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Trade show marketing is an important part of any successful business strategy. Whether you’re a seasoned regular or this is your first time exhibiting, we know coming up with creative trade show booth ideas can be a challenge. Fortunately for you, we’ve had a lot of experience with trade show ideas – and know what to do (and what not to do) in order to successfully promote your product and generate new clients. From how to say a lot with just a little to how to stand out from the competition, here are 10 trade show tips guaranteed to make your booth best in show.
Create buzz for your exhibition booth by promoting your business to attendees in advance. Many trade shows contain a list of attendee contact information that can be purchased or licensed for advance use. Make a positive, memorable impression on attendees before they even arrive by sending out a personal email or letter welcoming them to the trade show and inviting them to stop by your booth. For extra incentive, include a service discount or free sample coupon in your letter, redeemable at the trade show.
Pre-planning is key. Before you start creating your trade show display, get the details on your exhibition space. How much room you will have for your display? Where will your competition be located? Will you have access to a power outlet? What type of lighting is available? If it’s a tabletop exhibition, will a tablecloth be provided? These may seem like a lot of questions, but each is critical to creating a successful trade show display. The answers will help you determine the display size and the type of supporting materials (power strip, tablecloth, banner stands, etc.) that you should bring.
Read and repeat: your booth is your brand. A poorly-designed, unprofessional booth directly equates with an unprofessional business. A professional booth balances visuals with copy (ensuring you say a lot with just a little), and prominently features your logo, website and contact information. Remember, there’s a fine line between getting the biggest bang for your buck and looking cheap. This may be the one and only impression you ever make on hundreds of attendees. So spend the extra cash for professional design assistance and get it right.
Think of yourself as a mini-booth. Wherever you go, you need to be promoting your brand. Ditch the name tags and wear clothes with your company logo. This way, even when you’re away from your booth, you’ll still be promoting your business and increasing visibility (not to mention looking professional!). And if you step away from the booth, always carry business cards and product information. You never know when a casual conversation might turn into the perfect marketing opportunity. Be ready!
Often times, when you’re standing on the presenter side, it’s difficult to see where you own booth falls short. So before you exhibit at a trade show, participate in a few as an attendee and conduct a little opposition research. Take note of what you like, but pay special attention to the booths that fail to attract your attention. Consider what these booths are lacking. Is it a visually appealing display? An engaging staff? A product sample? Learn a lesson from these booths and don’t repeat their shortcomings.
Full-blown trade show displays and exhibit booths aren’t cheap. But if you’re launching a new product or promoting a new service, your existing booth may feel out of date. There’s no need to replace the whole booth – simply add a banner display and some creative lighting. Banners are an inexpensive, effective way to stand out, and creative lighting (especially in a dimly lit exhibition hall) is like adding a spotlight to your booth.
It’s a fact: everyone loves free stuff. Add a prize wheel and give away company-branded accessories. Raffle away a gift certificate for a nearby restaurant, and have attendees drop their business cards in the raffle box (you’ll expand your company contact list, too). Stock a fish bowl with peppermint mints (at a trade show, everyone wants fresh breath!), but only fill it half way. You’ll create the impression that your booth is receiving a lot of traffic, which will in turn lead to a lot of traffic. Everyone wants to visit the popular booths!
Flashy graphics and snazzy lights can’t replace a well-trained team. Ensure your booth is always manned. Don’t sit or stand behind the booth – stay out in front of it and engage with each attendee. Remember, every person that walks by is a potential customer. Smile, greet each attendee and personally hand them product and contact information. After you meet someone, take a moment to jot down a few key facts about that person on the back of their business card. You meet a lot of people at trade shows, and this way you’ll have something specific to cite when you follow up with them. If you aren’t confident in your own presentation skills, hire an attractive and intelligent model to work your booth. An attractive model will draw attendees in, and a strong marketing presentation will lead to plenty of client contacts.
The average trade show can have hundreds of participants and competing booths. If you’re stuck in Siberia (or in a corner at the end of the trade show), it can be hard for attendees to find your booth. Add a banner stand with your logo and booth location to the entrance of the trade show. If you’re giving something away (see Tip #7), include a teaser about your giveaway as an incentive to attract attendees.
Sure, a general marketing presentation is a great way to introduce your business to prospective clients. But clients want to know specifics. Keep a photo album with success stories and testimonials on-hand. Everyone loves visuals, especially when there’s a powerful testimonial behind it. And a specific story makes it easier for potential clients to envision how your business will help them.