(Disclaimer: There will be double entendres GALORE and perhaps even a reference to Scottish Terriers.  If you are offended by Benny Hill style humour, you are probably very wise but this post won’t be for you!)

Now put down the smelling salts, I have never read the original “50 shades of grey” and I don’t plan on it.  Back in the day when I was at the Glendale Finishing School for Ladies, the hot reads were Thorn Birds, Mistrals Daughter and Lace with the kicker line of “Which one of you bitches is my mother?” So the racy read was covered off back in my teens, thanks all the same.

But the “50 Shades of Grey” steamy juggernaut got me thinking about how punishment could be dished out to a sub-standard exhibition or trade show stand.  With the start of the new year behind us and the trade show calendar about to swing into gear, I wanted to highlight ways that your trade show stand might be performing below expectations and what you can do to encourage a more satisfying outcome. Ahem.

1. You don’t even like it.

As the marketing manager or coordinator in charge of the exhibition program, if you can’t summon the love for your stand and how you exhibit, chances are no one else on your team or your key market will either.

Spanking required: Don’t pulp the entire stand just yet, it might just need a clever tweak or require a revisit to your exhibiting objectives.  I would suggest calling a stand designer in to review what you currently do and workshop ways of improving.

2. The mixed message.

When so many players within your company need to have a presence on your stand, it can end up looking like a dense forest of marketing messages and images that no one will ever emerge from.

Spanking required: I can fess up here. I have done stands that are guilty of this. See below: Siemens @ ASMMIRT 2011.

Siemens @ ASMMIRT 2011

Siemens @ ASMMIRT 2011

But see below what happened a year later when I worked closer with the marketing team to explain the benefit of stripping the messaging back to one or two key ideas.  The spanking was administered and everyone emerged with a smile!

Siemens @ ASMMIRT 2012

Siemens @ ASMMIRT 2012

3. You turn up not knowing what you want.

Are you there to build your brand? Are you there to stick it to your competitors? Are you there to demonstrate your latest product?  Do you want to get in front of key government members and industry heads by being in this trade show?

Spanking required: Really nail what you are attending the trade show for. Without clarity around those objectives, making the most basic plans will be fraught and induce hair pulling of the unpleasant kind.

4. You pick the wrong partners.

I know, I get it.  Your trade show budget has been slashed and there is pressure to take the cheapest quote.  But why would you select a partner simply based on price alone? Price is one determining factor but what about others such as value. Commitment. Cut through design. Smooth, stress free project management.  These might be harder to measure than a price comparison but I guarantee your ROI will be healthier, your display presence sparklier and your life less harried if you use a true professional that understands trade shows and displays.

Spanking required: It’s a cliché for a reason. You do get what you pay for.  Go for the partner that offers more than a cheap price and the risk of them being insolvent within 2 months.  Find someone you would like to work with, that you can get a hold of easily and comes to you with ideas.  Just because they love what they do.

5. You’re the submissive.

Trade shows are the not the time to be a shy little flower.  This is face-to-face marketing so you have to get cut through from all the other exhibitors at the show as well as all the other interruptions delegates face like conference sessions, responding to emails, social media updates and the lunch buffet.

Spanking required: Go guerrilla on the trade show floor. Cause a ruckus.  Send out invitations pre-show.  Follow up the enquiry as soon as someone has left your stand. Make your signage from inflatable balloons. Have a Scottish Terrier as a mascot. Whatever. The freak shall inherit the earth in the new normal, so get crazy.

Get your freak on

Get your freak on

6. It wouldn’t kill you to look like you are enjoying it.

I am often on site the first day the exhibition opens and I am just amazed. But not in a good way. So many stands staffed by people who look tired, that they could care less, or they are the greasy sales type just looking to spin their oily spiel.   Some are gathered in groups and refuse to acknowledge you and others try to do the badge scan working out if you are worth speaking to. I say again, this is face-to-face marketing. You have to be prepared to engage delegates and visitors like they are a guest who has just stepped into your lounge room.

Spanking required:  Cheapest and best ever tip ever for creating a trade show or display with impact: smile.  Be the best version of normal and interested you can be.  It is hard work being so switched on for the length of a trade show or exhibition but the power of face-to-face marketing when done well?  Holy cats, your ROI will be on Viagra.

I’m not up late enough to watch Rage in the witching hour anymore but I recall they used to play banned videos when most people who write letters about things that offend them to newspaper editors are tucked up in bed.  This is one of the first videos I was scandalised by Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never” with its delicious kiss off-line “I might like you better if we slept together”.

Do you have a display that needs to be spanked? Feel free to share what you think deserves a spanking or how you delivered the spanking below in the comments section.

See you next week!