Boring Exhibitor Sales Brochures

Boring Exhibitor Sales Brochures

by Jim Curry

I am neck deep in exhibitor sales brochures at the moment. That involves reading endless exhibition statistics, questionable exhibitor testimonials, and vomit-inducing openers from organizers.

It is a very boring and predictable process, because 85% of them are templated tosh.

When reading the brochures, you can normally tell quite quickly the 15% of marketing teams that are trying to up their game and the other 85% who are just updating the previous years’ copy and taking instruction from very shouty event directors.

(Message to the 15%: Nice one, loving your work!)

The exhibitor sales brochure has been around for years and, although the layouts and graphics have undoubtedly improved, the format and tone have remained pretty much unchanged over the years and across the sectors:

“The must-attend event for the industry,” said a faceless sales exec.

‘A great place to meet all the relevant people under one roof,” said no one, ever.

“95% of attendees did business as a result of attending,” claims a crappy stat.

That last one was actually featured in a brochure and made me want to smash my own face in.

The problem with exhibitor brochures, quite simply: they lack authenticity and integrity.

The quotes have either been primed or edited to within an inch of their lives; and the stats have been formed from leading questions.

I can’t be alone in thinking this, right?

But what can you do, if you want to up your game when it comes to exhibitor brochures?

Well, there are loads of things you can do with the existing format (as in, tons); but one of the popular trends is to switch the format.

As everyone knows, people are going absolutely bonkers for video. To save you some time, here are the video facts:

  • Online video will account for 74% of all web traffic
  • More video content is uploaded in a single month than TV has created in 3 decades
  • 75% of business execs watch work-related videos each week

See, absolutely bonkers.

So, it makes sense to flip the brochure to a video format; but here’s the thing… all the videos I have seen suffer the same fate as the brochures… they still lack authenticity, realism and integrity.

Exhibitor sales collateral, irrespective of format, need to focus on one thing: authentic storytelling.

Nail that, and you have yourself a winning formula.

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite podcasts, Start Up, inadvertently produced one of the most authentic endorsements for a tradeshow I have ever come across.

It narrated the story of an inventor/exhibitor and his two experiences (ten years apart) at Toy Fair in the New York.

It’s a great listen and it encapsulated the energy of the show in quick sound bites. It also highlighted the wider business impact for exhibitors outside the halls of the convention center.

Probably because it wasn’t produced by the organizer, the podcast talked about the real-world trials, tribulations, pain, success, and impact of the tradeshow for that particular exhibitor.

I loved its honesty. It felt right and real. It told a story.

Personally, if I were an inventor or small business in the toy market, it would have convinced me to exhibit… and that’s an emotive reaction the majority of the boring brochures and videos fail to spark.

Have a listen. The podcast is half an hour long, but you can play it in the background if you’re busy.

For me, podcasts are one of the strongest story formats, and I am absolutely hooked on them. You can pretty much assume that if I have my headphones in when I am walking, driving, cycling, exercising, or working, I will be listening to a podcast.

I think it’s one of the least utilized formats in the exhibition industry… and massively overlooked.

Bringing it back…

  • Exhibitor brochures can be so much more than the boring pdfs we are used to seeing.
  • They can be produced in many different formats and on many different platforms.
  • But if they don’t tell a story in an engaging, authentic way, it doesn’t matter whether they are print, digital, video, or podcast. They will remain boring.

Jim Curry is Owner of Exhibitor Smarts. Opinions are his own. He can be reached through his website at

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