor is thinking exactly the same thing).
It’s no wonder people think exhibits don’t work. So many of them are doing a shocking job of getting the fundamentals right.
I whinge a bit, but I really don’t blame them.
There aren’t many loopy people like me actually focusing their efforts on making exhibits work hard.
It isn’t glamorous.
It’s time consuming and there’s so much crappy information out there, it becomes confusing.
So most people stick to what they know… They don’t change a single thing about their approach to exhibiting.
If you want to make a difference, you have to make some changes.
But instead of just throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks… Be smart about it.
How are you ever going to reinvent that damn wheel?
The first thing most of us think of when talking about exhibiting is the structure.
(Which by the way, is totally normal. Most of us are visual thinkers).
But when it comes to designing something that STANDS OUT from the crowd and actually RESONATES with a visitor it needs to be a little bit special.
It’s not always about the architecture. It’s about the message.
Sure, stand design is important.
It influences visitor behaviour and how your staff perform, but it’s way more important the visitor grasps your message as they walk the aisles at 6km/hr.
Be honest… Do they really know what you do? Why you’re better than your competition?
Getting amazing ROI from a trade show is never going to come down to just one thing. Every campaign has a series of moving parts and the success of your show comes from juggling all of these areas.
Your staff might kill it on the show floor, collecting loads of leads but your follow up sucks.
You might have an awesome stand, but it’s not packaged properly so your transport is costing a bomb and your lovely exhibit assets are getting beat up between shows.
There’s no cookie-cutter solution but amazing things happen when you polish up in each of these areas.
When I see my clients start overhauling how they exhibit, its like a tsunami. Everything starts to fall into place.
Below are an array of thought provoking questions I would ask you if you were sitting in front of me.
How do you weigh up in each of these areas?
Are you killing it in one area and letting something else fizzle out?
A Smart Exhibit
Do you have a re-usable exhibit?
Is it difficult for people to actually get onto your stand? Eg, are you blocking all access with furniture, brochure stands or staff?
Are you over-filling your stand so people are overwhelmed and avoiding you?
Can you use it in different heights/sizes? Are you able to add elements as you grow or change the look and feel without starting from scratch?
Is it cost effective to transport and store?
Have you designed your stand around the core objective you have for the show? (Or did you pick a design you liked and then figure out how you would use your space?)
I know you’re rolling your eyes at the screen just thinking of training, but can you honestly say you/your team and guns at exhibiting?
Think about how you man the stand…
Are you reading body language of visitors and selling to their personality types?
Are your staff comfortable on the stand? If not, WHY?
Do you ask for orders on the stand? How? Is it working?
Do staff see it as a fun day out? Are your staff talking to each other, eating, sitting, complaining.
Do you constantly tweak/improve how you work the booth?
In a world of sensory overload, a sign on a wall doesn’t work anymore.
Involving the visitor in an experience will help solidify your message. DO NOT waste a golden opportunity for them to connect with your brand.
Don’t think it needs to be overly technical, just refer back to your core message and find something that will re-enforce it so the experience becomes memorable.
Engagement through Games, Simulations (hi and low tech), Surveys, Touch Screens, Video Walls, Augmented reality, Gesture Technology, Directional Sound, Live Presentations… All of these tools have a place at trade shows.
You’ve taken them from the impersonal online experience to one that is 3-Dimensional. What can you do in that space that you can’t do anywhere else?
Having the technology is one thing, but how you execute it is critical to it’s success.
The number of times people give up on something because they’ve “tried it before and it didn’t work”, is absurd….
I’M SORRY – You can eat a burger and think it’s the crappiest burger you’ve ever eaten… Fine, just don’t buy THAT burger again. But saying you’re not eating another burger ever again is STUPID. It should be treated as an opportunity to learn from, and better the experience next time. Not give up. (Sorry, #randomrant).
It’s all about the visitor experience so I recommend that before you do anything new you should define your objectives and design to emphasise the brand experience.
Are your additions helping or hindering?
Be honest, sometimes we are just being indulgent.
I once heard an ad for Mercedes that said something about the technology being there, in the background and going unnoticed.
I truly love this and think the same applies for any exhibit or brand activation.
The experience you have whilst you are there should leave you walking away not knowing why you like it, only that you do.
If you know something needs to change, but you’re overwhelmed, just pick ONE THING and do it really well.
Next show, pick another. You’ll get the hang of it and the results you see will motivate you even more.
If you are ready to take the plunge and want to take your exhibiting to the next level, I’m here to hold your hand.