Get Your Trade Show Into Shape: Part 2

January 09, 2017

In part one, we covered six steps for overall show fitness. Now let’s focus specifically on the booth. After all, it’s the biggest physical aspect of our show—the place people go and the representation of what we offer, so we need to make sure it’s in great shape.

Step 1: Sport professional gear.

A football player in high-grade Nike pads, cleats, gloves, and jersey.

Pro athletes don’t parade themselves in wornout or mismatched equipment, and neither should we. Since our exhibit represents us, we owe it to ourselves to make it up-to-date and uniform–and to get rid of anything that’s not. That means retiring the banner with the old logo, replacing the handouts left over from 2012, and...well, you fill in the blank.

Probably the best way to look professional is to look to professionals—designers who can handle the artistic and technical aspects of exhibit production. (We happen to know a few if you're in need.)

Step 2: Show your colors.

Olympic runner celebrating victory, with only the team jersey colored in.

Just like Olympic athletes clothe themselves from headband to footwear in their country flags, clothe your booth in your company brand. Apply it top to bottom–to backdrops and banners, tables and stands, handouts and giveaways. Replace standard issue convention center stuff (like those ubiquitous white tablecloths) with your own branded materials.

Step 3: Don't put too much on.

Olympic swimmers wearing caps, goggles, and swimsuits.

Don’t weigh down your display with a ton of content. Make it a billboard to catch attention, not a spec sheet to be examined. Choose big, bold images instead of heavy words. Sure, it’s fine to include a headline and a some copy, but have your people, not your exhibit convey the bulk of the message.

Another advantage of keeping content light is that it’ll go farther. You can reuse a great picture, but not always a headline, and definitely not details that get outdated like a year, product number, or statistic.

Step 4: Get into motion.

A cyclist speeding by.

Use movement to attract attention. Video is a good place to start. Incorporating a big screen gives the freedom to show footage or photos and change them without having to alter the rest of the exhibit.

Beyond video, consider other types of motion that fit with your business or theme. If your company makes robotic arms, that’s easy. If you make paperweights, it’s a bit harder, but challenge yourself and see if you can find creative ways to add motion. (The paperweight company could have a fan blowing papers that aren’t held down.)

Step 5: Give prizes worth getting.

USA Olympic Team celebrating a victory with a treat.

Follow a few guidelines to get more value from your giveaways:

  • GIVE SOMETHING OF WORTH. That doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. A good snack or cold drink is worth something. It does someone a service and creates goodwill. A cheap frisbee or keychain, not so much.
  • REINFORCE YOUR OWN VALUE. Look for a creative way to make your giveaway highlight a benefit of your business. This can even open opportunities to turn a cheap giveaway into a memorable sales pitch. For instance, a company that sells keyless entry systems could give out keychains and say, “Feel free to lose these. You won’t need them.”
  • RESERVE THE GOLD FOR YOUR FINALISTS. Pricier giveaways—good electronics, quality apparel, a gift card—only get you somewhere with serious, qualified leads, and you’ll have to define exactly what that means for you.

One Last Point

After covering all that ground, we’d be stopping short if we didn’t recall the overall reason for getting your show into shape. You’re not doing it just to make yourself look good or to bask in your own awesomeness. You’re doing it to show customers that you’re fit to serve them—and that by working with you, they’re going to be in better shape!

Keep that customer focus at the center of your efforts, and everything else will take shape.

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