In the war for attention at conferences your main goal is to attract (the right) visitors to your booth. Often, you’ll be competing with many other companies. The combined effort of all these companies to display colorful visuals, presentations, and attractions to keep you busy for a day. If you want to be remembered amidst this commercial circus, you’ll have to stand out and have very clear messaging. So, how to go about this challenge as a small company?
There’s an abundance of different exhibition possibilities out there that are worth considering, including roll-up banners, pop-up stands, modular stands, back wall plating (usually through the organization), backlighted modules, frames with a canvas, and fully customized, hand-made booths.
Roll-up banners are pretty cheap to come by (+ - 60 EUR) nut remember this is also common knowledge and you should think twice about using these too much at conference. Even as an addition to the rest of your booth you should consider if it’s worth the limited space you’re usually granted at exhibitions
Pop-up stands and textiles have become the standard amongst small and mid-sized companies and have probably reach this status because of one simple aspect: easiness. You could probably train a chimpanzee to set these up. Problem is... so can everyone else. A newer version of this is the frame with
Modular stands give you the advantage that you can adapt them to whatever exhibit you plan on going to because if you lay these out well you can make use of their flexibility. A hip version of a modular booth is with backlighting, which really amplifies the power of imagery you’re using but is less easily transported.
Finally, you can hire a designer and some carpenters to create a completely customized exhibitions space. Obviously, this is extremely costly and usually only used once… This is actually best left to big pharma who seemingly have enough budget to build exhibition scaled theme parks at whatever exhibit they go to. Funny thing is that these booths are actually not busy at all, most of the time.
2. Size matters
If you’re not planning on renting the bigger spots, keep in mind you can also go vertical. Most of the conference centers have high ceilings and usually not a lot of restrictions on how high you can build your exhibition wall.
So, if all else fails, at least make sure your is taller than the competition J. Actually, most of the booths you purchase will have standards heights but be creative. Make a beach flag or even better: a helium balloon! Whatever you think will catch the unsuspecting conference visitor’s eye from a distance and grabs their interest. Ceiling is the limit people!
This entire project should be about a visual experience that delights anyone who passes by, so go wild on the visuals. A stunning image, combined with good usage of your brand colors, and an enticing headline is what you should be aiming for. Nevertheless, also, empty space. Just as you should be doing with blogs, you want to leave space in between different items to facilitate the viewer’s focus.
Get your own high-res pictures and display them for the world to see
Big tagline that’s easily interpreted (simple and not to corporate)
Put your messaging above the middle so everyone can see it
Copy to draw people in (keep it challenging, ask a question)
Limit the number of colors (it doesn’t need to look like a bag of skittles)
Make it about you by centralizing your logo and name
Stock photos of happy people shaking hands please (you would disappoint me)
Illegible text (people will need to be able to read everything from a distance)
Choose one main thing attendees should remember.
Remember that people at conferences are blessed with surprisingly short attention spans so don’t assume they will stick around to read all the prose you’d really want to put on your wall.
The best plan is to take some time (with your team) and define what you want to be known for and turn this into an enticing headline. Challenge people a bit, make them laugh, or ask them something that might make them wonder. If you think about it, all you want to do is attract traffic to your booth. Once you have caught people in your proverbial net, you can tell them everything else.
After you’ve come up with something good, you turn it into a tagline of 6-7 words and put it prominently on the wall nice up high.
And, although it might be tempting: do not use up all the other space with logos or other static; respect the power of empty space. Unless you’re the biggest company in the world, you don’t want to put stuff like that on an exhibition wall because, frankly, people don’t really care. Just have a look at the well-established large firms, they all try to attract by delighting their visitors instead making it a party about themselves.
5. Get a screen
Use digital graphics for a big advantage, but keep the message clear. Display some physical products or service in action because moving images are picked up in people’s peripheral vision and increase the chances of you being noticed.
As with the other content though, try to keep it concise. When was the last time you hung around watching a company movie for more than a minute? You can use it to stream content related to your main message; it should add value, not stray from the rest.
Tip 1: Most pop-up walls can sustain the weight of a small screen and if you want a bigger one you can use a modular booth with some extra curves, turns to create balance.
Tip 2: Don’t simply turn a PPT into a moving presentation but adapt it so it’s well-read from a distance.
6. Beyond the wall
Like the cherry on a cake, a finishing touch can make a huge difference. Make sure to dress up the rest of your space nicely. Put some chocolates or a special treat on a table, secure an original give-away for a raffle with an iPad next to it to add people to your mailing list (I use MC Subscribe), maybe a nice carpet, or heck, put a pant somewhere. Make it all look nice and more importantly: make people feel welcome.
7. So what should it look like it total?
As always, easier said than done so see this little design example below of how you can create your wall. Let’s pretend it’s a pop-up wall, ok?
Goal: I want you to know that I can teach you how to make exhibition walls.
I did a pop-up to make my life easy
It would be 2.5 m high for you to be able to spot it
A big splash of colours to attracht your attention and draw you in
The six-word tagline should make it pretty clear how I can help you
The screen shows an epicly executed short presentation
Below you see an example!
If you'd like to get some more tips or have a short review of your wall: ask me nicely.