The typical company spends about 32 percent of their marketing budget on trade show exhibits, and it's easy to see why: 92 percent of attendees at trade shows are there with the express purpose of learning about new products. It's a huge opportunity for any brand, but without the right visual communication to make your booth stand apart from the rest, you can fall far short of a good return on your (significant) investment.

Sure, part of the recipe for success is following some basic booth etiquette: never leaving your booth unattended, greeting and smiling at passersby, perfecting your pitch. But a stunning 70 percent of exhibitors fail to set specific goals or put strategies in place around their trade show or conference attendance -- and without these goals, your message is sure to be mixed, confusing, and incomplete.

So step one is setting a measurable objective that you'd like your booth and your presence to achieve. Next, you'll apply these five strategies to give your tired booth a new lease on life.

1. Connect with Color

You'll probably want to stick to your brand colors, but which color you choose to dominate your visual content and booth design will help communicate what your brand represents.

Warm and bright colors such as red communicate excitement, making it ideal for selling sports cars and products designed to energize and encourage activity and interaction. Blue and similar cool colors communicate competence.

So what kinds of customers are you targeting -- high-energy professionals looking for something new or decision-makers looking for a high-quality, reliable brand solution? Make sure the right color dominates.

2. Design for the Space

If you've got a corner booth, your design should be completely different than if you've got a space mid-aisle. Just like when you're building a house from the ground up, you need to optimize the space you're given. Where your booth lives determines how foot traffic will approach it and where you'll place specific visuals.

To first catch people's eye from a longer range, place more dominant visuals or large, key text (five words or less) where the eye most naturally falls when someone is walking by. If people have to turn their heads to see what you're all about, you've already likely lost that potential interaction.

3. Pick a Focal Point

When people remember your booth they should be able to visualize one, coherent unit -- not a web of randomly organized information. What image or tagline epitomizes the message or mood you'd like visitors to walk away with? Let that drive the overall design, look, and feel of your booth.

4. Respect Hierarchy

Not every piece of information can be the "most important." Your focal point may be the largest or most colorful aspect of your booth, and that makes sense -- you want it to stand out. But too many other large, similar-looking elements will detract from that focal point, and in the end it won't function as a focal point at all.

Remember that some visuals or information need to be smaller, especially those pieces of content that are not important to share until someone is actually inside your booth, and close enough to view or read them.

And just as important when it comes to hierarchy is knowing what to omit. Too much information overwhelms, whereas a few strong data points can be altogether much more convincing arguments for your brand, product, or service.

5. Feature a Variety of Content Types

A successful booth offers up multiple ways for attendees to engage with your brand. Great static illustrations or data visualization may encourage passersby to stop in their tracks, but that won't be enough. Hang at least one television showing a motion graphic pitch for your brand. Remember, people probably won't be able to hear any voiceover or audio in a crowded convention hall, so any information that can't be communicated visually should appear in the form of text (minimal text!) on screen.

Once your motion graphic reels visitors in, you can use other screens or workstations to demo your product or service with ease.

Finally, don't forget to send them on their way with informational print materials that are well-made and visually engaging, something that they can share with other stakeholders in their company. Swag is a great option, too -- so long as it's truly useful.

Design a conference map with your booth prominently marked. Send them away with custom-designed, conference-specific postcards, complete with stamps. Just make sure that everything you hand out exemplifies the same kind of quality you promise to deliver if they choose to work with you.  

Combine all of these strategies to boost engagement, conversions, and return at any conference or trade show you attend. With quality visual communication, your brand will be irresistible.

Published on: May 17, 2018