Jim Cermak TradeShowu.biz
Episode 007 – What to Wear at Your Booth
In this episode, we’ll be discussing what you and your team should be wearing at your booth when working a trade show. Yes – what you wear DOES make a difference in your branding and results!
· Yes, having a plan for what you wear at your trade show booth is important, but doesn’t have to be complex
· What you wear is the first impression you will make with attendees. They will make a lot of assumptions about you and your company based on what you are wearing and how you look.
· Some apparel makes a statement, and others have practically little impact.
· The principles are pretty much the same whether you have one person or a group of people working your booth
· When someone looks at you, are you memorable or forgettable? You want to be memorable! Maybe not you specifically, but your company.
· Of course, there are varying degrees of memorability. Wearing a shirt and tie may have a professional look, but also may be easily forgettable. Having everyone in the booth wearing the same tie notches the memorability up a notch. Having that tie with your logo goes up another notch. Having guys and girls all wearing that tie, one more notch.
· My number one rule – Be sure you match in some way!
· The benefits of matching far outweigh any negatives.
· First – reinforces your brand. Your corporate colors and logo should be represented. Plus people should be able to look at you and get at least some understanding of how you are to work as a company.
· Second – attendees can identify you. By having on the same colors or outfits as the rest of the people from your company, attendees can make a better connection between you, your company, and your offering or promotion.
· Third – when your booth is hopping with activity, attendees know who works there and who doesn’t. If everyone is dressed differently, can be very difficult to tell. So instead of getting a question answered which can lead to a meaningful conversation, the question may never get asked.
· Don’t fall into the trap of letting everyone wear whatever they want “as long as it’s professional.” When everyone is dressed differently – even if it’s professional – it looks messy because there’s no cohesion.
· When it comes to apparel, you really only have two options. You can either go Corporate or go with a Theme:
· Corporate is having everyone wear something similar that reflects your organization, your culture, your industry, or your brand.
· What you will see most often are polos and/or button-down shirts. Polos and button-downs might say we’re a little more casual and good to work with.
· Companies wearing a Shirt and tie or a suit definitely give a more formal vibe and convey trust and expertise. Might find companies in a shirt and tie that are focused on regulations, compliance, or contracts – like finance, banking, insurance, or consulting.
· On the other end of the spectrum, maybe a t-shirt and jeans will work for you. That look will also work if you’re trying to market to millennials and a younger generation.
· You can also dress for your industry. For example, if you’re a fitness company, maybe your staff is in workout wear. Or a healthcare company in nurses' scrubs.
· No matter what corporate look you are going for, make sure you all match, and make sure your look matches your brand and culture.
· Theme. You can use a theme for:
· Promotion – A promotion can be a contest, a sale, a promotion of a product, or more.
· Brand – use a theme to promote or boost your brand. Is safety and security part of your brand? Dress as police or security officers, or maybe Men in Black suits. Is expertise or creativity what you want people to think? Maybe everyone can have wizard hats. Brainstorm! Be Creative! And have fun!
· New Product/Service – Creating a theme around a new product or service launch can be impactful. Just have to make sure the theme fits the product. For example, a company launching a newly enhanced service program called White Glove Service had everyone was dressed in tuxedos and wearing white gloves. This was super effective because just by looking at the booth and each person working, you knew exactly the type of service they were offering. Plus seeing someone in a tuxedo anywhere else in the show was a visual reminder.
· Bottom line – Having a theme at your booth can be effective, memorable, and fun. Just make sure your theme ties to whatever you’re trying to get people to remember. Don’t have a theme just to have a theme. You don’t want people leaving the show talking about the booth where everyone was dressed in safari outfits, but can’t remember the company or the product, or that they didn’t understand the theme. Remember – Brainstorm! Be Creative! And have fun!
· For Individuals – here are four quick tips for you when you are working a show.
· 1 – Look, Professional. If you don’t have a theme, and maybe you’re working on a show by yourself, the key is to look professional. Doesn’t have to be a business suit, but something appropriate for your business and your brand. If you’re still unsure, then think about who the attendees will be and dress to their level or above.
· 2 – Look Good. Not just what you are wearing, but how you’re wearing it! Make sure your clothes fit right – not too big or too small. So if you are wearing a new shirt from your company, try it way before the show in case you need a different size. Also – be sure to iron your clothes!
· 3 – Smell Good. Yes, you wear your smell! It can definitely make the wrong impression. Shower, wear deodorant and cologne/aftershave. And also have mints or gum with you so your breath isn’t the one thing they remember about you!
· 4 – Wear comfortable shoes. Trade Shows can be brutal on your feet and legs because you’re basically standing on cement for hours or even days. You owe it to yourself to have a good pair of broken-in, comfortable shoes.
· Ladies – as much as you might look great in a pair of high heels, recommend leaving those at home and going with something lower that will give you more comfort over the time you’re on your feet. And if you must bring those heels, bring another pair of shoes to change into if your feet start aching.
· So let’s WRAP UP this class on Trade Show Apparel 101!
· 4 key takeaways:
· What you wear in your booth definitely can make a difference! Are you memorable or simply forgettable?
· Make sure everyone in your booth is matching in some way. The benefits can be significant!
· You can go with a corporate look – one that at very least reinforces your brand, and gives an idea of your culture and how you are to work with, or corresponds to your industry.
· Or you can go with a Theme – one that supports a promotion, your branding, or even a new product or service launch. Brainstorm, be creative, and have fun!
About the author, Jim Jim Cermak has over 25 years of marketing, consulting, and training experience, and has planned and worked hundreds of Trade Shows. He gets a little overly excited about Trade Shows, and puts that passion into helping companies get better results!