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10 Quick Tips for Better Trade Shows

Trade shows are extremely beneficial for businesses in just about any industry. They offer opportunities for you to get in front of your customers and get to know them – which is the hands-down best way to generate leads and sales.

They are an investment, though, and doing a trade show right means putting time and money behind it. So, you have to make sure that if you’re going to attend a trade show, you need to ensure all your ducks are in a row.

To help you maximize your investment, here are 10 quick tips you can follow to make the most of your next show – and hit a grand slam.

Have Great Handouts

You need something to get people’s attention and start building relationships. Handouts are some of the best ways to do this. You’ll need something to give away because people expect it. But you can go beyond the usual pens and notepads that most people use (even though those are always nice).

One all-time favorite is a branded USB drive. Even in today’s world of cloud computing via Google Drive and Dropbox, a USB drive comes in handy. People like these not just because they’re useful, but because they’re a higher-value handout.

Another great idea is to hand out branded Yeti tumblers. Of course, these can be pricey, so reserve these only for those who give you their contact information or perform some other action. Still, they’re great, high-end handouts.

(Be sure to include some pens, too. People like those.)

Create an Attraction Distraction

Something that brings people to your booth and causes people to skip over other booths – something that distracts and attracts attention – is called an “attraction distraction.”

You need at least one attraction distraction to get people to notice your booth. There are a lot of different options. Some people use music; others use video. You can have a hands-on demonstration of your product, or just something hands-on that may have nothing to do with your brand at all – such as a VR headset that people can try.

You can even do something really creative like bake cookies! We’ve known brands that brought portable cookie-baking ovens to their booths and baked cookies right there on the floor. People love cookies, and the smell of freshly-baked sweets is irresistible.

Finally, a device-charging station is fantastic because everyone needs to charge their electronic devices while at a show. Having one will make you the hit of the floor.

The distraction doesn’t actually have to have anything to do with your brand (although if it does, that’s a bonus). The point is to grab attention and keep it to bring people in.

Take Advantage of Social Media

Most trade shows and conferences are pretty into social media these days, so it makes sense to tap into the social scene at your next show.

Look for a show-branded hashtag that you can use. Then, send out updates and messages via that hashtag to everyone who will be attending that show and following that hashtag.

You can also use social media to advertise your presence ahead of the show. Advertisements are good ways to get the word out even to people who don’t follow you. You can use geotargeting to pinpoint the location where you’ll be so you advertise to people in that area during the show itself.

Advance tip: Create an ad featuring a Facebook Live session, and then hold a live session during the trade show itself. Give people a special gift if they stop by the booth during the live session and mention you on Facebook.

Send Out Notifications to Your Guests

Don’t just go to a trade show and expect people to know you’re there and be able to find you. Send out notifications to your customers and prospects before you go, letting them know you’ll be in attendance and how they can find you. Offer a special gift to those who reply via email or come by and mention the email – maybe even offer a “secret passcode” in the email that they can tell you in exchange for a free gift. (Everyone loves to play passcode.)

If you can get an email list of participants from the trade show or conference, even better. If you don’t know if you can, ask. It never hurts to ask and most brands won’t take that step to find out.

Email notifications let people know you are going to be there, and make it much more likely that they’ll actually stop by and check your booth out.

Have an Inviting Booth Layout

The layout of the booth itself matters. What you want to do is invite people in. You don’t want to create barriers to keep them out.

So, start by doing away with the long, horizontal table between you and your visitors. Most trade show displays have this layout, and all it does is create a barrier between you and your visitors – keeping them out both physically and psychologically.

Get rid of the table and use the full space of your exhibit to add depth. Invite them in to walk around. If you don’t have that much space, it’s okay – you can swap the long table for a stand-up table or a kiosk.

Offer a Trade Show Deal

If you are in the B2C space, you can offer a deal or promotion exclusively for people who visit you at the show. You can do the same for B2B; if you can’t offer a deal or a discount, maybe you can offer something equally valuable, like your time via a free consultation, or exclusive information they can’t find anywhere else.

Give your visitors a reason to stop by and interact with you and you’ll have a higher chance of beginning the journey through the trade show sales funnel that leads from initial meeting to closed sale.

Get People to Act as Booth Hosts

Do you know what makes a great trade show booth? It’s not the design, or the giveaways – it’s the people behind the table.

The people you have there at the booth meeting and greeting visitors will have as much of an impact on the results of your investment than anything else. Train your staff on how to interact with visitors in a warm, friendly, personable way. Let them practice. Do whatever you can to put your brand’s best foot forward.

You can even hire promotional talent to act as booth hosts. They don’t answer industry questions, but they can greet visitors, make them feel welcome, distribute giveaways, facilitate gathering of contact information, and direct them to the appropriate brand team member.

An excellent booth host can make a huge difference. But most brands don’t take that step. If you do, you’ll be one large step ahead.

Make Your Trade Show Booth Interactive

One way to get a lot of positive response and engagement from your booth is to make it interactive.

There are lots of ways to make a booth interactive. These include:

  • Video games
  • Trivia contests
  • Drawings
  • Scavenger hunts (hide clues around the venue and reward people for finding and bringing them in)
  • Product demonstrations
  • Hands-on activities

Interactivity can be made even better with video and sound. If you can create an immersive experience, you’ll be head and shoulders above the competition.

Use More Than Your Logo

Every inch of display space you use in your trade show booth should be put to good use.

This means going beyond just putting up a logo. Space is your opportunity to share brand messages, both with text and with graphics. Think of what you really want your customers to know. Then, find a way to tell them, using as few words as possible so you can create powerful, compact messages.

Incorporate those messages into your visuals and you’ll be head of the curve, in front of people who just put their logo everywhere and call it a day.

Go Vertical If You Can

Trade show layouts differ from venue to venue, but if yours allows tall, vertical graphics and displays, you should absolutely take advantage of that and use the empty space above your booth.

Vertical displays attract attention from anywhere in the room. They increase the chances that someone will see your booth and head that way. You can use banners for a quick fix, or you can design something more custom – maybe in the shape of your logo.

Again, not every venue allows this. But if your venue does allow vertical displays, you should definitely take advantage of them.

Dominating a Show with Custom Trade Show Displays

A bonus tip: standard trade show display booths are a dime a dozen. There’s nothing special about the same kind of look and layout that everyone else uses.

You’ll stand out even more if you have a custom booth designed for your next show. Showcase your unique brand and your key messages with a display that is to your specifications and brand – and has something no other booth will have at your show.

Don’t do what everyone else is doing just for the sake of being the same. Dare to be different, creative, and unique – go custom, and reap the benefits of knocking the next trade show out of the park.

Follow these tips and your next show will be the most successful show yet!

Design Display creates custom trade show displays for any industry, designed to grab attention and clearly communicate a brand message. Contact us for more information on creating the ideal trade show booth for your next show.