Small businesses can now garner the same benefits as their larger competitors at industry events and trade shows. Once seen as a corporate Who’s Who of business leaders, industry events are now recognized as an excellent opportunity for smaller local businesses and cottage industries. Trade show booth rentals have become more affordable, making these lucrative events a solid investment in future profitability for even the smallest business. The ROI is undeniable and the up-front investment is surprisingly affordable. Here are just 5 reasons that trade shows can help small businesses grow:
For many years I coached youth baseball. It recently dawned on me that staffing a booth is like fielding a baseball team. Let’s use this analogy:
Dr. Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius states, “Collaboration drives creativity because innovation always emerges from a series of sparks … never a single flash of insight.”
You don’t need to go to Las Vegas to gamble, all you have to do is bring something of high value to a trade show. Everyone is faced with the common problem of theft on the show floor. That being said, I wanted to share some of the tricks of the trade that we have employed over time to take preventative action:
As our attending audience has evolved over the years, too, should our methods for marketing our business’ participation in any given event. By its very nature, trade shows of any type can be categorized as a “social event.” Today’s savvy marketers understand that, in order to maximize ROI, at these new, quality-over-quantity driven functions, it’s imperative to also include modern social methods found via the Internet. Placing a heavy focus on the personal interactions and relationships with clients and contacts through social media resources is the only way to truly optimize public engagement and ensure that your organization stands out from the competitive crowd.
During our trade show training webinars over the last two years, perhaps no question has been asked more than this: “How do we design our trade show display to get attention when we sell a service, instead of a tangible product?”
You can understand how frustrating it could be to not have a product to physically point to and demonstrate. And yet, there are several ways exhibitors have created more than enough visual splash to promote their service. Here are 9 ways your service company can attract plenty of the right people into your trade show booth:
- Clearly define your service
- Emphasize your benefits
- Show photos of your clients – the people and their workplace
- Show photos of your employees doing their job
- Use bold graphic design and great typography
- Show the industries you serve
- Give proof of your benefits, client acceptance, or market success
- Represent your upscale brand with exhibit architecture
- Demonstrate your software product in your trade show booth
To bring these ideas to life, we’re going to look at 16 examples, which use one or more of these 9 exhibit marketing & design tactics. We’ll start with eight 10-foot displays, then look at four 10 X 20 foot inlines, then finish with four island exhibits. No matter what size exhibit you use, these tactics can work for you. And even if you do sell a physical product, these ideas can make your trade show exhibit design even stronger.
10-foot Trade Show Booths That Sell A Service
Doody Mechanical does a great job combining relevant photos and text to sell their service. Their display’s center panel clearly leads with a strong benefit, “Know where your building stands on energy costs” plus the action steps, “Identify. Implement. Manage.” over the image of a typical client’s building. The two outside panels both have a photo of their target audience in their work environment plus a benefit statement headline.
Alliant Consulting combines several methods to sell their service: They very concisely say what they do: “Labor Compliance Monitoring.” They show friendly, professional people in hardhats that could be either their clients or their employees. They show photos that convey construction and government, which is their focus, and have some graphic flourishes to pull it all together in an eye-catching manner. This booth says exactly what it needs to say very quickly in a 10-foot space.
Meyers’s Teleservices clearly defines their service, shows photos of their employees smiling with headsets (they do teleservices, after all), and they use bold graphics. They also say they offer “A World Of Experience” as a benefit, but that may get lost at ankle-height. They fully leverage their 10-foot space by using similar graphics on their table.
LinkShare features a large dynamic red swirling arrow on both its backwall display and its table – the same art that is in its logo. They also state their service and its benefits in large text, saying “Online Performance Marketing Solutions that Drive Results.” They list the services they offer, and for extra credibility, show logos of their most well-known clients.
vandover show their benefits statement, “Solid Relationships Solid Results” larger than any other text except for their logo. They also show 4 photos of the kinds of clients they serve, and on the rest of the display list 9 services they offer. They use a more architecturally structural exhibit system to convey a more sophisticated brand.
Intertech uses bold colors and an enlarged version of their intriguing logo to add visual spice to their graphics. They clearly state their offering, “Medical Device Development and Validation” and then add “Outsourced Engineering Solutions Since 1982,” and list 5 services they offer.
AllMax Software combines many tactics to promote their service in a single 10-foot display: Their positioning statement (“Data management and reporting. It’s what we do.”), a tagline (“Setting Data in Motion”), and a benefit statement (“We’ll help you work … Easier. Faster. Smarter.”) They also add visual appeal with an exaggerated photo showing a typical (overwhelmed!) client, bright colors, and swooping graphic flourishes.
Dynamics Direct exemplifies the strong use of a benefits statement: “Technology & Expertise to Double & Triple Your Response” is shown in larger text than the words telling what they do: “The Leaders in E-Mail Marketing.” The red, white and blue is also more colorful than most exhibits.
20-foot Trade Show Booths That Sell A Service
MCH is brave enough to do what few exhibitors attempt: They emphasize their marketing message over their company name and logo. Half their exhibit is dedicated to a creative, billboard-style graphic that challenges their target audience to consider their offering. The other half details the reasons supporting their offer.
Silversea, a luxury cruise line, combines stunning lifestyle photos with the powerfully worded headline, “inspire. indulge. intrigue.” They do have a physical product – the ship – but sell the service of vacation travel with elegance and sophistication, appealing to their upscale buyers.
lotusworks catches the eye with very bold colors, the large “Experience The Power Of LOTUS” positioning statement overlaid over a brilliant photo, plus other photos and drawings relevant to the industries they serve. They make the list of 18 services they offer easier to absorb by grouping 6 each under 3 major service categories. It’s a lot of information to convey, so the balanced use of color, images, and order of information make it stand out instead of getting lost.
compellent uses the visual allegory of water – both graphically and even with real water in the blue, curvy tubes – to represent the flow of data, complementing their differentiating positioning statement: “Data isn’t something to be ‘stored.’ It’s something to be actively, intelligently managed. Introducing Fluid Data Storage.” This booth also uses rich wood flooring and elegant architectural shapes to convey the sophistication of the compellent brand.
Island Trade Show Exhibits That Sell A Service
EducationCity.com does not have a physical product, but they do have a product they can demonstrate, so they invite people to get hands on at multiple computer stations in their trade fair stand. They grab attention with extremely bright orange and yellow graphics (and carpet) that feature show special discounts, the names of their products, benefits statements, and to add credibility, “trusted and used in over 15,000 schools.”
Riverbed uses a clear, concise benefit statement, “Think fast” to get attention, and also has many flatscreen monitors running movies featuring client testimonials and other videos. In another part of the booth space they had a theater to present to groups of attendees. Most of all, it has an extremely dynamic exhibit shape to catch the eye.
ADT creates a lot of visual stopping power with this large island exhibit. They boost credibility with billboard-sized testimonials featuring pictures and quotes from current authorized ADT dealers, used to recruit new dealers. The oversized zeros and ones speak to their commitment to technology, and the blue color throughout reinforces their brand.
Veolia has a larger canvas to tell their services story, so they repeat similar design tactics to promote the message from multiple vantage points. They brand themselves with the strong red color. They use lots of photos showing their people and equipment at work. They list the products they offer. And then at eye level within the booth, they tell several stories about their strengths, with headlines and text to back up the claims made in the headlines.
So there you have it. Even if your product can’t be held in the hand of your booth visitors, you can still design an exhibit with the right graphic elements that helps captures visitors’ attention and makes a strong impression about why they should choose your service business.
Take a closer look at key issues, risks and challenges facing professional & business services exhibitors in the Professional and Business Services white paper. To get your free guide with the top 5 methods used by exhibitors to draw attendees to their booth, click here.
Topics: Trade Show Exhibits, Trade Show Exhibits, Trade Show Graphics, Tradeshow booth design, Booth Display Design, Trade Show Exhibit, Trade Show Tonic, trade show exhibiting, Trade Show Displays, Trade show exhibit design, trade show exhibit graphics