Alex Cairns, Managing Director of Move Marketing Ltd talks to AZoNetwork about the critical design considerations for a trade show booth. Alex has 18+ years experience maximizing trade show presence within the Science and Industrial sectors.
Given the mounting costs of travel, exhibition fees, shipping your equipment and booth costs (don't forget the additional luxury carpet!), not to mention expenses and the staffing cost of having your team there the whole week, it is imperative that you justify such an investment and have a clear view of what success looks like - There’s good news though.
The trade show is alive and well.
What does a successful booth design incorporate?
Whether you’ve taken 100 or 1000 square feet, there are a few fundamentals here.
Every effective booth should have colorful, well-positioned graphics, clear messaging. This is especially important for smaller booths. Don't attempt to promote every single one of your thousand products, that’s what your website and product catalogs are for. Either focus on 1 – 2 core products/services or apply a wider brand awareness approach.
If you’re offering a service at the event e.g. a workshop or consultancy sessions, say that you’re offering that on your stand graphics. Don’t leave it to the imagination of visitors to guess.
Consider adding an interactive feature to the booth – this doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive and could be as simple as a web explainer, video or social media feed looping on a screen.
Think about finishing touches which enhance the brand visuals, at little additional cost e.g. branded rugs, welcome counters or furnishings.
Every event is different – some are more relaxed on height restrictions and there is negligible additional cost in increasing part of the booth frame height up to 13 foot to enable messaging that overshadows your neighbors and competitors at the show.
Put furniture in corners or “inside” the footprint of the booth i.e. don’t create physical barriers by lining all the edges of your booth with furniture, products and other equipment.
Is the booth location important?
Booth location is vital and, given the choice of more space in a poor location or less space in a great location, I would recommend the latter every time. Show traffic inevitably flows in certain directions governed by:
- Entry points into the hall
- The location of seminar/presentation areas
- The location of cafes/networking lounges.
An additional variable at some events can be the demarcation of dedicated “new exhibitor” areas or zones dedicated to certain products and technologies. Visit the show in the years leading up to your participation or do your research in terms of the publicly available floor-plan.
What novel design solutions have you used to stand out from the crowd?
While with Knauf Insulation we implemented a number of unique approaches including an interactive scaled insulation factory model and also an on-stand bowling alley geared around a “10 green bottles” message which linked back to eco-friendly glass mineral wool insulation solutions.
We built an incredibly successful 20 square meter stand for a client at major Science exhibition Analytica in Munich, Germany which featured a bar as its centerpiece along with a lounge area and interactive displays. The bar (and free beer!) provided the hook to turn potential interest into active sales conversations and our client, Goodfellow, saw an 800% increase in leads generated at the show.
We revolutionized the compressed air sector while at Ingersoll Rand by adopting a more static idea seen in the USA and instead built a mobile compressed air system within a 20-foot shipping container, then moving that to every corner of Europe and the Middle East to use as an outdoor exhibit for live demonstrations at trade shows.
We put a giant interactive tablet at the heart of things at an Oil and Gas show in Rotterdam, Holland. This featured links to digital content including web explainers, a new website and a live updating Twitter-wall which gave stand visitors the chance to catch up with other visitors’ opinions of the show as a whole.
We took a completely blue sky approach to the stand build at a designer-focused exhibition in London, driving an eco-friendly product launch with a stand that was 100% on message and stopped visitors in their tracks with its eye-catching “garden of materials” theme.
What would you say to SME’s on a budget exhibiting at a tradeshow?
Don’t assume that trade shows mean huge expense with little return. As mentioned above there are plenty of smart design tactics that can be incorporated on to even the smallest of booths at little additional cost. But by the same token don’t do more damage to your brand than good by taking creased/ripped pop up graphics or damaged old roller banners and assume that will be good enough to stand out. At many shows this is what 80% of the booths look like anyway so how can you expect yours to stand out from the others?
Whatever you’ve spent on the space itself, whether using an expert agency or doing it yourself from thereon in, you should budget on spending at least the same again on dressing that space. You should then also allocate a third portion of the budget to cover staff travel and accommodation. If you can’t afford to spend at least the same on dressing the space as the space costs itself you should seriously consider whether to exhibit or wait until the following edition of the show.
How has the tradeshow changed and what role does the booth play today?
People have been talking about the death of the B2B trade show for years. Turns out its demise has actually been seriously overstated though and it remains as vital a pillar of the modern marketing mix as ever, only its role has changed slightly. Research carried out by AZoNetwork last year demonstrates that Science and Industrial trade shows provide the second biggest source of “quality” sales leads behind content marketing. Take the following careful steps and trade shows can continue to play a key role in your marketing strategy:
- Choose the right shows, do your research and check that the correct audience is attending and that the show itself is in growth.
- Don’t see the trade show as a standalone marketing tactic. Think “multi-channel” rather than single channel and use it as a face to face platform to enhance and interact with your other content and digital marketing efforts.
- Make sure that you follow the fundamental design principles outlined above – get an expert agency involved if necessary which will reduce the pressure in terms of ensuring the quality of the finished build.
- Location. Location. Location!
- Budget accordingly and either do it properly or don’t do it at all.
Multi-Channel Digital Marketing Solutions for Promoting Trade Show Attendance
Spending time creating a fantastic booth is important. During this process, you should also allocate time to your pre-show promotion strategy. It is an area often overlooked and can leave your trade show ROI looking a little underwhelming.
However, a well planned and executed promotion strategy will boost your profile at the event and attract more people to your stand.
There are many ways you can achieve exposure. Application articles talking about specific problems your solutions solve are a great launch pad to promote your attendance at a trade show. Leading up to the event, you should strategically publish relevant content for the audience likely to attend and highlight how they can see the solution in action on your booth. The content might be focused on a particular industry or application, for example.
Think about the product or solution you will be promoting. There is no point talking about a solution that you won't be exhibiting or demonstrating at the show. This will only confuse your potential customer. Be clear and ensure the content aligns with whatever it is you are promoting on the day.
Emailing your contacts is a great way to build excitement around an event. Consider using third-party platforms that offer access to targeted lists of subscribers relevant to the tradeshow you are attending. Often, the event organizers themselves offer this as a paid advertising option to their attendee list.
Find your Trade Show Audience
If someone does show an interest in a piece of content, then consider setting up remarketing campaigns to reinforce your presence. Remarketing can be delivered based on specific pages a potential customer has visited or action they have taken. For example, engaging with one of the pre-promotion articles can trigger a remarketing display campaign to that individual. Read more about remarketing with Google Ads.
Whatever you chose to do be sure to allocate enough time to plan, create and execute your pre-show promotions. A simple listing on your events page will not be enough to gain the exposure you need or desire, especially when you consider that most attendees have a preset agenda. Expecting them to change that mindset by stumbling upon your booth is much harder than engaging them in the weeks leading up to the trade show.
How can AZoNetwork help?
AZoNetwork offers multi-channel digital marketing solutions ideally suited to promote your attendance at industry-specific trade shows. Targeting a relevant audience is simple, with over 650,000 targeted subscribers from science, engineering and healthcare. AZoNetwork also has solutions designed to tailor your trade show message and deliver it to over 85 million unique visitors across multiple websites. Build exposure, excitement and buzz around your trade show with AZoNetwork. Check out our solutions today.
About Alex Cairns
Alex is Managing Director of the award-winning Move Marketing Ltd, a UK-based integrated B2B marketing agency offering a comprehensive range of services. With offices in Manchester and Cambridge, Move has a range of scientific and industrial clients as far afield as Canada and France. Alex is a highly experienced technical marketing consultant with over 18 years of experience. Historically he ran B2B international marketing budgets, across the Europe/Middle East/Africa region, running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds for companies such as Michelin, Ingersoll Rand and Knauf Insulation. He and his team now help science-based companies and industrial manufacturers articulate complex technical messages and communicate better with their customers and prospects across a variety of channels, including trade shows, both in the UK and on an international scale. Move’s clients typically export 80% of their product sales so cross-border fluency is a key element of the expertise the company provides.