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‘The three second rule’

Justine Buxton, Clip

Submitted by; Justine Buxton, Clip (www.clipuk.com) Post published; 9th May 2019

Your exhibition messaging can never be too obvious

You can walk any exhibition in the world and you will see the same mistake made across the board. There will be companies, often with large, impressive and expensive stand structures, but making the most basic of mistakes. The stand will have a logo sitting high up on the backwall, illuminated or even rotating high above the show floor. The logo will be sitting above a stand tag-line, written in italics and saying something like “Connecting people, today”. It looks clean and smart and probably cost a fortune for a local advertising agency to come up with the line. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work unless you work for a household name where everyone knows what you do without even reading the stand tag-line.

What does “Connecting people, today” mean? Do you provide a dating website? Are you involved in telecoms? Do you draw up people’s family trees? You could do any three of those things, or hundreds of other activities too. You can have the best-looking stand at the show but from reading your logo and stand tag-line, visitors have no idea what you do.

You may feel that isn’t an issue and your staff are on the stand to explain what you do.

Unfortunately, that is categorically not the case. Research proves that by the time visitors are close enough to your stand for your staff to engage with them, the visitor has already made the decision on whether or not they want to speak to you or even work with you. That may sound harsh but I’m afraid the research shows it’s true. Not only that but in the current digital world where everything is immediate, the time you have to catch people’s interest is actually reducing.

You have three seconds

You are currently thought to have no more than three seconds to convince people that they should engage with you. In just three seconds, visitors to an exhibition will make the following decisions about your stand and your company;

Second 1 – They make a judgement on who you are as a company.
Second 2 – They make a judgement on what your company does.
Second 3 – They decide if you’re relevant to them.

The visitor then makes a decision on whether or not to engage with you.

That’s all you have, so you need to get it right.

You need to make sure that the messaging on your stand is clear, concise and brings a direct benefit to the visitor. No time for fancy ‘three-word straplines’, or to try and regurgitate your company’s life history.

Here’s how – two easy steps to start and then the real challenge begins;

1) You need to explain what you do, but speak in English. Don’t use internal company related terms or industry related slang.
2) Explain, again, in simple terms, what it is that your product or service brings to the client. If they used your company then what direct benefit would you bring to them?

No more than twelve words!

Once you have steps one and two sorted, the difficult bit starts. You need to ensure that the above is covered down in no more than twelve words. Again, research shows that most people read an average of twelve words in the 3 seconds you’ve got. Go on much longer than that in explaining what you do as a company and you’ve lost the visitor before you’ve even started.

Tweak it, change it, cut out the unnecessary and fluffy words and get a stand hook statement that really packs a punch and has people wanting to engage with you.

No one said it was easy but it could make all the difference.

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