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Ideas That Work
Hive of Activity
Having a themed exhibit is one thing, but adding an in-booth activity that coincides perfectly with that theme is the kind of thing that makes attendees swarm. At the Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association Annual Meeting in Denver, Blue Hive Inc. designed its 10-by-20-foot exhibit to mirror the company's bee-themed branding. The back wall was modeled to look like a honeycomb, and the firm's stuffed-animal bee mascot, Buzz, was conspicuously displayed. But the exhibit house didn't stop there; it enlisted a local apiary to bring a real hive to the pint-sized space. The apiary's beekeeper also gave attendees a brief tutorial on his craft, and then booth staffers took over to talk about attendees' exhibiting needs. What's more, staffers offered attendees a small container of honey as a parting gift, further sweetening the booth experience.
Speaker of the House
Hoping to draw attention to its vintage-looking frames, Vee Zee Inc. (aka VonZipper) crafted a retro display on the front corner of its 20-by-20-foot exhibit at Vision Expo West. Comprising everything from amplifiers and speakers to tube-style TVs and even a few vinyl records, the roughly 8-foot-tall aisle-side display captured attendees' attention, drew them in for a closer look, and gave staff the opportunity to lure them further into the space to inspect VonZipper frames.
Face Value
At the RSA Conference, Tripwire Inc. offered an activity normally seen on boardwalks and at amusement parks – caricatures. Instead of easels and chalk, though, artists seated at two stations used iPads and apps, and their progress was displayed on flatscreen monitors mounted onto the exhibit's exterior wall. The aisle-facing stations continually drew in attendees eager to have their likenesses digitized for all to see. Once each caricature was finished, the artist sent it to a nearby photo printer and then inserted the printout into a plastic sleeve with an attached clip, which could be used to affix the giveaway to a collar or purse handle. Meanwhile, staffers took advantage of the 10-minute wait time by engaging people in line and sharing key messages.
Yezz Sir
Given the myriad features and options available on cellphones, differentiating your brand from the masses is often the difference between sales that skyrocket and those that slump. So prior to exhibiting at Mobile World Congress, Yezz (a division of DDM Brands LLC) released a whimsical YouTube video starring its founder, Luis Sosa. In the video, Sosa urged viewers to look for key features when comparing phones, and challenged buyers to find a better-equipped phone with the latest version of Android at a more affordable price. By issuing its tongue-in-cheek challenges and providing some very real criteria (that Yezz devices meet), the video raised brand awareness, communicated the devices' key differentiators, and racked up more than 60,000 views in the weeks leading up to the show.
Piles in the Aisles
Admittedly, there's nothing sexy about a pile of poo. But if you spotted one in a trade show aisle, you can bet you'd sidestep, stop, and stare. That's exactly why the marketing team at Dogipot positioned several faux poo piles around their exhibit at the 2015 National Recreation and Parks Association Annual Conference. Located next to or in front of Dogipot's dog-waste collection systems, the feigned fecal matter captured attendees' attention and then immediately directed it to the firm's products.
Graphics Gone Wild
At their most basic level, exhibit graphics are intended to attract attention and communicate key messages. But far too often, graphics become bland and cluttered with corporate jargon at best, or wordy, text-heavy diatribes at worst. West Star Aviation Inc. managed to avoid both pitfalls with its in-booth graphics for the National Business Aviation Association show in Las Vegas. A message high atop a roughly 10-foot-tall backlit graphics panel read, "Murphy's Law simply states: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." An illustration of a Gremlin-like Murphy wreaking havoc on an airplane sat atop the message "West Star Aviation keeps the Murphy out of aircraft maintenance." Sure, the graphic panel violated experts' standard guideline of using a maximum of six to 10 words, but the effective, unexpected image alongside playful, succinct messaging proved that sometimes rules are meant to be broken.
Lightning Luminary
Hamstrung by tight budgets and limited square footage, exhibitors with small spaces rarely venture beyond a few arm lights, or they forego lighting altogether. But at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Trapco Ltd. devised an inexpensive fixture that helped to brand its space. Trapco created a bolt-shaped, 8-foot-tall LED-lit element that echoed the lightening bolt in its product logo. But rather than mounting it to the back wall, or positioning it as a freestanding element in its 10-by-20-foot booth, Trapco built the bolt into its central reception desk. The solution illuminated the exhibit, branded the space, and attracted attention. Plus, by positioning the bolt in the center of its booth, Trapco sidestepped the show's setback regulations.
A Perfect 10
Most 10-by-10-foot booths are either overly cluttered with products or about as exciting as reading the dictionary. But Elfiq Inc. sidestepped both of those small-booth pitfalls at the Interop New York show with a sleek and streamlined space. Featuring a geometric, tensioned-fabric back wall, a pair of tablet PCs mounted to branded stands, and two internally lit pedestals (one of which functioned as a product display and the other as a small but sufficient reception desk), the cohesive and uncluttered exhibit stood out among a sea of blasé booths.

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