Many exhibitors on a budget may hesitate to spend extra cash on flooring or lighting, but every polished feature goes a long way. Baron commented on how some exhibitors spend more than $3,000 on transportation, hotels and exhibit space, and then fork out a meager $600 for a backdrop, hoping to save on expenses.
“I always ask clients, ‘Would you build a retail store and then spend more on building it than stocking it with products to attract customers?’” he said.
With a certain amount of creativity and planning, any company can achieve a sharp look for minimal costs. Baron gave an example of a start-up clothing company on an extremely limited budget that set up a simple wood-themed background graphic and draped a burlap rope over it. The vendors then hung their T-shirts from the display, making the merchandise pop out like an ad photo.
Alternatives to Pipe and Drape
While the pipe and drape setup is standard for trade shows in the United States, many exhibitors in European countries use a shell scheme, which typically involves a bare frame of hard plywood panels.
Shell scheme exhibits are usually supplied by the exhibition organizers and sometimes include carpet tiles, furniture and the company logo banner in the package. Though this system is more simplistic and uniform in nature, it allows the exhibitor to focus on designing creative graphics without the hassle of assembling a booth.
Virtual reality has become one of the biggest trends at trade shows, enabling vendors to showcase real estate, manufacturing plants and other products that they cannot physically display to potential clients. It is an effective way to present a demonstration or an informational video. Baron described how he was once able to use a virtual reality system to explore a piece of real estate, using a remote control to move around inside the virtual projection. Even his kids tried it.
“If a 4-year-old can use it, then people at a trade show can use it,” he said with a laugh.
Exhibitors often bring one or two sophisticated virtual reality systems and then hand out cheap cardboard virtual viewers with a special QR code so clients can view the product later.
Nowadays, many trade show attendees are looking for an interactive experience, and some of the best ways to engage that interest are through technology like virtual reality, touch screens and motion sensor displays. However, exhibitors should try not to lose their marketing message in all the extras. Quite often, simplicity is key.
“If you’ve got a good brand with a clear message and you know who you’re trying to reach, that could drive a lot of things that the exhibit company doesn’t need to get involved in,” said Trainor.
He gave an example of a recent client at a show who was marketing an iron supplement and who set up a booth where attendees could test the iron level in their blood with a quick pin prick. Afterward, the vendor followed up with an email about the test results, along with information about different products the company offered that catered to the participant’s health needs. The activity was simple, focused and engaging, and allowed the vendor to collect quality client data.