While you can’t design your trade show booth with a giant magnet to draw people to you, there are many ways your booth can help attract prospects and engage them once there.
Work with an expert
Working with companies that specialize in trade show displays for specific industries is a good place to start. They work with you to design a booth suited to your marketing goals and budget. Each industry has both written and unwritten rules when it comes to trade shows so a little more expert advice helps you decide on an appropriate booth for your industry.
Use Social Media to Prime the Pump
The rise of social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, provides the opportunity to get prospects excited about your booth before you ever get to the trade show. Position your booth as a destination spot at the show by spending the weeks and days leading up to the show highlighting your features and show specials. Don’t be shy about asking your followers to retweet or share. Engage your prospects with behind-the-scenes photos of preparing for the show and your travels to the show. These illustrate all the work being done to prepare and gives a company more chances to imprint its brand.
Create Trade Show Incentives
As part of your pre-show announcements, include giveaways and contests that will get your audience a little more emotionally involved in keeping track of what you’re doing. If the reward or prize is big enough, you could even prompt them to fill out a two-part contest form; one part before the show and one part at your booth. You want to come out ahead, so consider the value of each new customer and plan your prize or prizes, accordingly.
Set Up Meetings With Potential Clients
Since most trade shows are industry specific, meetings with potential clients who are also there makes sense for all involved. It cuts out effort for both sides and provides valuable face to face time. Schedule any meetings before you leave for the show and send or arrange a reminder once you’re there.. Also set up meetings with current clients to discuss any new products and services, or again have that one-on-one time to reconnect. Another tactic is to host informal meals or, if appropriate, meet-ups at sporting events to connect existing clients with prospective clients for first-hand testimonials.
Offer Q & A Sessions
Since your audience is guaranteed during a trade show due to the large number of niche clients, get the word out that you’ll have a free Q & A session every day of the conference. This type of session allows your prospects to ask questions in a low-key setting as well as gives you a way to engage a group of prospects at the same time. From your experience, you know you get the same questions repeatedly, so this is a good opportunity to save some time. Plan to video the Q& A sessions. Later, pick the best questions, break up the video and post them to your site and media channels.
To come across as upbeat and confident at a trade show – practice. The Trade Show News Network says “there is no substitute” for a prepared presentation. Being prepared means that you won’t leave out important selling points due to nerves or forgetfulness. Practicing in front of a video camera that you can view later will help you with your pitch. And again, you can pull a few highlights of your presentation and put them on your website blog.
Stand Outside Your Booth
A good practice during a trade show is to stand outside your booth space to greet potential clients who walk by. No sales pitch involved; smiles and friendly greetings go a long way during an exhausting trade show weekend. If nothing else, saying hello will help you network and make contacts that can lead to future business.
Educate Your Prospects
According to the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), 63% of attendees choose to attend educational sessions before a trade show begins. If the show has classes, you can take advantage of being listed in their show guide. Find out how you can be included in the list of experts offering workshops or lessons during the show.
Location, Location, Location
Most trade shows have preferred locations for booths. It is up to you to decide if getting a preferred location will give you the best ROI or if investing in your booth presentation will be enough. At the very least check that you’re not buried in some obscure corner with horrible lighting. When working with any display company to design and produce your booth, ask them about locations at specific shows. Prime locations do tend to sell out fast, so if this is part of your strategy, book early.
Offer Drinks and Snacks
Big trade shows are tiring to walk through. Be thoughtful to attendees and offer them water, snacks or a place to sit for a few minutes. You may have to get permission to have food in your booth from show directors, so check ahead.
Although trade shows are sometimes difficult to master, following these tips helps improve every aspect of your trade show experience.