How to Make the Most out of Your Space at an EventMARCH 8, 2019| SpeedPro
From trade shows and job or college fairs to conventions and corporate events, live, in-person events give your business a chance to get out and meet new potential customers.
Many marketers dedicate a large portion of their annual budgets to live events, believing live events are their most effective marketing channel. There are lots of reasons why companies go to live events such as trade shows.
The shows give businesses a chance to meet new customers and also allow businesses to reconnect with current or past clients. It can be more cost-effective for companies to set up a booth at a trade show or convention than to traveling to prospect’s place of business to pitch them. Finally, people attending conventions, trade shows or corporate events are usually on the lookout for something new. They want to meet with companies that can solve their problems or offer a new way to do things.
At trade shows — as in life — 80 percent of success is showing up. The remaining 20 percent depends on how eye-catching and attention-grabbing your company’s space is at the event. You might not have a lot of room at the typical trade show or convention, so it’s vital that you make excellent use of every square inch of space you do have. Here are a few ideas to help you make your business stand out at an in-person event.
Add a Special Touch
As the great lyricist Stephen Sondheim once wrote, “You’ve gotta get a gimmick.” That’s the case when you’re presenting at a trade show or a convention. There is going to be a sea of similar booths and tables all around yours. What can you do to make your company stand out?
Adding a special touch, or “gimmick,” will grab people’s attention and make them come over to check you out. You can also use a special touch to create a buzz about your brand that spreads beyond the bounds of the corporate event.
Back in 2010, WePay, an online payment provider, came up with a creative way to get attention at their competitor’s developer conference. Team members from the company created a large block of ice full of cash and the message “PayPal Freezes Your Accounts . . . Unfreeze Your Money.” The team left the 600-pound ice block at the convention center hosting PayPal’s conference, where drama and a chase of sorts ensued.
Although the ice block was eventually removed from the conference, the company achieved some notable results from their stunt. They saw a 300 percent jump in weekly traffic to their website and had three times the usual number of daily conversions through their stunt landing page.
Not all trade show gimmicks need to be quite so dramatic to get results. One company, VIP Waste Services, partnered with a nearby zoo and arranged to have two penguins present at their trade show booth. Thanks to the penguins, people flocked to the company’s booth from the moment the trade show began.
Here are some more ideas for ways to make your company stand out at a crowded event:
- Hire a performer, such as a magician or a clown.
- Offer a photo booth where people can have their picture taken.
- Set up an art corner with a caricaturist, chalk art or some other activity that lets people express themselves.
- Play a game by either creating a custom game that has something to do with your brand or offer a classic, such as chess, checkers or a video game.
- Use a mascot to draw attention by walking through the event space, handing out freebies and directing people over to your booth.
When brainstorming ways to add a special touch to your trade show or another event booth, ensure the idea makes sense for who your company is and what it represents. Otherwise, your gimmick might fall flat. You want to create something that sticks in people’s minds and makes them remember you. The more relevant your gimmick is to your company, the more likely people are to remember your name.
One last note about adding a special touch to your booth or display — whatever you decide to do, clear it with the event organizer’s first and get any needed permits or permissions. You don’t want to come up with a creative idea only to end up being asked to leave.
Make Your Graphics Stand Out
In the hustle and bustle of most trade shows, conventions and corporate events, you have just a few seconds to grab people’s attention with your unique trade show displays as they walk past your booth or table. The graphics you choose for your booth can help you catch people’s eyes and convince them to stop and check you out. Along with being eye-catching, it’s also essential that your graphics are easy to read and easy to understand.
A few things to keep in mind when designing graphics for your table or booth:
- Pick the right font. You want to use a font that’s easy to read, no matter how near or far away from your signs a person is standing. Sans serif fonts, such as Arial and Helvetica, are typically your best bet for use at an event. Serif fonts, like Times New Roman, and scripts are a lot more difficult to read.
- Choose a clear headline. Think short and sweet when it comes to any headlines you use on your signs. A headline made up of six or fewer words is ideal, as it’s short enough for people to read as they’re strolling by your booth.
- Less is more. You might want to put as much information as you can on your booth’s signs and banners. It’s better to pick and choose what you include on your signs, giving people the most important details. Too much text on a sign can make people’s eyes glaze over and cause them to lose interest in what you’ve got to say. When it comes to organizing any information on your signs, use bullet points and short phrases to make it skimmable and easy-to-read.
- Use a mix of long-, mid- and short-range graphics. People can experience your booth from a variety of distances. To catch the eye of folks who might be a few tables over or on the other side of the room, use long-range, larger graphics and text. You might consider hanging a banner or display high in the air, above your table, to get the attention of people from a distance. Mid-range graphics such as retractable banners help you get people’s attention from a shorter but still somewhat removed distance. Finally, short-range graphics are meant for people are who in your display space. They’re interacting with you and are likely to be interested in more detailed information.
- Use a high contrast color scheme. Choose colors that represent your company, such as your brand’s signature colors. If you do use your signature colors, be sure to pick out high contrast arrangements. It’s easier for people to see graphics and text in high contrast, such as a light color on a dark background or a dark color on a light background. White text on a dark red or blue background is highly visible, for example.
- Show off who you are. Don’t forget to have your brand name or logo displayed prominently on your event graphics. It can also be worthwhile to include contact info, such as your website and social media handles, on your signs.
Coordinate Your Display
You want all the elements of your display or booth to work well together during a trade show. Beyond having signs and graphics that coordinate, think of other ways you can have elements that are “on brand.” One example is to include special table coverings in your brand colors or with your logo.
You could also have your team members wear matching outfits, such as polos or T-shirts with your company’s logo on them. If people don’t go in for wearing branded apparel, you can give each of your team members a branded pin or hat to wear.
Another option is to have people wear solid shirts in one of your company’s colors, which creates a coordinated look without asking everyone to dress the same. You can look at a store like Target for inspiration. Although the company doesn’t require its team members to wear the same shirt, you can usually spot an employee at the store because they are all wearing red tops and khaki bottoms.
Don’t Forget the “F Words”: Freebies and Food
People go to trade shows and corporate events to learn about new companies, to network and to learn about what’s new in their industry. They also go to trade shows for the freebies. From branded pens and stress balls to logo T-shirts and printed tote bags, the swag people give out at trade shows has become an industry unto itself and another way for businesses to compete for people’s attention and accounts.
While a gimmick grabs people’s attention and your booth’s signage draws them in, what builds up goodwill and camaraderie with them is giving out small gifts. Trade show freebies also offer another way for you to highlight your company’s uniqueness. For example, you can give out pens or other freebies that somehow tie back to your initial attention-grabbing gimmick. WePay could have handed out ice cube trays, for instance. VIP Waste Services gave out penguin-themed stress balls.
Have your team members hand out freebies as a way to start a conversation with people, or draw them into your booth with a point-of-purchase (POP) display that showcases all you have to offer. POP displays are also perfect if you want to hand out samples of your products — or have some available for purchase.
Don’t forget what might be the most exciting freebie of all — free food and drink. Trade shows are long, and so are the lines at the concession stands. What’s more, food and drink prices are known for being on the high side at most events. Handing out bottles of water — with your company’s logo on them, of course — or cans of soda will make people like your brand. The same is true if you give out snacks like candy, pretzels or protein bars.
One rule of thumb to follow when handing out food and drink — give away individually wrapped products and skip the homemade treats.
Convince People to Stick Around
People are magnetic, in that they tend to attract others. When something happens on the street, a crowd tends to form. The people closest to the action can see what’s going on, but those on the periphery are likely to be there because there’s a group of people. The same is true of restaurants and shops. People tend to crowd into restaurants and stores where there’s already a mass of others. The presence of people gives the impression that the store or restaurant has something valuable to offer.
You want to create a similar impression with your trade show booth. One way to do so is to offer a feature that will get people to linger. Your gimmick draws them in, but a feature like an engaging video, a fun game or a demonstration will get them to stay. When there’s a crowd or line at your booth, others are likely to come over to see what the fuss is all about.
Another benefit of having a feature that attracts people is that it gives them something to do. If there are just a couple of people working at your booth, you’re likely only going to be able to give your attention to a few people at a time. If there’s nothing to keep people hanging around, they can wander off before you get a chance to give them your attention. A video, game or other interactive feature on a digital sign will keep them occupied and help them learn more about your company while they wait.
Use Digital Marketing to Promote In-Person Marketing
Although trade shows, corporate events and college and job fairs are all examples of in-person, live marketing, don’t feel that you need to keep your company’s live marketing efforts separate from your digital marketing. Your digital marketing can be a way to drum up excitement about your company’s presence at an upcoming convention or trade show. You can also use digital marketing to give people the details on where to find you at the event and what to do when they do find you.
For example, you can send out an email or create a social media post with an image of the map of the trade show or convention. Circle where your booth will be on the map, then give handy pointers and tips to help people navigate to you after they arrive. You can also highlight areas of interest, such as the restrooms or concession booths that are nearest to your table.
Many events use hashtags on social media to organize posts and make it easier for people to find information about the upcoming program. Use the trade show or convention’s hashtags in your company’s posts about the event, so that people who might not be looking at your social pages can connect with you.
Finally, find a way to tie your digital marketing into your event marketing. You can send out an email message or share a social media post that states that the first 50 people to stop by your booth on the day of the event and to share the magic word or phrase will get a special prize. You can also run a special contest over social media and reveal the winner of the competition at the event.
SpeedPro Can Help Your Business Grab Attention at Your Next Event
Unique event graphics will help your company stand out. Let SpeedPro help you create images and graphics that demand attention and that attract visitors to your booth, even across a crowded convention center floor. No request is too small or too large for our team of experts. To learn more, find the SpeedPro location nearest you today.