For many companies, it’s time to start preparing for the fall trade show season. Now is a great time to confront that perennial question: do we redo the entire booth this year or just make do?
If you do decide to update your booth, we have a couple quick tips on structure and design that will help your investment last longer and hopefully deliver better results.
1. Make Your Booth Adaptable to Different Sizes
Let’s face it: some shows are worth a greater investment than others. And chances are you’re not going to pay for the same sized booth space everywhere you exhibit. So for a couple of conferences, you may invest in that 40 x 40 foot space while others may just have a table and a 10 foot drape behind you.
A good exhibit house will have structural options for you that can be assembled in multiple ways — what’s known as a “convertible booth.” Maybe you can create a 20 foot wall that allows you to remove a couple of panels when you only have 10 feet of space. Or if you’re in a conference room, you can have a design that integrates those walls independently as a backdrop or border in smaller spaces.
When you’re designing the graphics for a convertible booth, make sure you’re clear on which panels are consistently used and which are the extras.
Another piece to consider when choosing your structure and designing the graphics is how often you’ll want to change them or promote something new. If everything is inter-locked or materials are expensive to reprint, it will be more of a headache to promote a new product or showcase new messaging or imagery, leaving you in limbo with the same design as last year (and the year before).
2. It’s OK to Stick Your Neck Out
If your structure can stand out in the crowd height-wise, your customers and potential customers will have less trouble finding you. Some conferences allow you to hang signage, while others may not (always check their guidelines and regulations before making any design choices).
If you can’t get add much height to your structure, you can at least make sure your graphics are positioned vertically so as not to be hidden by anything else. Always account for table height and line of sight when placing your key messages. Plus you’ll have a better chance of catching eyes across a crowded show floor if your most attractive message is at the top.
Also, remember to take pictures of your booth at its most crowded during a show. That way, you’ll get a better sense of what is covered by people or by other pieces of the structure. Digital booth renders can only show you so much, so documenting the booth in-person will help you make changes later if necessary.
3. Give Visitors a Reason to Linger
This is the $10 million question: how do you increase engagement at your booth? You’ve driven traffic, but how do you get them to stay?
The best answer we can give here is of course the unsatisfying “Well, it depends.” Generally speaking, though, if you sell a physical product, have it with you. If the show is worth investing in, it’s worth shipping the product to the show (or at least a scaled version).
And if your key selling points revolve around a specific product action, have some way to demonstrate that if possible. Physical demonstrations — especially if your customer can do it themselves — are best followed by digital demonstrations, with video or photos bringing up the rear.
When you’re selling a service or your product is simply too large, it’s a little tougher. But that’s where technology comes in. Video is more engaging than static photos, but interactive digital displays are even more engaging than both. Get your customers to sell to themselves through a clever touchscreen program or app — this can also help with understaffed booths if you don’t have enough sales people to go around.
Conferences may be your best opportunity to make or reinforce a good impression. You’re already investing so much in being there — make sure your booth is supporting the effort, not letting you down.