I have been helping companies with their event and trade show marketing for over 20 years and one thing always remains the same. You have 5 seconds to make an impression and get that reluctant attendee to stop at your space to learn more.

In regards to small exhibits, your graphics are the most important element. Proper use of your brand along with a strong message will help tell your story quickly. One of your main goals is creating awareness while also having the opportunity to gather a lead that will turn into revenue.

Consider these mistakes and tips when developing a strong brand message and graphics for your exhibit.

Mistake #1:

I have heard this statement many times. “My engineering team wants to put all of our product images on the booth.”

Use an image that will grab people’s attention and communicate your brand at a glance.

Consider the following.

– The rule of thumb is one image only. This image should be visible from 30 feet away.

– Use tablet computers such as iPads in the booth to allow attendees to delve deeper into your products.

– Only use high-resolution images. Never use low quality images in your exhibit.

– Work with a branding firm that understands how to properly launch your brand within your event space.

Mistake #2:

Don’t make your attendees need flashlights to see your exhibit clearly.

Many companies I have worked with try to eliminate lighting to save on their exhibiting costs. This is the wrong way to trim back on budgets. I have also heard that the lights make the smaller exhibit spaces hot. Lighting technology has come a long way. A few ideas:

– Light more then just your header.

– Space lights every 2-3 feet.

– Use LED lights to reduce heat and power consumption.

– Remember: Halogen lights are not allowed in some convention halls.

– Consider up-lighting from the floor.

Mistake #3:

Just because you care what your graphics look like, doesn’t mean your sales guys do.

Many companies, who exhibit at smaller events, send their sales representatives. I have seen exhibits that have creases, cracks and coffee stains. Things happen. But you need to make sure that your traveling brand stays neat and clean.

Consider these tips:

– Train all the sales reps on setting up and packing the exhibit.

– Have them take a picture of the booth at each event for you to see.

– Schedule to do booth cleaning and maintenance yearly.

– Work with a reputable company to take care of your exhibit investment.

Mistake # 4:

I wish my knees had eyeballs.

– Stop putting text and key images too low on your exhibit.

– Consider keeping the most important text eye level which is approximately 5’ from the floor.

– Not every inch of your exhibit needs to be covered with text or random images.

– Develop an exhibit strategy and messaging goals that extend beyond the backdrop.

Mistake #5:

Don’t supply magnifying glasses to view your exhibit.

You want your brand to be memorable and easily understood when an attendee strolls by your exhibit. This is not the place to showcase the 100 features of your 45 products.

A few key items to consider:

– Text should be a minimum of 4” tall. Make your text 1” high for every 3 feet you step back. If you want people to read it from 20 feet away, then your text should be 6.5” high.

– Fonts: Don’t make it look like your booth was shot with paint balls. Use serif or san serif styles and only 2 fonts per graphic.

– Images are more powerful then words and stand the test of time. Your text should not take more then 3-5 seconds to read. Your exhibit should not look like an eye chart.

In conclusion, consider these mistakes and tips when developing a strategy for your event and tradeshow marketing. I always recommend walking through a few tradeshows to look at exhibit styles, product displays and graphics to determine what catches your eye and most importantly what will catch your future customers’ eye.

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