Before launching into the type of trade show display you need, I always first caution our clients to have done proper marketing and advertising before you leap into spending $25,000 to $50,000 (plus or minus) on a trade show. The average cost for a 10' x 20' trade show booth, not including travel, hotel, food, etc., is around $10K. Larger areas, of course, cost more both in terms of floor space and display graphics.
What do I mean by having done proper marketing and advertising? Good question. Glad I asked! That means do you know what resonates with your clients? Do you know what you're doing that "scratches their itch," so to speak? Do you have a unique selling proposition (USP) that resonates with your target audience? Have you tested using A/B split testing methods in various advertising media from magazines and newspapers to television to the internet?
If not, then scratch spending a bunch of money on a trade show until you do this. How do you do this, you ask? Thanks, I'm glad you asked that question too. Let's say you have a super widget you want to market to the hippest young singles in the markets where singles give a rip whether they're hip or not.
Get in the Head of Your Potential Clients
However, you don't really know what is getting them to buy your product, and you know you could sell more super widgets if you could speak their language. So, you hire a hipster to help your marketing department to get inside your potential client's noodle. But really, how will he know if he's reaching your audience with the phrases that pays? But this young person is more savvy than the average, and has read some of the "old masters" of advertising's writings. Marketers like John Caples, who understood how to know what worked and what got people to open their wallets to buy.
So, you decide to advertise in some hip periodicals. You present a special offer of 25% off your super widgets if, when you call in, you mention this specific code, which, of course, varies with the message of your ads and where they're placed. Within 4-6 weeks you tally the results and find out that the ad with the code XYZ123 is the hands down winner, with a response rate of a whopping 2% of magazine subscribers (this would be a huge win!). Now, you take your winner(s) and pit them against new ads in the same magazines and newspapers and maybe even similar ads on TV, and again, after a few weeks calculate the results. The original winner is still the winner. This ad is known as the "control" as it wins every time you run it.
Now, as this is the 21st century, your savvy hip marketing person you hired is also savvy online. He/she knows how to utilize internet sidebar advertising like Bing or Google and so you also run some cryptic sidebar ads here as well. The amazing thing about this is that you can now cut those four to six weeks down to four to six days. You can test what headlines and sub-copy get people to respond to your ads, and also which ads convert looky-loos to buyers.
Using analytic tools, you are able, in this century, to know within a gnats whisker (do gnats really have whiskers?) which ads are getting clicks, and which ads are getting clicks and purchases. It's a beautiful world!
Applying the Above Test to Your Trade Show Booth
So, what does all this have to do with your original trade show booth display question? Well, if you've done all of the above and know what resonates with hipsters who buy your super widget, you can simply translate your message to a trade show display and it will work. Let me rephrase that. It WILL work. You know it will because you tested the heck out of it. You know that every hip young person at the trade show early next year will stop at your booth. And you know 37.4% of them will purchase a super widget. Because you've tested it.
At this point, quite frankly, if you have a professional design firm create some hip graphics that feature your USP, those graphics can be put on backwalls, roll up retractable banner stands, table runners, table top banner stands or signs, and side walls in your booth. As long as you continue to trumpet the message that's been working (and for God's sake, don't subjugate the message to the graphics!)
Now go, and be successful at whichever action you need to take (advertising and marketing testing or, having done that, prepping for a trade show)! And for God's sake, or at least mine, have fun!!!
Barry K. Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn't what he thought he'd do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else! He has been marketing these products online since 1998, and the company he was general manager of in 1998 was the first sign company to be listed on Yahoo!
He invites you to visit his Google + page online at Barry K. Brown G+ Profile to get to know him better and learn more of his writings.