Some sort of on-screen attractor has become a common part of an exhibition stand design. But their effectiveness is less consistent. Fair enough, not everyone has the budget to commission Pixar for the 3D graphics, with voice-over by Johnny Depp and music composition from Andrew Lloyds-Underwriter.
But given some sideways thinking, you might be able to make the playing field more level than you thought.
The silent salesman approach has a great deal to recommend it. A good rolling presentation adds movement to the stand and gives exhibition visitors an insight about your proposition. If you've got the message right it will raise questions in their mind and so encourage them to open a conversation.
But what happens when the stand gets busy?
It's invariably true that the contact you've been trying to get to for the last three years arrives on the stand while you're trying to disengage from the bloke who wants to tell you that your competitors are giving away better biros. By the time you've given him a mouse mat and a realtively polite dismissal you've missed your opportunity.
Interactivity proved itself decades ago as a way of getting information across and keeping visitors happy and entertained: think of the buttons you've pushed on those school trips to the science museum. So should you go for the silent salesman to attract visitors, or the interactive experience to anchor them until you're ready to chat? Or do you need to double the budget and opt for both?
A great many of our exhibition projects do both. Left to their own devices they run unattended, so passers-by get the full benefit of a rolling attractor display. But move the mouse or touch a key and they switch instantly to interactive mode. Strangely, this usually proves an even stronger attractor. If what's going on at the keyboard is echoed on a large, high-level screen, people walking by the stand become intrigued to see what the current operator is doing. They'll often wait for their own turn at the computer, and your stand's populated with busy, interested visitors.
One difficult decision that faces you is whether your exhibition multimedia should include sound. There's no denying that a good soundtrack makes for strong persuasion. But just wait until you've heard it for the hundredth time. By the end of the exhibition day your feet hurt, that crisp, corporate shirt is developing mildly embarrassing stains, and your voice is starting to sound like Tom Waits on today's 53rd Marlboro.
You're not in a good mood. That music sting that you thought was dynamic and challenging when we first played it to you now sounds like the ice cream man from hell. If you could find the voice-over artist you'd demonstrate a new and unexpected use for your keystone product.
And that's when it's your own soundtrack. What about the people on the next stand?
As we said, it's a difficult decision. The best answer's probably a compromise. By all means add sound - and if you commission us to compose the music you'll make some of our more talented bods particularly happy - but don't make it an integral part of the production. Check that it still works and makes sense when it's running silently, that way you can leave it in quiet mode for most of the day and switch on the sound son et lumière extravaganza when you want a bit of extra drama.