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Learning Retention Rates at Trade Shows

Many trade show exhibitors focus on visually standing out from the crowd. I cannot argue that the initial appeal of a booth is a pivotal factor in exhibit design. However, qualified leads do not only have to be drawn to a booth, but they need to remember qualities of the products after an exhausting trip. Exhibitors often rely on beliefs that the products will speak for themselves, but that should not be left up to chance among all the distractions and competition.

There is a theory based on Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience that has been taught by educational institutions for years that can be adopted to make sense in a trade show environment. Utilizing this, an exhibitor can increase the rate of retention about his product by engaging visitors’ senses with hands-on activities within his booth space.

 

Muzak Trade Show Exhibit

Even without a tangible product, Muzak was able to employ all methods of learning in their prize winning exhibit.

A typical exhibitor relies on the sight and sound of his product, which employ only a visitor’s eyes and ears. This will generally amount to a weak 5-10% rate of retention. An audio-visual video can increase the rate by another 10%. If an exhibitor then utilizes an actual product demonstration within his booth space, it can add another 10%. Basic math tells you these efforts combined can only bring the total retention to 30% at best, which isn’t an ideal number even before factoring in the effects of distracting competition, tiring schedules and visitors’ different learning styles.

Integrating audience involvement with discussions about the benefits and features of the product could increase the rate of retention an additional 20%. Now we’re getting to a more acceptable range of retention rate, but it could be even better!

If the visitor practices with the product on hand in the booth space, it can possibly add another 25% to their rate of retention. The visitor is now using all his senses for a total of up to 75% retention. But don’t be satisfied with just that.

By learning and practicing in the booth space, a visitor has the potential to reach a level of 75-90% rate of retention! Incorporating all methods is by far the most successful technique. While the total rate actually achieved depends on the individuals and environment involved, employing all senses and education methods provides the most reliable chance of visitors remembering the product more than another.

Therefore, if an exhibitor at a trade show really wants his potential leads to remember his product and services after the show, he will need to engage as many visitors’ senses as his trade show budget allows.

Here again are the approximate Learning Rates of Retention:

Sensory Method                                                        Total Retention
See/Hear – Sales Presentation…………………………….…5%
Reading Sales Literature……………………………………….10%
Audio Visual Product Presentation………………………20%
Product Demonstration……………………………………….30%
Interactive Discussion………………………………………….50%
Learning and Practicing……………………………………75-90%

James McElherne is the VP of Sales EDE Corporation, a Chicago exhibit company that designs and builds rental and custom trade show exhibits. Add me on and comment below.

One comment to Learning Retention Rates at Trade Shows

  • Jamie Rutter  says:

    Great thoughts, helps me think more about the five senses in my exhibit design!

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