The Quick Guide to Preparing Your English Trade Show Documents

Is your exhibition material ready for printing?

By Bob Cook

Considerations when marketing documents

The first consideration is the audience who will attend the exhibition? Are they?

  • Retail purchasers searching for products to sell
  • Manufacturer representatives looking for OEM suppliers
  • Research engineers looking for solutions to problems
  • Journalists looking for news stories
  • Corporate purchasers looking to buy in bulk
  • End users looking to buy for themselves

When there is likely to be a mixture choose your target customers. Once you work out who your customers are, grab a sheet of paper and make a list of their needs.

Use this list as the basis of your exhibition material, write your documents as an answer to their needs.

The second consideration is how the exhibition material fits into the overall marketing plan. The marketer must insure that the messages match those used in other marketing documents and the company marketing strategy.

The Text

Writing the headline

Write a headline that offers a benefit to the buyer. There are many forms of headline available you can use; state a fact, use a how to pattern, use a customer testimonial. But one of the easiest patterns to use is a question “Do you want to improve yield by 3 percent?”, “Why do your netbooks use 20 of their power for their backlight?” Write a headline that makes the buyer need your product, so they must read the main text.

Getting the first paragraph right

Look at the first paragraph of any story in a newspaper and you’ll see that it is a summary of the rest of the article. You need to do the same with you exhibition material – summarize your key selling point. Getting the first paragraph right is the key to getting your potential customer to read the rest of the material.

Writing the main body of the text

Use the acronym C.L.E.A.R. for your writing:

  • Clearly written and presented – this means goods sentences, no misspellings, no grammar errors, no Chinese-English and no hard to read fonts.
  • Lean – when we say lean we mean no fat, when we describe writing as lean it means no unnecessary words. Write directly and strongly like Hemingway.Carefully choose specific verbs, so you don’t have to write complex explanations for processes.
  • Exact – the more exact your statements are the easier they are to accept and believe. That means that saying “Our customers have saved a significant amount on their electricity bills” is far less effective than saying “Our customers have saved an average of 17% on their electricity bills”. Make sure that specifications are easy to find and accurate.
  • Aim – Before you write, consider the aim of the material. Each time you give a document to a customer there should be a specific action you want from them. Is your exhibition material there – to re-enforce your salesperson’s message, to convert those who walked away from your booth, to get contact information, to get samples sent, or to focus on a single strong advantage that will make them place an immediate order?
  • Relevant – your customer has a set of needs, keep your writing relevant to those needs, and provide information to get them to buy from you. Every time you write a sentence or paragraph think, “How can I make this relevant to my customer’s needs?”

Other useful pieces of advice are:

Try and keep the sentences short and readable. When describing technical subjects it’s easy to write very long complex sentences. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but often it would be far better to break these sentences down into shorter ones. If you have to explain very complex processes; use numbered lists, bullet points or a diagram.

Remember to write for the buyer not yourself. When writing focus on write words about “your customer”, “your product”,” you” and reduce the number of times you use “we”, “our product” or “our company”.

Repeat important facts. It is easy to miss things if you’re reading though many documents. This means that you need to repeat key benefits in more than one part of the text.

Use the correct technical words. Writers who know that their English isn’t that good need to start by making a list of all the key words that they will use before they write the copy. Then use an English- English dictionary to check the usage of the words.

Layout guide

How much does layout matter? To be honest it doesn’t matter as much as the text, but good layout gets your text noticed and gets your text read.

At the end of an exhibition your customers will have a lot a material; you need to make sure that they can find your company’s product details. Make your style is distinctive enough to standout.

You should make the visuals strong and eye catching. The less unique your product is the stronger and more important the layout is, because you need to make it onto the customer’s short list. An effective way of doing this is to include a large close up of the product as the main image.

Because our mind searches for faces an image of a person will catch the eye more than just a product. Even if you are an OEM do include product images so the customer can see what it looks like.

If the product is a service, include a simple diagram to make it easier to visualize.

If possible include a positive image of an end user, your customers goal is to make his customers happy.

The simplest way to layout your text and images is to use the rule of thirds. Divide the space between images and text into thirds. Place key images, messages and data where the lines cross. Divide the material areas along these thirds.

A few words about fonts:

San-serf fonts are clear and good for headlines or tables.

Fonts with serifs are better for any longer sentences or paragraphs, because they are easier to read.

Avoid cute or fancy fonts, they tend to make exhibition material look like it was designed by a Junior High School Student.

Make sure your choice of font matches the content and the other visuals. If you use soft visuals for a green product, use a soft font. Fonts with hard bold lines match a hard professional image.

Don’t use sizes smaller than 11 points or bigger than 90 both are hard to read. Customers will subconsciously feel negative if your handout becomes a reading test.

Avoid these mistakes

  • Making grammar & spelling errors – nothing says unprofessional like basic spelling mistakes and obvious grammar errors. Check and correct these mistakes.
  • Leaving one side blank – your customers have your materials in their hands. This is your chance to sell to them, don’t waste half of it.
  • Not having enough contrast in the colors – both text and images need to be clear and easy to see. To make the content stand out from the background avoid similar brightness levels.
  • No call to action – at the end of reading your exhibition handout the customer needs to be told the next step he should take. The purpose of the document is to lead them down the path to giving you a purchase order, a call to action is a guidepost on that path. A good call to action re-enforces the main message “Test our new high accuracy GPS for your product – call Jenny on 01 111 1111 for chipset samples”
  • The Content Not Written from Target Customer’s View, Language, and Culture: First, please remember the documents you use in English trade show is for your target customer not for you. Even you think your English ability is very good, you must still understand that words which have one meaning in one context will often mean something very different in another sentence. Not only this but different countries have such different cultures and reading preferences. England for example, they like to describe the products in a humorous way, and don’t like to describe them very directly. In contrast, Americans always tend to be direct in their descriptions. So before you write the documents, please undertake research about your customer and check every piece of vocabulary in detail. This way you will be able to avoid conflicts caused by language and culture gaps. The best suggestion for you is finding an English native copywriter who can write for your customers and enable them understand your unique advantages.