Exhibition Booth Design Elements, Part 2
Your Booth Design is based on your Intention
What is the purpose for your booth? Again, it is about having a clear, simple message. Your booth could be purely informational. Your booth could be a sales room to promote and market your products, such as private sessions, instruction, books, videos, tables, charts, oils, essences, and apparel. Your booth could be a clinic in which you provide canine massage. Your booth could be a combination of the three.
In all instances, your booth needs to give the message that visitors are welcome-and encouraged-to “enter here.” Getting someone to commit by entering your space with their body is a healthy step toward making a sale. Have you noticed how difficult if is to swipe a credit card from ten feet away? Place interesting, intriguing, products or information in the back of the booth where they have to enter to get to it. Shake hands. Make eye contact.
You Are a Star, After All
Life-sized cut-outs or mockups, anything that you can blow up to be human-sized or larger, is an attention grabber. How about a huge photo of you PetMassaging a dog? Really. Haven’t you been seeking a reason to get a life-sized free-standing cardboard image of yourself? Go on. Do it. Send me a photo of you and your double.
Inculcate Feng Shui in Your Booth Design
Feng Shui is all about designing for easy flow. Provide a pathway for clients to enter and exit. The pathway needs to be both physically and visually clear and inviting. Keep chairs, stools, easels, and your huge cardboard portrait out of the path.
Feng Shui is also about ease of transaction. The process of accepting payment and offering a receipt must be quick, and expeditious.
Feng Shui is also about ease of follow up. So, make sure you collect business cards, email, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn addresses. When you do it right, one or two shows can take your business to an entirely different level!
The taller you can make your booth, the more likely people will notice it. Use the space you’re given creatively. Check with your show administrators though, to find out how high you can go. Shows that are in hotel ballrooms often have a limit of 8 feet and if you’re shiny new expensive banner is 10 feet, or your spot light is angled down from on high, you will not be able to use them. We spent one show in relative darkness because we hadn’t read the exhibition guidelines.
Balloons would seem to be a cheap and easy way to gain height. If that is the way you want to go, do it with style and panache. Have your balloons printed with your logo and contact information. Stay consistent with the color, design, and message themes of your booth. Stay away from using helium filled Mylar balloons. First, their reflection of sunlight can be scary and distracting to dogs. Second, if they blow away, they’re not biodegradable.
Find out if you can add any lighting that enhances the atmosphere of your booth. Tiny LED spotlights are very effective either as back lighting or directing attention to items in visual dead zones, those that are less prominent or in shadowed areas.
Don’t. It is annoying, distracting, and confusing. You have enough to handle to have to be concerned about what is playing and if it is playing. If you feel you need music to massage dogs, use your mobile device with ear nubs.
Website and Facebook
We are still big believers in the power of a great website. Websites are constantly evolving. They change as you change. They reflect who you are and what you do. A static site suggests that you are not growing. Updating is essential. Our PetMassageTM.com website is reviewed and edited every week. Use your website to promote where and when you will be exhibiting and available. For added coverage, post photos and their links to your Facebook page.
Your Booth Design Solves a Problem for Attendees
Think about the immediate needs of the people you will want to talk to at the trade show. They want to know how their needs can be addressed with your goods and services. Consider the surfaces they are walking on. Convention centers have cement floors, and are hard on the arches, especially if folks are walking around on them for any length of time. One option is to rent carpeting for your booth. We never know what the color of the rug or the drapery will be so we prefer to bring our own area rug. That way, there is consistency of booth design.
Somewhere to Sit
How about just a place to rest their feet for a few minutes? If you have the space, create a small, cozy sitting area for attendees to rest and chat. I recall several times at different shows, neighboring vendors either arrived late, left early, or didn’t show up at all. If any spaces around our booth are unused, we use them. When we can, we spread out our displays. We set up sitting areas.
Phone charging station
Everyone could use a battery boost. If you are already paying extra for electricity, a few outlets for chargers is a free service you can provide. While their phones are charging, your appreciative guests are a captive audience.
Keep it light
FUN – You may be there for business, but your booth doesn’t have to be all business and no play. Visitors are often laden with heavy burdens. They are seeking you out because their animals have a situation that has not been resolved by other means.
Listen carefully, don’t make assumptions, speak impeccably, choosing your words carefully, and give them the best advice you can and most importantly, keep it light and cheerful. Your guests may not remember what you said. They will remember how they felt when they left your booth. Make sure that they felt comforted, honored, listened to, heard, and assured with confident and competent guidance.
Honesty is essential. It is absolutely appropriate to tell them that you do not understand what they are talking about. It is your choice. If you feel they would be good clients and you would like to continue the discussion, offer to do some homework and get back to them.
And while you are keeping it light, pay close attention to your body language. You know, of course, that 85% of communication is non-verbal. So, use all the same calming techniques with people as you would with dogs. Smile, make honest eye contact (but don’t stare or roll your eyes– ever), keep your hands out of your pockets, and keep breathing and hydrated. Your sincerity, augmented with your purposeful and intentional non-verbals will send the correct message and get you your fans.
Things like your proficiency and comfort in processing credit cards are part of the purchasing experience. You are the core of the booth and planning how you are presenting yourself is part of the design process. Practice running a couple of sales before going out and doing it for real.
Stay True to Your Team
Your booth is a projection of your energy. Several years ago at a convention for after school programs, our PetMassageTM for Kids was the only program that addressed the natural loving connection, potential bond, and safety methods for children and their dogs. Our humanistic agenda and approach was in high contrast to the hundreds of booths promoting math, science, and computer programs, that visitors just wanted to hang out with us. The entire show, it was standing room only in our little 10 x 10 booth. They said they “just wanted to be in our energy.” Their words, not mine!
Are you planning to wear pressed khakis or old jeans with ripped knees? Are you wearing a clean scrub top or a stained sweatshirt? Each and every little detail, from the pen you use, the water bottle you sip from, and the way you tie back your hair, is noticed and an element of the total visual and experiential package.
Whether on concrete or grass, your shoes are your friends. Wear comfortable, supportive, and attractive shoes It is a challenge staying upbeat and friendly when your feet hurt.
You and your employees can dress in matching, colorful shirts that go with your booth’s theme. Have as much fun as possible — you love what you do, so let it show! At especially high value events, we’ve give away printed t-shirts, or then sold at cost. We were vendors at back to back trade shows in Portland Oregon for the AMTA (Human massage) and the APDT (dog trainers) in 2002. We gave away screen printed t-shirts. Attendees wore them around the trade show, so that was great on-site advertising. More than ten years later, an attendee of a Foundation Level workshop in Toledo Ohio, proudly wore one she’d received and saved, the first day of class.
Everyone and their mother is on some form of social media, and usually more than one. Use this to your advantage by building social media into your trade show exhibit experience.
Follow and use the official trade show event hashtags in your posts – both during and leading up to the event.
Geotag Your Posts
This allows other local users to find and interact with your posts. You can also promote or run social ads geo-targeted for the trade show location so that attendees will see your posts and be more likely to seek out your booth.
Run a contest on social during the trade show to promote at your booth.
For example, create a banner on Instagram, promoting the contest. Have attendees take a photo of your booth or with an employee and tag your company and/or use your event or company hashtag. The winning photo receives a prize sent to them after the event. This is a way to expand brand exposure. Even if you are a one person business, you still have a brand. Your brand is your persona, your skill set, and reputation.
Trade show events are typically B2B, which means most companies and attendees spend time on LinkedIn. Reach out to your connections to invite them to the trade show. You can send them a personalized direct message. Be sure to connect with any new people you meet at your booth on LinkedIn.
Just Do It
Now you’ve got what it takes to have a sensational booth. Go take what you’ve learned, build your perfect showcase and have a wildly successful show season!