Trade shows are a cost-effective way to reach consumers. A study concluded that the average cost of an in-person meeting at a prospect’s office is $259. The cost of the same face-to-face meeting at a trade show? $142.
Success at a trade show begins with planning far ahead of the event. First, you should set a measurable goal that guides your efforts. A clear, realistic goal motivates every member of your team.
Do you want to gain new leads or to close sales? Is the goal to build brand awareness? Are you launching a new product or promoting an existing one? These are some of the questions you should consider when you’re setting your goal(s).
Your objectives inform decisions on marketing materials, giveaways, and booth design, among other things. Think of the trade show as part of your marketing strategy.
Even when you know what you want to get out of exhibiting at a trade show, it can be overwhelming when considering the best strategies to achieve your goals. Keep reading to learn about different trade show ideas that will help you to produce the biggest return on your investment.
Build Momentum Before the Event
It takes more than a free pen and candy to attract the right people to your trade show booth. To drum up excitement and anticipation for your exhibit, it is good practice to promote the event ahead of time. Here are a few simple yet effective ways to tell everyone you’re attending the trade show:
- Add a notice to your company’s email signatures
- Send a newsletter to current and potential clients
- Engage with the trade show and its attendees on social media
- Write blogs and other social posts about the show
- Directly invite customers to attend the show
- Create a hashtag for the event – or get involved with an existing one
- Flaunt discounts that will be available at the trade show
Make sure anyone interested in your product or services knows where to find you at the event. Follow the organizer’s social accounts and share relevant posts with your followers.
These tactics create extra awareness and excitement about the upcoming show – and should lead to a higher volume of booth visitors.
Focus on Your Audience
Don’t try to appeal to everyone – it’s impossible to do so. Instead, do some research to understand who your target audience is, and what strategies they might be most receptive to.
Do your customers like loud and exciting displays? If so, then be sure to use bright colors, visuals, and sounds.
If your clients prefer calm, fill the booth with comfy seating and soothing colors. Always design your booth and marketing materials for your target audience.
See if you can access the registered attendee list before the event. Make sure to abide by any rules on what you can and can’t do with the list. Never spam all the attendees.
Look for current customers on the list. They’re your best source for sales and referrals. Contact them to arrange meetings, invite them to cocktails, and reveal special perks.
You can also leverage the list data to send custom messages to your ideal customer. Share useful information about the event and the host city, and invite them to visit you at the show. Make sure that you’re bringing value to the audience – instead of making it about your company, make it about what your brand can do to make their life better.
Include links and relevant hashtags so attendees can find you before, during, and after the event.
Ever-advancing interactive technologies offer more immersive and personalized experiences for trade show attendees than ever before. Use accessories like tablets, touchscreens, and digital signage to attract attention.
It’s much easier to engage attendees when your display contains eye-popping digital visuals. Adding that “wow” factor will encourage more social media posts and selfies, which provide you with more free publicity.
An interactive screen with a survey or contest is one way to capture email addresses. Visitors can provide their email addresses in exchange for a chance to win a prize.
It is also possible to successfully leverage technology that isn’t a part of your booth. Often, trade shows have apps that send push notifications to visitors in real-time. Exhibitors can use this technology to communicate with attendees through the app.
Utilizing app technology can allow your company to capture data, improve attendee engagement, and save money on printing. It’s also an intuitive and convenient method of communication for attendees.
Use the app to invite visitors to your booth for a presentation or contest. Always offer something of value and be sure to include a call-to-action.
Taking advantage of the endless possibilities to incorporate technology into your trade show exhibiting experience can pay dividends to your company if used correctly.
Offer a Special Discount
Trade show attendees expect freebies and discounts. Can you offer a special price for products or services purchased at the show?
This creates an urgent reason for attendees to buy. The discount can be anything from BOGO to a discount that’s only available at the event.
Customers often buy when they know they must act right away to take advantage of the deal.
Another option is to provide a discount code at your booth that works for a limited time after the show. You can track sales related to the code to determine the ROI.
No matter what kind of deals you decide to offer, establishing a sense of urgency can strongly encourage customers who are on the fence about your products or services to make a purchase on the spot.
Strategic Layout Ideas
Regardless of whether or not you have a prime booth location at the trade show, your booth’s layout is tremendously important.
What are people going to see first as they approach your booth? Are they coming from the side or front?
Will people pass your booth on the way to an auditorium or food court? Consider all the foot traffic patterns before arranging items in your booth.
A corner booth is a challenge since people can enter from more than one direction.
Lighting is an important component. The way your lights are set up can influence where passersby look first – which can, in turn, determine if they are interested in visiting your booth or not.
You can also create drama for a new product with a spotlight. Lamps convey a warm and inviting space. Lights in display cases can illuminate your products to bring your visuals to the next level.
If it’s your first trade show, get expert advice on your booth design. The pros can guide you on optimizing your lighting, visuals, and displays in ways that will look fantastic in any location.
Create a Seating Area
Trade show attendees spend a lot of time on their feet. Adding a couch and a couple of big chairs to your space can turn your booth into a much-needed resting spot for trade show attendees. Invite visitors to sit and relax.
Create a seating area that matches your message. Use colors and furniture that complement your brand and its products.
Display these products in their natural setting. For example, a company that sells adventure gear could create a cozy, rustic cabin.
Once people sit, you can start a conversation and show them what you have to offer.
Add a Charging Station
People want to charge their phones as much as they want to sit in a chair. Provide both and you’ll have a popular booth.
A charging station is always appreciated. People stay as long as it takes to charge their phones, and this affords you an invaluable opportunity – a captive audience. Take advantage of the opening to engage them in conversation.
Attendees prefer water over candy at trade shows. A bottle of water helps people stay hydrated as they traverse the long rows of the trade show.
Brand your bottles with a custom wrapper. Other attendees who see the bottle will find your booth to get their own.
Make sure you have enough water bottles to accommodate the crowd. You can slow the number of giveaways by making it a prize for playing a game.
This is an effective way to provide value to customers while getting your brand out on the trade show floor for more people to see and hear about.
Use Visual Marketing
Use visual marketing more than text when designing your booth. People respond immediately to images, whereas they may not be willing to stop and read a long message.
Keep the message clear and concise. Always use your brand’s colors and style for recognition.
Extend the visual identity to your staff. Everyone should dress in brand colors. Incorporate a logo on a shirt or hat so booth staffers are easy to identify.
Choose matching outfits that suit the business. The staff for a finance company may dress in suits or business casual. Staff for an athletic shoe company could wear sportswear.
Either way, a cohesive team looks professional and builds an identity for your brand.
Entertain the Attendees
Entertainment is a popular strategy for increasing trade show booth traffic. It attracts attention and keeps people interested in what you’re offering.
For a complete win, make the entertainment about your product. A product demonstration that includes drama or humor is a good choice.
Effective branded entertainment has lots of appeal. If it’s connected to or complements your business, then it’s easy for staff to engage with visitors.
An experienced entertainer can include key brand benefits or products in the act. This works for magicians, fortune tellers, singers, artists, and comedians.
It’s a clever way to put your message in front of your audience in a memorable way.
Interactive games like money-blowing machines, game shows, and virtual experiences draw traffic. Make sure your staff encourages visitors to take part. It’s another way to begin a relationship with potential buyers.
Add a photo booth to your display for built-in entertainment. People love posing for photos with coworkers and friends. Add a branded backdrop and props to the photo booth.
When visitors enjoy their experience, they will remember your brand. Make sure your products and selling points are part of the entertainment.
Samples and Branded Giveaways
Trade show attendees expect freebies. They don’t care if it’s a pen, hat or flashlight. Most will take home anything they can get.
The best giveaways are samples of your product.
Demo the product in action. Show how your product solves a problem. Let them taste, touch, and try on the product in your booth.
Hand out samples people can try at home. People love the chance to try a product before they buy it. Use branded giveaways so consumers can find you online later.
If your budget is tight, use a game to distribute samples. Create an activity consumers must win to receive a giveaway item.
While people wait in line to play, your staff can engage them in conversation. Give out a variety of items to keep the game interesting.
Use Social Media During the Event
Start conversations on social media and continue them during the trade show.
Stay active on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter throughout the event. It’s a good way to engage with followers and fans who attend the trade show.
Invite them to visit you. Announce demonstrations, giveaways, and samples happening at your booth.
Use These Trade Show Ideas at Your Next Event
These trade show ideas can help increase traffic at your next event. If you still have questions, contact us today.
We can help with everything from a portable booth to building a custom exhibit.