At first glance, nothing seems more chaotic than a trade show floor. Jaded buyers rush by, hell bent on seeing the people on “their list”, while the newcomers seem a little bewildered by it all. The noise from the crowd rises and falls in a steady drone while flashing lights and other cheap tricks add to the confusion. But in this apparent disorder, a simple truth exists. The tradeshow floor is alive, full of energy and momentum. It’s energy flows and eddies around us and best of all, it’s possible to manipulate it for our benefit.
Today’s tradeshow attendees have a hidden agenda. Actually, it’s not so much hidden as “pre-determined”. Budget cutbacks in the travel sector and the consolidation of retailers means that fewer buyers are covering more ground in less time. They still visit the tradeshows, but the way they visit has changed. They pre-plan their agendas and pack as much as they can into a single day.
By all means do your homework to get on their “A” list – send out “pre-show” packages letting them know where you will be, have your sales force try to set specific appointments, and take advantage of the venue’s service to contact them on your behalf. But failing your Herculean pre-show efforts, what can you do to draw people into your booth? Gimmicks don’t work. Sex no longer sells! But in the ever changing world of the tradeshow, the answer could be the oldest cliché of them all, an “ancient Chinese secret”. Secrets from the “science” of Feng Shui could turn your booth into a magnet for positive energy and potential sales.
Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese study of the environment, both natural and man-made, that has been practiced for thousands of years. Using elements such as lighting and color, Feng Shui masters used their knowledge as a tool to ensure the well-being of the Imperial Dynasties. No longer a closely guarded secret, Feng Shui theory focuses on methods to manage the flow of energy and when used properly, can “guide’ people into your booth.
One aspect of Feng Shui involves dealing with barriers that inhibit the natural flow on energy. That being said, the first step in designing your “energy friendly” booth is to create an open atmosphere. Eliminate any physical and psychological barriers by making your booth open and inviting. Push the furniture to the back and sides to create space for attendees to come into your booth and you’ve taken a big step towards being “irresistible”.
It should come as no surprise that lighting is a key element of the art of Feng Shui. Like moths are drawn to flame, the human eye is attracted to bright light and any booth that is well lit will attract attention. Lighting can also be effective in dealing with the stagnant energy that pools in dark corners – a strategically positioned flood light is an excellent way to deal with these energy drains.
Light that floods downward will help energy flow throughout your booth. In contrast, under-lighting creates an eerie “flashlight held under the face” effect and can make attendees feel ill-at-ease. Avoid this potential pitfall at all costs. Another thing to consider is the actual shape of the light and its base. In making your selection, look for rounded edges – an angular shape will reflect the light in a straight line, effectively “dissecting” your space and anyone standing in its path.
Skillful application of the space and lighting strategies will definitely increase your visibility but that’s only one part of the equation. Once you’ve mastered lighting, it’s time to turn your focus to color. But to unlock those secrets, you’ll have to read the next article in our series.
Patty Stripes is an editor for The Trade Show Booth, an online resource where she has posted various articles about improving your trade show booth performance and getting creative with trade show displays.