In the world of copy writing, the term swipe file is commonly used.  Bob Bly, a master copy writer says:

A “swipe” file is a collection of promotions you have collected
from other marketers.

“A good swipe file is better than a college education,” says my
old direct marketing professor, master copywriter Milt Piece.

As trade show marketers, we can collect ideas on promotions, booth design, etc. on the show floor.  What your colleagues are creating on the floor is worth looking at with the eyes of wonderment and how can it be applied in a different way for your next show.

If there is another show, outside your industry that is in the convention center, I would recommend that you gain access to it and walk around.  You will pick up many ideas for those exhibitors which can be applied to your exhibiting.

In Bob Bly’s newsletter, he provides a good example of using the swipe file for creation of a headline for an ad.

A good example is a recent print ad I saw for the Stauer
Titanium watch.

The ad shows a large photo of the watch.

The headline above it reads:

“We Apologize that It Loses 1 Second Every 20 Million Years.”

The style and approach seem, to me anyway, to be inspired by the classic David Ogilvy Rolls Royce ad.

The headline for Ogilvy’s ad for Rolls Royce was:

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce
comes from the electric clock.”

If Stauer’s ad was for a car, it would seem derivative of the
Ogilvy ad — not very original.

But Stauer has created a compelling ad by adapting Ogilvy’s
straightforward, fact-based copy approach to a watch.

On the Hunt for New Ideas

With a questioning mind, approach other exhibits at your show or another show  and see what you can “borrow.”  Is it:

  • the graphics in the display
  • unusual combination of colors
  • booth layout
  • a contest or game
  • flooring
  • uniforms of the booth personnel
  • any unique sights or sounds
  • etc.

Most smart phones have a camera and I would suggest that you take pictures to remind you later the ideas you have found.    This immersion into exploring the show floor allows you to create brilliant new ideas for your future exhibiting.  It is so rich to have a live experience with these new concepts, ideas rather than reading about them in a magazine or online.  So take advantage of the opportunity and invest time in the exploration activity.