Trade Show Display Design: Business Brainstorming & Collaboration Tips
There are any number of hurdles that can stand between a company and a successful trade show, and this blog tries to identify and suggest remedies for them in various posts. However, one of the hurdles that often goes without nearly enough discussion is one that’s also a little closer to home.
Putting together a great exhibition display is very much a team effort. Even if you outsource the booth design or delegate management of it to your marketing group, it’s going to take a lot of collaboration from a lot of different areas of your workplace. Trade show appearances are very much a team effort among small- and mid-size businesses, so you need to remember to keep internal support high!
Like a lot of projects requiring inter-departmental collaboration, expo displays are also easily messed up if people aren’t on the same page. Whether it’s someone who doesn’t want to approve the funds, or a designer wanting their work to dominate, you also need plain old-fashioned face skills to get your trade show exhibits & displays put together.
Here are a few suggestions for how to deal with various aspects of your company when working on your exposition displays, to keep morale high and ensure everyone is contributing positively to the project!
Working Within Your Office To Support Your Exposition Appearances
The single most important aspect to keeping people in line when working on promotional tools, including trade show displays, is making sure that everyone knows why they’re all doing it. “For the good of the company” isn’t always enough of a reason. As long as you can keep people focused on the bigger picture, and what they’re going to see out of the project, you should have a lot easier time with your management.
Working With Chief Officers
If you aren’t already a high-level executive in your company, at some point, you’re going to have to get approval from management for your expenditures. However, even when that happens, cold feet all too often sets in, especially when any setback occurs. These are projects which are easily approved, but also easily revoked.
When making your pitches to them, focus on the returns on investment you’re going to be seeing. Trade show displays are a fantastic opportunity for outreach, and to boost your lead database, so focus on that.
Also: get internal commitments early. If you worry about keeping your funding in place, make those reservations ahead of time to make it harder to back out. Also, when dealing with CFOs specifically, try to emphasize that your expo booths should be seen as an investment, rather than as a cost.
Sales and Marketing
One of the bigger challenges when getting people to cooperate on a trade show display is having sales and marketing work together closely. While theoretically on the same team, these groups often find themselves at loggerheads since their approaches to work are quite different.
The key here is making sure people are on the same page. Have some “reconciliation” meetings where you simply get some sales and marketing folks in the same room and make sure that everyone truly does have the same concept of who your target markets are. Talk about sales personas, and ensuring that the Sales team on the show floor isn’t going to be making promises that Marketing can’t keep.
Few things can spoil a great exposition display, as well as potentially bringing on unwanted publicity, then having people claim that your company makes claims about its products that it can’t stand by. This sort of reconciliation can avert that.
Chances are, most of the people staffing your trade show are going to be taken from the rank and file of your company. The important thing to watch for here is motivation: Who’s volunteering to be part of the show because they want to help pitch products, and who’s just there because they think they can get a nice little paid vacation out of it.
You want your best, brightest, and most engaging staff members working to make your trade show display pay off. Those with bad attitudes probably should not be welcome. If someone seems to be there for the wrong reasons, look for a more reliable worker. You don’t want loose cannons when the trade show has been going on for three days and everyone’s nerves are shot.
If you have your choice, look for workers who also are known for creativity and an ability to adapt quickly. Emergencies and unexpected contingencies can come up quickly at trade shows. You want people staffing your booths who can think on their feet.
Chances are, areas of your business like your printing room or IT staff are likely to see some increased pressures as well while you ramp up for the trade show. While the people in these areas aren’t going to be as directly involved, it’s important to keep them happy. If anything comes up that would disrupt their normal work, like a large print job, consider a little bonus (even a box of donuts) to thank them for pitching in.
Happy workers are going to be putting in the most effort to see your trade show displays succeed.
Planning A Great Expo Display Truly Is A Team Effort
When it comes to putting on a great appearance at a trade show, it is critical to remember that there is no “I” in Team. You’ll need the focused attention of at least several people within your company, and large organizations will need cooperation across a wide range of departments, goals and personalities – some separated geographically as well.
Don’t neglect the human angle! Keep on top of who’s working on which areas of your trade show displays – investigate project management tools and best practices for inter-company collaboration in order to find a process that works for your team. Plan the project, and then work the plan. Track progress and look for ways to help everyone contribute the most they can!