As a trade show manager about to embark on marshaling the design of your company’s new trade show exhibit, you have to consider the interests of 7 distinct people:
1. Trade Show Attendee
This is the most obvious person for whom you design your trade show exhibit: Your clients and prospects who attend trade shows. Aim for an exhibit designed to attract attendees with compelling messages, inviting architecture, appealing colors, and impactful, appropriate images.
Existing clients want to visit you at the show to confirm they’ve made the right decision choosing you. So reassure them with a welcome environment and springboard their visit as an opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell. Prospects rely on the unique venue of trade shows to compare similar vendors at one time. Ensure you come out on top with a clear, compelling message that promotes your value, and by creating an experience in your exhibit that demonstrates your superiority.
Besides clients and prospects, design your exhibit to make a favorable impression on your industry press and potential investors, both potent groups of attendees at trade shows.
2. Trade Show Booth Staffer
While attendees may only visit for 10 minutes, your booth staffers will call your trade show home for several days at a time. Give them a temporary office that helps them do their job easier. Provide places to meet clients, demonstrate products, and most of all, write and stash those valuable leads. Make it simple for them to maintain an uncluttered booth, with smartly designed and accessible storage spaces for giveaways, their personal effects, and room for snacks and water. Give them enough spots for lead machines, so they don’t have to trek across a 30 x 50 booth, visitor in tow, to scan a badge. When you design your exhibit with your booth staffers in mind, they will be more productive, increasing your trade show results.
3. Exhibit Installer
Whether it’s you, your sales people, or hired show labor, keeping your exhibit installer in mind during the exhibit design phase will pay big dividends down the road. Many exhibitors choose portable trade show displays specifically to lower their display set up and dismantle costs. In all major convention centers (and all but a few hotels) you can set up your own display without hiring show labor if you can complete set up within 30 minutes without tools.
However, it’s worth considering installation and dismantle (I&D) costs even when designing medium and large-sized exhibits. In is not uncommon for large, traditional island exhibits to cost more than $10,000 per I&D, show after show. Designing with modular exhibit systems engineered for ease of assembly can reap savings at every show. Also, when evaluating an exhibit’s design, look to see if there are layers of structure that may hamper your installer from building other parts of your exhibit. And exhibit designs requiring rigging also require (surprise!) hiring riggers, every show, and will cost you significantly more to install.
4. Vice President of Marketing
Your top marketing officer wants your trade show exhibit to fulfill multiple objectives: build or reposition your brand, communicate your primary marketing messages, and launch new products and services. Sometimes they will want your trade show exhibit to do all of these simultaneously, and that’s certainly viable. But trouble brews when your top marketer wants to load the exhibit down with too many products or messages. Gently remind your V.P. of Marketing that an overloaded exhibit loses its ability to quickly capture attendees’ attention, which is the exhibit’s job. You have other tools beyond the exhibit to communicate lower level messages and secondary products.
Also, because your marketing messages can change from show to show, or your company could potentially rebrand soon after you design your exhibit, your V.P. of Marketing will value more flexible trade show exhibits