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Target the 5 senses with your exhibition stand and campaign

June 26, 2015 | Laura Baines

Target the 5 senses with your exhibition stand

What’s the biggest challenge at any exhibition?

Standing out from the crowd and being REMEMBERED

‘It’s tempting to do what’s been done before, certain in the belief that if you do it, it’ll be a little better and a little more popular, merely because you’re the one doing it.

In fact, though, that’s unlikely. You’ll care more, but it’s unlikely the market will.’

Seth Goddin

We now live in a world where there is only an eight second time frame to grab someone’s attention. Our minds are constantly distracted by sights and sounds, advertising messages and our multiple mobile devices.

We’ve started cheating; taking mental shortcuts, to help us turn the overload of information our brains receive daily into something we can comprehend. We’re compelled by convenience, familiarity and our emotions when it comes to making decisions, not simply rational thought.

So what does this mean on the show floor?

Put simply, describing your product’s rational benefits with dowdy generic strap lines no longer grabs the attention of your audience on its own; it won’t make you stand out from the crowd.

However, all is not lost. Rather than solely relying on logic and what everyone else is doing, you can be different; try to make your audience feel something, try storytelling. We learn though stories, we engage with them and often our behaviour is influenced by them.

Target the 5 senses

How else do you make someone feel something? Well, literally through using all five senses, including touch, as they are all closely connected to memory and emotions. This will help your audience remember you and your offering for longer. Here’s how:


90% of the data we process is visual and of this we remember 80%! Our brains prefer visual content because it’s quicker to process. By using directional lighting to highlight key areas of your stand, and by using clear, bold graphics outlining your campaign theme, you stand a higher chance of drawing in your audience’s eye. However, relying solely on sight has its pitfalls – every exhibition stand in the hall will be utilising powerful visuals which are all competing against yours for the attention of the crowd.


While only 10% of what we hear we remember, there’s no denying the power sound has on our subconscious emotions. Sound can change feelings and moods and can instigate (or terminate) brand relationships as it impacts our behaviour, including our purchasing decisions. Consider whether you want visitors to linger on your stand and commit to buying your products, or whether you want a quick turnaround of visitors to ensure no lead gets missed, and adapt volume, tempo and tone of the music or sounds to suit.


Smell can increase sales. Considering that in the world of products and brand promotion, everything is about sight or sound and no one has really tapped into the power of smell, to help soothe our saturated senses. What’s really interesting is that smell has an immediate impact on the brain, and instantaneously triggers emotion, as it is the only sense to travel directly to the limbic system, bypassing processing. Try and be creative with your scents on a stand, but also relevant. If you sell luxury chocolates, pump out a rich smell of coco beans to lure the audience in.


Apart from buying food and trying the odd sample in your local supermarket, how often does taste come into the decision process? You don’t need to be in the food and drink industry to be remembered from utilising the taste sense. For example, at Marketing Week Live, Nimlok gave away energy drink deemed ‘fuel for exhibitions’. Whether visitors enjoyed the taste or not, the extra branded sensory experience drove home the campaign message ‘Fuel your exhibitions’.


Finally, don’t underestimate the power of touch. Studies have shown that when someone is encouraged to touch, hold and feel a product, this has a tendency to increase the feelings of perceived ownership and influence how likely and how much a customer is willing to pay for it. Even if the aim of your stand isn’t to sell physical products, consider how much more engaging it is for a visitor to physically experience something. This could really be anything from relevant giveaways, to product samples to even a game on your stand.

To find out more on how Nimlok can help you stand out from the crowd with winning stand design and engaging ideas, please contact us here.

Picture credit goes to Nicki Dugan Pogue, Five Senses, Flickr

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