Mark Kao, Negosentro | As an exhibitor at a trade show, you have a predetermined set of goals and objectives that you are aiming to meet.
You want to exceed the attendees’ expectations, and if you get it right, you will build relationships that could open doors to steady streams of revenue.
If you don’t, you risk losing out on potential new business and in turn the referrals they could provide in the long run.
The build up to a trade show can be a long one. You will have put a lot of effort into making sure your stand is a knockout success, from brainstorming ideas, to sourcing the right equipment, and finally setting up the stand.
Boring rows of tables with equally dreary backdrops just won’t cut it for anyone anymore, so it’s down to you to make sure your exhibit stands out from the rest.
Event attendees are looking for the whole enchilada: a fun, eye-catching booth that provides a great experience for everyone; something remarkable enough to catch their interest and keep it.
Now, the question is:
What steps can you take to ensure that you draw a large amount of traffic to your stand?
Cultivate A Welcoming Environment
Attendees tend to get a bit intimidated around exhibits that appear cold and uninviting.
Every person that gets turned off by the look and feel of your booth is a prospect potentially lost.
However, creating a welcoming atmosphere at your stand is the first step to encouraging attendees to come and see what you’re all about.
Hospitality and thoughtfulness will never go unnoticed and shows visitors that you are there to help them. This is an especially powerful tool for creating a good first impression to potential new clients.
For example, fitting your stand with a wheelchair ramp shows visitors that you took the time to accommodate a wider range of accessibility needs. This also means you’re not depriving your stand of a portion of potential customers.
Comfortable seats and good ventilation provide a convenient welcomed break that tired and sore-footed attendees will be thankful for.
Provide informative brochures and interactive displays to keep your visitors engaged and interested in your stand. Doing so will give you more opportunity to strike up a conversation and find out how your business can suit their needs.
If your business deals with sensitive data, incorporating little nooks to discuss private matters will give attendees a sense of security while driving home the fact that you take their privacy seriously.
After they have gone home, the main thing people will remember about your brand is that you put them first, and you were there to help them.
For many, doing this alone can be enough to win their custom.
Keep Things Light and Fun With Music
Imagine walking through a trade show, and coming across a stand that is playing music. The likelihood is that you won’t pay as much attention to the surrounding exhibitors as the one with music has captured your attention.
Playing upbeat songs will create a positive atmosphere and pull a lot of attention from passersby, potentially pulling them in.
Don’t forget about noise levels!
Consider how volume could either enhance your display or merely add distracting noise. You want to get the balance right between grabbing attention and making it hard for people to focus.
Make sure that you are well prepared by ensuring you hire the right equipment for playing the music.
It is also important to remember that playing music in public may come with conditions.
For one, you could need a license to play some songs as artists get royalties each time their music is used for public events. On the other hand, you can also use royalty-free music.
So depending on your budget, you can choose between investing in a music license or strictly playing free songs.
If playing music really sits well with your brand, it can be an excellent way to pull people into your stand.
Use The Power of Food and Drink to Your Advantage
It’s not very often that someone would decline free food or drinks after a long day of walking from booth to booth.
Visitors will appreciate the option of their favourite snacks, with popular choices like biscuits, cakes, pastries, and sandwiches sure to go down well.
Drinks are also a brilliant addition, with hot beverages being welcomed at any time of day, so make sure you rent a tea and coffee machine to bring caffeine lovers to your stand.
Don’t forget to offer fresh fruit slices, smoothies, or salads for the more health conscious demographic.
If possible, try to incorporate your company branding into the food. For example, choose foods that match your branding colours, or have cupcakes iced with your company logo.
Make sure that you display any allergy advice for visitors, or if your snacks are suitable for certain dietary requirements. Providing gluten free or vegan options show that you can cater to your client’s needs.
The great thing about having free food and drinks is that you need not convince people to come to your booth, they just do so of their own accord, meaning more traffic for less work.
Everyone Loves Free Stuff
Company swag is always a good option as people are always drawn to cool free stuff.
Giving away products can have an initial cost involved. However, you can circumvent this by attaching the freebies to certain conditions.
Before giving your freebies out, make sure the attendee either enters a raffle you have cooked up or signs up for brand emails. It should be much easier to capture leads when exchanging their information for free products or discounts.
If you don’t wish to come off too strong, you can also see to it that the freebies come with brand information and an intriguing call-to-action.
A popular, go to giveaway item is a pen.
Surprisingly, the humble pen can be a sought after freebie. How many times have you taken the opportunity to grab a free pen?
Use this to your advantage and make sure your company colours, branding, and contact information are printed all over the pen because every time that person uses it, they will think of your company.
Make It Interactive
People are naturally competitive and want to win, especially if it includes a valuable prize or bragging rights.
This is why games are such a hit at trade shows.
Puzzles, trivia and arcade-style games centred around your product or service are just some of the fun things that you can have at your booth to keep attendees entertained.
For example, if your company is centred around food, a great game to play would be to do blind tastings and see if players can taste the difference, or which taste they prefer.
Another idea would be to hold a race to see who can finish one of your products the fastest. Depending on the food, it could be quite messy and very entertaining for visitors to watch. This alone could help draw bigger crowds.
If you are promoting video games, host a contest of who can complete a certain level the fastest. You could even build a custom level, task, or quest, especially for the trade show.
Centring your game around a leader board is a sure fire way to ignite visitors competitiveness. Give someone a time or score to beat, and it will make them want to take part even more.
Awarding the winner a prize in the form of free products, trials, or discounts will add to the encouragement.
Another method would be to provide products that attendees can try out first-hand.
Doing this will engage them and create excitement around what you have to offer, meaning they will be more likely to tell others about your incredible product that they had such a great time trying.
Keep It #Social
As a way of promoting your brand, you must be active on social media as much as possible. Be it Twitter, Facebook or Instagram; you can never go wrong with using social media to get the word out there.
Create a hashtag for the event that attendees can use. Tie it to various aspects of your stand, like the games you are hosting so participants can compare their results.
If you are playing music, you can ask visitors to request songs or artists by using your hashtag on Twitter.
Or get them to share selfies on Instagram after completing your eating contest by using your hashtag.
By doing so, you will not only get your brand name out there by the pictures, videos and status updates posted, you will also be able to give your followers access to all other updates posted by other attendees.
This can create a buzz around your stand on social media, peaking people’s interest and generating more traffic to your exhibit.
Try making use of geolocations to tag the place you’re in so that people can easily find you. Geolocations come in handy if the trade show’s venue is a bit hard to find or relatively new.
You could even try making your own exclusive geofilter to reach a wider audience.
Of course, there are other aspects that factor into the overall success of your trade show exhibit, such as choosing the right event, assigning a budget, and securing sponsors.
However, when your prep and hard work all comes together on the day, you’ll be ready to secure as many leads as possible.
It goes without saying that catching and keeping the attention of trade show attendees can be a difficult task, but when you get it right, you will reap the rewards.
Mark Kao is the department manager of COSRental – an event and conference equipment hire company. Passionate about all things event tech and digital marketing, Mark has taken part in his fair share of trade shows and is always ready to share his knowledge and experience.