Those of us in the trade show exhibit design business like to think of ourselves as rather creative, so when we sit down to design a virtual exhibit we want you (the client) to think we’re just the Picasso’s of the online space, blowing you away with some cool concepts you’ve never seen before. We want to give you something you can put out there and unconventionally display your products and services, impressing your prospects, customers, co-workers (especially the boss), and making your competitors jealous over your “cool” virtual exhibit. BUT, if we design to impress you (and ourselves) but fail to effectively reach the attendee, we’ve both missed the mark. So, when we sit to design with you, apart from what is your ultimate goal for exhibiting, our list of questions will be something like:
- What impression of your company (product, service, culture, lifestyle, etc …) do you want your attendee to leave your space with?
- If you could create some type of interactive experience with your audience, what would that look like? Try to walk us through your vision? Talk to us about your dreams as if you wanted your attendees to be inside your branded videogame or movie or anything else for that matter.
- Who are the ideal attendees (company target market, demographic, culture, age group, gender, lifestyle, type of buyer, etc) that you’re trying to attract into your space, and what would you want to tell them and why? What do you want to learn or hear from them?
- What is the clear, compelling messages that you want to communicate with them so that they remember you when they want to buy your product or service?
- How much time can you realistically engage (live online) with your visitor(s) and what alternative interactive experiences can you provide the attendees (if they have to wait for you and your staff to become available). Remember that in a virtual event, just like live events, there are limited resources that have that can prohibit you from serving all interested visitors). Do you have enough resources to serve everyone?
- What company/branding/capability assets do you currently own that could be used to showcase your offerings?
- Would you want to showcase your manufacturing capabilities? Distribution network? Service network?
- What information would you want to gather and collect from visitors that choose to not engage with you live, but still visited your online space. After they leave, how to plan on reconnecting with them?
The answers to these and other related questions will all go toward determining the final design, which in our creative world can really be anything as there are very little spatial, engineering, and logistical constraints. The virtual exhibit can be a whole new online marketing experience but the messages you want to convey to that particular audience are still very important.
Finally, the best designs are those that can fit a variety of needs and environments. While we once looked at spaces like 20×20 for instance, considering the ability to reconfigure the architecture to an inline 10×20 or 10×10, we can now think of your online virtual exhibit as an online selling tool that can be open for business 24/7. Your sales staff will love to have a virtual tool that they can bring anywhere at any time. You can also divide up assets build in to use in other marketing mediums.
These are some of the fundamental questions to consider before we turn on the computer and start a rendering. So the next time your thinking about exhibiting at a virtual event, ask us to “build you a pretty damn impressive online experience” and be ready for some probing questions. The answers will serve us both well as we “begin with the user experience in mind.”