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TED Your Exhibit Design: Think Billboards, Not Brochures

TED tradeshow exhibit designLike many promotional tactics, trade shows are often expected to tell the entire story – like a brochure or infomercial.  Exhibitors plaster their trade show booth with product photos, specifications, bulleted lists of features, and place a table loaded with giveaways, product samples and literature at the front of the space like a wall between them and their prospect.  Larger exhibits cover every surface with messaging, and fill the space with literature racks, banner stands and people that aren’t equipped to share the message or move your visitor through the experience.

I’ve got a different proposition: TED your trade show exhibit design.

Like the famously focused and brief TED talks, your exhibit has the opportunity to capture the imagination and make a clear case for your brand.  Not by telling every detail of the story but by hitting the highlights in an engaging, challenging – even provocative – manner.  TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences feature presentations of no more than 18 minutes in which speakers are challenged to be as innovative and engaging as possible.  The presentations are posted online for free viewing, yet people pay $6,000 to attend a live TED conference.

Sounds like a good model for a trade show exhibit, doesn’t it?

Instead of trying to tell the whole story with your booth graphics, attract your audience and engage them quickly and efficiently with a single, focused message.  Use color, shape, size and powerful images to communicate even complex messages that grab your audience and don’t let go.  Start with a large image that attracts the eye and a headline that compels the audience to learn more.  Make sure to focus on one benefit.  A traffic-stopping benefit.

As visitors to your exhibit experience your brand, fill in the details using face-to-face communication, asking your visitors questions about their business, about their needs and about the solutions they’re seeking.  Use demonstrations, collateral and product samples to further intrigue and immerse your guest, and get them to ask for more.

You only have a second or two to capture the attention of someone who has never experienced your brand…slightly longer with someone who is familiar with you.  They don’t have time to read a brochure.

What's Working In ExhibitingFor more insight on everything from exhibit design to choosing the perfect booth staffer, read the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper.  To get the report filled with almost 100 tips about exhibitors’ best tactics and strategies for trade show marketing, click here.


About the Author

Mark True was the Marketing Communications Manager for Skyline Dynovia, located in Des Moines, Iowa.

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