Exhibitions – Design as a communication tool

This article appeared 24th April 2018.

Design is, to the fullest extent, the end-to-end thought processes that go into providing an entertaining, memorable and informative experience to benefit your company and its business.

You have decided to invest in a stand space at a trade show. But don’t go cheap. It is your shop window and will deter visitors if you are not expansive and welcoming.

Your aim is to collect data and contacts for your database for the Sales Teams to follow up, but also to make it an interesting and attractive place to do business and to support your representatives who will be informing passing visitors of your products and services.

Consider your audience

  • Those who wish to meet you directly and whom you may have invited
  • Those who are directly attending the show and wish to fact-find out of general professional interest
  • Those who have attended the show to look for Networking opportunities

Keep it Clear, Branded and Simple.

DO.  Involve the designer of your sales materials and website early on. They understand your Brand, Imagery and your Message – and will add flair and imagination that will reflect well on your company.

DO.  Keep information display panels plain with large high resolution images.

DO.  Keep the logos large and with brand coloured themed panels with simple, clear message that relates to the customers point of view and what they are looking for. Use ‘YOU’ more than ‘WE’.

DO.  Sales Staff clothing should be on-brand and consistently coloured, smart for both male and female members.

DO.  Train staff to move off the stand and interact positively with passing visitors, thinking on customers needs. The aisles are essentially free space that you are allowed to use.

DO.  Make sure that senior members of company staff attend the stand. Happy staff are appreciated for what they are doing.

DO.  Keep video presentations concise and on a loop of no more than 1 or 2 minutes. Staff must use the opportunity to interact with visitors stopping to view.

My “Do’s” for enquiry handling

DO.  Ensure ALL visitors are scanned by staff if you have taken advantage of the data capture technology. You have paid access their profiles and contact details later. Business cards cost money, so people are reluctant to hand them out.

DO.  Make written notes of visitors’ specific requests. Personal attention to detail shows you care.

DO.  Use tablet technology to show short videos or website details and interact personally with visitors.

DO.  Provide tactile hands-on samples to create intimate relationships with visitors (or use illustrations for high value items). Hand out cards and brochures once connection is made and offer to interact later by dropping samples off on a sales call.

“Do’s” for being sociable

DO.  Provide a couple of high stools for staff and visitors to rest weary legs. Or, if space, a seating area to allow intimate discussions.

DO.  Hand out water, not alcohol, in branded (or swing tagged) bottles during the day.

DO.  Hand out ‘wine-o’clock’ invitations throughout the day to timed evening events on your stand. This will encourage visitors to return to network and learn more about your company in a favourable light.

DO.  Lights – essential to attractively illuminate the stand, staff and displays. Don’t rely on the overall ambient lighting provided by the exhibition organisers.

DO.  Provide a secure store cupboard for coats, technology, drinks and supplies and to keep the stand tidy.

DO.  Build an atmosphere to stimulate visitors. Low or shelf edge lighting, even scenters or a vase of flowers can contribute to the final positive touch.

And now, my design “Don’ts”

DON’T.  Create a physical barrier at the front of your stand, by placing a counter or with a line of staff. Keep brochure displays and bowls to collect business cards at the side and move staff into the FREE aisle space.

DON’T.  Overcrowd the stand with goods or materials. It’s the staff who should be doing the work.

DON’T.  Block access to the stand. Avoid physical or people barriers.

DON’T. Add clutter with piles of brochures. They prevent staff speaking with visitors and a lost opportunity to make further contact with your leads – delivering or posting information, followed by phone call.

DON’T.  Let the staff drink the beverages. These are for the opening day and to shmooze the visitors at your ‘wine o’clock’ network.

And FINALLY – DON’T  Let your sales staff sit there looking at their mobile phones. There is nothing more unattractive than seeing YOUR sales personnel ignoring visitors and playing games because they are bored.

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