Anyone who has ever walked or worked on a trade show floor knows how important it is to engage and interact with attendees. It’s the very rare product or service that sells itself.
With heightened competition for attendee attention at a trade show, it’s important to stand out. In addition to being friendly and open, one of the best ways to do that is to make your booth interactive. By using interactive elements, you get a longer opportunity to talk to and engage with the prospect, and to find out whether or not your product or service may be of interest, and a good fit for the needs of your visitor. Candy, brochures and swag are great giveaways, but the real value is in the exchange of information, not what they’re carrying around with them, even if it does have your logo.
Below are some ideas you can use to attract attendees to your booth, so the conversation can begin. And even if the person you’re chatting with might not be interested, or might not be the decision maker within his or her company for your product, the extra minutes chatting might lead to a great referral.
Low Tech Ideas
- Tastings – If your company produces food or beverage products, or offers it in the restaurant bar or cafe, offering tastings is always a way to draw attendees. The amount of time you have to engage generally increases in proportion to the number of samples there are to taste. You might even ask them to vote on their favorite as another way to elicit information.
- Games and activities – Rather than simply giving away candy or branded swag, offer attendees an opportunity to play a game or participate in an activity. It might be for the opportunity to win something or be entered in a drawing or it might simply be for the joy of the activity!. Guessing the number, spin the wheel, bean bag toss, a putting green, climbing wall, fish pond, trivia, or dice games are always popular, can provide laughs and provide additional time to talk to booth visitors in a non-pressured environment..
- Photo ops – Who doesn’t like to have a photo taken with a celebrity, a sports pro, a cartoon character or a superhero? Even if your budget doesn’t allow for a live celebrity, an authentic-looking life-size cardboard character with the face cut out can be a lot of fun. Or how about a photo in front of a step and repeat? Encourage your guests to post to social media using the show’s hashtag as well as the one you’ve set up for your company, for maximum reach and promotion.
- Demonstrations –Why not incorporate a demonstration of your product into your exhibit. Can you demo it with food? Does it set up and break down quickly? Does it easily fit into something, or does something easily fit into it? Is it waterproof, or does it clean up quickly with water? These demos cause engagement, especially if they’re presented with a sense of humor and there are at least two reps in the booth, so one person can demonstrate and the other can be available for questions
- Take a load off – You’ve worked trade shows, so you know how exhausting they are. If it’s large enough, set your booth up with space for guests to sit for a spell while looking at your products, and you’ll have made new friends. Add a cooler with water, and you just might be a hero. Just be sure the seats aren’t too comfortable so guests settle in for the duration.
- Informational handout – In exchange for their contact information, offer to send a pdf with valuable information about some vital aspect of your industry, case studies, a useful chart, or some other industry essential.
Higher Tech Ideas
- Media – If you have electricity at the booth, consider showing video or a slide show that showcases some interesting aspect of your product: how it’s used, how it’s made, how it’s different, or how it has made a difference for your clients.
- Virtual Reality – Virtual Reality has become ever so popular! No matter what the subject, most VR displays will attract attendees, but if they can be designed to showcase some aspect of your business, even better!
- Booth Design – Depending on the amount of space available, your booth can be designed with monitors and/or graphics, interesting spaces or even vehicles, to encourage attendees to move through the space, not just walk by or around it.
- App Design –Is there a problem many of your attendees share, that you could solve with an app? If so, that might be the perfect conversation-starter. The cost of having an app designed has come down since it’s early days, and many attendees would willingly to talk about your product while they download a useful app.
If you look through the suggestions above, you may come up with a way to combine ideas or be inspired with some of your own. Really, the ways to hold an attendee’s attention are as boundless as your imagination, and while a rock climbing wall is great to have, it’s not necessary to make an impression on attendees.
As a final note, don’t let a good prospect get away without exchanging contact information! And don’t forget to have fun at the show – it shows!
By Carol White Llewellyn