Every year, there are numerous trade shows that bring together industry professionals. These events allow brands to see what the competition is up to, learn about trends and market themselves to potential customers, clients, fans and followers.
Since exhibiting at a show requires time, energy, money, resources and knowledge, people need to make sure they are getting the most out of them. They need to make sure that everything, from the booth itself to promotions and social media activity, is building up brand awareness, attracting the right audience and, ultimately, leading to business success.
This work and preparation must start months before an event, as it involves everything from spreading the news and attracting a crowd to engaging and connecting with people in a memorable way. With the right foundation, though, these booths and similar happenings can be quite advantageous for your business, company, organization and/or brand!
That being said, turn to the following five tips, which detail ways to stand out with a trade show booth:
Create a buzz in advance
Months before it is time for an event, the news will start to break, so that people know what to expect. A website will go up, ads will go out, and brands will need to start creating a buzz. Begin with an existing fan base, and let them know where you will be, when and why. Send out regular updates with this information, which can be shared via social media, newsletters, press releases and word of mouth.
Let even more of the world know about this event by utilizing any/all official social media hashtags and handles. Anyone who is interested in what you do needs to know that you will be showing off your product(s)/service(s) in this professional setting.
With this step, like many of the others, it is best to use a team effort. Your company’s website and platforms, your employees’ accounts, your personal acquaintances… All of this and more can be used to build a bigger buzz and get these details in front of an even bigger audience.
Draw in a crowd with an eye-catching display
When the trade show rolls around, there will be tons and tons of involved companies and organizations. Therefore, a wise way to literally stand out in the crowd is to have an eye-catching display.
There are branded tablecloths and signs that can be brought out year after year. There are messages and highlight reels that can be displayed on monitors. And there are one-of-a-kind touches (which will vary by industry and brand) that will draw people in, such as giant roulette wheels that allow people to win prizes, real vehicles that demonstrate how a product is used or animals that can be adopted.
Everyone setting up a trade show booth will have the same basic materials and layout… You just need to go the extra mile, get creative, think about what your target customer is interested in, push past your comfort zone, and blow the competition (and everyone else!) away.
Give away free products
The majority of tradeshow attendees are there to learn about new products and services. And once they are at a booth, they expect to at least walk away with new information, a business card and hopefully a free piece of swag.
For this part, think about thoughtful and useful items that people will actually want, that they will actually utilize and that will then be seen by many others. Some good suggestions are Bluetooth earbuds, reusable tote bags and insulated thermoses, which can all be branded with your name/logo. However, the options are limitless, as there are specific gifts targeted towards any and every field, profession, sector and interest out there.
Yes, this is another cost that will be associated with your involvement, but it is very worth it, as promo products’ cost per impression is usually as low as 1/10 of one cent. Furthermore, the right type of item will act as a walking billboard for your brand, advertising in a more effective way than digital campaigns, radio spots, print ads and similar marketing techniques.
Host a raffle for even more traffic
Take freebies even further by hosting a giveaway. While most of the other booths will be handing out smaller items, like pens and koozies, the really effective ones will be putting on raffles that give attendees the chance to walk away with something much better.
First, you’ll need a big-ticket item, like a speaker, backpack or drone. Then, you’ll need to let your fan base and the trade show’s attendees know to come by the booth, in order to enter. Finally, you’ll live-stream the selection of the winner, who will then come back by to claim the prize.
This is a great incentive and a smart tactic; not only does it keep a steady stream of traffic coming to your booth throughout the trade show, but it also garners more traffic and engagement for you online, especially if you have people enter by, say, liking a Facebook post or using a certain hashtag on Instagram. And engaging with people in-person and online definitely makes this a win-win option.
Follow up with connections
There is one more way to stand out from competitors, and it happens when all is said and done… Think of all the handshakes and business cards that are exchanged during industry events. Some people file this info away and forget about it, but this is gold! These are people you had face-to-face experiences with and who you know are interested in what you do since they came to this trade show in the first place.
To make the most of these connections, be sure to…
follow them online, in order to stay up to date on one another and gain another follower/like.
engage with them regularly, as a way to build online traffic/awareness and maintain the relationship.
add them to email lists, since this should be a top way of letting your audience know what your brand is doing.
and follow up with them individually, especially if the conversation went beyond general pleasantries (i.e. them sharing a link they mentioned with you, you introduce them to someone else via email, vice versa and so on).
While these are all nice ways to broaden your circle and build camaraderie, it is also exciting, due to the fact that you never know who could be your next employee, investor, follower or customer!
So will each and every industry event take time, energy, money, resources and knowledge? Absolutely. Will they all come with their own set of struggles and stressors? It is possible. But will these occurrences mainly be beneficial and enlightening? Of course.
You will get your company or organization in front of the right people, which will surely lead to more clicks, sales, clients and overall business. You will learn new trends and tricks from fellow professionals, allowing your brand to grow even further. You will network with peers and competitors, as a way to gauge the climate of your field and position yourself as a leader. And, by using the five tips on this list, you will stand out in the biggest and best way possible, at trade shows and beyond.