An excellent shell scheme makeover creates a winning stand

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Posted by , 8th May 2018

Shell scheme makeover from Exhibitors Only

Today’s post presents an excellent case study showing how a small stand space at a really busy show can be made to work very effectively.

And, you get to see some really creative thinking from a small business owner.  Read how she goes about delivering her service away from shows. It’s definitely out of the box thinking! The image above shows the design concept. You can see the real and finished stand in the images below.


I was introduced to the really nice shell scheme makeover shown above by stand specialist Guardian Display. They supplied some of the components and the graphics that were used and they suggested this would make a great case study for Exhibitors Only.

The stand was designed by Richard Allibone of brand design consultancy The Way Forward for their client Vanessa Hunt of Vanessa Hunt Consulting a business specialising in marketing, CRM, and training services.

The show where the stand was to be used was the B2C Marketing Expo at ExCeL London which took place in March.

Details about the brief, the stand and what happened are shared in this interview by Vannessa and Richard below.

Vanessa, how many exhibitions do you participate in each year?

The B2C Marketing Expo at London Excel was our first major exhibition. However, our plan for 2018 and beyond is to exhibit at least twice a year. Our next exhibition takes place in Buckinghamshire in the autumn.

Richard, what were the objectives for participation at this particular event?

Vanessa gave us four key objectives and these were:

  • Generate opportunities to train SMEs and one-man bands on Facebook, content creation and blogging (offered either as 1-2-1 training or an in-house course customised for their small business)
  • Ensure Vanessa’s in-show seminar – How to achieve healthier results on Facebook using organic reach – was full (50 places seated). The seminar was booked for the first day of the exhibition
  • Raise Vanessa’s profile as a Facebook and blogging expert (the subjects of her next book)
  • Get Vanessa’s book ‘Facebook Inspiration’ to the top of the Bestsellers list in the ‘web marketing’ category on Amazon UK

Vanessa: Had you exhibited at this event previously?

No, this was our first time as an exhibitor although I had attended the B2C Expo several times as a visitor in the past.

Given it was your first appearance, did you undertake any pre-show marketing before the event? If so, how did it work for you?

The organisers of the show, Prysm did a lot of marketing to promote the show. I saw their promotions on Twitter and there was also an online Showguide, which we could share on social media and we did.

During the event, there was also plenty of tweeting about the various workshops and seminars coming up each day. And I promoted our presence at the show through my own social media channels too.

And what were the results for you at the show?

Well, my seminar was oversubscribed (people were standing by the theatre entrance to listen in) which was great. So that was a big tick on the objective list.

There was a great buzz on the stand too which had been branded as Vanessa’s Facebook Café.

Here, I delivered hourly ‘taster sessions’ on three Facebook topics and we promoted these sessions on the “Specials” blackboard that was displayed prominently on the stand.

These mini training sessions attracted a lot of attention. Vistors got to see me in action working live and I was able to tailor the sessions to suit each group of attendees.

As a result, we gained fifty, fully qualified leads and the majority of these attendees have been scheduled for meetings within the two months following the show.

That all sounds great. Meantime, has there been any big sales success for your business due to participation?

Yes, there is one big story to report so far. We’re about to start working with an international recruitment company. They have nine offices in the UK. We’ll be providing creative ideas and content for their new website, as well as training their teams on how to blog and create their own engaging content for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sounds like your participation really did go well. Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would do differently next time you exhibit?

Not too much, except perhaps take a proper lunch break on the first day, rather than having a cupcake lunch! Too much sugar!

The concept of delivering live training on the stand worked even better than we had expected. In hindsight, we probably would have benefited from having an extra person on the stand on the first day. This was much busier than I expected it to be.

Richard: Can you tell me about the design brief?

I think that the most important thing for us was that we wanted to create a visually interesting and informal stand for Vanessa but at the same time, to provide a full brand experience.

The aim was to mirror the fun and creative nature of Vanessa’s book, Facebook Inspiration, whilst also presenting a relaxed and light-hearted environment to reflect her training style.

Shell scheme makeover from Exhibitors Only

Seamless graphics were overlaid across the shell scheme panels and the standard show carpet was replaced. Both elements created the strong visual appeal of the stand. The fascia panel was also branded and this tied the whole design together.

So, why did you choose the Facebook Cafe graphic theme?

Vanessa loved the idea of creating a café since she sometimes delivers training in informal places like Costa Coffee! She came up with the name Vanessa’s Facebook Café in line with her seminar theme and book title so we decided to work with that.

From the start, Vanessa planned to deliver small-group training sessions at the show. This was the best way for her to demonstrate the type of training she provides and her training style.

So borrowing from the world of cafes, we incorporated the use of the “Specials” blackboard in the stand graphics.

We then complemented the “Specials” board with a simple Menu flyer, which served two purposes – to promote Vanessa’s Facebook taster sessions and also to advertise her book.

And to add to the authenticity, Vanessa was also keen to include real coffee and branded cupcakes. We loved that touch and as it turned out, so did show visitors.

This looks like the booking was for a shell scheme stand. Is that correct and how big was the stand?

Yes, the stand underneath the graphics, was a 3m x 2m shell scheme. We were lucky that this was a corner stand so we had a fair bit of space around two sides. This made the stand appear more open and accessible for people to gather around the cafe’s table.

Shell scheme makeover from Exhibitors Only

Clear messaging promoted the Facebook taster sessions. Show visitors could see clearly what the stand and the exhibitor were all about.

Can you say something about your approach to the graphics?

We created a striking new logo ‘badge’, especially for the show. This was designed to support the client’s objectives and to clearly communicate the purpose of the stand and what was being offered. It was the centrepiece of the back wall.

This was then supported by the use of the blackboard that highlighted “Vanessa’s Specials.” Using the blackboard in this way provided flexibility for any future events that Vanessa participates in. It can be replaced with a different message if required but will still be a useful explainer for visitors.

Can I ask you both if there is anything else that you would like to add that you think would be useful to other exhibitors?

  • Richard: The standard flooring for the shell scheme was changed via the show organisers according to our design. Other exhibitors might like to know that this change can be made. The use of coloured tiles provided a surprisingly striking difference to the other stands at the show. It really helped the stand to pop-out!
  • Vanessa: The simple addition of coffee and cute cupcakes really brought the cafe concept to life. More importantly, the cupcakes also worked to attract visitors. Many stopped to take photos of the cupcakes, and the stand hosts offered passers-by coffee. This allowed my team to engage visitors in conversation. Many said it was one of the best stands at the show and I would encourage other exhibitors on small stands to be confident that they can do just as good a job of attracting visitors as the bigger stands. You just have to think creatively. Also, working with a designer like Richard and his team was a very worthwhile investment. They were able to bring my idea to life very effectively.
  • Richard: I’d like to highlight to shell scheme exhibitors that another way to make your stand pop-out is to incorporate the graphic design theme into the fascia panel of the stand. Many shell schemes have great graphics on their walls but then stick with the boring standard nameboard. This can be changed very easily by a specialist graphics contractor.

Posted in Shell Scheme & Small Stands  /  Stand graphics  /  Trade show ideas  /  Trade show marketing

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