Do You “Think Different” on the Trade Show Floor? Part 1

Two weeks ago, I offered you a challenge – “how to avoid being invisible on the trade show floor.”  One of the three ways I shared is to “be different.”

This week I was re-reading one of my favorite books, “A Whole New Mind,” by best-selling author, Daniel Pink. In it he claims, “we’re living in a different era, a different age.  An age in which those who “Think Different” will be valued even more than ever.”  He discusses that right-brain thinking (the creative side – think in pictures) is every bit as important now – in some cases more important – than left-brain thinking (the analytical side – think in facts and figures).

Pink further discusses “six senses” or six “right-brain directed aptitudes,” namely, design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

Now you might well be asking yourself, “what has all this got to do with exhibiting?” I believe that these six aptitudes should make up your entire presence on the trade show floor – from your booth message to how your people interact with prospects.

In “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design & Delivery,” Garr Reynolds goes into great detail about these concepts. Definitely add this book to your library!
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share a very abridged version, and how these six ideas relate to your exhibiting experience.

1. Design – This concept expresses the need to start with the end in mind.  Based on your exhibiting goals, you need time during your before show preparation, to really think about your key message and your target market. Then, together with your exhibit designer (external or internal – small booth or large booth), take your ideas and make them visual.  If you’re an analytic, get help.  There’s an over-abundance of creative types out there in the marketplace, use their talents to help make you different and stand out from the crowd.

2. Story – If you remember back to your school days of “show and tell” didn’t you love to share your stuff with friends, classmates, teachers, and the like – in fact, anyone who would listen to your story.  Believe it or not, we’re all born storytellers, and “storylisteners.” If you’ve ever been around kids at bedtime know that story time reigns supreme.
Think about how you could take your exhibiting message and turn it into a visual story.  Admittedly, for some products and services, this is easier than others. Once again, seek out the creative help you need.

3. Symphony – This concept is all about “seeing the relationships between relationships.”  In other words, taking an idea and talking about it in a whole new way that people truly relate to, and more importantly, remember.  To better understand this, let me share what I experienced this week.
I’m currently working with Dino, a physical therapist at a local sport’s medicine clinic. During one of the exercises he had me do, he started to explain the muscle structure in “anatomicalese” – a language I’m not conversant in. He then took what he was saying and likened it to tasks a factory worker might do – some that needed more work (larger muscles), and others that needed less effort (smaller muscles). Eureka! I saw the relationships immediately. What Dino had done so skillfully, was to relate one thing to another in a unique way that allowed me to fully understand (and visualize) what he was explaining. This truly was symphony in action.

More next week in Part 2.

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies” and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.


One Response to “Do You “Think Different” on the Trade Show Floor? Part 1”

  1. Zach says:

    Excellent advice. In the way of design I would suggest a simple and concise approach. Long lines of text turn attendees off, and to put simply – won’t get read anyway.

    Concentrate on effectively and attractively presenting your brand and logo. Use warm and bright colors to engage the viewer. Take advantage of your sales staff and let them handle the selling. Your display just needs to shine and invite.

    Great article!


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