The 13 Commandments Trade Show Booth Gamification

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exhibit booth gamification

Part 1 of 2

Creating an educational game in your trade show exhibit is a great way to drive attendees to your exhibit. In order to maximize your ROI and optimize your trade show marketing, 3D Exhibits has created the following guidelines, which we’ll share in two parts:

1.  Thou shalt collect contact information from all participants. We’ve seen too many games and technology interactives where an exhibitor draws an impressive number of visitors—but has nothing to show for it (or follow-up on) after the show. What happens is attendees engage in the activity, then walk away with their prize—while the exhibitor is left with no idea who they connected with and no way to follow-up after the show to keep the conversation going. Make sure you leave the show with actionable leads and permission to continue the conversation with your prospects after the show by integrating contact information collection into every exhibit game and activity.

2.  Thou shalt integrate learning into your activity. Another huge faux pas our team has witnessed is games that don’t require that the attendee learn anything about the company or its products to win. Increase your ROI by designing your activity in a way that engages visitors with your product or brand messaging. This can range from asking them to verbally articulate key points back to you—or to select the right answer through a multiple-choice technology interface. Putting greens and Whack-A-Mole can be designed to fit into an exhibit thematically, but message retention will suffer if you don’t also ask attendees to express or process your message.

trade show interactive quiz

3.  Thou shalt position your game so it is visible from the aisle. This one is simple: crowds attract crowds—and activity draws attention. If you bury your activity inside of your exhibit, it won’t be seen and therefore won’t reach as many attendees.

4.  Thou shalt create an incentive to participate that appeals to your target audience. This gets back to knowing what drives the attendees you are most interested in. Some audiences are so competitive that they’ll participate in almost any challenge—just for bragging rights. Others will want a small gift and still others need a larger enticement such as a t-shirt or the chance to be entered in a drawing for an iPad. By understanding what drives your target attendees you will be able to select the least expensive incentive that will get the job done.

group game leaderboard

5.  Thou shalt plan for throughput. Design your game to accommodate the traffic you expect to generate.  This may mean running your game more (or less) often—or creating several game stations so multiple people can play at once. After all, you want people to participate—not watch a bit, then walk away without interacting with your people or brand.

6.  Thou shalt interact with your visitors in the way your target audience prefers to interact. Make sure your game attracts the participation of your target audience by understanding the typical profile of the people you want to connect with. Are the attendees extroverts? Introverts? Male? Female? Sports fans? Nerds? Then build your game around that information. For instance, an auto-racing themed game is best suited for an audience that includes a large percentage of NASCAR fans. An activity that pits attendees against one another head-to-head will appeal to an audience of extroverts, while an audience of introverts will prefer a game they can play individually.

Visit us again next week for the final seven commandments.


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What South Beach Can Teach You About Trade Show Marketing

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attractive architecture

There’s a lot going on in Miami’s South Beach. Everywhere you go people and places vie to be noticed. There are crowds of people, great restaurants, beautiful architecture and serene beach.

For a business to thrive in this competitive environment, it must have a strategy to attract visitors’ mind-share and dollars. Very much the same as on the trade show floor—if you think about it.

Here are five techniques for standing out that work equally well on the trade show floor as they do on the streets of South Beach:

  1. Create stunning architecture. Exhibits that are well proportioned, nicely lit, and marked by well-considered graphics do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of standing out and enticing people to visit. This is because people are naturally drawn to beauty—as much in a built environment as in nature.


sound light and motion

  1. Employ sound, light and motion. Exhibits that appeal to the sensesstand out and are more likely to be remembered. Motion and light draw visitors’ eyes. Sounds can also act like a magnet—pulling people over and increasing engagement.


dramatic presentation

  1. Highlight your product. Out of all the restaurant bars I could have chosen from, I entered this one. Even though I know all bars serve the same liquor, the way this particular bar displayed its bottles made its cocktails seem more appealing. Takeaway: If you present your product like it’s something special, you add to its perceived value.


show what you offer from the aisle

  1. Make what you have to offer obvious to people who haven’t yet committed to enter your exhibit. In South Beach, the lesser-known restaurants compete with the better-known destination restaurants by displaying tantalizing samples of their dishes along the sidewalk. Likewise, at trade shows, most trade show visitors need to be shown what your product is and why they should want it to entice them to enter your booth. Also, just like in South Beach, adding an engager to invite people in just adds to your success.


demo to stop traffic

  1. Stand out with an active demo people can see from the aisle. There are lots of people who roll handmade cigars in South Beach—but this is the only guy I saw doing it on the street. And he was also the only guy with a line of people waiting to purchase from him. Takeaway: People are more likely to notice your demo—and attend it—if what you are doing is visible from the aisle.

What techniques do you use to stand out on the show floor?

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Draw More Attendees into Your Trade Show Exhibit Theater

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draw audience exhibit presentation

The theater in your trade show exhibit isn’t doing you any good—unless you’re filling it with attendees.

Many exhibitors assume “If we build it they will come.” This isn’t true, however, there are some very simple tactics you can use that will quickly transform the traffic in your booth presentation area from sparse to standing room only.

Case in point: The exhibitor pictured above hired 3D Exhibits to audit its exhibit at a major show. One of the areas we observed that had opportunities for improvement was the theater. The exhibitor had worked hard to create expert content—but not taken any steps to draw booth traffic.

By implementing some of the tactics we recommended in the exhibit audit for its next show, this 3D Exhibits client was able to grow theater attendance from a couple of dozen visitors over the course of the show—to a couple dozen visitors at every performance.

Here’s how they did it:

Six Tactics to Draw Trade Show Attendees to Your In-Exhibit Presentation

  1. Get the word out ahead of time. Leverage pre-show mailings or email blasts to share the details of what attendees will learn by attending. You’ll be surprised how many of your target audience will add you to their show “must see” list.
  1. Invite people in. It sounds crazy simple, but many marketers fail to take this very basic action. We suggest a minimum of one person designated solely to the task of stopping attendees in the aisle and inviting them to see the presentation. If you don’t have someone on your team who is outgoing enough to do this aggressively, its worth the investment to hire a professional crowd gatherer.
  1. Offer an incentive. People are more likely to invest their time if they’re getting something in return. This could be the chance to be included in a prize drawing or receive a gift at the conclusion of the presentation. Gift cards are always a good way to go (think $10.00 at Starbucks or the Apple Store) since they are easy to store in your booth.
  1. Provide a seat. Include some sort of seating in your theater. People who are seated are far more likely to stay for the entire presentation than those who choose to stand. Also, after a long walk on the show floor, a place to sit and rest provides attendees with an additional incentive to join you.
  1. Draw attention with banter. The exhibitor pictured used its own people to deliver its scientific content—but it also employed a professional presenter to open and close the presentation with key messages. Having the outgoing MC start his banter five-minutes BEFORE the presentation started drew attention, created positive energy and helped the crowd gatherer to fill the theater.
  1. Keep it short. Trade show attendees are trying to accomplish a lot in a short timeframe. Show that you appreciate that they’ve chosen to some of their valuable time with you by keeping your content concise, relevant—and brief. Six to eight minutes is ideal. Plus people are more likely to sit down in the first place if they know you are only asking for a small time commitment.

What are your favorite tactics to fill your exhibit presentation area?

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How to Use Trade Show Exhibit Design to Reinforce Brand Messages

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Exhibit design to reinforce brand image 1

Studies reveal that showing your target audience what your company is about makes a greater impact than telling them. And experiencing—of course—rates even that much higher.

What this means is that trade show and exhibit marketers have a powerful tool at their disposal that can be used to increase the impact and memorability of their stories and messages.

That tool is their exhibit design. And especially their exhibit design details.

Exhibit design can be used to reiterate key messages in both literal and figurative ways—and even in subliminal ways that your attendees’ subconscious minds will process and understand, even when their conscious minds don’t.

Implemented well, the messages articulated by your exhibit design will combine to shape your audience’s perception of your brand almost invisibly. That is to say, without having to be articulated by spoken words or conscious thought.

The FireEye exhibit is a great example of how this works. Keep reading to learn about how FireEye’s exhibit design (by 3D Exhibits) reinforced five key brand messages.

(FireEye is a cyber security platform that provides real-time threat protection to enterprises and governments worldwide.)


Message 1: FireEye is cutting edge and innovative.

Design Articulation:Overall futuristic styling and ambiance—including wing-shapes that suggest soaring and suspended ring-shapes that evoke planets and orbits—reinforce the perception that FireEye is at the forefront of technology.


Exhibit design reinforce message

Message 2: FireEye products protect its clients.

Design Articulation: As attendees enter FireEye’s circular exhibit theater, they feel as though they are entering a safe zone. This perception is created by raising and halo-lighting the perimeter of the circular theater platform to create a physical threshold—then mirroring the platform with a dimensional ring structure that hangs overhead. The result is the illusion that an invisible barrier circumscribing the theater.


Exhibit design communicates brand message

Message 3: FireEye protects clients around the world.

Design Articulation: Outlines of the continents applied to the circular theater floor communicate that FireEye protection extends across the globe.


Message 4: FireEye can fulfill all of your cyber-protection needs.

Design Articulation: A white, flat plain hangs over much of the exhibit, creating an a ceiling and symbolizing that FireEye provides everything its customers need “under one roof.”


Exhibit Design expresses brand

Message 5: FireEye has five global centers.

Design Articulation: Five clocks mounted above the theater area display the current time at each of FireEyes’ global locations and subtly reinforce that there are five locations.


Have you seen any good examples of exhibit design details that reinforce a company’s message? If you have, we invite you to share a photo.

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Master The Art of Trade Show Disengagement

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trade show exhibit staff disengagement

What do you do when you’re ready to conclude a conversation with a visitor in your trade show booth?

When 3D Exhibits delivers exhibit staff training, we prepare the staff, both to engage—and to disengage. Sure, engaging is important—without engagement, your company will connect with no one. But without mastering the art of disengagement you may find your exhibit staff:

  • Invests too much time speaking with people who don’t fit your target audience profile.
  • Misses opportunities to connect with attendees who may be qualified.
  • Wastes time interacting with suppliers or other exhibitors when they could be meeting new prospects.

But many booth staffers are tentative about disengaging. And for good reason: your company is at the show to make a good brand impression. You don’t want to make a bad impression or hurt anyone’s feelings by cutting them off.

It’s a hard line to walk. But it has to be done.

We advise our clients to attempt to disengage as soon as they recognize that the visitor is not a good use of their time or after moving a prospective customer as far along in the sales funnel as can be done in the booth.

Always disengage in a polite way that leaves the visitor with a positive feeling about your company. Shake their hand, let them know what the next steps will be and thank them for their time.

Avoid asking open-ended questions such as “Are there any other questions I can answer today?” They may get the conversation rolling again.

Here are some mix-and-match examples of disengagement dialog you can modify for your own use:


The Polite Conclusion

  • “It’s been great meeting you, Mrs. Thomas. The information you requested is on its way by email and someone in your region will follow up with you in a couple of weeks. Thank you for your time and enjoy the rest of the show.”
  • “Thank you for visiting us today. I’m glad we got to talk. I’m sure you’re anxious to visit other booths. Here is my business card. Please call me if you need any other information.”
  • “Thank you for stopping by. I don’t want to take up any more of your time, but someone from our sales department will be in touch soon.”


The I’d Rather Talk To You But…

  • “Thanks for stopping by. It’s always great to chat with you. Unfortunately I have to get back to working the exhibit.”
  • “I’d love to talk more, but if I don’t get back to work in the booth, my boss is going to kill me!”


The Can We Reconvene Later?

  • “I’m sorry I don’t have time to talk now, but if you email me, we can resume our conversation after the show.”
  • “Can we meet for coffee after the show floor closes this afternoon?”
  • “This is a really busy time for our booth, can you come back after 3pm when things quiet down?”
  • “I’m sorry, but I’ve got an appointment. I’ll be free later if you want to come back this afternoon and talk more.”


If you’d like a more thorough dive into the art of disengagement, we suggest CEIR’s Guru report, Once the Conversation is Over—It’s Over! authored by Barry Siskind. This document can be purchased on the CEIR website. Or email me at ngenarella (at) 3DExhibits (dot) com and I’ll email you a pdf.

What are some of the successful disengagement lines your team has used?

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