As the founder of The Visual Marketing Academy, I’m intrigued to see how brands present their pop-up stands and shops at Expos and Events.
As a visitor, unfortunately, I continue to feel disappointed, uninspired and bored by the exhibition stands. I know the overall experience could be improved if exhibitors used their imagination, focused on their brand communication and applied Visual Marketing principles to make their stands stand out.
I understand through conversations with other attendees they feel dissatisfied too. It’s sad to hear what they’ve experienced is accepted as the normal event standard.
It doesn’t take the trained eye to spot the problems, have you seen this too?…
Think about the last time you visited an Expo, did a wall of banners welcome you? Did rows of tables form barricades? Were the exhibitors sat behind these barricades, connected to their phones, disconnected from you and potential clients?
Were the tables overflowing with printed materials? Did the displays of branded freebies and bowls of sweets entice you? Did you pop your business card in the glass bowl beside the bottle of fizz because you were tempted to leave your details, even though you have no interest in what the business does whatsoever?
Then did you leave with a bag full of trade show swag? Had you casually collected random branded freebies you really didn’t need? Do these items now collect dust on your desk, or were they put straight in the bin?
Why has this become the default setting? A ‘rinse and repeat’ template for how SMEs present their brand at Expos and engage with attendees.
This is not the way to create a first impression. It doesn’t make their stand and brand stand out.
Exhibiting is a huge investment in both money and time. If you are going to do it, do it right!
I’m on a mission to educate and inspire exhibitors to do better. To create a brand experience, showcase their skills, engage visitors and present the benefits of what they offer.
This means thinking through every aspect, from what your exhibition stand might look like, to how you communicate with potential clients when you get there.
As a starting point, here are three simple stand solutions for exhibitors…
- Stand, by your stand.
Remove the barrier. Get up off your seat. Stand up proud alongside your stand. Find a position where you can comfortably greet visitors as they approach. Make them feel welcomed. Think about a couple of opening questions to start a conversation and communicate your brand message.
- Look up, not down.
Put your phone away. Be present. Make eye contact. Begin to build relationships. As society becomes more disconnected, Expos offer the perfect opportunity to have real world connections with potential clients. Exhibiting is a huge investment of time and money, give visitors the gift of your time with a one-to-one consultation with you.
- Show, not sell.
Show off your expertise. Don’t focus on leaflets and banners to tell your brand story. Engage visitors by immersing them in the DNA of your brand experience. Use your imagination to present interactive elements and stimulate the senses. This could be a product demo, sample or taster session. Invite visitors to participate in a fun brand related game, quiz or challenge.
Share your knowledge, wisdom and know-how with 3 top tips. Create a memorable experience to make your stand and brand stand out.
Time to Shine.
A shining example is The Hand Dyed Shoe Company’s experiential pop-up shop and stand. Founder Simon Bourne is on a mission to change the way the world buys shoes. He presents his brand personality, authentic customer service values and recreates the theme of his shoe design studio at Expos and Events.
I am proud to have collaborated with Simon to build a pop-up stand and display at Living North that created intrigue, received positive feedback and won the best stand award.
As part of the brand experience ‘The Shoe Guy’ offers free shoe shines to visitors and demonstrates his skill by hand dying shoes. The display features a range of unique shoe styles and materials to show the quality and craftsmanship.
Expos are the perfect opportunity to showcase your brand experience. Exhibitors who turn up with just banners, leaflets and freebies are missing out on the interaction with potential clients in a unique way that creates a memorable experience and leaves a lasting impression.
Even if budget is an issue, you can make a big impact by applying imagination, knowledge and know-how.
In the run up to the Autumn Expo and Show season Ann is delivering two Be-Innovative Masterclasses at the Business & IP Centre Newcastle to educate and inspire SMEs on how to best present their brand, products and services.
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