Trade show attendance continues to grow at a feverish pace. Expectations seem to grow at about the same clip.
For example, attendance at the Palm Beach International Boat Show was up 17% year over year, and the Consumer Electronics Show had more than 160,000 people attend last year’s conference in Vegas. Those conferences are not alone in reporting strong attendance, so you might think it would be easier than ever to attract people to your booth. In fact, the number of exhibitors has also grown, so it’s harder. If you want to increase the possibility of heavy traffic at your booth, consider these six off the wall display ideas.
1. Add Entertainment
Sometimes trade show attendees dread stopping by booths even when they’re interested in a product because they don’t want to listen to the sales pitch.
Try weaving the sales pitch into a more entertaining program. Hire a comedian to tell jokes for 15 minutes out of every hour or couple of hours. The jokes could be tailored around problems that might be addressed with your product, without explicitly “selling.”
If you a comedian doesn’t fit with your brand, consider a magician, a juggler, dancers or even (in rare cases, admittedly) a puppet show. It doesn’t quite matter what the entertainment is, as long as it’s enjoyable. Watch their presentation prior to the show so there aren’t any surprises. Be sure to invite people to the performances, and post the times for the next show prominently in your booth and in the expo’s brochure or schedule. Admission to the show – a business card or contact information.
2. Offer a Charging Station
People are on a perpetual search for a place to power their mobile devices, so why not provide it for them? Position the single person/device charging stations near the back of your booth, and have a person from your team assigned to each station. They can engage the person in light conversation about your company or why you’re at the show while the device charges or you could have a self-running demo at each station. The “price” of a charge is the guest’s contact information or business card.
3. Become an Oasis of Serenity in a Sea of Noise
Trade shows can disorient and overwhelm due to their noisy, overly bright nature. One way to make your booth stand is to do the opposite – decorating it in serene and soothing colors; use plush carpeting to absorb noise; and consider comfy chairs and soft music to lure people in for a few minutes of respite from the chaos surrounding them.
Don’t spoil the serenity with a hard-sell sales pitch, but consider offering a chair massage (by a trained massage therapist) or a square of chocolate in exchange for contact information. Fair warning: Only use this approach if your booth is located in a busy part of the exhibit hall. If you’re in a quiet back corner, you won’t attract anyone with this approach.
4. Do Something Fun
Make your booth the fun place to be. Consider renting self-balancing electric unicycles or Segways for your booth staff, and let them slowly cruise around the hall with a flag showing your company name and booth number. Put a Foosball table or the latest arcade game in your booth, and let people play a round while also listening to your pitch.
5. Feed the People
It’s easy enough to put a candy dish on the table, or to give out bags of popcorn, but if you really want to bring people in, offer something different and more substantial such as sliders, sushi or pizza. If the trade show is in a city with a notable cuisine, choose a well-known dish that represents the local culture.
Tiny bowls of gumbo or mini beignets are great for New Orleans, while tiny street tacos go over well in Texas. Whatever you decide to offer, make it visible from the aisle but only available from inside the booth so people can’t just scoop up a slice of pizza without talking to your team. Make sure you don’t set up a table across the front of your booth because it won’t allow people to enter. Double-check with show organizers whether food of this sort is allowed.
Who could ever forget the tiny hologram of Princess Leia begging Obi Wan Kenobi for help in Star Wars? You don’t need a robot to project your holograms — although if you can swing it, wow. Consider having your demo projected as a hologram, or show 3-D videos of people interacting with your product. You may have seen holographic guides in airports recently, and CNN used the technology in 2008 to report on election returns.
Try any one of these six nonconformist ideas for your next trade show, and your booth will stand out from the rest!