Observations from IBS can help your tradeshow investment pay off

Walking down a tradeshow aisle-especially large shows like IBS-your’re bombarded by shapes, colors, movement, and messages.  It’s all jumbled mess of sensory overload.  It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle as an attendee but far worse to get lost in the crowd as an exhibitor.  Here are some thoughts on what made booths successful at the show:

1) Define Your Space

Often it’s difficult to tell where one booth stops and another starts.  Make sure your booth clearly defines your territory-walls, enclosures, carpet-anything that says “This area is unique” is critical to getting noticed.  The huge Ford commercial vehicle space was nearly empty except for the trucks, carpet and people.  Sound boring?  It wasn’t.  The open space was noticeable (and welcome!) and it kept the focus on their products.

2) People Make the Difference

It sounds superficial, but attractive, engaging people bring a booth alive.  And attractive doesn’t have to mean “pretty” (although it clearly doesn’t hurt), but rather, people who are born to talk to others and smile when they do it.  Watching the attendees, you see time and again how true this is.

3)  Style is Everything

The booths that got noticed were tech-driven in their design (simple, clean, and open), with the exception of natural/green products where a rustic theme was common.  Dated designs stood out for all the wrong reasons, and like an old website, they seemed to unfairly date the products they promoted.

4)  K.I.S.S.ing Booths

The K.I.S.S. principle (“Keep It Simple Stupid”) was behind the best booths we saw.  The crammed and jumbled booths were easy to ignore (and there were a lot of them!), but the open and airy booths with only a few areas of focus were traffic stoppers.  What I observed: one idea, one message, one solution = many, many visitors.

5)  That’s Entertainment

No matter how stylish or fancy or informative a booth was, it’s hard to beat booths that entertain as well as educate.  There’s no denying that the booths with crowds and lines were the ones with a reason to stop by other than to pick up a brochure.

6)  Remember Why You’re There

I think most exhibitors are hoping for traffic to build awareness and drive leads.  One company (will remain nameless) paid what I’m sure was a lot of money to have branded carrying bags set out with the show programs.  Unfortunately both times I stopped by, the staff was too busy talking to one another to notice the people bothering to visit their booth.  So if they were hoping to drive awareness of their staff’s disengagement, well, it worked.

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  1. National Lumber on February 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

    There’s no doubt that some companies try to showcase far too much, and the best strategy is always to just focus on a single product or two, especially when you base your display around the demonstration of a single new product.

  2. MournieGal (@MournieGal) on July 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    People really do make the difference. An engaging smiling booth staff are just more fun to stop and chat with. The least inviting booths are those with seemingly disinterested folks scanning messages on their smart phones.

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