Bogus Booths

One synonym for booth is stall, which is what a trade show booth should do.

At Mac World last week, very few booths made attendees stall.

The purpose of a tradeshow booth (or any promotion) is to make attendees believe that you have something of value to offer. Well targeted trade shows provide great opportunities to put value propositions in front of potential customers, many of whom have thought-leadership roles given that in this recession they are the only ones with budget to attend shows. Yet an average trade show booth rarely communicates more than the booth manager not understanding how to nail audience attention.

When planning to exhibit, you have to ask yourself “what attracts the attention of this group of people.” At Mac World, my wife noticed a cluster of highly attractive women in tight fitting and very abbreviated dresses at one booth, and instantly realized their ability to attract attention (despite my consciously looking the other way). When attendees are strolling down a trade show aisle, you have less than five seconds to get their attention. Even if you get their attention, you then have to keep it while communicating reasons they should risk a chat with your sales people.

linuxworld-suse-floor-w360In other words you are must clearly communicate relevant value to folks with abbreviated attention spans (they are to busy staring at the booth babes).

This changes for every show and for every phase of market acquisition. Back when Silicon Strategies Marketing was helping SuSE Linux gain their undisputed standing in the market, we guided their communication through several tradeshows and phases of market education, orchestrating an end-run around Red Hat. At one phase, it was critical to demonstrate strategic alliances with major vendors. As the photo shows, banners over the SuSE booth were bragged about relationships with IBM, AMD, Oracle and others. Our targeting was so effective that we had attendees in our booth, listening to integration presentations after the show closed and venue crews were rolling-up the carpets.

To gain this level of trade show connection, you need to use graphics that communicate your key value propositions, or at least attract attention and compliment value proposition words that appear on your booth. If you don’t get their attention, you lose. If you can’t quickly communicate your value, you lose. If the value you communicate is not well targeted, you lose.

Given how expensive exhibiting is, you better not lose.


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