If you’ve heard of populist science writer Malcolm Gladwell, you’re probably familiar with the notion of “thin-slicing” from his book Blink. The basic idea is that humans have the remarkable ability to make snap analyses based on very little information. An art historian, for example, can glance at an exact duplicate of a particular sculpture and instantly know it’s a fake. This is thanks, in part, to unconscious processes honed through years of training and experience. Likewise, after a lifetime’s exposure to brand messaging, your customers can intuit when a brand is reaching beyond its zone of authenticity.
How does this disconnect occur in the experiential marketing space? How can a passerby interact with your trade show booth and intuitively feel something is amiss? The answer: When the communication between marketers and exhibit designers wasn’t focused, clear, and reciprocal.
Here are a couple of points to ponder when communicating with exhibit designers:
Who’s your audience?
The days of one-size-fits-all messaging are long gone. Just as when the big three TV networks gave way to hundreds of cable and streaming channels, marketing channels have likewise exploded into thousands of niches. To that end, conceive your exhibit to fit your particular, self-selecting audience. Aiming far too broadly makes your message vague but going too narrow will alienate all but a few. When you’re able to effectively communicate who your audience is to your creative team, they can create an experience that’s tailor-made for them. Best case scenario, this collaboration will transcend the show floor and lead to a continuing affinity with your brand.
Have You Mapped your Customer Experience?
We’ve all been to a trade show, walked into a booth, had a polite chat with a vendor, and then walked away with a stress ball, or a pen. But can you remember what that vendor was selling — can you find the pen? As marketers, the question we should ask ourselves is “What do you want people to walk away with?”
Maybe it’s something super simple, the quality of your product, or maybe it’s something subtler, having to do with your brand’s value proposition. In the end, you want your customers to have an experience that imparts a key idea. Start with that idea and map your customer journey such that it leads to that moment. When you know where you’re going, it’s easier to see how to get there. Moreover, it helps you better communicate with the creatives who will implement that experience.
In short, when it comes to communicating to exhibit designers the kind of experience you hope to create, be clear on for whom you’re making it, where you want them to go, and what you want them to take away once they get there. Otherwise, all your experiential efforts could be over in a blink.