Trade Show Video Length
We are venturing into using video at our next trade show and I was looking around for this answer and cannot find one. My question is "What is the ideal cycle time for footage at a trade show?"
We have a 5-minute video about our company to show along with some product videos and maybe a powerpoint presentation. The product videos might run about 10-15 minutes total. We are going to loop the video so it constantly plays on three TV's in our booth. I am looking for the ideal time a looped video should run.
I'm going to say, you need a 1 to 2-minute loop with the basics on it, and a second display running something with more details. It should be understandable even without any audio, because trade shows are noisy environments and many people passing the booth from a distance make their snap decision with their eyes first. And they decide to walk up or move on in about five seconds, so keep the video SHORT, kinetic, and use images that are simple and clear even viewed from a distance without sound.
Powerpoints on the trade show floor? I'd rather eat a bug. Think more along the lines of commercials. Giving out the details is what your sales floor staff manning the booth are for. The video should:
3Entertain or reward viewing in some way.
These days attention spans are so short, and I'd say especially so at trade shows where people are prone to quickly wander around, the shorter the better.
We've done a few trade show videos that were literally 10, 15, even 20 minutes long. I personally thing that's asinine and a waste of money. All of the trade shows we produced for were pretty high-techy in subject matter... so the crowds were 95% men (or more), waves of nerds (sorry, but true), all there wearing the giveaway tee-shirt they got in their registration packet, carry a bag of swag and watching the videos we produced for only a minute or so before moving on to see if the giveaway keychains and thumbdrives at the next booth were better (unless the videos were loaded with attractive scantily-clad women... which I've seen plenty of especially at the "geekier" trade shows). Not to be sexist (or reverse-sexist), but I think a show more geared toward women (or both genders) would have a little more watch time.
My personal opinion is that I would never go more than 2-3 minutes, max. Maybe even shorter.
Also keep in mind that most trade shows are very noisy affairs, you often cannon hear a video presentation well. I've seen so many videos running in trade show booths where they eventually just turn the sound down (probably partially because the booth staff has gone insane after hearing it loop for three days). So visual impact is good... and it's not a bad idea if the piece fairly adequately tells the story (or at least reasonably gives a flavor of it) with no sound up at all.
It's a bit of the same argument that I have to make with new clients who come here for commercial production. That commercial shouldn't tell you everything you need to know about the product... just get the phone to ring or walk in the door. Same with the trade show vid... it should just whet the appetite enough to get them interested, and that's when the company reps in the booth take over for the real sales pitch. That's what they're there for.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Mark and I wrote virtually exactly the same thing, at the same time.
Of course I blathered on a lot more about it (which is strange, that's usually Mark's MO).
OUCH!... just kidding MS.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
It's more polite to say my answers are "comprehensive".:-)
Some day I hope we work together on a job because we seem to think alike so often.
We have been doing trade shows for many years. This will be the first time we have TV's. We have a 20 x 30 booth. We plan to put two 52" TV's at the entrance on each corner with an open middle. One other 52" TV will go in the back far corner. Our booth is at the entrance to the show so it will be seen and hopefully heard. All three TV's will be playing the same thing at the same time. There will be soundbar's on each TV. The original video we want to show is about our company (has Terry Bradshaw talking) that is about 4-5 minutes long and the others (7 about a minute long or so) show product usage with no voice but has music. The seven videos have bookends (we do have the videos without bookends) which I think we will put the ones without the bookends on. Our Director of Marketing wants a few slides with info running on it somewhere (we have not figured it out yet). We will also have 2 kiosks in our booth to demonstrate our new website. There also will be product in the booth (some prototypes) to gain some industry feedback. We always have a busy booth so we are trying to see how long someone's attention span would be to watch the TV's to see the video about our company. I am estimating about 10 minutes long with looping. Do you think it is too long? Thanks for the feedback.
Yes, I think it's too long. Like I said before, 1-2 minutes, max. The purpose of a trade show display is not to teach them everything about how to build a clock, but rather, to tell them what time it is.
Attract them to stop and notice the new item, and have your sales staff poised to strike at anybody that looks like they are reacting positively, and hit them with a brochure and a sales line. That is the 1-2 punch you want.
NOBODY makes an order from standing there watching the attract loop. The attract loop is there to snag them into stopping just long enough for the sales staff to work them. Playing longer videos is a waste of time and mostly a vanity thing for the boss. Nobody but the boss and the booth staff will watch the whole thing, your conventioneers will not stand still for 7 minutes to view this unless you're offering free foot massages at the same time.
Attract loops attract. It does not make sales. SALESMEN and SALESWOMEN/ consultants/guides make the sales. If not, you'd be doing better to skip the trade show and just put up a web site.
Instead of all the screens running the same thing, I suggest you either stagger the playbacks, so a different part of the 7-10 minute thing is on each, or run a completely different vid on each. Have only Bradshaw's sound bar on. You paid big money for him and they're going to make you use all of him, right or wrong. An alternative is to alternate the loops with a live cam shot of a real presenter, so the more skittish visitors can watch from afar without feeling like they are going to get pounced on.
Have high vis signage with QR codes next to each prototype. The new paradigm is all about the Second Screen Experience and multi-screening in real time. The QR code should take people to a page with all the details and a box for texting you their reactions or suggestions, plus a facebook link they can send on to their industry buddies. If they text something, you should send them a promo gift or something for taking the time.
What can happen is they will be too busy to stay, but if they can snap a picture with a smartphone, they will be able to look at your site later, where they can download the Bradshaw video or whatever, while they eat or rest. You're buying a second opportunity to reach them.
[Barbara Adams] "....10 minutes long with looping. Do you think it is too long? "
We'll personally I think (and you have to imagine Andy Griffith's voice saying this) that's "Waaaaaaay yonder too long."
I just know I personally have never watched a 10 minute video in a trade show booth, likely never would, nor have ever seen anyone do so.
It's a shame that you have to have all your monitors running the same show. Your entrance monitor is just going to be getting walk-by or walk-in traffic, I doubt anyone is going to stand there and watch for a length of time... and if they do they are just clogging up either the entrance or the aisle, or both (I run into this on location sets all the time... why do people think they are being out of the way when they are standing in doorways?... that's the last place I want someone to park themselves). In a perfect world, I'd run a short dynamic loop there, maybe 30 seconds or a minute tops, that can run MOS. Since you have a big booth, those monitors at the back could run longer pieces that tell more of your story, with sound on those, and if you have a comfy sofa or at least nice chairs you'll get some people parking for a longer period... especially if by then people are tired of walking or standing and/or there's a convenient candy dish.
Of course that's a double edged sword. We've only done it once, but our company attended a trade show as a vendor once. Since everything about our company has a very retro look, we fully re-created a 60's-era living room in our booth, with our portfolio stuff playing on the vintage TV (actually a disguised modern monitor). We had a very nice mid-century modern sofa in the booth... one that another vendor from an adjacent booth parked his fat butt on a good fifty percent of the time. Sheesh.
Back to the original question... yeah, I'd keep 'em short short.
And no, Mark, we can never actually work together together... we'd kill each other.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
I'm really just after your knockoff Naguchi cocktail table, Todd.:-) It goes with my fake Eames lounger.
We're both still reading each other's minds with these posts, that should tell Barb something about consensus.
The context of how and where the video is shown has to drive how you structure the presentation. Attract loop at the entrance, More detailed pieces at the watering hole where people actually want to make the time to rest and get details.
You will want to keep the speakers zoned such that they don't garble over each other, and compete for attention. A seating area or bar of some sort, with stools, is where you show the Bradshaw thing, accompanied by fliers, brochures, take-aways, etc.
The strongest point I want to make is, the videos don't do your sales job for you. They can set a mood, give a flavor, tantalize with an introduction, and show you visual examples of the product being used by People Like You, the Buyer...creating identification with the product and brand.
If you count on the video to do all the heavy lifting of engaging the customer and guiding them thru making an order, you've lost them, because this venue is not the place for that kind of video.
I agree with many of both Mark and Todd's posts - here are a few trade show rules (some repeat Mark and Todd's points):
The average attention span of a trade show attendee walking past your booth is 15 seconds.
Your video should convey your information with the sound on or off -many tradeshows do not allow speakers, other than in enclosed booths.
Keep your company or product name on the screen at all times, either as a bug or a bar - you may only get 15 seconds.
The video is meant as an attractant - and also to keep people at your booth while your sales people are talking with others.
Here's a link to how some of the "big boys" use video at trade shows, and why (aimed at YouTube use, but good ideas in general):
Two of those videos committed a cardinal sin: crappy audio off the camera-mounted shotgun, too far from the speaker. Worst mistake ever.
I didn't watch all of them, but that's sure a basic, video 101 no-no if there ever was one. But that said, I've seen some self-produced stuff (by big companies who should know better) which uses copyrighted music, has graphics which would make Ray Charles cringe, and presents absolutely nothing to detain the tourist.
Thanks everyone for your feedback. I am going to go back to my team and talk with them about it and what I learned from your posts!
I attend several trade shows per year as both exhibitor and visitor.
The subject matter does not matter - the concept is the same:
A booth on an exhibit floor, chock full of other booths, wants people to enter the perimeter of the booth so as to be approached by a sales or marketing person.
At a lot of booths, plasmas are used as signage, often in the vertical configuration showing PPT loops or motion graphics with some subtle ambient music playing. These are simply that - signage.
Some booths have a specially made loop produced, either specific to the convention and city, or just something generic to use at all of their meetings.
In my world, surgery, the loops are either motion graphics about some new medical device, with or without clinical footage, or simply a highly edited montage of clinical footage demonstrating the application of the device. As in other specialty areas, some of the videos are Madison Ave quality, some are Flip Cam quality, and most are somewhere in the middle.
Putting a talking head in one of these loops is nearly useless due to the noise level in the exhibit hall which usually resembles the VAB at NASA. The audience may see someone they recognize but unless they are nose to nose with the screen they won't hear it.
Consider your neighbors also. We have endured hours of listening to the same 3 minute loop from a neighboring booth. Eventually the brain tunes it out, almost.
So your goal is to get people into the booth. In the medical world the best way is to show something clinical, as that is most relevant to the viewer (ie, a rhinoplasty). Find the equivalent of a rhinoplasty in your own industry, keep it short, to the point, high quality, not too loud, not too talky-heady, some sales pitch but mostly visual and you will be moving in the right direction.
If you want long testimonials from the CEO and users, throw those on your website or hand out flash drives or make a freely available mobile app.
I believe your work must run perfectly.
Also thank you for sharing your works that give me some ideas on my work.
I also shoot and produce quite a few trade show videos every year since I am based in Chicago. When I am not actively shooting and have a break, I wander the aisles looking for prospective clients plus I love swag: keychains, pens, free snacks. So I always look at the booths' videos to spot trends.
Also, I get several free marketing and sales mags and have seen studies that people flowing down an aisle will make a decision within 6 seconds whether to continue watching your video. Here's what I have concluded and learned from my clients, many of whom are marketing agencies:
• The video can not be dependent on it's audio, since the noise level of the hall my be too high. Also, booth attendants tend to go nuts listening to it over and over and often turn the audio off, even though it's their own video.
• Due to the above point I have seen a trend over the last few years for trade show videos to be very text/graphic/factoid dependent, tailoring it's message (cheaply) to the particular audience of that show. By doing this the video becomes even more audio independent.
• The video needs to have a Call to Action that preferably results in them talking to the booth personnel.
• The video can not be over 2:30 or so, no way.
So in sum, I have seen a trend away from mainly live action trade show loops which is a bad sign for me, a live action cameraman. Even talking heads are irrelevant in a noisy environment. I suggest a total re-edit with heavy reliance on interesting, moving text. It's OK to have a music track to draw attention to the video but beware that it may be turned off. You'll have to lose Bradshaw.