Every client that we work with is unique. The personalities of the people are unique, and the companies and their products are all different from one another. This is no surprise, I know, we all recognize the individuality of people, and even organizations. What surprises me, though, are the clients that come to me with the purpose of blending in as much as possible. The opportunity to leverage the uniqueness of the brand, further develop the brand’s personality or differentiate the brand is lost. And the uniqueness of the client’s personality is lost in all of the uniformity.
At FrontLine we sell custom and semi-custom options, but we also sell a lot of minimally customized, more “off the shelf” products. Now these more standardized products can serve a purpose for those who have a minimal budget, are looking for one-time use or maybe just need some simple accent pieces to something more customized. I understand that completely. However, even with these standard pieces we try to encourage creativity in graphic design to help differentiate. Sometimes though, the reasons to use more standardized products is purely choice instead of necessity. Here are several reasons that I have heard:
-My sales people don’t want to deal with anything challenging
-We aren’t looking for new business, just meeting with current clients
-Everyone else just has “x” type of display, we just want to have that
Let me address why it is important to allow yourself be different. Too many times people get focused on the trade show from the exhibitor’s point of view (How long will it take to setup? How difficult will it be? What case does it come in?). Okay, but make sure to always place consideration on how the attendee at the show will view your brand. Attendees have a limited time to identify and meet with exhibitors. They will generally plot a course in advance to most efficiently spend their time on the floor. A choice to blend in will almost guarantee that the attendee will not break their course to see you, but by choosing to be unique you can divert the attendee’s focus and potentially capture leads that would have otherwise walked right by.
If your goal is just to mingle with your current clients, it is still important to be unique on the floor. Why? Because more than likely, the competition will be there too, and quite possibly, so will the competition of the client. A couple of things can happen when you go with the blend in strategy in this situation. If you look the same as your competition, your client can see this as receiving no benefit by working with you. If you come in with a lesser look than your competition, they may begin to wonder why that is, and see your competition as more vibrant and viable. Also, if your competition shows up with something fancy and unique, it could draw all of your clients’ competition to their space, making them want to check them out as well just to not feel excluded.
Often, the opinion of the sales person is considered when designing a trade show space. They are going to be on the floor, they know the attendees, they know their goals, so their input is extremely important. Now consider the subconscious aspects of the space on the sales rep. Attendees will not be initially evaluating a company by the strength of the sales pitch because they will walk by and not hear it if they are not impressed by the space. If the vast majority of the attendees walk by and avoid communication it will negatively impact the sales person’s psyche. It can impact their meetings during the show and their feelings toward future shows. On the other hand, a unique space with the design and plan to draw attention and bring in attendees can offer the opposite effect. A space with constant flow will increase their energy and positivity, which will also extend itself to the attendees. The domino effect of a positive presence will help to produce good leads and meetings, leading to increased sales and a positive view on future shows for the sales rep.
Trade shows and events are an excellent place to highlight your brand and the uniqueness of it. You are going to have a highly targeted audience, in person, with the goal of setting meetings. No other opportunities really exist like this in marketing, so be sure to effectively promote and reinforce the brand. A strong, differentiated presence will lead to a memorable and positive experience for attendees. It will draw new leads your way, and reinforce the relationship with current clients.
When working on your next project be sure to place value on the perception of the brand and the experience of the attendee first. Those are the two aspects that cannot be compromised. Dare to be different and reap the rewards that come with doing so because I can assure you that they will be greater than the ease of status quo.