Businesses invest thousands of dollars into the purchase, construction, and transport of their trade show booths, but how can you ensure that you’re receiving both a positive ROI and as many qualified leads as possible?
After years of experience, we’ve gathered our most tried and true tips and tricks to draw more people to your booth so you can gain the most from your trade show presence and investment.
Sign Up Early
It’s never too early to register as an exhibitor. By signing up as soon as possible, not only will you have ample time to build a strategy for your booth and trade show presence, but at most events, signing up early also means you will have your choice of booth location, which is equally important. Many trade shows operate on a first come, first serve basis, so by signing up early you will have first pick of a great location, setting you up for success right from the get-go.
Pick an Optimal Booth Location
There is much to consider when it comes time to select your booth’s location. First, you want to keep in mind where the most traffic will be. Ideal booths typically reside near entrances, keynote rooms, breakout rooms, food sources, etc., as this is where people are likely to congregate. If you register early enough, make sure to inquire about an end cap booth as this will maximize your storefront space. For example, if you have a 10×10 booth, an end cap booth will increase your front facing inventory from ten feet, to thirty feet as you will receive cross traffic from three different aisleways.
If you happen to sign up for your booth when most of the high traffic area locations have been sold-out, another strategy could be to locate your booth near companies with complimentary services or products as attendees who visit your neighbors booth will most likely also be interested in what your business has to offer.
Make a Memorable First Impression
Once you’ve secured your booth, it’s time to begin planning your presence and booth design. When we say first impressions are everything, we mean everything. Consumers form the majority of their opinions well within the first minute. In fact, some judgements for traits like attractiveness or trustworthiness are passed in the first tenth of a second.1
Appearance is key. Your booth needs to be visually beautiful, inviting, and most importantly, unique. With hundreds of booths at any given trade show, your competition will be fierce, and you will need an immediate point of differentiation. Make sure you’re putting thought towards your booth’s appearance well in advance of the show, in addition to the standard tips of being organized and well branded. Nothing is worse than a chaotic booth that was thrown together the day before; this demonstrates to attendees that you may have the same level of care with their business.
Second, it is imperative for your booth to have a welcoming atmosphere. Staff members at the booth should be outgoing, friendly, and take a genuine interest in the needs of attendees. They should also be available and appear interested to engage with attendees. No one will want to approach a booth manned by people sitting behind a desk working on their laptops.
Make Your Booth Interactive
If people only wanted to see photos of your product, they could look online. If people just wanted a sales pitch, they could call a representative. But that’s not why people go to trade shows. People go to trade shows to learn about the latest and greatest in the industry, to see products in action, to receive live demos, and to gain a sense of what that company is really about.
By creating an interactive display, it offers potential customers the opportunity to test your products and/or services before making the decision to purchase. This is especially important in the world of information overload, where people are less interested in an abundance of features, and are more interested in products/services tailed to their specific needs and the benefits it will provide to their business. Despite the rapid growth of ecommerce, statistics show that 65% of consumers still prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store rather than online in order to feel the product before purchasing.2 By creating an interactive display of your brand, you are catering to that consumer desire.
Having an interactive display of your products is beneficial for many reasons. Not only are people drawn to the chance to test drive potential purchases for themselves, but people are drawn to people. If consumers see other consumers drawn to a product, it creates a sense of validation for your product, and in turn, your organization as a whole.
FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, is a common anxiety among consumers that suggests someone is having an experience that they might not get to enjoy. If you provide an experience that is exclusive to that particular event, you will draw in an entire crowd of potential customers with compulsive concern that they will miss out on a one-time opportunity like the chance to engage in a unique social interaction, a novelty experience, a once-in-a-lifetime networking event, etc. More often than not, people will give into the uncontrollable drive to be included.
Few things are more memorable than a great experience. If you want to take your business to the next level, couple the great experience you’ve created with even greater savings. People love a good bargain. By providing your customers with exclusive “show only” discounts, you’re more likely to close a sale because it preys on this tried and true marketing tactic. People don’t want to look back and regret not having taken advantage of an opportunity to save money.
People love freebies, and it’s become a highly anticipated part of any trade show. By giving away valuable swag that people will actually want, they are more likely to hold on to it for longer, rather than throwing it away as soon as they get home. By having properly branded swag, attendees are also more likely to refer back to it at a later time when they are in need of services.
There is, however, a very fine line between an iconic freebie and a cliche. Everyone has given away a pen or a keychain in exchange for a business card. Plan ahead and create swag that is both useful and on brand. This way people have an accurate representation of your business to refer to.
Why not take it one step further and allow booth attendees to download a free guide, eBook, or resource your team has created? This kills many birds with one stone: deliver something of value to your prospective clients, collect important contact information from hot leads, demonstrate the worth of your business services or products with a free teaser.
Offer a Place to Rest
Have you ever been to a trade show that didn’t have adequate seating? Do you remember feeling miserable by the end of the day? Yeah, us too.
By offering a place for attendees to sit and relax for a bit, you’re creating a welcoming atmosphere that organically brings traffic to your booth without much effort on your part. This then becomes the perfect opportunity to approach these attendees and to learn about their business needs. Be careful though; by having too much seating, you might be inviting people to lounge around all day making it difficult to network with real, potential customers versus uninterested attendees just looking for a place to kick back.
At the end of the day, you’re going to get out of the show what you put into it. Plan ahead, brand your booth accordingly, and be outgoing. With these simple guidelines, you’ll have a memorable trade show experience and a great ROI. To learn more about branding and positioning, visit us at Seed to Sale Show this February 7-8, 2018 in Denver, CO.
Want to bring your awesome booth to serious potential buyers?
NCIA’s trade shows are verified to have the highest concentration of legitimate buyers and sellers of any other industry event.
Contact James Cross for exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities: [email protected].
Or call (888) 409-4418 to Register.
Register by December 8, 2017 to save $400+
1. Wargo, Eric. “How Many Seconds to a First Impression?” Association for Psychological Science, 1 July 2006, www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/how-many-seconds-to-a-first-impression.
2. “U.S. Online vs. in-Store Shopping Preferences by Category 2017 | Statistic.” Statista, Feb. 2017, www.statista.com/statistics/311459/us-online-in-person-shopping-preferences-product-category/.