Weekly Insights: Timely Tips for Exhibitors from the World of Retail

Photo: © Depositphotos.com/racom

It should come as no great surprise that trade shows and retail stores share a lot in common. After all, a trade show exhibit is a lot like a short-term store – no matter whether you’re selling products or services, or whether your audience is businesses/organizations or consumers.

So it’s wise to pay attention to what’s happening and trending in the world of retail, even if you can’t imagine how it relates to your company. Here are some bits of wisdom for you:

  • Pay attention to how you display your products. Don’t simply line items up on a shelf – merchandise them in groups or show how buyers might use them. Think like a clothing store, where they don’t simply show a shirt in the window. They’ll likely display the entire outfit, including accessories to create a vision of how buyers might experience the product. This is even more effective if the items displayed together are more out-of-the ordinary pairings.
  • Aim for your display to be share-worthy. You want people to feel a connection to your brand, and that often happens when they see something worth snapping and sharing on social media. Give them scenes that beg to be photographed, and if it happens to be selfies taken with your product, even better!
  • Use live video to your advantage. Film a quick tour of your booth, create a welcome video introducing your team, or share behind-the-scenes interviews. It’s up to you and what best communicates with your audience, but make video a part of your pre-show and onsite marketing strategy. (For more on video, check out this previous post.)
  • Statistics are showing that face-to-face retail (which may also translate to trade shows) is not dead – in fact, younger generations gravitate to it because of the experience. Interactivity, augmented reality, and gamification are key for this demographic.
  • Rally them around a cause. Many people these days, but especially younger generations, want to support companies who support a cause that aligns with their values. But know that it must be authentic to your brand. They’ll sense right away if it’s simply a play for attention, which would have the opposite effect.

For more details on these trends, check out the following articles:


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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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