Booth Design First, Marketing Strategy Second… And WHY?

In an industry like any other, where every vendor proclaims to be “thinking outside of the box” and other jaded “-isms,” I have a complaint: Why does the procurement process always evolve around which furniture and styles should go into an exhibit display?

Not only do most interactions between exhibit houses and exhibitorsstart with furniture arrangements-they proceed to price and logistics. This is when my blood pressure rises and I start to mutter incoherently to myself… Why is our industry so fixated on this mode of doing business?

Can we agree that the reason exhibitors spend tens, hundreds, or millions on their exhibit programs is for the purpose of marketing andselling? Can we agree that it is not because they are trying to sell furniture, and it is not because they are overly fascinated by warehousing and commercial freight details? I’m going to go out on a limb that the boardrooms that approve marketing budgets do so on an understanding that it will increase their brand’s, product’s, or service’s exposure, and otherwise increase sales opportunities. Why do we start off the discussion by discussing the widgets we think ought to be crammed together in your booth?

I endeavor, on every exhibitor conversation, to hit the ‘reset’ button, and orient the conversation around goals of the exhibit program. In other words, why were you given all of this company money? What is that money intended to provide for the company, and tell me what unique situations your company finds themselves faced with?

Product launch? Recent merger or acquisition? Defending brand or product against new competitor, or competitor’s new product? “Jaded” perception within industry? Business sector’s financial instability sewing doubt into prospective and existing clients’ minds? These are all common threads that we hear from exhibitors who need a new approach to their exhibit.

While I heap generous blame to the “cabinet makers” mindset amongst competing exhibit houses, a certain amount of criticism is owed to exhibitors. The approach that gains the most straightforward response from your vendors may not be the best approach for your exhibit program. What are some ideas for how trade show coordinators can improve their exhibit program from first contact, all the way through project completion? We’re eager to hear your comments on the subject – let us know what you think.