“Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much.” – – John Wayne
While much of the effort to bring people to your booth at a trade show is done with pre-show marketing, effective signage can draw additional exhibit floor visitors into your booth and boost your show success. Great displays can also generate interest and create some excitement to enhance your brand.
What You Do Must Be Instantly Recognizable
First, remember that most expo visitors have a list of things that they came to the show to learn about and they have limited time available to them. The skilled attendee also has a list of booths they want to visit. Any hope of capturing the visitor’s interest as they move around the floor depends on one thing – people approaching your booth must be able to quickly determine what product/service your company offers. If your company is well known or the name itself conveys what you do, your company name can suffice. If your company name doesn’t covey your product category, then a highly visible graphic must be used. It must be of a size and position that it is the 1st thing a passer-by will notice and the copy/image must be short, simple and familiar. The passer-by must be able to recognize what you offer and if it is on their hit list, you have a visitor.
The top example on the right accomplishes the job in a very elegant way with the company name and an image. The 2nd example does convey the appropriate information, but in the small type near the bottom. The image and the large copy element do not contribute to bringing people into the booth. The fix is simple, reverse and resize the elements.
Convey Your Major Benefit, Not 500 Features
Your trade show booth is not a data sheet. It is simply not possible for your signage to convey information about every aspect of your product. You must ask yourself “what is the most important message a person walking past your booth should get?” and make sure they get it!
What is your most important message? The best answer is “whatever is most important to your customer.” It could be a unique feature that delivers a benefit your competitors can’t match. It could be low price, proven quality or your company’s longevity. You must understand what your customer’s most important buying criteria are and go with what they are interested in. The Nike example is clear and simply put – performance innovation.
If you are in a 10×10 exhibit space, 1 message is enough! Larger booths can have 2 or 3 main messages, but not many more. If your both is an island, the key messages should be visible from all approaches to your booth – the visitor should not have to walk around your booth to get the point.
Keep Your Main Signage Simple and Visible
Once the visitor comes into your booth, the staff now has the time to educate the potential customer about all the features and benefits that are appropriate. While you will certainly have pedestal signage to support the various displays and demonstrations, these small signs should not clutter up your main signage on the back walls. Also, don’t go overboard on the small signs. Lots of small signs all over the place distract from the main displays.
Colors are part of how you project your brand. Whenever possible, display pieces should be designed using bright, bold colors. You should always use a font size that is easy to read and text should be kept to a minimum. White space is good! And again, your signage is not a datasheet.
Effective use of lighting can emphasize your messages and give your booth a cheerier appearance. A few soft lights around your booth illuminate your message (or product) and mitigate the harsh fluorescent lighting found in all exhibition halls.
Signage plays a key role in attracting people to your booth and projecting your brand. The number one goal of your signage is to give a passer-by a reason to come into your booth. The 2nd goal is to support the booth staff in telling your story. Don’t confuse these roles!