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What Are Memorable Trade Show Displays?

June 11th, 2010 · 11 Comments · Trade Show Marketing

What are memorable trade show displays? Perhaps the answer seems obvious… a memorable trade show display is a trade show display that you remember, right? Well… no. It isn’t quite that simple. There are “good” memorable trade show displays and “bad” memorable trade show displays, and this post is going to cover the difference between them (which is very important to understand if you want to be successful at trade show marketing). And if you’re wondering what the picture of the sock-puppet monkey [image removed] has to do with this post, I’ll cover that too…

Let’s start with the question, “What are good memorable trade show displays?” Good memorable trade show displays are those displays that get people saying things like, “Did you see the trade show display for the ACME Fake Vomit Company?” Specifically, if people remember a particular trade show display AND they remember what company it was for AND also they can tell you what the company does and why they would be interested in the company or may choose to use the company, then said company has a good memorable trade show display. Put another way, there are good ideas and bad ideas for trade show displays, some of which will make your booth memorable in a way that benefits you (which is good), and some of which may make your booth memorable, but it a way that nobody knows who you are or what you do, which is of no benefit to you (which is bad). The key to a good memorable display is that people need to remember the company, what it does, and why they would chose to do business with the company.

On the other hand, if someone says, “Wow, did you see the trade show display booth with the ten-layer velvet chocolate cake with pink champagne shooting out the top?”, and then you ask them what company had that trade show display and they say, “I don’t know, but the cake was delicious…” then that, my friend, is the definition of a bad memorable trade show display. Put another way, you need your trade show display to be remembered for the right reasons!

I think I can make my point the best (at least to myself) by bringing in the sock-puppet monkey. During the last Superbowl, a car company ran what I call the “sock-puppet monkey car commercial”.

Sock Monkey SuperBowl TV Commercial

The funny thing was that after the game when we were talking about which commercials we thought were the best (and most memorable), everyone remembered the sock monkey commercial (the music rocks). But when we tried to come up with the name of the company that it was for… no one could. Most of us assumed it was for a car company, but that’s about as far as we got. The current hip term that comes to mind to me is… epic fail.

Now you may be thinking that people will see the TV commercial over and over and over again, and eventually the name of the car company will stick (which I am told is a common TV commercial tactic). But people won’t see your trade show display over and over again… they will most likely see it once. And as far as the sock-puppet monkey car commercial goes, I asked my wife yesterday (who has probably seen the TV commercial at least a dozen times) which car company it was for. She said she really wasn’t sure, but then guessed the right company, but then changed her mind and went with a different car company… which makes me wonder, does the commercial really work for the car company that isn’t even in it?

But enough about retro toys and thumping music… it’s great to have a memorable trade show display, but only if it is the right kind of memorable trade show display… otherwise you might end up helping your competitor more than yourself! Make sure trade show attendees remember who you are, what you do, and how you can help them!


11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Extreme John // Jun 15, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Great post as always. The Kia commercial is catchy, I would imagine if scheduled at the right time of day and on the right channel that sock monkey sales would begin to climb in areas it airs. Hardly the goal, but how mainstream marketing works.

    Every wins a little. Here’s a true story, quick but true.

    There was once a local tanning salon company with a name very similar to the name of my tanning salon company. They were constantly talking and spreading rumors in regards to how we conduct business, so I decided I would let them know that I hear them.

    I put a billboard in their parking lot for FREE TANNING, real big and bold. Timed it perfectly…. so I thought. They never had a busier year than the year we did that, once we stopped advertising (again timed perfectly), it was the end for them. They could no longer sustain because they weren’t getting anymore rub off.

    God I love business!!

  • 2 The Trade Show Guru // Jun 15, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Hi John,
    Good points and good term, “mainstream marketing.” I should have used that term to point out the difference between “mainstream marketing” and trade show marketing. In the former (like on TV), you have a chance to repeat your message, so it’s ok if it doesn’t get through the first time… In trade show marketing, you usually don’t have that luxury.
    Thanks for dropping by!
    Stay tan. ~ Steve

  • 3 Will // Jun 15, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I did not watch the Super Bowl so had not seen that commercial. Nice, er, hot tub.

    Here is an article about what some famous Trade Show guy, (not as famous as Steve of course), remembers:

  • 4 The Trade Show Guru // Jun 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Will,
    For us, the SuperBowl is a great excuse to have friends over for a bbq and see what companies believe is worth spending a million dollars on (the tv commercials)…
    Thanks for the link on the “trade show hall of shame”… memorable stuff, but not what you want to be remembered for! 🙂
    ~ Steve

  • 5 Rudy // Jul 7, 2010 at 2:46 am


    Did you see Nintendo’s introduction to the 3DS at E3? They parade the device with a hundred pretty girls, and we get to “play” with them. That’s quite memorable, if you ask me.

    You should write about the exploitation of women at trade shows. 😉

  • 6 The Trade Show Guru // Jul 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    hi Rudy,
    No, I didn’t see that, but it would qualify as memorable. But did you get to play with the 3DS or the pretty girls? 🙂
    If by the exploitation of women at trade shows you are referring to the trade show booth babe phenomenon, then I have actually already written a post on that subject. 🙂
    Thanks for dropping by! Steve

  • 7 Will // Jul 9, 2010 at 12:49 am

    You are right Rudy. And at car shows, and bass derbies, Nascar…. Come to think of it just about everywhere.

  • 8 The Trade Show Guru // Jul 12, 2010 at 9:48 am

    hi Will,
    I found your comment in my spam folder! Where have you been hanging out lately? 🙂 Maybe it’s because you used the word “bass”…
    I’ve never been to a bass derby, but I’d like to go to one someday…

  • 9 Rudy // Jul 12, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Ah you’re right – you did do a post on Booth babes. Sorry I didn’t read the article, I was distracted by the first photo. 😉

  • 10 Anders - Trade Show Infotainer // Jul 31, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Memorable booths offer more than a striking visual image. They offer a true experience. You know your booth is a success when years down the road, people see an interesting booth and someone will say, “that’s nothing you should have seen the xyz company’s booth.”

    The trick is to find a way that you can touch the hearts, the minds and even the wallets of your prospects.

    Easier said than done.

  • 11 Scott Tokar, Corporate-Fx // Feb 10, 2011 at 2:23 am

    I say the exact same thing about in-booth attractions… Caricature Artist, Espresso, Engraved Pens, and even magicians…

    If a magician’s trick is the thing you are talking about, not the company he is working for, you have scored another epic fail!

    CONTENT IS KING! If the delivery of the elevator statement is clear, concise, and memorable, the exhibitor will be remembered!

    I agree with Anders However, if a magician is tightly integrated into the marketing, the memorability will last for years!

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