We are living in exciting times. The concept of traditional marketing is being challenged every day. Fresh waves of ideas are consistently hitting the shores.
The blogosphere is inundated with articles describing the fact that brand equity cannot be linked to actual firm equityor any other recognized financial metric. There is a huge uproar that in a world infused with social-media madness; "traditional marketing and sales not only doesn't work so well, it doesn't make sense." A lot of speculation rolls around the market place as to what is going to replace the old medium; new possibilities of peer influence-based, community-oriented marketing hold much greater promise for creating sustained growth through authentic customer relationships.” In the past, marketing would decide how they want their brand to be perceived amongst their potential buyers and then the message would be forced fed to people via advertisements. Now, the dice has rolled in favor of the consumers! Consumers have more and more technologies like DVRs, caller ID, and spam blockers that enable them to avoid unwanted advertising and messages. This means that, in order to get their attention, you have to earn their permission.
How do you earn it?
One such method is being skilled in the Art of Enticement! Not often used in our everyday vocabulary, enticement is a key factor in trade show marketing, media, public relations as a means of persuasion. Persuasion leverages the art of enticement to achieve a set goal.
Focus on your goal. In our case, decide on why are you going to trade shows. Often, I am told by clients that procuring leads is only one of the factors that dictates them to exhibit. Increasing brand awareness and sustaining brand memorability are some of the dominant factors that urges them to engage in this sort of face-to-face marketing.
Enticement starts at the beginning of the design phase. Design your booth with flow, lighting and augmented presentation. Highlight a concept product. Ask for viewer feed back as to how they will improve on the design (to give an example). Have them participate in your social media channel and digitally carry the conversation beyond the venue. As you do so, always keep in mind marketing is always about them (your clients and prospects), not you.
You always offer your prospects an enticing factor to pay attention to your marketing. The enticement may be a prize for playing a game as simple as: turn the wheel and you get something. It could be knowledge about your industry that prospects consider to be valuable. Perhaps it's membership to a privileged group such as, once a month session with the CMO of your company or an entry into a sweepstakes. It might even be a discount coupon from one of your partners. All you ask in return is permission to market to these people. Nothing more.....
The secret sauce. Give people something great to talk about your brand. Trade shows are great venues where you may access each person as a node in a community and this, my friend is the new era of community marketing.
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The common phrase, "united we stand, divided we fall" has long been used by nations and leaders to inspire people in presence of clear and imminent danger. However, when it comes to laying out the floor plan for your trade show booth design in a limited space (e.g 20' x 30' as shown above), distinctly dividing the floor space in to two unique areas, 'Love' and 'Work' might be a good idea to propel your brand into action.
I was reading a great post the other day that spawned the idea for this article. The HBR blog post suggest that the age of snarkiness is behind us and now we are in the era of sweet love. The post successfully points out as to what is wrong with the Sonic commercial and dubs it as ineffective since it hinges on sarcasm not sweetness.
Sweetness is back. Sweetness is big. Sweetness, against all odds, and quite against character, is having a celebrity moment. Brands gain huge currency when leading with sweetness. This trend in exhibiting sweet love is evident in the amount of space that are devoted to lounges and the so called hang out areas. Grant McCracken, writer and anthropologist, in his book Culturematic, talks about brand that makes headway are the brands that fosters co-creation. He says we want brands that are works in progress, engagements in and of the world. Brands need to be about becoming, not about being. The carefully designed hang out areas in your space can be a Culturematic cluster– a bundle of experiences, "investigating the world in a variety of ways, defined with enough intellectual generosity that several outcomes—some of them quite different–are possible". And if you are exhibiting at trade shows with horizontal target audience 'Cuturematic' might just be the way to go. After all, "culturematic is a little experiment that in a playful counter-intuitive way, broaches a kind of what if." It is a great way to keep the engagement going both at the show floor and after the show.
If one half of your exhibit design is an ideal setting for Culturematic cluster devote the other half for customized demonstration. Demos at trade shows are essentially futile unless it is designed to solve specific problems that customers encounter. To help better cater to your clients and prospects, do your research and find out what are the attendees trying to accomplish by coming to a specific event. What are their pain points. Heck, send out tweets asking them about it. Find out what solutions are being adopted in other industries or other countries to solve similar problems. Armed with answers you then design few presentations that talks about solving targeted problems.
Trade shows and are fertile grounds to ignite new brand culture. Wouldn't it be great if you knew the kind of content that is being shared by the attendees of these events. You can then gauge the commonly held beliefs and behaviors of your clients and prospects. Very soon you will find out if there is a contradiction of some sort. Once you detect it, your brand will gain transformational traction on a evolutionary scale. Of course, you will highlight the preference to build recognition. But what is really enticing is tapping into the collective anxiety and achieving a status that transcends functional benefit. One great example that comes to mind is Google. In the age of digital clutter, Google offers empowerment “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Question to ponder: How do I humanize my next trade show exhibit?
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In my recent short visit to the desert kingdom of Dubai, I was amazed to find the Mega Star Brad Pitt in all his galore — popping out of the glitzy lobbies here and the fancy shopping malls over there. It seemed that the he was bigger than life, hotter than ever and very much at ease in the desert surroundings.
In the midst of this fantastic Brad Pitt phenomena what caught my eye was this retail display that was so elegantly designed by Chanel. It is based on one primary principle; the principle of repetition. I was intrigued by the thought that living in a global society has no way diminished our strong connection to the ethnicity of this primal design principle that is so prevalent in the middle-eastern art. Islamic art and architecture is built on this cardinal principle of repetition. Islamic artists developed geometric forms with a knack for "repetition, symmetry and continuous generation of pattern." In this display, Brad is looking up at you with an aura of mystery, away from you and again at you. The right side of his profile is the repetition in form and the varied angles of his posture generates a continuous pattern in time and space. Indeed a very fluid presentation!
The Principle of Repetition is a driving factor in designing trade show displays. Where contrast is all about showing differences, repetition brings a sense of unity, consistency, and cohesiveness. It helps to hold our attention in the maze of chaos and disarray.
Our brains love it.
Remember, the waking nights learning multiplication tables in your third grade? That is because our short-term memories can forget something (like a person's name) in less than a second. Repetition helps us to embed information in the longer-term memory. Designers use it with tact and skill. Marketers use it as a staple.
At s sub-conscious level repetition is a key to persuasion. Repetition creates a pattern, which gradually grabs our attention and then creates the yearning for familiarity. Big brands are aware of it and hence the focus is always on building brand equity. Use repetition in your booth design and in the delivery of your marketing message You will have a phenomenal impact. Remember "Yes We Can"?
"The more strikingly visual your presentation is, the more people will remember it. And more importantly, they will remember you." — Paul Arden
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"It's much easier to persuade someone if they're already convinced, if they already know the facts. But it's impossible to change someone's mind merely by convincing them of your point." Seth Godin
This marketing doctrine is based on the perennial philosophy "At the end of reasons comes persuasion." The Art of Persuasion is an age old idea that has been vigorously scrutinized since the days of Aristotle. The road to persuasion as traveled by Aristotle is constructed of 3 elements: Ethos, Pathos and Logos.
Ethos (Greek for 'character') refers to the credibility of the writer or speaker or in our case the exhibit marketer. Ethos is affected by the person's reputation as it exists independently from the message - his or her expertise in the field, his or her previous record or integrity, and so forth. The impact of ethos is often called the argument's 'ethical appeal' or the 'appeal from credibility.' Hint: As an individual marketer start creating a buzz about your individual credibility using social media channels.
Pathos (Greek for 'experience' ) is often connected to emotional appeal. Paint a visual picture to 'appeal to the audience's imagination.' A plea to pathos causes your audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify with your point of view–to feel what you feel. The power of Pathos propels your audience into action. Hint: Don't just claim the features of your products. Use vivid emotional language to paint the features that will benefit your audience coupled with sensory details of your exhibit design. "Remember facts and figures do not make an emotional impact but stories and vivid language do."
Logos (Greek for 'word') refers to the clarity of the claim, the logic behind the reason, and compelling clause of its supporting evidence. The impact of logos on an audience is sometimes called the argument's logical appeal. Hint: This is where perennial marketing comes into play. Keep the pipe of education flowing. Keep your target audience informed with technical details such as e-books and white paper. Use facts and figures to support your argument.
Source: Ramage, John D. and John C. Bean. Writing Arguments.
The landscape of digital communication has given us marvelous opportunities to harness our concepts of ethos and logos. However, pathos scores high in the events that involve face-to-face-marketing such as trade shows. Trade shows are ideal venues where you get to test the different flavors of Persuasion. You get to test the levels of persistence, logic and exuberance that is needed to drive an idea to a close. Professor Jay A. Conger, author of Winning 'Em Over states that Persuasion is a process of give-and-take. To persuade effectively, we must not only listen to others but also incorporate their perspectives into our own. Above all, Persuasion involves testing a position, developing a new position that reflects input from your target audience, more testing, incorporating compromises, and then trying again.
Persuasion can be a force for gigantic good and trade shows are fertile grounds to foster it. Persuasion pulls people together, drives new ideas, stimulates change and hammers out constructive solutions."To do all that people must understand persuasion for what it is–not convincing and selling but learning and negotiating."
More on Persuasion.
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Marketing has gone through tectonic shifts, especially in the last decade or so. We have made the shift from print media to online media. We are witnessing the introduction of new tools (almost everyday) that make our communication with potential customers more efficient. We are in the organic valley of social media indulging in a relentless two-way communication loop. As a result, our addiction to real-time communication is simply voracious and our attention to focus is scattered. And, these are only a few of the recent changes that the marketing industry has gone through.
Given this technological dynamics, we as trade show marketers often question the viability of exhibiting at trade shows. The short answer to this concern is: Trade shows have never presented a better opportunity for an exhibitor to get in front of decision makers. Premium level decision makers now walk the show. They are there because they have a need that is not currently being met. I guess, technology has not yet managed to eradicate the desire for the high touch of human interaction.
Now, that we know who are our target audience, let's fashion a booth that will attract their attention and sustain their scrutiny. We have to become skilled in the art of attraction. Here are some few pointers that always work!
Design with a Themed Purpose: In the illustration above, we designed a 50's theme with a flair for high touch modernity. Nostalgic times in stride technologically advanced products! Don't just stop there. Use high appeal promotional giveaway, It is all about perception. How do you want to be remembered? This should be the end game of anything and everything that you do.
Design with a Presence: Your graphics must always be larger than life. Your architecture must be self defining. Always keep in mind of your target audience.
Design with a Flow: Keep in mind about the laws governing spatial arrangement in relation to the flow of energy. Have ample of areas for natural clustering. Have a sculpture or perhaps a multiple screen projection that wows the audience. Again, you are going for the memorability act. In the above illustration, the corner of the booth was highlighted with a car from the 50's.
Design for a Motion: As Tony Robbins says: emotion is always moved by motion. Movement attracts our eyes and turns our bodies. Implant a juggler, blow bubbles or simply play with a yo-yo. Integrate it with your value statement.
Design for the Limbic System: Our sensory receptors reacts to the stimulation from our environment. Make clever use of this proven method for your booth design. Lavish your space with texture, light, sound, smell and color.
Design with color because, "colors answer feeling in man;", design with unique shapes , because shapes answer thought, design with motion, as "motion answers will."
"There’s a collection of Zen koans called the Gateless Gate. Among other things, koans transcend dualism. The traditional sales process is fully dualistic - there’s a buyer, and there’s a seller. We are witnessing the dissolution of the traditional sales role, as recommendation commerce evolves and storefronts become wherever you happen to be, doing whatever you are doing. Which brings us to the Storeless Store and Saleless Sale." Valeria Maltoni.
And my friends, this is the new face of trade show marketing!
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"All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space."
Philip Johnson, one of the great American architectural minds of the twentieth century, has played an enormous role in both understanding and creating the urban skylines of our country. As a historian, curator and a defining architect, he had a profound influence on the future generations of architects. It was he who said, "And the reason these buildings go up so close to each other is because people want to be next to other people.” He was talking about the buildings on the Wall Street.
Some great points to keep in mind when designing a space for trade show venues. The key in designing a memorable space lies in taking advantage of the depth of the space. Think of the layout of the booth design as an opportunity to provide layers of information that incorporates intrigue and surprise. The outskirts of the booth serves as a "warm up" platform for the audience. Make it appropriately exciting and enthusiastic for the headliner.
In the above exhibit design, the perimeter had sheers drop down from the ceiling, interspersed with bar stools and tables. The texture of the fabric sheers tickled the curiosity of the bystanders. To foster ambiance decorative ceiling was placed. It served two purposes: space was defined and the mood was set.
The middle area should be used to highlight the key features of your product. In this case the center was used for serving stations. This is the place where you get to know your audience intimately. You exchange ideas and you qualify your target. Towards the back of the exhibit is the big pay off. This where you get to negotiate deals with your per-qualified target.
In a world where conducting virtual businesses are the norm, trade shows are the last vestiges of face-to-face interaction. Design it effectively so that you may reap the maximum benefit.
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Knowledge is great. Competence is great. But the combination of both encourages people to trust you and increases your powers of enchantment. ~ Guy Kawasaki
You trade show booth is your space that you use for sharing knowledge and inspiring conversation. It is a channel for enchantment. It is the space where your brand image is broadcasted. It prompts people to form perceptions about your company and your products. It is reflected in the angles of your product; it is embedded in the curves of your booth architecture, it is pronounced in the stylistic images, the texture of floor that you walk on and the uniqueness of the furniture that you use. The exhibit design is a powerful display of your brand psychology.
Given the power it yields, it is only but natural to design an exhibit keeping in mind some of the few tenets.
Above all, be transparent, conversational and generous. Be delightfully present in the "now". After all, this is your space to re-write your past and carve out your future.
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Simplicity is the shining armor of Zen.
Derived from the Sanskrit word Dhyana, Zen found its way to Japan via China in the form of motionless meditation. The word Zen paints a picture of peace, serenity, waterfall and rounded stones. It has become a part of our every day lexicon, yet we hardly practice what it exhorts. Be here and now. Turn off the filters. Dissolve all preconceptions. Perceive directly. "Dissolve into the eternal now, and realize that the Universe itself peers out through your eyes, hears through your ears, and breaths each breath." Experiencing each moment as it is. According to Chinese Ch’an and Zen, understanding comes only by ignoring the intellect and heeding the instincts, the intuition. True perception comes from vast emptiness.
Whatever the philosophical construct of Zen may be, we all seem to have a visual concept of what Zen is. We talk about Zen like design, we muse on the elegance in the absence of abundance and of course the Zen Master of Subtraction: Steve Jobs is still very alive in our mass psyche. One of Jobs’ great strengths was knowing how to focus. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he said. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”
In his book, The Laws of Subtraction (that will be available on October), Matthew May states 6 simple rules for winning in the age of excess, very much in keeping with the 5 principles of Zen Design Simplicity:
The relevance of this message in our busy business of trade show clutter is huge. Noteworthy, are the first 3 points. Usually, as trade show exhibitors we tend to blast away all the features that our products are capable of. But as Matthews puts it; What isn’t there can often trump what is. He cites the example of Scion. Designers essentially used this strategy in creating the fast-selling and highly profitable xB model, a small and boxy vehicle made intentionally spare by leaving out hundreds of standard features in order to appeal to the Gen Y buyers who wanted to make a personal statement by customizing their cars with trendy options. It wasn’t about the car. It was about what was left out of it.
The discipline to discard that does not fit is the bedrock of Zen design. All aspects of your brand can only stand tall in an intelligently designed space that is anchored in elegant suggestive simplicity. It is the suggestive simplicity that engages human imagination, thus injecting it with the merit momentous memorability.
Seth Godin, the famous icon who popularized opt ins and permission marketing and very successfully conceived the idea of hybrid publishing just came out with this blog: (I extracted only a portion of it.)
A tacky mess: the masses vs. great design Designers prune.
Left to its own devices, the mob will augment, accessorize, spam, degrade and noisify whatever they have access to, until it loses beauty and function and becomes something else.
The tragedy of the design commons.
An Apple product designed with user feedback would have thousands of extra features, multiple input methods and weigh 18 pounds.
(The best exception to this rule are some--not all--places where people live, including parts of Manhattan and Kibera, Kenya. But even in the best instances, as soon as commercial interests are served, it starts to fail).
It seems democratic and non-elitist to set it and forget it and let the users take over. But the tools we use (Wikipedia) and the brands we covet (Nike or Ducati) resolutely refuse to become democracies.
Note the profound meaning in the words: resolutely refuse to become democracies.
Our high technology society has given us a brand landscape studded with similar clones where we peddle the same products touting enhanced benefits; giving rise to what Youngme Moon describes as category connoisseurism. Never in the course of written history has there been such abundance of choices in a single category. There are more upgrades, flavors, add-ons, new and improved features between brands in a category that all looks the same. They have managed achieved the sameness of the flat lands of North Dakota and the exhibiting industry is no exception to that. Consumers, are now category connoisseurs. Again, in the words of Moon, “connoisseurs can discern subtle differences based on nuanced asymmetries”, while an ignoramus will lack the necessary know-how to predict differentiating subtleties.
When a a brand creates a competitive advantage in a category, it gains rapid momentum. A momentum orbits around expectation and anticipation that leads to the longevity of a brand. Competitive advantage comes with a value proposition that is highly valued and not in abundant supply. We are proud to say that Envoy III is one such design leap in the pre-fabricated world of booth designs with a value proposition that will help brands to break away from the limiting norms of exhibiting and helping our clients to be perceived with expanded frame of reference. A definite delineation from the mediocrity of the masses.
Create a compelling environment. Unleash the memory capsule.
Any designer who does not appreciate or know about good food is not a very good designer. The planning of a meal and it presentation - the texture, the color, the tastes, the hot and cold temperatures - are the same concerns that affect an environment. Robert Kime, Architectural Digest
Pattern, texture, color, light are integral parts of design that aids to the memorability of a brand. Patterns come in various forms and colors. Thy may be abstract, anthemion, argyle or art deco, batik or basket-weave just to name a few. Patterns when combined with texture makes the architectural design rich and beautiful. The space either achieves harmony or excellence. Textures and or patterns are salient features that plays an important role in defining the rhythm of the exhibit design. Textures are recognized by touch and sight. As William Morris so elegantly puts it: "If there is a reason for keeping the wall very quiet, choose a pattern that works all over without pronounced lines...Put very succinctly, architectural effect depends upon a nice balance of horizontal, vertical and oblique. No rules can say how much of each; so nothing can really take the place of feeling and good judgement."
“Light is the magical ingredient that makes or breaks a space." Add lighting to the mix and you construct the element of feeling. The space starts to communicate to you at a cellular level. Light when diffused off textured surfaces form interesting patterns. Directional lighting amplifies a texture, producing variations in shadows; soft, diffused lighting, on the contrary, minimize contrast and shadows, making textures difficult to read. A perfect example of the play of light, texture and color comes from Evonik Industries. PLEXIGLAS® Textured Sheet RADIANT creates colors that change according to the viewing angle, which is known as the Radiant effect. There is a colorful play of hues that is set off to particular advantage by the surface textures.
Patterns and textures have been part of our life since the per-historic era. Evident everywhere from cave paintings to skin art they play an important role in everyday life and have cultural, religious, and philosophical significance. Our ancestors derived their inspiration from the organic world and everyday objects. Their art has not been forgotten. It dwells deep in our psyche."Old patterns seem excitingly fresh when rejuvenated by a contemporary palette."
One perennial design feature always to remember: Contrast is the magic key. The light and the dark "the old and the new, the rough and the soft. The clash of it all is very sexy."
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In my writings I am often an explorer, a map maker, sometimes a voyager of the human mind and other times: a creator who is tormented by the inner longing to expand, express and delight !