Dave Wilson, director of corporate communications for Hitachi Healthcare Americas, has a lot to be proud of—his new custom trade show exhibit delivered results in every way possible from design and messaging to engagement and measurable results.
"It was an amazing sense of accomplishment when I saw my vision for our custom trade show exhibit design become a reality. But the best moment was when the CEO said, 'This is the best booth we've had in the 8 years I've been with the company,'" Wilson said.
Wilson had challenged his 3D Exhibits design and account management team with a nuanced ask. He wanted the exhibit to be open but not empty, busy but not crowded, and dynamic without being overwhelming. "I envisioned motion, energy, and a sense of welcome," Wilson said. Plus, there were the hundreds of spatial, functional, and logistical requirements that go with creating an 80' x 120' exhibit to showcase advanced medical imaging equipment.
The exhibit delivered in every way, thanks to Wilson and his team's holistic approach to delivering the ideal experience to Hitachi's customers and prospects. Success metrics included a 131% increase in customer meetings in the booth, a 164% increase in the number of people visiting the booth, and an inspiring 366% increase in the number of leads—visitors who require some sort of follow-up with more information or a phone call.
How can you ensure that your exhibit performs as well as Hitachi's? Austin Kleon, a New York Times best-selling author, recommends you "Steal Like An Artist" and adapt these eight best practices to your own exhibit marketing program.
1. WOW factor. Every exhibit needs something to capture attendees' attention on the trade show floor. This could be the overall architecture, a visual focal point, a dynamic element, a presentation or demo, or even an interactive experience within the exhibit. Hitachi's WOW was a combination of the first three: great architecture, a visual focal point, and magnetic digital signage.
The dynamic angles of Hitachi's booth architecture mimicked the red "Inspire Flash" accent mark within Hitachi's "Inspire the Next" tag line. This clever application of angles drew attendees into the space, created a sense of motion, and differentiated the exhibit from others on the RSNA show floor. This dynamic was enhanced by a giant LED wall where a combination of video and messages communicated key product benefits including "more accurate," "strong relationships," and "better care of your patients."
The focal point of the structure was the AI area. This booth-within-the-booth captivated attendees with its visually balanced combination of three elements: a cube encased in mystique-evoking smoky scrim, a Hitachi-red ceiling (that also controlled ambient light), and a spiraling ribbon (symbolic of the rotating motion of an CT scan). The spiraling ribbon acted as a visual transition tool, moving attendee's attention between the Hitachi logo and digital signage above and the product display areas below.
2. Every design detail makes brand sense. It's important to ensure that your exhibit is consistent with your brand and messaging. From the angle of the walls mimicking the "inspire flash" to the spiraling ribbon symbolizing the motion of a CT scan, Wilson nailed every aspect and element of brand and messaging consistency.
3. Clear messaging hierarchy. Hitachi's messaging delivers the information attendees need at exactly the right time—and leads them into the exhibit. Moving from the broadest message (the company name) to the most granular (product details), each message is located in the right place and at the right height for maximum visibility.
- The Hitachi corporate logo and tag line identify whose exhibit this is. These messages are the largest messages by size and mounted at the top of the exhibit so they can be seen by attendees from halfway across the show floor—as well as attendees standing in the aisle in front of the exhibit.
- The short headlines that appear on the digital signage communicate key brand attributes. This messaging is also sized and positioned to be visible from halfway across the show floor to right in front of the exhibit.
- Several way-finder pylons inside the exhibit, standing about eight-feet tall, identify product areas. Copy is sized to be visible to people inside the exhibit or standing at the threshold. Once visitors are standing next to the way-finders, additional eye-level copy communicates three key facts about each area.
- Smaller, eye-level signage identifies specific product workstations where smaller copy communicated brief supporting details.
4. Laid out for great traffic flow. The Hitachi exhibit is open at the front to welcome guests—with a reception area at one end of the booth to assist attendees who want help locating a rep or navigating the exhibit. Generous spacing between equipment displays makes the space comfortable to navigate and gives the large equipment a museum-like ambiance. The way-finder pylons help guests locate specific products.
Wilson maintained the generous spacing between pieces of equipment—and the resulting elegant, uncluttered appearance—by finding alternatives to bringing every piece of equipment to the show. One CT scanner was represented by a life-sized photo mural and another product was represented through a hologram.
A unique feature is a diagonal path of contrasting flooring that leads attendees into the exhibit from one end, then makes a 90-degree turn to leads them to the far corner of the booth. The path led attendees by every major product, as well as the hospitality area and meeting rooms. In prior years, Hitachi experimented with a straight-line path but observed that people used it as a shortcut through the exhibit. This year's approach acted as a funnel, leading people deeper into the exhibit, but not out the other side. "They used to come up and walk away. Now they walk through and see every product," Wilson said.
5. Engaged all five of attendees' senses. Healthcare professionals remember their visit to the Hitachi exhibit because it engages all five of their senses. They see the dynamic exhibit, equipment, and images created by the equipment. They touch the equipment, taste artisanal coffee at the hospitality area, and hear background music. Wilson has even gone the extra step of piping a fresh scent into the exhibit.
6. Created a targeted experience for each audience segment. In order to accommodate the differing needs of attendees, Wilson creates custom experiences for each classification of customer. This includes iPad stands with information about Hitachi for the administrators who visit the exhibit, opportunities to touch and examine the equipment for healthcare technicians, and optimized viewing of the images the equipment creates for physicians.
7. Optimized visitors' experience. Wilson knows that well-attended details elevate the customer's experience. Some of the details that enhance customers' experience in the Hitachi exhibit include:
- Two monitors at each of the stations where physicians can examine the images produced by Hitachi equipment. This ensures that both the customer sitting at the counter and other guests who gather around the station to watch can see.
- An overhead canopy blocks light and improves image viewing.
- Benches, chairs, and charging stations ensure guests' comfort.
8. Prepared the exhibit staff. The Hitachi team deployed expert boothmanship to welcome and engage attendees. Wilson prepared the staff with product training sessions before the show, as well as a 90-minute professional booth staff training as part of the team kick-off. He reports that the staff did a great job putting its new booth etiquette and engagement skills to work.
Wilson has received non-stop accolades since the show. In addition to the praise Wilson received from the CEO, he received compliments from other members of senior management. Also, the exhibit was featured as the lead story in the Hitachi Healthcare Americas December newsletter.