Walking the floor of any trade show is an exercise in sensory overload. Masses of people, sights, sounds, and sometimes even smells, all compete for the attention of the attendees. How do you stand out from the crowd?
You’ve got to get them to stop, look and then step into your booth to listen. It’s all about making that first impression. Successful trade show marketing and promotion depends on several important factors to help build brand awareness and trust.
Be a Showstopper
You only have a few seconds to convey your message, so go big with compelling images, colors and graphics. Remember to keep your message simple, make it clear and easy to understand. Trade show visitors usually have an agenda—they’re looking for companies that can help their business. Telling customers who you are and why you’re there is your most important message.
Make your booth personalized and unique to you and your company. Your space should be a representation of your brand personality. Everyone starts with a block of concrete floor and some pipe & drape—it’s how you fill that space that makes the difference.
Give visitors more reasons to remember your company name by creating an impression. Beyond graphics, you can stand out by offering interactive opportunities for visitors. Games to play, promotional goodies to give away, contests, demonstrations, even places to sit or charge their phones. The unexpected draws attention too. Belkin built a double decker booth that resembled an average home to showcase their new home-automation system. A cardboard box company created their entire space out of their own boxes. It was recyclable and memorable. It’s okay to draw people in for a non-sales event and then begin the selling process.
Focus on current design trends so your booth stands out from the crowd. Make it feel less like a booth with unconventional materials—walls, furniture, rugs or wood flooring. Les Trois Petits Cochons (Three Little Pigs) created an intimate deli setting, complete with gleaming refrigerated cases, wire baskets filled with product and custom-made furniture pieces.
Don’t block off the entrance to your booth with a table. Open up the space and invite guests to roam around. Make sure you have plenty of well-informed smiling hosts on hand to greet guests and answer questions.
Light It Up
Light attracts attention, and can significantly increase the booth display’s appeal. With proper lighting, visitors can focus on your message. Lighting also adds depth to the exhibit space by illuminating the back walls, side walls, and shadowed areas. Lighting can also create a mood.
Use high quality photography and photos of people engaging with your brand instead of obvious stock photos. Don’t restrict yourself to just banners and backdrops. Digital signage and interactive touch screens can be incorporated into trade show booths to attract attention and display value. These elements can be used to show processes, educate consumers, showcase testimonials and many other functions that can differentiate an exhibitor on the trade show floor. They’re also easier to change and update than printed signage.
Proximity marketing is another technology that you may be able to use to your advantage. As attendees wander near your booth, messages are sent to their mobile phone containing special offers and other messages about visiting your booth. New technologies like the iBeacon can make this possible.
Before You Go
When your company spends the money, time, and effort to display a booth at a trade show, it is vital to make the best of it. Do your research and pick the right show for your goals. Sign up in enough time to reserve an ideal booth location. Reach out to your customers before the show. Let them know you’ll be there, what you’ll be showcasing and how they can locate your booth at the show.
After the Show
Now it’s time to reach out to all the contacts you made at the show. Send a follow-up email thanking them for stopping by and giving them a reason to get back in touch with you—special show pricing, the offer of an informational white paper or a fun promotional toy or gadget.
Don’t forget to conduct a post-show meeting with your team to discuss successes, problems and ideas for the next trade show.
Anna Schiff, Art Director