5 Questions to Ensure Your Trade Show Displays Reflect Your Branding
When your company sends you and your trade show booths out onto the show floor, it’s really entrusting you to be the company’s “brand ambassador.” Think about that: in many cases, not even top executives are given that level of responsibility. But you? You—and your efforts on behalf of your company—are out there on display for all to see. There’s a great deal of power in that position. So the question is, are you using that power to do the best job you can, or are there places your efforts could be better placed (or more focused) to get the results your company expects of you?
Let’s focus on five areas where what’s happening on the show floor reflects on your company and your brand, and see how your efforts stack up:
1) Do our trade show displays reflect the attitude our brand is known for (or wants to be known for)?
If you can say “yes” to this question, you’re in good shape. It’s not an easy thing to get show attendees to think a certain way about your company if the exhibit you’re in isn’t functioning in concert with that objective. If yours is, bravo!
If you can’t say “yes” yet, what is it about the exhibit design that needs to change? Is it the structure itself? The graphics? Maybe even the size of your booth? After all, it’s tough to communicate your position of world domination in a 10 x 10 space!
2) Does everything in our trade show exhibits—from the booth design itself to our graphics to the staff’s product knowledge—reflect our brand values?
If you’re not there yet, what’s one thing you could do between now and your next show to create a more unified presentation of your brand position?If everything does, congratulations. This is a tough one to pull off: getting all the elements of your exhibiting efforts to harmonize and communicate a cohesive brand message.
You might not be able to change everything that’s not firing on all cylinders right away. But there’s probably something you can do in the short term to put things on the road to the right destination.
3) Is the message we’re intending to communicate through our trade show marketing efforts being reflected back to us by our customers?
You may think you’re sending a clear brand message to attendees and customers through the design of your exhibit, the booth’s signs and display graphics, and everything down to the staff’s badges. But if your customers aren’t resonating with that message (if they don’t think of you the way your company wants to be thought of), something’s misfiring in your communications.
How do you fix it? One way is to make sure your message is clear. Many exhibitors use confusing or overly wordy signage that sends a mixed message to attendees. It’s better to send a single, clear signal than to try and tell passersby everything about your company with your graphics.
Another helpful tool is to look at your exhibiting efforts through your customers’ eyes. If you were a prospect for your company’s product or service, will what you’re showcasing on the show floor convince you that your company can deliver on its brand promise?
4) Do the staffers in our exhibit understand our brand message, and support our brand in their appearance, behavior and attitude?
This can be tricky. It’s tough to tell staffers that something about how they present themselves isn’t working to get the right message across to show visitors.
How do you navigate this dicey terrain? Go defense, rather than offense: create a clear written definition of the ways staffers should present themselves on the show floor (physically and mentally), have it signed off by management (so no one can complain to you about it), and make sure everyone gets a copy of the memo prior to show time.
But make it positive, rather than negative. You’ll get greater buy-in if you present it as a means of presenting a clear and cohesive brand message, rather than persecuting someone who wants to express him or herself with a nose ring.
5) Do we have a plan in place to detect threats to our brand, either from new businesses or competitors that are changing their marketing plans?
This goes beyond your exhibiting efforts, but it will come up on the show floor. If you’re not ready for it there when someone asks why Company X has the better mousetrap, you’re not being the “brand ambassador” your company is expecting you to be.
You can begin this process by doing a little research, as well as getting input from management about where this response should come from, who’s responsible for speaking on behalf of the company, and how to inform those working in the booth so everyone’s on the same page.
As you can see, there can be potential holes in your plans that may need attention. But that’s the point: address those problems and you’ll be in a better position to do the right thing when it comes to promoting your brand. And you can do it. You’ve got the power! Remember, you’re the “brand ambassador.”
We’ve focused on the practicalities of promoting your company’s brand through trade show exhibiting. But how much are companies really following through, aligning their sales and marketing efforts with their brand position? Are you? If not, what’s keeping you from starting? If you are, how can you do it even better?
We see our job as getting you to think about things that can affect you being successful in the trade show arena. But we’d also like to be a resource for help when you need it—beyond just being a provider of trade show exhibits, pop-up displays, banner stands and the like.
If you’re experiencing a difficulty in getting your brand messaging across in your trade show exhibiting, let us help. We’ve been at this a while (well, actually 30+ years!), and we may have some ideas (or know some people who do) that could be helpful. As always, feel free to contact us with questions about anything related to trade show exhibiting. Call at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected].