Stop Convention Attendees in Their Tracks with a Great-Looking Exhibit Space

Dear House Rules,

Our client, a small-but-growing biopharmaceutical company, is asking our agency to pitch several concepts for its revamped convention booth. It has a hot new product, and wants a fresh-looking convention presence to match its revolutionary treatment for a serious (yet all-too-common) disease state. Marketing to thought leaders at relevant conventions plays a larger role than usual in this year’s budget. Any suggestions?


What’s the Formula for “Wow?”

Dear “Wow”,
Convention booths (or, for larger companies, exhibit spaces) should compel attendees to stop and take notice, giving the company a chance to deliver its message. In far too many instances, however, booth design doesn’t evolve to reflect the company’s own growth, or the evolution of technology. Remaining stuck with a years-old convention booth makes it difficult for companies to convey product messages with the same “punch” as their more tech-savvy competitors.

When it comes to creating a convention experience that engages customers, here are a few simple tips that all marketers should implement, regardless of size:

•Invest in quality visuals—everything about an exhibit reflects on the company it represents. Torn banner? Next stop. Malfunctioning iPads? Moving on. Typo in the digital display? Note to self: proceed with caution—this company may cut corners with QC as well. Make sure that whatever elements you choose to represent yours or your client’s company, those components are clean, pristine, and in perfect working order.

•Showcase the latest tech—once the marketing team decides on a budget for convention promotion, the next step is to allocate a portion of that budget to the most innovative technology available. For example, if your client sells a migraine therapy, the use of high-tech virtual reality (VR) goggles can enable convention attendees to truly experience what patients go through during a migraine episode. This can enhance empathy and the desire to treat.

•Celebrate germophobes—routes and rates of infection, “superbugs” that are resistant to almost all antibiotics, and more and more lethal flu viruses have all received more press coverage in the past few years than in any time past. No one knows better than healthcare professionals that the average convention exhibit is essentially a large petri dish. Provide hand sanitizer, antimicrobial wipes next to keyboards, even latex gloves. Attendees will thank you for it—and will be more likely to listen to your product message as well.

•Use color wisely—you probably know that different colors elicit a variety of emotional responses. It’s important to choose a color palette that is simultaneously striking and inviting. Naturally, the color/s of the company’s logo will play a starring role—you’ll want to stay true to your branding requirements, after all—but the supporting colors should be chosen with care.

•Follow a strict copy rulebook—writing copy for convention displays is a skill unto itself. The copy must be brief, so it “reads” across a crowded convention floor when rendered on a large screen or poster. It needs to capture the attention in about 3 seconds, so a bit of provocation is encouraged. (You might even want to ask a quick question.)1 Whether it’s the ever-popular quiz, a snappy welcome headline, or a deep-dive slide deck running on a loop, though, the following rule is carved in stone: NO TYPOS. EVER.

•Upgrade your flooring—whenever possible, bring custom-made flooring to rest on top of the standard-issue convention concrete or thin carpet. It’s uncomfortable to stand on and usually doesn’t match the “look and feel” of the custom displays your team worked so hard on. Upgraded flooring is an investment worth making.1 Your space will stand out for its individuality—and your company will get extra points for empathy, as foot-weary attendees enjoy your soft and springy flooring after tramping through what seem like acres of convention hall flooring in less-than-comfortable shoes.

At Xavier Creative House, we’ve designed and implemented numerous convention space layouts for our pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical clients. We’d love to share our expertise, so feel free to reach out to us via phone, email, or social media. We’d love to hear from you!

1. Accessed February 20, 2018.

House Rules

Sunny Beth White

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