After doing too many trade shows for the past 20 years when I worked as a marketing and brand manager for brands like Pepsi, Pizza Hut, Smirnoff and Playtex, I learned a thing or two about what NOT to put on your trade show banner. Here are the 3 terrible banner mistakes that assault me every time I enter the dreaded trade show floor.
When The Banner Has No Stopping Factor
Think of your trade show banner as a highway billboard. It has to have the stopping factor amongst all the noise and clutter of the trade show floor. If you think of the best billboards you’ve seen, what do they have in common? They have arresting images and catchy taglines, right? Some billboards go as far as being experiential to get the attention. My banners have always been large-6x8ft pictures of arresting images. The first one was of a woman biting her lip nervously with the caption “Worried About Your Marketing?” (see on the left). Aside from people asking me if it was my picture (hello, I’m standing in front of you, can’t you tell?) I had nobody who came up to me and asked “so what is it that you do?”. The banner exclaimed loud and clear why I was there and what I could help with. This banner converted a lot of visitors into leads who wanted to have conversations after the show so I know it worked.
Treating The Banner Like A Brochure
As I keep telling my clients, stop treating a trade show banner like a brochure or even a website. A banner’s job is to stop the traffic in front of your booth and to engage conversation. It is then the job of the people at the booth to have meaningful conversations with interested leads to inform visitors about RELEVANT things that your company can help them with. At no time should you, your staff, your brochures and certainly not your banner be spouting off a laundry list of all the services you can perform. People don’t buy that way. They most likely don’t see a listed service and say to themselves “here’s a company I’ve never heard of before but now that I know they do (that service), I’m going to stop and talk to them”. They are more likely to think “wow, I don’t know these guys but they totally understand my business problem. I think they might be good for me to talk to”
The Banner Is Not About Them
Which brings up the point that just like ANY of your marketing (starting from your elevator pitch to your banners) at the show and outside of the show-you should not be talking about yourself. Yes, you should be talking about your target’s pain. Remember, 70% of humans purchase to solve a problem. You know my favourite saying: ‘no pain, no sale’. So use what you now know about human nature and hit them where it hurts (no pun intended). Notice how both my banners are based on who I know to be my target’s most relevant pain. When your marketing stops being selfish and starts talking about your prospect, that’s when your banner (and every other marketing vehicle) will start pulling in those leads.
Next time you have the chance to redo your trade show banner, make your banner the best part of your hook at that booth.