Trade Show Tip #9:  Tell me a story!


When I was a little girl, my grandfather read to me from Winnie the Pooh.  Story time was one of my favorite parts of the day, and the memory and excitement of being told a story remains.  The retail visual merchandising of your trade show booth should also tell a story, though not necessarily about Christopher Robin!

In the telling of the story, a good visual display attracts and engages with potential customers, and the really good ones share some attributes:

Theme:  If a display is to tell a story, then like any good story it should revolve around a theme.  Your theme could be as simple as a color theme or be a bit more sophisticated and tell a paddling story, an outdoor camping story, or a base layer story.  The theme is where your story begins and is the common thread throughout the development of your display.  When you start with a theme, you tell a story.

Props:  What are the items that could help you tell your product story?  If the story is a trail running story and you only sell the trail runners, what could you integrate into your story to help you silently announce what your product is used for?  Could you partner with a running apparel exhibitor and share each other’s product?  If the story is a family camping story, what are the details that will make your story come alive? 

Mannequins:  Take your story to a whole new level and identify your mannequins, like you might if you were writing a story; how old are they?  What are they doing?  Where are they going?  What season is it? I used to even name my mannequins to add another element of fun.  The key is to understand who you are creating and who you want them to speak to.  If you do not have mannequins, you can creatively ‘suggest’ a body form with clothing on hangers. 

But don’t forget about your booth employees!  Why not make them living, breathing mannequins by having them showcase your apparel or gear in an integrated fashion? 

Consistency:  If you are fortunate enough to have a number of displays, do your best to integrate them in such a way that your story doesn’t confuse your booth visitors.  Color can be the great equalizer when you are trying to tell multiple stories in a small space. 

Restraint:  Accept that you cannot tell everyone everything about your product in your display.  Pick and choose and remember that less is often more.

You have a few weeks left until Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, why not get to thinking about your display stories now?  Provide your product with a voice and clarity of message and you will be sure to attract the attention you desire.

Let the fun begin!

is available to help you tell your merchandising story.

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