Standing a trade show has the potential to be one of the most powerful and rewarding ventures any business can have a go at, though doesn’t come with any iron-clad guarantees. There will always be those who return home from trade shows elated by the experience, while others get the distinct feeling they’d actually have been better off not bothering in the first place. Some succeed while others flounder – get it really wrong and you could wind up damaging your brand’s reputation and come out of the experience worse off than when you started!
Which begs the obvious question – how to avoid the latter and ideally target the former?
Well, above all else it’s important to acknowledge that this is a unique setting in which the display boards you design and present will play the biggest role of all in singing the praises of your brand or otherwise. A small percentage of those in attendance may head over to talk to you, but chances are EVERY last person will at least glance at your boards, meaning that this could be the first, last and only impression they get of who you are and what you do.
And so, here’s a quick overview of a sample of mistakes you need to avoid making at all costs:
1 – Anything Cryptic
Leaving your target audience members with more questions than answers is all well and good if they come your way for an explanation, but for everyone else it’ll just be a case of having no clue who you are and what you have to offer. Trade shows generally aren’t the kinds of places where it pays off to be too cryptic or to beat around the bush in any way – the reason being that those you’re reaching out to may be pushed for time as it is. Use your boards to say ‘Here we are, here’s what we do’.
2 – Desperate Measures
It’s common to see certain brands and businesses turning to rather desperate measures in order to gain the attention and ideally the interest of their target audience. Sadly, even in desperate times it’s rarely the case that desperate measures pay off…at least in a trade show setting. For example, use completely OTT graphics and neon lettering to advertise a stand that’s selling life insurance and chances are you’ll not meet with a great deal of success. Likewise, put up a huge banner that says “FREE COFFEE” while at the same time making your brand and your purpose a side-issue and chances are you won’t fool or impress anyone.
3 – Too Much Information
The very best trade show boards and banners are those that can be read from at least a modest distance in a matter of just a few seconds. By contrast, the very worst boards and banners are those that are illegible until you pretty much put your nose up against them and would take the average adult about a week to read in full. Again, it all comes down to how much time those in attendance probably do not have to spare, which is why the sight of a board or banner with too much information is usually taken as a prompt not to bother reading any of it at all. Less can be more in this instance, so stick with what’s important.
4 – What Next?
Not everyone that takes an interest in your brand or business will have the time to speak to you in person, so how can they find out where to head for more information or to make a purchase? Well, it’s a simple case of you either making this abundantly clear via your display boards or facing the prospect of them forgetting about you and never beating a path to your door again. The boards and banners you use must make it very clear and immediately obvious where to head for more information or to convert, in an ideal scenario. From your website to the address of your store to telephone numbers and email addresses, it’s a case of showing them where to go next and what to do should they take an interest in you.
5 – Mixed Media
Last but not least, one of the most important ‘golden rules’ of all for effective boards and banners in all scenarios is to make sure there’s a good mixture of media used. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is falling into the trap of creating a trade show stand or booth that may be informative, but also comes across as depressingly dull and boring. Liven things up with images and perhaps even a video screen or two, if you can get away with it.