Keep your Display Simple; Really Simple

Shape Shape Shape Shape

A dilemma many exhibitors face is how much information to include in their trade show display. For small exhibitors with one or two product offerings the answer can be difficult. For larger exhibitors with a multitude of products and services which might also include several departments, the answer can become a nightmare. There is often so much to tell and the exhibitor wants to make sure the visitors get the right message. The solution starts by taking a step back and looking at the display from the visitor’s perspective.

Show visitors begin with the best of intentions. They have walked the show and seen dozens of exhibitors displaying a myriad of products. If there is a technical program at the conference or event, they will have also sat through a number of seminars and workshops. These visitors are only human. There is only so much information the human mind can absorb. So, the lesson to be learned is that creating a display that tells too much is self-defeating. The last thing these attendees want is more information.

Another consideration is that in many cases, visitors already know the details about your product or service. They learned about it on the internet. They visited your web-site, read reviews in trade magazines and heard from their community through social media. Once again a display that attempts to tell people what they already know is futile.The solution is to ensure that the attraction efficiency is maximized when you are creating your display. This means that a good display will grab your visitor’s interest quickly without adding to the confusion they may already be experiencing.

This simple lesson may be easier stated than implemented. The trick is to look at the world of marketing. We are inundated with marketing messages everywhere: billboards, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, the back of ticket stubs, across the outside (and sometimes inside) of subways and buses, elevator doors, the computer you are using at this very moment, sidewalks, movie theatres, you name it. It seems that there isn’t a blank space that hasn’t been touched by a marketer. Your visitors have experienced the same. Marketing clutter is unavoidable.
So, the most productive method of creating an attractive display is through simplicity. It’s not a matter of what more you can say, but how you can say it with less. This starts with a clear focus for your display and two crucial criteria – what is the message and who is it designed for?

What is the message?

If I were to ask you to identify your brand message in one or two sentences and you hesitated, that should be a clear clue that homework is needed. Trade show industry guru Bob Dallmeyer says, “If you can’t write your idea on the back of a business card, it’s not an idea.” How true this statement is.
What about those exhibitors with multiple products or those who share the costs of the display with their departments. How do you handle the conflicts in messaging? The answer highlights the need to create one overall message rather than trying to broadcast many. Then once you have the attendee’s attention, you can direct them to specific areas in your display where their needs will be met.

Who is the message designed for?

Assuming that everyone who is attending the event is interested in your message or will buy your product is a fallacy. Albeit there may be some situations in well targeted regional shows where you are looking to reach a very specific market. But in most cases trying to reach the entire audience may not be productive. The solution is to ask, which candidate will respond most favorable to my message (or product offering)? Create a profile ahead of time of who this person is then when you are designing your display keep the profile in mind.

Next time you are developing a display let simplicity guide your decisions. You will find you results significantly better.

© 2010 by Barry Siskind. Barry Siskind is author of Powerful Exhibit marketing. He is also President of International Training and Management Company who offers a number of services to exhibitors including the creation and implementation of a mystery-shopping program. Contact Barry at for more information.

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