When speaking with clients, the question that I always ask is, “Who needs to approve your new trade show exhibit?” The response I usually hear is, “My boss does!” While upper management or owners usually do need to approve the exhibit, their perspective isn’t always correct. The exhibit design needs to make a big impression with the audience. Before the design process even begins, it is imperative to know your audience and what type of prospects will be attending the show. Does the upper management of the company, sitting around the table looking at the renderings of the new exhibit, match the demographic? Or are they guessing at what the audience might think or wants to see.
Would the CEO of Heinz pick the new label for a ketchup bottle? What about the product manager? No. They would create focus groups around America to tell them which label sells Ketchup. They want to appeal to mothers, so they let other mothers judge the label. Heinz wants to replicate the other young mothers who like their product with young mothers who have the same thoughts so they are attracted to the label and bottle in the same way. That mother walking the aisles of the grocery store is very similar to your prospect walking the trade show.
Most likely, each mother or wife has a list of each item they need to get, but they are always willing to look at other options that attract their attention. Heinz wants to make sure that the ketchup label stands out. Heinz knows from the focus groups what mothers want to see. Rather than guess what your prospect wants to see, why not create your own type of focus group to determine the correct message for your trade show audience and prospects?
You want to replicate your good customers, so why not use the messaging and graphics that will attract like-minded customers? Ask a few existing customers or attendees to evaluate your design and messaging. Show them preliminary designs and messaging. They will feel honored that you respected their ideas enough to ask their opinion. You may hear an awful lot about what you should and shouldn’t promote through messaging and design on your exhibit.
The next time you need a rendering for changes to your exhibit, think about allowing enough time for a couple evaluations of your message by a custom focus group that you create from your best customers.
By: Jeff Steigerwalt –