It’s a fact of life: Everyone has an opinion. Tradeshow exhibit designs or any design meant to represent an organization, for that matter—can attract opinions like flies to a picnic. If you’re in charge of designing your company’s exhibit, it can be tempting to ignore the “suggestions” of others within your organization in a bid to keep the project moving. But this would be a grave mistake.
That’s because the support of your internal stakeholders is critical to defining—and ultimately achieving success—on the tradeshow floor. Yes, getting everyone on the same page may sound daunting, but with an orderly process, you can make it happen. Here are some points to think over when outlining a process for getting buy-in across the board.
Querying internal stakeholders is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your exhibit design. (Depending on your organization, internal stakeholders may include your company’s brand architects, sales team, executive leadership, and/or personnel within the distribution scheme.) Ask these individuals what they feel the essential outcomes, or purpose, of the exhibit should be. What results do they expect?
This act of querying could certainly be accomplished through your company’s platform for internal collaboration (e.g., intranet, company-wide social network, etc.). It could also be as simple as sending questions via an online survey or scheduling a quick phone call or meeting.
Look for common ground
Do not be surprised if your stakeholders’ “essential outcomes” vary widely. In fact, it’s likely you’ll find that one or more stakeholders are in direct conflict. See if you can identify common ground, and then work with each stakeholder to build from it as much as possible. It’s a delicate process, but if a stakeholder feels you’ve addressed his or her essential outcomes, this person may be more likely to compromise on their secondary needs.
Create a strategy document
When we mentioned getting everyone on the same page, we meant it—literally. Now that you’ve queried stakeholders and established as much common ground as possible, it’s time to create a strategy document. The purpose of this document is two-fold: It should 1) help stakeholders feel invested in the exhibit design, and 2) drive creative visioning and execution. It should essentially act as a brief for your exhibit design.
In the document, list essential outcomes—as identified by the stakeholders—and demonstrate how the exhibit design will meet each one. Then, share the document with stakeholders and ask for their approval. While it may be impossible to get everyone on the same page, you’ve at least demonstrated that you care—and that everyone’s opinion was heard in the creation of your exhibit strategy.
Who will staff your exhibit?
Making an impression with one or two members of an organization is great, but swaying a team of buyers is what will ultimately turn a prospect into a purchaser. To do this, you need individuals who can expertly answer buyers’ questions and address their needs while authentically conveying your company’s story. In other words, they should be able to eliminate any buying objections buyers may have. The attendance of your company’s sales team is likely a given, but what about your decision-makers and engineers?
Sometimes in the hustle-bustle of demands and deadlines we forget to pause, but this exercise should not be a one-time affair. Consider checking in with stakeholders each year to ask, “What is right or wrong about what we’re doing with our exhibit?” Not only will you provide a space in which they can strategize but you will also, in showing stakeholders their opinions are valued, strengthen your relationships with these individuals. And this can only lead to greater tradeshow success.