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Focus Your Exhibit Design On Your Target Audience

Design your trade show exhibit for your target audienceTrade show exhibits are best when their design and message directly focuses on the exhibitor’s target audience.  A successful exhibit design depends largely on meeting the following 4 criteria:

  1. The exhibit instantly communicates to visitors that the exhibitor offers products visitors are looking for
  2. The exhibit quickly engages visitors with a compelling, relevant message
  3. The brand impression created by the exhibit matches the exhibitor’s own corporate identity
  4. The unique advantages of the exhibitor’s products and solutions are easily understood

But what happens in reality 80 percent of the time?  You walk the show floor and see the opposite of the four points outlined above (except for exhibits designed with great restraint, usually for big companies and major brands).

Unfortunately, many companies make it their primary exhibit design strategy to point out every product they offer, and then describe it with big blocks of small text on the exhibit wall.  That’s a far cry from a concise and compelling message, and prevents visitors from finding what they are looking for.  Most of all, trade show attendees want information on products and services, and especially innovative new solutions.  What trade show attendee gives up his valuable time just to look at products he’s known about for years?

The only question is how to design the exhibit to appeal directly to your best prospects.  The following has been proven in practice:

1.  First, one should first think about what the audience expects from the exhibitors. What are their motivations, and why do visitors attend shows in general?  The answer, according to research, is almost always to find innovative products and solutions!

2.  Then the following question moves into the center:  What is the emotional profile of the target groups?  Various professional groups are attracted by different messages and communication styles.  A marketer can inspire with innovative technology, such as, at the moment, by the innovation of an iPad or a multi-touch table for presentations.  CEOs are intrigued more by dominant, high-status designs while nurses or teachers more on natural messages, materials and shapes.  You can learn more on the blending of brain research and communication theory in the book, Think Limbic, by Hans-Georg Häusel.

3.  Third, integrate the previous two points into your exhibit design, by considering the following elements:

  • Reduce your offering to the essentials (show just your innovative products, rather than lots and lots of products)
  • Reduce your graphics text to only one main message and a maximum of three customer benefits.
  • Consider using questions in your messaging.  Questions that your target show attendees are looking to answer, which will help you start a conversation with them.
  • Thoughtful use of materials, colors and shapes, which fit your company brand and reflect your corporate personality and values.
  • Use of emotional imagery.  Pictures convey messages more convincingly than words.

Aligning your trade show exhibit design to the needs of your target audience is a well proven principle: Less is actually more!  In addition, a simplified exhibit costs less, which is also attractive.

I wish you much fun with the planning of your upcoming trade shows and I am of course available if you have other questions on this subject.  Just ask them in the comments box below.

What's Working In Exhibiting White PaperLearn about other proven methods for exhibit design and other key facets of trade show marketing with the 32-page white paper, What’s Working In ExhibitingClick here to get your free copy.

About the Author

Mario Huggler runs one of the top 3 exhibit companies in Switzerland. The 10-time award-winning CEO from www.EXPOformer.ch (Skyline Exhibit's representative in Switzerland) has 13 years exhibit consulting experience. Because Mario has made over 40,000 sales calls and client consultations, he has become one of the top exhibit industry experts in Switzerland.

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