While it may seem like a given that anybody who participates in a trade show goes should do so with the intention of being successful in mind, we’ve all seen those lackluster displays featuring awkward layouts, poor graphic design, dull giveaways and annoying sales people manning the booth. If you’re looking for ways to avoid being part of this particular crowd in favour of building a brilliant trade show booth, here are a few tips that you can follow to ensure a certain level of success.
Work with professionals
If your company’s forte is hardwood flooring, chances are exhibit booth marketing is nowhere in the skillset of even your most brilliant employees. Your best chance at trade show success is to start by working with professional exhibit companies that have a long, varied history in working with all kinds of industries in when it comes to creating a custom trade show booth design. Though it may be tempting to go the do-it-yourself route, if you think you’re ready to start attending trade shows, you might as well do it properly by setting aside the budget to hire a full service exhibit marketing agency. Not only do such agencies provide the actual booth (which helps you avoid problems like poorly designed layouts), they can even work with you on everything from setting goals to carrying out pre-show marketing to analyzing your success via quantifiable metrics after the show.
Trade shows are super exciting, and there are often many to choose from for every industry. That said, these are costly, timely endeavours and you owe it to yourself to do some research and only take part in the shows that make sense for your product and if your customers will be there. It makes no sense to sign up for every trade show that comes to town, even if it’s the biggest one of the year, if it has no relation to what your company actually offers to its customers. Good, reputable trade shows will provide enough information to make it easy for you to understand if it’s the place for you. If you’re still undecided, check out who’s attended in the past – if none of your competitors have attended the show before, it perhaps isn’t the place for you.
Sign up early
If you’ve done your homework and know that you’re absolutely going to be attending a particular trade show, make sure to set an alert on your calendar so that you can sign up as soon as registration goes live. Early applicants get to choose their booth location, and the importance of this cannot be emphasized enough. You do not want to be relegated to some dark corner of trade show purgatory where few people dare to mingle. You might even want to consult a previous year’s floorplan in order to see where the most interesting booths were located to help you decide which spot is right for you.
Up your social media presence
These days, every company should have some form of social media attached to their name, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or some combination of the above. Make use of social media before a trade show in order to start signalling to your customers that you’re going to be at a certain place at a certain time. Rev them up for any fun giveaways you have planned! Don’t forget to coach your booth staff to make use of social media during the show as well. They shouldn’t be glued to their phones in an off-putting manner, but they should take lively pictures and videos of your booth in full action to show off the thought that’s gone into the show – and the payoff in terms of audience attention. Provide post-show updates via social media as well so that you keep your customers engaged, even after the trade show is over.
In this modern day and age, there’s no reason why your booth should stick to boring posters and pamphlets. A significant portion of the population is made up of visual learners, but there are also people who prefer auditory and tactile stimulation as well. Cater to all these needs by using digital signage, monitors, iPads, etc. If your product or service can be demoed, all the better! Why not give your audience a chance to actually interact with your company’s offering live in person? While you don’t want to overload your audience with too much stimuli, by putting some thought into the user experience you’ll be able to select the appropriate means of communicating with trade show attendees in a fun, engaging manner.
Bring on the swag
At every trade show, there is always some booth that generates an incredible amount of buzz amongst attendees. Often, this has to do with swag. It’s absolutely imperative that you waste neither your time nor attendees’ attention by giving away boring items that don’t align with your company’s brand or offerings. Little things you can offer are items of immediate value to attendees, such as branded notebooks or tote bags and reusable water. Coach your staff to provide higher value items like t-shirts to the attendees who actually stop to chat, exchange a business card, etc. It’s a waste to everybody involved if you give items away to people who don’t know or care about your product or service.
The best trade show booths are the ones that make it easy on attendees to find you and learn more. Never should anybody have to squint to read your signage or have to guess what your company is about. Your booth should also be accessible and accommodating so that nobody has to squeeze in and around fixed obstacles like a giant table. With regular social media updates, cool giveaways and digital delights to attract eager eyes and ears, you may even be able to bring your booth to stardom if all the elements are properly aligned!