The Meter-High Club
Trade show attendees often scramble from booth to booth, eager to get their hands on a company's latest wares. But sometimes it's next to impossible to bring your entire product line to a show, especially when you're selling gargantuan pieces of machinery or – in the case of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp. – airplanes. To solve this supersized problem, Gulfstream thought small. Rather than displaying actual aircraft in its exhibit at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) show in Las Vegas, the company opted to assemble five product models, which were positioned in one corner of its booth space. Curvaceous display stands and carefully positioned aircraft models communicated a sense of
motion, while integrated iPads offered jet specifications. Scores of attendees laid eyes on the scale models and learned more about them via the iPads, proving that show-and-tell displays work, even if they happen to be a smaller size than the actual product.
On the Floor
Booth flooring is often referred to as an exhibitor's fifth wall. When used appropriately, flooring can provide companies with an opportunity to establish a brand-appropriate aesthetic, set the scene, and attract attendees to their space. And nobody understands the power of flooring's fifth wall better than Willis Group Holdings PLC. In its exhibit at the Risk Management Society show in Los Angeles, Willis took advantage of every underfoot inch by covering the exhibit-hall concrete with dye-sublimated carpet in its corporate-blue hue and littered with white Willis logos. Impossible to ignore, the carpeting branded the entire booth as Willis territory in a way that standard rental carpet could never do.
To prove its weatherproof claims at the 2016 National Stationery Show in New York, JL Darling LLC set up an aisle-side demo to put its wood-based, recyclable paper to the test. According to the company, its Rite in the Rain notebooks defy Mother Nature by not turning to mush when exposed to rain, sweat, grease, and the accidental laundering. JL Darling demonstrated the paper's properties by first inscribing the message "Rite in the Rain works! For best results, use a pencil or all-weather pen" on a page of one of its spiral-bound notepads. Then it placed the pad in a branded metal bucket beneath a steady stream of water. Staffers invited passersby to feel the paper for themselves and observe how the writing stayed crisp and unaffected by the deluge, washing away any doubts about the product's effectiveness.
Contact Auszeichnungssysteme is one of the world's leading producers of labeling systems. But the utilitarian products aren't exactly sexy. So to add a dose of decorative drama to its exhibit at EuroShop, the company positioned a mannequin turned art installation in the center of its space. Covered in thousands of the company's bright orange labels, the colorful character attracted plenty of attention and communicated the firm's competencies faster than you can say "price check."
At the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association show (CEDIA), most attendees are just as interested in a product's components and wiring as they are in its sound- and video-production capabilities. That's why Klipsch Group Inc. devised a product display to show off both the front and back sides of its speakers almost simultaneously. A mostly enclosed structure, Klipsch's exhibit featured wood-slat walls positioned on the edge of its footprint. But those walls featured swiveling, vertical product displays, allowing people inside the exhibit and those merely passing in the aisles to examine both sides of the speakers. The moving components caught the eyes of passersby and drew them in for a closer look.
Griffin Technology Inc., which offers a barrage of smartphone cases, erected an unusual and arguably outdated icon in its exhibit at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show. A series of British-style phone booths lined the back of Griffin's space, attracting attention from curious passersby. While the booths themselves, which actually comprised two flat graphic panels attached to opposite ends of waist-high tables, reinforced the company's phone-related wares, they also housed double-sided charging stations, allowing up to 20 users to recharge their devices at a time. Griffin called in goodwill by offering complimentary power, and staffers struck up conversations with the captive audience members while they waited for their devices to fully charge.
A Powerful Impact
Exhibit marketers are always looking for ways to take their trade show programs – and their careers – to the next level. Impact XM, a Dayton, NJ-based experiential-marketing agency, honed in on that desire with a befitting in-booth quiz that gave participants tangible suggestions for accomplishing both goals. Staffers invited attendees at the Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association Annual Meeting to step up to an iPad in the booth and take the Powering Peak Performance quiz. Based loosely on the popular Myers-Briggs personality test, the digital questionnaire asked attendees five multiple-choice questions about their marketing tendencies. Based on their answers, the final screen of the quiz proclaimed attendees' primary strength (e.g., insight, perception, or drive) and gave them tips on how to apply those traits to their programs and careers.