Attracting Customers at a Trade ShowFEBRUARY 2, 2020| SpeedPro
What do 99% of marketers agree on? The unique value of trade shows to drive industry connections and nurture leads in a way no other marketing activity can.
How marketers drive those connections and nurture those leads, though, is another story.
Make the most of setting up shop at industry trade shows with insider exhibition tips, tricks and best practices for attracting passersby to your booth like kids to a candy store. (Extra points if candy’s involved.)
What Draws People to Trade Show Booths?
Significant time and research has gone into understanding what draws guests to particular trade show booths while other companies struggle to stand out in the sea of decked-out displays.
Merging psychology, design and time-tested marketing engagement tactics, these exhibit features help ensure you fall into the former group, with flocks of people heading your way.
1. A Creative Theme
Many brands conflate the professional goals of attending a trade show with an overly professional presentation.
In other words, they deploy conventional booth set-ups with few interactive features alongside stuffy, formal brand visuals all meant to convey their “professionalism” — when in reality, they bore guests and blend in with the crowd.
Don’t fall into the trap of creating a booth that’s too formal. Out-of-the-box themes, experiences and aesthetics are far more memorable and likely to be highly rated by attendees.
Games entice people from the open aisles to your booth. Gamification and competitive elements grab attention and captivate audiences. Go one step further by offering prizes to attendees who participate or win contests at your booth. From physical takeaways to spinning a prize wheel, each adds another layer of anticipation to your booth’s experience.
The best trade show exhibit games either fit your booth theme or offer a creative twist on your products or services. Trivia, scavenger hunts, arcade or carnival-style games and mini-relays are just a few of the options you can try. Think about the kinds of games that would get you to step up to a booth!
Attendees milling around a conference for hours on end enjoy the convenience of treats at booths. From beverages to reusable water bottle-filling stations and from snack carts to a popcorn machine, use food to attract a crowd over to your exhibit.
While people sip or snack, strike up a conversation with them. Start off naturally, asking about the person’s role or reason for attendance, then work your way toward more concrete business topics. If you prefer a less direct sales style, consider setting up TV or computer screens playing a televised presentation, which will draw the visitor’s attention without requiring you to make the first move.
4. Business/Networking Connections
Relationship management across customers, prospects, suppliers, re-sellers and general industry connections is a big reason to attend trade shows. Both individuals and companies use these events for important networking purposes. Knowing that gives you another avenue for setting your booth apart from the rest, making it a hub for industry connections and relationship-management moments.
Consider hosting a cocktail hour or inviting special guests to your booth, where they might give informative presentations or be available for questions and consultations. Advertise these events as early as possible, sharing speakers, presentations or networking opportunities on social media or through press releases before the conference begins.
5. Interactive Technology
You don’t need to outfit your area with the latest gadgets and equipment just for the techy glitz. Rather, everyday pieces of technology such as iPad presentations, conference app alerts, branded television screens or push notifications triggered when an attendee is near your booth can be used to your advantage, drumming up brand awareness, providing info about your products or services or organically entertaining attendees. Technology at your booth enhances your graphics while providing a unique content or informational opportunity. Tech can also take the pressure of making a direct sale off your own staff.
What to Include at Your Trade Show Exhibits
On average, a trade show attendee will spend over 8 hours taking in exhibits. Make the most of that attention — and drive your business goals — by creating a visually appealing, on-brand and ultra-engaging booth design with the following features.
1. Harmonious Exhibit Graphics
Cohesive trade show displays go beyond matching table throws with a backdrop. Graphics can add depth and texture to your booth. They can also create a specific mood that defines your exhibit’s overall environment.
There are many tricks to creating complementary environmental graphics, including using the following:
- Distinct color scheme: Your booth’s color scheme doesn’t always need to match your brand colors. New businesses or startups may choose to stick with their company colors when brand awareness and familiarity are the goals, while more established organizations might choose to play around with shades and tones.
- Cohesive fonts: Up your professionalism by using high-quality and professionally printed signage, designed with font and text best-practices in mind for readability and persuasiveness.
- Audio-visual theme: Get creative with your booth’s theme, remembering what makes strangers actually want to approach and interact with your exhibit.
2. Touch Screen Displays
Integrate technology into your trade show with custom graphics made to hold or stage devices. Rather than setting iPads, laptops or similar technology onto a table and hoping people use them, create trade show kiosks designed to house touchscreen monitors or tablets, or prop up ultra-flashy digital signage. Place those kiosks and digital signs in strategic booth areas so that passersby can see them easily. You want people to stop, look and interact with the devices.
3. Flags and Banners
Custom trade show flags and banners embellish your booth. They’re also one of the most customizable event graphics available, fashioned from dozens of base materials (vinyl, canvas, fabric, mesh, etc.), laminates (gloss or matte), sizes and design configurations, including:
You can use flags and banners as promotions or advertisements, broadcasting new products, upcoming launches, booth speakers, presentations, games, activities, prizes or any other relevant and attention-grabbing event message.
4. Tabletoppers and Dimensional Graphics
Tabletopper trade show displays and dimensional graphics make your booth “pop.” They build a warmer, more immersive and more attractive overall exhibit full of brandable surfaces and graphics to display your company’s name, contact information, product or service descriptions, logos and additional event messaging.
Create tabletoppers and dimensional graphics using your company’s core visuals and color schemes. Both exhibit items provide form and function, relaying information and promotions while decking out your booth.
5. Step-and-Repeat Banners
What type of event graphics lets booth visitors have a little fun while promoting your brand, driving social media engagement and creating a direct opportunity for follow-up engagement? Step-and-repeat banners.
The graphic canvases work as backdrops for photos and are immensely popular at trade shows and conventions. They also provide serious business opportunities.
For example, consider setting up the following contest. Participants who share their photos with a branded hashtag are immediately entered into a prize drawing sponsored by your organization. Find a way to work your company name or slogan into the hashtag, then collect contact information or a “best-way-to-reach-you” list to notify winners. You’ve just generated a leads list while creating a unique, fun moment for attendees.
How to Boost Attendance at Your Trade Show Booth
Draw the right kind of attention to your display — and generate better business results during and after the event — with these trade show exhibit tips and tricks.
1. Start Well Before the Big Day
Promoting your booth doesn’t begin the day the conference does. In fact, savvy marketers start advertising their attendance and exhibit amenities months before a big trade show, using multiple mediums to spread the word:
- Social media teasers: Create a dedicated trade show campaign hinting at your booth’s amenities or surprises. Tease your custom graphics, interactive technology, demos and more, all to generate buzz and convince people to check you out.
- Press releases: Publish formal press releases noting your upcoming events, as well as staff or employees who will be representing your company at the trade show and how to connect with them.
- Other publications: Find other relevant publications to advertise your participation in the upcoming event, from industry trade publications to community magazines or websites.
2. Come Up With a Giveaway
Brainstorm unique prize drawings or giveaways attractive to the trade show’s audience demographics, then use your social media to promote your giveaways. Remember to always prioritize audience needs when crafting your giveaway. You’ll see much more participation and engagement if a contest directly relates to attendee pain points or trending industry questions. You can even crowdsource those ideal prizes, holding a vote on your website and social media profiles asking followers to select what they’d most like to win, to further build excitement.
3. Lead Nurture Naturally
More than 80% of trade show attendees have buying authority in their organization. That means four out of every five individuals perusing the conference floor can be a new customer with direct sales and revenue potential.
Converting those leads, though, requires contact information and a follow-up plan that’s both authentic and meaningful without being “salesy.” One of the best ways to balance this is by using a booth game or experience to collect contact information. For example, booth visitors must fill out a ticket or enter their business card to be eligible for a prize drawing, play a booth game or sit-in during a presentation. These are quick, easy ways to build a leads list without being pushy or aggressive.
4. Then Qualify Leads
While we’re on the topic of lead generation, consider what your organization actually does with all the contact information it collects. How do you ensure the right kind of follow up occurs, such as sending a personalized service quote to Attendee A, a meeting invite to Attendee B and a product spec sheet to Attendee C?
Don’t just scan badges or collect business cards. Take notes or devise a quick rating system paired with each name and number you collect, ensuring that person receives the exact information requested. Creating a system will save you time and frustration down the road, helping you qualify leads and deliver meaningful trade show follow-up.
5. Prioritize Aesthetics
Your physical exhibit will be the first thing attendees take in about your company. Before they read your name, survey materials, play games or interact with your team members, they’ll have assessed and formed an impression based purely on booth graphics.
Make that first impression count with a high-quality, professionally printed and well set-up trade show display. Booth aesthetics should go beyond setting up a few tables, chairs and a backdrop curtain. It’s about creating an attractive, welcoming environment that’s simultaneously memorable and professionally significant. In short, an exhibit’s aesthetics is not the place to cut corners.
6. Offer an “Ask the Expert” Opportunity
Offering a unique educational opportunity is another less “salesy” way to entice booth attendance. This strategy will also help distinguish you from the crowd, providing unique advice and actionable takeaways different than just another token trinket.
Advertise your expert on social media before the trade show, noting their credentials and the industry topics they’ll cover. Consider booking any of the following types of individuals as your resident booth attraction:
- Industry thought leader
- Motivational speaker or author
- Relevant industry influencer
- Company founder or CEO
- Subject matter expert at your organization
Successful trade show livestreaming boosts your brand before and after the event. For starters, your organization can livestream the announcement of its exhibition attendance, working that and other video promotions into your pre-event social media campaign. Second — and equally as important — is for staff to livestream during the trade show, particularly to drum up enthusiasm and flex your participatory muscles, showcasing all the cool things you’re up to.
Livestreaming is an example of trade show best practices to boost your brand’s telepresence, i.e., its authority and recognition beyond its geographic home. Remember, not everyone in your industry can attend the conference or trade show. Livestreaming lets people participate and follow the event without having to physically be there. Give them the chance to do so, and you’ll grow your organic audience and following as a result.
8. Nurture Organic Follow-Up
The best event marketers know their effort doesn’t end just because the trade show has. They’re hard at work creating follow-up campaigns segmented according to audience relevancy, meaning the people you met at your trade show booth receive pertinent, engaging emails or phone calls from your organization based on their roles, pain points and interests.
Consider creating individualized follow-up campaigns for each major type of visitor/lead earned at your exhibit, including:
- Current customers
- New vendors/suppliers
- General professional connections
Creating segmented follow-up content deepens your network connections and improves the likelihood each recipient will be moved to action — propelling your trade show exhibit’s overall ROI.
Trade Show Graphics Printing Near You
Nail your next trade show exhibit designs with SpeedPro, a nationwide leader in wide-format graphics and professional printing. Find your local SpeedPro studio to get started creating more attractive, engaging custom business booths today.Back to Blog