When planning your next exhibition, the easy option is to repeat what you’ve done before. It saves you time and allows you the luxury of fine-tuning areas that might need improving. Sure, I’m all up for avoiding reinventing the wheel, but definitely not at the expense of your exhibit program flattening out and losing the precious eye of your customers!

Reinvigorating your exhibition stand is an essential part of keeping your visitors interested in what you have to say. This carries over to all aspects of your exhibit program. Put simply, if your prospects think they already know everything about you there’s little reason for them to go out of their way to talk to you.

“This is how we’ve always done things” is a giant red flag. When I talk to clients in this mindset I know I have a battle on my hands. I also know that if things continue the way they are, there’s a good chance I will hear from them again once their results get so bad that they have to change their approach.

As consumers we love to be surprised, to explore and to connect with brands in unexpected ways. This is why guerrilla marketing is so successful. (Hello, flash mobs!)

Breaking rules

If you’re going to accept this challenge and inject some creativity into your exhibition stand, you’re going to have to break free of expectations. You have to dodge the boring cookie-cutter mould that so many absent-mindedly fall into when they start an exhibit campaign. You have to start right at the beginning and dream big.

Innovate a little. How can you bring excitement to your product or service? To your exhibit program as a whole? Can you take something out of context and play on one element? Can you supersize it? Making something large is a great way to attract attention.

There’s a lot to be said for shocking your audience with something unexpected. The average exhibition environment is all aisles, aluminium and signage. How can you create a buzz and differentiate yourself? Can you bring the outdoors in? Incorporate interesting angles into your design? Or inject some humour to relate to people in a more humane way?

Below is a great campaign from a European railway company, SNCF. The message: That Europe is right next door. Aside from surprising and delighting, it goes a long way to humanising the brand. Rather than just taking people from point A to point B, they are highlighting that they are connecting people and cultures. Check it out:

Door to Europe

Getting started

You can’t just go and do something wild that makes zero sense. The story you are sharing needs to make sense to your audience and be linked to your campaign. We are in the business of creating marketing dramas for our clients but they won’t believe you if it doesn’t filter through to all aspects of your exhibit program.

Don’t forget your staff. Re-think how they are interacting with your customers. Are they having fun? Are they connecting with customers in a meaningful way? Are they the right people to tell your story?

Typically, there will be percentage of non-believers who will blame the show, or a downturn in the industry, and choose to take a break from exhibitions thinking they don’t work instead of looking inwards for the true cause of their ho-hum returns.

Doing something out of the ordinary to get the attention of your customers isn’t just about winning their eye for a moment. It’s about having fun with your brand and connecting with people to create a memorable experience for them (and  improving the success of your exhibit program at the same time). Who wants to be boring anyway?