If handing out your company's brochure is that boring, then just imagine having to read it.
I have to confess that I have a complicated love/hate relationship with the annual International Consumer Electronics Show. On one hand, I can't resist its siren-like allure, offering up some of the best booths and richest experiences of any event I attend. On the other hand, the portion of exhibits that falls into that category is but a tiny fraction of the show's roughly 3,800 exhibitors. As such, I have to walk miles of aisles (more than 50 total this year, according to my Fitbit) to find the golden nuggets among the acres of iron pyrite. But my biggest gripe with CES is not the blisters it lovingly bestows upon my aching feet. Rather, it's the many missed opportunities caused by lazy mistakes. So here, I present my open letter to CES booth staffers in six hashtags.
There's rarely a decent excuse for eating in your booth, but I literally lost count of the number of exhibits in which staffers were busy chowing down – and we're not talking about just a light snack. Approaching a booth where four people are devouring a party sub is almost as awkward as letting yourself into a stranger's home during family dinner. As such, most people won't bother to interrupt, even if they are interested in your wares. If you are the only staffer manning your company's exhibit and you simply must eat a sandwich in your booth space, at least try to be discreet about it or you might as well hang up a "Be Back Soon" sign, because nobody's likely to crash your lunch hour.
If you can't muster any enthusiasm for the literature you're handing out, don't be surprised or act upset when I walk on by. Furthermore, literature is not a traffic builder, and distribution should typically be a disengagement tactic that provides additional information to interested prospects. Bottom line: If handing out your company's brochure is that boring, then just imagine having to read it. Consider leaving the lit at home next time and passing out something that you – and attendees – can get excited about.
It's 2017. Unless you're exhibiting at an Amish trade show, it's a safe bet that every attendee has a smartphone... and those smartphones are capable of taking photos. As such, you need to assume that what you put on display in your booth is fair photography game. If you must shield something from the eyes of wannabe Annie Leibovitzes, consider putting it in a conference room or VIP lounge. Or at the very least position can't-miss "No Photos" signs near the display. And if well-meaning booth visitors (or journalists such as myself) snap a pic of something you don't want photographed, try not to tackle them to the ground.
On a related note, embrace and accommodate the more photogenic aspects of your exhibit, rather than standing in front of them looking dazed and confused. After all, your company wants images of your awesome products going viral, not pics of you yawning or picking your nose.
Please take an objective look at your signage, because there's a relatively decent chance it's too text heavy and/or difficult to read. One company I tweet-shamed for a practically illegible overhead graphic replied claiming it was a strategic decision meant to invoke a second glance. Graphics are meant to communicate, and if attendees have to work hard to read them, they're more likely to opt out than they are to whip out their Rosetta Stone.
I know I sound like a grump, and I apologize. But like many trade show attendees, this event wasn't my first rodeo. I have been attending CES for 12 straight years, watching staffers like yourselves make the same mistakes year after year. So please take my advice to heart, and I'll see you next year – but hopefully you won't be eating in your booth or standing in front of your display when I do.