Alexis Exhibits

Top Tactics to Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out

Every industry has its norms. At a medical industry show, the show floor will resemble a tranquil sea of blues and whites, colors that convey cleanliness and reliability. At technology industry shows you’ll see lots of bright colors, bold graphics and eye-popping presentations on flat-screen monitors. While every industry has its norm, the reality is that in order to make your booth get noticed by attendees, the last thing you want to do is to blend in with competing booths.

So how do you differentiate your exhibit so attendees will be captivated long enough for your booth staff to engage them and deliver your company’s marketing message? In order to successfully achieve your company’s trade show objectives, whether that is generating sales leads or educating a new market about your products or services, the first step is to garner the attention of prospective customers.

Many companies exhibiting at trade shows make the classic mistake of trying to fit in with other exhibitors. Perhaps it’s your company’s first foray into a particular market or event. You want your company to look like it can play in the same sandbox with other big players in the market. The problem is fitting in isn’t going to help your company stand out amidst its competitors.

Here are a few ways in which you can differentiate your company’s exhibit:

Color: Avoid the standard color palette of the industry. Choosing a unique color scheme for your booth is a simple way to visually set your booth apart from other booths. Be careful, however, and do your research before picking a color scheme. Different colors convey certain messages that might not align with your trade show objectives or your marketing message.

Structure: Be creative here, and don’t settle for a standard exhibit configuration. If your competition typically uses a booth layout with formal meeting areas/rooms, go for a casual lounge feel instead. If competing booths are very geometric and angular, go for a free-flowing, airy feel with a fabric structure featuring organic shapes and soft, curvy lines.

Lighting: One way to breathe new life into an older exhibit is to enhance or change up the lighting scheme. Be creative here as well. Colored lights can add pizzazz and be a real attention-getter. Soft lighting can create a calm, intimate setting.

Product Displays: Don’t overcrowd surfaces with product displays. Again, take note of what your competitors are doing. Use creativity to highlight your products in a way your competitors aren’t. Again, the purpose is to get your booth to stand out so attendees will pause long enough to notice your products and marketing message.

Booth staff: It’s important to put together a “front line” offense when it comes to your booth staff. Don’t staff your booth with temp workers or new employees. Bring out your “big guns,” which typically means your product development folks who can speak at great length—not just about your products, but those of your competitor’s and industry pain points as well.

Exhibiting at International Trade Shows

As a response to the US economy’s Great Recession and as protection against future bust cycles, many organizations are increasingly thinking global, looking to expand their businesses into emerging foreign markets. Exhibiting overseas is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to identify the best foreign markets for your company’s products and services.

Exhibiting internationally introduces many new challenges for organizations and requires thorough research to determine which ones will attract your target market. A good starting point is the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (FSC), part of the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

If you’re the person put in charge of exhibit management at your company, you need to do your research to make sure your company’s significant investment into international trade shows isn’t a waste of time and money. Tactics that have proven successful in trade show exhibiting in the U.S. might fall flat in another country.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when exhibiting internationally:

Hire a translator. Probably the most important step is to hire an expert (preferably native-born) translator who not only understands the language but the culture of the country and its people. This person will prove instrumental in helping fine-tune your company’s marketing message, slogans, and marketing collateral to assure that your message is effectively delivered to this new audience.

Hire a designer. It might also be a good idea to hire a local designer who understands how this foreign market will interpret the colors, design, symbols, logo, and look of your exhibit. For example, one color might be considered lucky or prosperous in one country, yet might symbolize something completely different or have a negative connotation in another.

Check on technical and safety standards. Before you commit to a foreign show, make sure your products comply with international technical and safety standards, which may vary slightly from those in the U.S. Another important consideration is power requirements. When exhibiting overseas, your electrical equipment might need to be adapted to different power voltage outlets.

When in Rome… Things are done differently in other countries. Be sensitive to how business is conducted and how decisions are made in the host country. Read up on proper business etiquette, how the sales process typically works, and the nuances of relationship building there. In Japan, for example, a handshake at the end of a business meeting is as good as a signed contract.

Exhibiting at an international trade show can bring big benefits and open up an entirely new market for your company’s products or services. A savvy planner, however, must do their homework well in advance.

Need Exhibit Management for your Trade Show? Let’s Talk.

The Low Down on Trade Show Exhibit Layouts

There are ins and outs and pros and cons to all the various types of trade show booth layouts, and determining which layout will deliver the best results for your company can be a difficult task. Evaluating your company’s needs and objectives will be your first step in determining which exhibit floor plans will work best for you.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the more popular tradeshow exhibit layouts and the pros and cons of each to make that decision easier. Keep in mind, however, that variables exist between each layout type. Exhibitors can change each layout’s components, size, and positioning and mix and match layouts and elements to suit different situations.

Classic Diamond.
Consists of a large, central structure with a series of independent elements (kiosks, demo stations, graphics, product displays) surrounding it.

Pros: This layout offers a strong visual presence, and its simplicity and lack of walls helps draw in visitors. Also works well for displaying multiple small products.

Cons: The layout’s central structure blocks view across the booth and offers only one spot for a single, high-impact statement or slogan. As far as traffic, this layout requires careful staffing to encourage visitors to explore the whole booth.

Typically used when one message or product needs to be featured; all other elements are directed toward one main focal point.

Pros: This layout offers easy access to focal point of booth and offers great impact for main marketing message or slogan. Allows easy access to main focus of booth.

Cons: This layout type offers little flexibility over time and single focus makes it hard to hold attendees’ interest for very long. Central focus of exhibit can attract so much traffic to cause congestion.

The underlying purpose of this layout is to show some form of a presentation. Rather than walls, it uses dividers along the sides and demo stations or kiosks along the back.

Pros: Layout drives all attention toward presentation and openness encourages visitors who shun enclosed presentations. Allows strong medium for message delivery and partitions can display smaller, tangent messages.

Cons: Singular focus prevents highlighting multiple products. Offers no capture effect and quick exits after presentations difficult to prevent.

Also referred to as a closed exhibit, this layout type uses some type of material to create a fully or semi-enclosed environment within the booth space.

Pros: Interior offers quiet off-floor environment and exterior walls can attract attention and deliver messaging. Allows complete control over entry and exit of visitors. Exhibit walls offer lots of space for graphics.

Cons: Attendees can’t see main focus until they step inside and limited entrances discourage walk-up traffic. Main entrance clogs easily and confusion can result from too many messages.

Random Display.
This layout deconstructs formal floor plans in an effort to look unique and consists of an arbitrary arrangement of shapes, activities and elements.

Pros: Allows use of multiple products and presentation media. Permits many levels of messaging.

Cons: Prevents highlighting one central focus and multiple messages can cause chaos that work against proper message delivery. Confusing layout can be difficult to navigate and traffic can clog at focal point.

All large structures are pushed to the aisles to create an open, inviting environment in the center for casual conversation and product displays.

Pros: Offers open and inviting interior space that allows all elements to be seen at once. Openness encourages attendees to wander and explore; visitors are free to leave as easily as they enter. Allows placement of large graphic displays.

Cons: Doesn’t offer one main focal point. Central elements can draw too much traffic, causing congestion.

Trade Show Exhibit Design: It pays to “Think Big”

If you want a Trade Show exhibit that is memorable and persuasively communicates your brand, keep it focused on one overarching idea. Think Big. Create a “Big Idea”.

When a prospect walks into a Trade Show they are confronted with hundreds – even thousands of different marketing messages. If you are lucky, your company will have 15, maybe even 30-seconds to capture that prospect’s attention.

The less you try to say, the more people remember.

One way to break through the competitive clutter is to have a single-minded message – a simple statement that sums up the most important thing you can say about your company that will convince a prospect to consider buying your product – and then to communicate this message with creative that is attention-getting and memorable. This is often referred to as a “Big Idea”.

What if your company doesn’t have a single-minded message?

Sometimes the answer is already part of your company’s marketing program. For most companies, particularly B2B firms, I have found that there is no single-minded message in the advertising and marketing communications. Usually, there is a well thought out graphics standard, a nice logo and tagline, and some positioning and benefits copy on collateral and the company’s website.

If your company doesn’t have a single-minded message, develop it. Look for a key insight about your brand. Start with your customers’ buying behavior to discover one significant reason why customers buy – or why they don’t buy – from your company.

Then answer this “simple” question, “What is the one thing we want to say to our target customer to convince them to buy from us?”

Ask the people who work with you the question. Sometimes the head of Sales and Marketing can answer the question immediately. But if no one can answer the question, answer these three questions:

  1. Why do you need a big idea?
  2. What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  3. Why does the problem exist?

Then sum up the answers into a one sentence response that answers the question, “What is the one thing we want to say to our target customer to convince them to buy from us?”

How can you come up with a “Big Idea”?

Once you have a single-minded message, you can start to work with your creative team to create a “Big Idea” that powerfully communicates the message. A good place to start is to select an exhibit marketing support firm that has the capability of working with you to craft this “Big Idea” and to align every aspect of your trade show effort to support the “Big Idea”.

Communicate this “Big Idea” in every element of your trade show exhibit – from the graphics and exhibit to the people who are staffing your booth to promotional materials – make sure that everything is building an attention-getting, memorable message.

You can incorporate your “Big Idea” into all the elements of your trade show program:

  • Exhibit theme
  • Live presentations
  • Traffic building attractions
  • Booth staff
  • Pre-show promotion
  • Lead response and follow-up

Does your company have a single-minded message? Has your exhibit marketing support firm delivered a big idea for your company?

Trade Show Exhibit Design Secrets: The Star of the Show

Your trade show exhibit should be designed to focus on your products, not your display. This doesn’t mean that the graphics need to be subdued or your booth needs to be boring. It means that the graphics, colors and lighting should be integrated to draw attention to your product.

Make your products the star of your trade show display

Don’t be afraid to be bold. Use high-impact colors that will stand out at a distance. A bland color palette will blend into the background and not draw attention or focus the audience on your product.

Be brand-true. You should support and build on your brand campaign. But your exhibit also needs to go beyond the brand message and convey what your company is about.

Use exhibit graphics to draw in high-potential prospects for your product. People can “read” images faster than they can read words. Use images to clearly define what your company does and to attract your target customers. Images are also an effective way to filter out people who are not likely buyers so that they do not take up your staff’s valuable trade show time.

Limit your product display to focus on signature products. No matter how large your trade show exhibit space is, it is easy to dilute the overall impact of your display with visual clutter from too many products. If you want to tell an assortment story, organize your products into groups. Trade show attendees are most interested in new products and your most important products. You can use collateral materials or electronic product directors to provide information on your full product offering.

Use lighting to spotlight what is important. Lighting can accentuate the most important information and make your products stand out. Be creative in how you use lighting to draw attention to your products. Backlighting graphics, for example, can increase initial awareness and recall of your exhibit.

The design of your trade show display can draw attention to your product. The right graphics, colors, and lighting can grab the attention of your best prospects and make your trade show exhibit a true product showcase.