Effective Booth Design: Look at Me! Three Seconds and Counting
If you have teenagers, or anyone in your life attached to a cell phone, you know the struggle is real when competing for time and attention to get your message across to your audience. The same thing proves true at a trade show. The biggest tool you have to garner attention while at the show is your booth and the exhibit design you have chosen to employ. Ed Marquez, experienced trade show exhibitor, salesman and President of Mark Bric Display observes, “As attendees are walking by, you have three seconds and counting to get their attention”. If the window is this small, a lot of thought and care best be put into designing your exhibit before that three second clock starts ticking.
Once you have committed to a tradeshow by purchasing a booth space, you have already made a significant investment. The display that will occupy that space is a foundational piece in garnering good ROI (return on investment). If you want to build a new home, you may know what kind of rooms you want, what you want as far as amenities, heck, you may even have your flooring, countertops, cabinets, and appliances all picked out! However, I hope you are not going to try and build it all by yourself. Unless of course you are a general contractor with nothing but time on your hands, you probably do not have time to swing a hammer, run wires through walls and schlep heavy shingles up a ladder to start slapping on a roof. Like most folks “ain’t nobody got time for that”! Seriously, you are wise to get professional help – with a house… and with your exhibit.
Don’t play designer. Get some help. Hire a graphic designer or partner with an experienced exhibit provider to guide your decisions. Insist on someone who understands trade shows and can help you design a back wall and stage your booth space. Again, with the house analogy, think about a realtor selling a house; they often hire or employ “stagers” to make the house look its best and to create environments that have the most appeal to the buyers. This is in effect what you need to do with /for your trade show booth. It needs to look its best and be inviting. It needs to have a clear, effective and quick message to draw in your potential clients. Remember…three seconds and counting!
Trade show selling is much different than print, radio or email selling. As Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message“; in a nutshell, this means that the exhibit, the overall environment your space creates, becomes the message you convey just as much as the graphics you choose and the words on the display itself. I would argue, for good exhibit design that BOLD is good but BUSY is not. Monica Orrigo, who wrote a booth design idea article for Handshake instructs, “The overall rule of thumb for booth design graphics is that they should be 40% empty space. That’s right––almost half of your graphics space should be totally blank. That is because what your message does not say is just as important as what it does say. Remember, you only get one shot at being memorable. Don’t clutter your booth with extraneous information.” Now, I know 40% may be a challenge for most of us but it is something to keep in the back of your mind. Think about how you feel when your house gets too cluttered – that is when I head to the door for a night out to dinner and a movie – I want to be out of that environment so I can relax. People want to be where they are comfortable, can relax and can process. Strive for that in your booth environment.
Remember, you do not need to pack everything you know, do, or have to say onto the walls of your exhibit. Think about a billboard on the highway. Usually a large graphic and a succinct message is best. Go with the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. Be sure your graphics are relevant. Be sure your text elements are relevant, concise and large enough to be seen in the trade fair venue. Less really is more. Remember you have booth personnel there to fill in details, to be Paul Harvey and tell the rest of the story.
When Mark Bric Display works with a client, “We start by discussing your overall Sales and Marketing Objectives,” explains President Ed Marquez. He continues, “Our exhibit consultants have an in-depth conversation with clients prior to putting together a complimentary 3-D full color rendering of what their display environment could encompass.” Kate Keuch, one of Mark Bric Displays very talented designers adds, “These 3-d renderings, the visuals, make a big difference. When someone is able to see what their display could be, it helps the client make educated decisions. Yes, renderings do help in the layout process, but they are so much more. Renderings allow the client to see their future booth as a whole for the first time- walls, graphics, seating, etc. If there are any problems or issues, they can be discussed and rectified then. Prior to an exhibit being bought, the renderings are critical tools in helping a client feel good about investing in this type of significant purchase. I like to think of exhibit rendering as the point where someone can really get excited about their (exhibit) presence, and that’s something of which I really enjoy being part.” Working with a company willing to provide full color, 3-D renderings free of charge is a great tool in getting the exhibit you need. It not only helps designers understand your needs but gives you the security that you’re not just being handed a pre-packaged system.
Every exhibitor’s needs and booth design requirements are very individual. Be sure when designing your exhibit that you discuss the integration of real world elements, demos and any technology. Remember your booth is a big part of the message, it should highlight your main message clearly and allow your graphics do their job. Be intentional, also, to let your trade show booth staff complete the sales and qualified lead circle by filling in the blanks where your exhibit leaves off. Mark Bric Display always wants to provide you with an exhibit design that truly is unique and will draw the clients YOU really want into your booth. Done right, your booth design can get the attention you desire in that three seconds without you having to scream, “Look at me!” like you have to do with select teenagers.
- By Stacy D. Poole Marketing Professional for Mark Bric Display Corp.