Allocating Limited Exhibit Space to a Growing Product Portfolio

Sparks Marketing
Exhibit spatial heirarchy

Who’s ready to talk exhibit spatial hierarchy?

You’re enjoying market success with your single offering and have established a strong and loyal customer following.

Enter offering number 2…or 3…or 4.

How do you remain true to your original market success, while introducing new healthcare products and services and allowing them to be showcased in their own right?

Maybe it’s even more complex.

Maybe these new offerings aren’t organic, but via acquisition. Your organization elects to acquire these other companies and offerings for a purpose. You don’t want to squelch the brand equity they are building and the loyal following they enjoy, yet you still must demonstrate some level of cohesion in your company’s combined exhibit floor space.

You’re not alone in this challenge. With more than 280 health services and technology mergers and acquisitions in theU.S. in Q3 2019, you can bet other medical companies have been tackling the integration process.

And, more than likely, as convention manager for your company, you may encounter a situation where the powers-that-be plan and execute the M&A in isolation and then lob it over the fence to the exhibit team to determine how to integrate products with little-to-no direction.

You got this. Let’s break down exhibit spatial hierarchy.

Establishing a hierarchy

There are several forms of hierarchy in exhibit design – visual, typographical, architectural, spatial – each helping designers plan on what the clinician will see first and where his/her eyes flow next.

For our purposes, we will concentrate on exhibit spatial hierarchy or how you might allocate space to a corporate message, product features/benefits, calls to action, and – in our case – a growing product portfolio.

Questions you might ask yourself (and your teammates) when determining what products get what amount of space on the show floor, include:

  1. What is the company focus for this year and this meeting? Do my product space allocations reflect the corporate plan?
  2. How established is each product’s market? Is there brand awareness and a customer base that needs to be protected?
  3. What are the synergies between products in the portfolio? How might I tie them together under one care area or disease state?
  4. Can my products physically occupy two different exhibit spaces near one another, to help reinforce each offering’s unique value proposition and target audience so as not to dilute either message in a singular booth space?
  5. Is one of my products likely to be a bigger draw to our booth and the catalyst to engage more clinicians? Can I leverage it as a pull-through for the entire portfolio?
  6. Are there any contractual obligations that require me to devote a percentage of space to a newly acquired product or service?

The answers to these and other questions that may come from this discovery phase will likely reveal the path for your space allocations.

No, it’s not easy. And your situation will always be unique and multi-faceted, which makes a blog article on exhibit spatial hierarchy impossible to deliver you a solution on a silver platter. However, the exploratory questions and dialogue with your teammates will pave the way.

Additional considerations

If a product is a new acquisition, help the original brand ease its way into the mothership portfolio. Don’t assimilate it too quickly where loyal customers cannot find the acquired product on the show floor or in the acquiring company booth. If you need to reflect a merging portfolio on the horizon, consider taking the new product/company logo and colorizing it to match yours. This communicates change is imminent to the market, but that you’re taking it slow and honoring both acquiring and acquired company’s histories.

If products are synergistic, then develop a sort of patient care pathway or workflow to make the products make sense and come to life at the time of need in the patient’s treatment plan. This will resonate with the clinician and be a building block for future integrated marketing campaigns for the entire portfolio.

If products are NOT synergistic, then make some determination based on the importance of the product in terms of revenue contributions (existing or future), what may be exciting to grab attention and pull through for other products in the booth, and what can possibly be managed best under a disease state or care area moniker (i.e., “Home Health” and all those products in one section and “ICU” products in another section).

Consider even acquiring a smaller satellite booth space near your larger island space to showcase each product uniquely where, as Robyn Davis, exhibitor education, booth staff training and strategic consultant says on exhibit spatial hierarchy, “You’ll be giving each part of your overall brand an easier way to attract the right attention for it and giving your internal representatives a chance to partner (vs. compete) on-site if they choose.”

And, hopefully, if the products aren’t that synergistic in terms of use, there must be some logic to the acquisition or development. Whatever that may be, leverage the overarching market message that is formulating within your company.

Finally, offers Robyn Davis on exhibit spatial hierarchy, “When considering multiple products for a trade show, sometimes the best answer is actually to highlight fewer products, more effectively. With such a limited opportunity to attract your target audience into your booth, take advantage of other opportunities (like pre-show marketing, sponsorships, and partnering) to communicate all relevant offerings.”