Joe Greeley here, for Nimlok Minnesota.

Here’s what’s on my mind – That Billboard Just About Killed Me!

Now, if you’re anything like me, you probably take the same way to and from work almost every day.  Well, let me back up – this time of year you probably never do because it’s construction season.  Am I the only one that goes through Mankato to get to St. Paul these days? Well, that’s here nor there. Anyway, when I do get to, say, take the same route, I see the similar scenery obviously every day. I also see three billboards.

I see one, the first one I see is from my old high school, Cretin. And then I reminisce a little bit about the good old days. The next one is Colorado.  Skiing down the white slopes of Colorado – lovely isn’t it?  And the last one is for Coors Light, a cool refreshing beer. No wonder why I get to work in such a good mood every day, right?

But here’s the thing, on the way home I see the same three billboards, but I see the back side this time. The first one is for Hazelden … ooooh … no thank you, but I remember it. The next one is for marriage counseling.  Hmmm … no, I don’t think so. And the last one, I couldn’t tell you what it’s for.  It’s a whole bunch of photos with a whole bunch of little text.  Talk about a billboard that’s going to get me killed! I try, I really do! I try to read it. I try to figure out what it’s for, but I couldn’t tell you; something to do with homes.  What are they expecting from us, to stop at 35E and ponder for a moment? Hmm, maybe I should read this?  That’s nuts! That guy should be fired!

Does this remind you at all of your company’s exhibit?  Are you telling a good story? Are you telling a quick story? Think of your exhibit sometimes as a billboard. A lot of times you have 2, 3, or 4 seconds is what the industry tells us. Now I get though, too, if you’re a big, big brand like Black and Decker, or Nike, or Delta Airlines, right? Those are identifiable, and everybody knows what you do.  Kind of like some of the billboards that I saw.  Most of them are identifiable, we kind of knew some of the brands, right? Those are a little bit easier.

Most of us in the B2B exhibition world are scratching and fighting for every lead, to try to get noticed, to show up on the show floor, to tell a better story, right?  And if we don’t do that, we’re just going to get the old drive-bys.

So here’s a couple of things that might help, a couple ideas actually, that might help, if your company is in this position. Now, if you’re lucky enough to have an island exhibit, that’s great.  You get to utilize some height, but not everybody does, so sometimes you’re in an inline and you can’t go that high.  But either way, you can start to tell a story from a certain distance.

An island – maybe it’s a hundred and fifty feet.  For an inline maybe it’s a little closer, maybe it’s thirty or forty.  But either way, you need to have a message hierarchy.  Yes, obviously, tell them who you are! First and foremost, what’s that umbrella look like? Then you gotta start telling a story – very, very quickly, very clean.  What do you do, right? How do you help people? Something along those lines. Not necessarily how you do it, but what do you do and how do you help? And then as you get even closer, as more the eye level, you see some imagery that starts to reinforce that story and tell more of a story.  Keep it simple and keep it clean.

Now, once you’re in the exhibit, if you want to add a little bit more text and a little bit more information, that’s fine, but keep in mind most people are there to stop to talk to you.  They’re not there to read an exhibit. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a lot of people standing around an exhibition hall going “Hmmm…hold on one second, I want to read this exhibit.”  (I did see an accountant do it once, and maybe an engineer.) Most of us are there to interact, and talk. The goal is to be clean, bold and simple. The goal of the exhibit is to get people to stop.

Seth Godin, the famous marketer once said, “If you can’t state your position in eight words or less, you probably don’t have one.”  I think that applies perfectly to the trade show world.

Anyway, I hope this helps, that’s what was on my mind

If you have more questions, or want somebody to talk to a little bit more, let us know!  We’re good listeners. Hey, and every now and then there’s a beer in the fridge.

That’s what was on my mind. Let us know how we can help.