Last fall, I went house shopping in San Diego.
My girlfriend and I had a long list of non-negotiables. Among them was distance from the nearest Whole Foods, upstairs fireplace, large back yard, cul-de-sac, mostly wooden floors, large airy layout with big open architecture, etc.
Oddly, we both fell in love with one house. It felt like home -- although it failed most of our supposedly “non-negotiables.”
I think we all do that for so many things. You had your list of things you wanted in a car and you ended up with that Porsche after all. You had your list of things you wanted in a spouse and well, look what you got.
So I set out to find out what it was that got my girlfriend and I too feel so at home with this house that didn’t even fit our preexisting criteria. I called a buddy of mine who’s a bigtime NYC realtor. Turns out there’s a series of secrets used by the most effective home salesmen on earth. And they don’t share these secrets with anyone. These secrets are designed to make you feel like this house you’ve never stepped foot in, is your house, and has been forever.
I won’t go into details about what my realtor buddy Mitchell said because well, this page is about the secrets that make your trade show displays and booths sell. All I’ll say is that you’d be amazed what subtle things pull on your heart strings and make you just connect.
The same exact principles work to pole-vault the effectiveness of your trade show displays and trade show booths.
You’ll all seen the trade show space that gets a torrential river of traffic. But how many of the visitors talk to a floor rep? You’ve seen the booth that packs it’s folding chairs for every one of it’s 15 minute demonstrations. But how many new buyers did they create? You’ve even seen the booth where dozens of business men spend half an hour talking to the floor rep. But how many of these conversations are meaningful business relationships?
In the case where there’s a ton of foot traffic, was it because their booth gave away Belgian chocolate bon bons instead of the standard dry Hershey’s Kisses? Was the booth with folding chair seating at capacity levels always full because there was nowhere else to sit? And for the booth where every trade show floor rep was engaged in a conversation, were all the reps straight out of a Robert Palmer video?
According to the industry veteran trade show display and booth design consultants at MidlandDisplay.com, there are several industry trade secrets that get you
a. eyes to your space
b. traffic on your floor
c. conversations with your reps
but if none of this leads to meaningful business realtionships like new sales, clients, distributors, partners, and suppliers, then your strategy was missing the main point. Everything has to be pointed to the exact same end goal. If you lose sight of that end goal, nothing else you do was worth doing.
Bob Albright and Chad Leiffert, both of MidlandDisplay.com strategy on designing a trade show booth comes straight out of the “Art of War.”
They start by asking their clients, “What’s the primary goal of your trade show attendance?”
According to Albright and Leiffert, Surprisingly, most of their clients don’t know. They explain:
The Marketing Director might say, “to build our brand.” The VP of Marketing might say, “to build buzz about our new product line.” The CEO might say, “to break into new markets.”
First of all, none of these goals align. If you have several different objectives without any prioritization then the physical build our of your booth will follow suit. It will look like the Mad Hatter’s home. Secondly, if your intent is ambiguous, then your implementation will be fuzzy. For example, to build brand awareness, technically, all you have to do is slap a company logo on a trade show display and you’re done.
Instead, Albright and Leiffert urge, “Pick something concrete. Do you want your booth to primarily a. sell?
b. generate leads?
c. build relationships with distributors?
d. announce news of a product release?
f. attract retailers?
If your concrete and quantifiable goals are first, to find distributors, then second, to announce news of your new product release, then, you should simply, design your booth space to reflect that in realestate.
It seems simple. But so many companies, like the company with folding chairs, say that their number one goal is to sell, but ironically, if someone wants to buy DURING a seminar, nobody is available on the floor to take that order. Worse yet, the booth space isn’t even designed to accommodate selling while a presentation is in progress!
The trade show displays should clearly show where orders are taken, where distribution dialogues are held, where to go for general information, etc.
“Your booth shouldn’t be harder to negotiate than Penn Station NYC!” observed Leiffert.
They further explained that once your goals are clearly prioritized, then your trade show displays and entire booth must be given a proportional allocation of space to address those goals.
Once you’ve got this done, you’ve got your big picture architectural framework. Now you can apply your magic sauces:
1. If you’re going to host a seminar with folding chairs, make sure your sales counter is in clear view of all those in the audience. That way, when anyone buys, everyone else will notice and follow.
2. If you’re going to use that super padded carpeting, use it selectively. Put it only where you want to have conversations on foot. Use hard carpeting where you want your visitors to sit and speak to you longer.
3. Make overhead signage low where you want to encourage sitting. It makes people feel at home.
4. Be careful with the color Blue. It makes people tired.
5. Carpet the walls where you want to have a conversation.
6. Know what colors and designs your neighbors are going to use. Design with your environment in mind so you can stand out.
7. Brew Coffee.
8. Bake Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies. (#7 and #8 were also my realtor buddy’s secrets). They make your visitors feel at home.
9. If you’re going to leave vacuum cleaner stripes on the carpet, Don’t do it laterally. People follow lines. People don’t like crossing them. Just watch kids walk down a sidewalk.
10... Bob and Chad have so many amazingly insightful industry trade secrets on how to get your trade show displays and trade show booth to generate results, you’ll just have to call them for #10! The number to MidlandDisplay.com is (800) 487-7944