Just like every other marketing channel, the key to success at an trade show is standing out. Set up another bland, forgettable booth and people are more likely to walk by than walk inside, even if your products, services and offers are exciting.
Set up an eye-catching, exciting exhibit, on the other hand, and your business can quickly turn into a star attraction, earning you more traffic, more conversations, more business cards and — most importantly of all — more potential deals.
This is true even if your business isn’t the eye-catching type you’ll need some innovative trade show display ideas. While not every technology brand can be Apple or Google and not every sportswear brand can be Nike, putting together a unique trade show presence can get your “boring” brand most of the way there.
Below, we’ve listed our five favorite ways to make your “boring” trade show presence more fun, interesting and exciting for attendees, and earn your business a few more leads, prospects and sales in the process.
Don’t talk about your products — demonstrate them.
There’s nothing more boring than a trade show booth full of photos of products, as well as the occasional product switched off and fenced away in a glass exhibition case. On the other hand, there’s nothing more exciting than a fun demo of a truly interesting, unique product.
If you don’t plan to demo your products at your next trade show, there’s no reason to bring them with you. Your products should be the core of your booth — they are, after all, the items that will drive your revenue and produce results.
Take your products out of the exhibition cases and off the desks and turn them into a fun, unique opportunity to show customers what they can do. The audience, and particularly the people you want as customers, will notice.
Give away freebies that your target audience will use.
Most trade show freebies fall closer to “totally useless” than “amazingly useful” on the scale of value. One simple but effective way to stand out is to make sure your freebies actually provide value to the people that receive them.
Tony Alfidi, of Alfidi Capital, found that bowls of free candy, which attendees would scoop up to sample, attracted more prospects than other freebies. Other companies have given away coffee beans and other widely consumed food items, often with similarly positive results.
The vast majority of trade show attendees already have more than enough coffee mugs, visors and tote bags. Give away something unique and truly useful and you’ll stand out from the crowd by providing real value, however small, to everyone that enters your booth.
Looks matter — develop an eye-catching, interesting booth.
Trade shows are cluttered environments. To the average attendee, the mass of booths that are piled onto the average trade show floor quickly morph into a neverending environment, often to the point at which each booth looks exactly like the next.
Like Seth Godin says, people will notice a purple cow in a field full of regular, black and white cows. If your booth is a little different — perhaps a little striking — it will earn more than its fair share of attention.
From unique color schemes to exciting product demos, there are plenty of ways to make your booth stand out from the crowd. What can you do to emphasize your company’s personality, values and image in a way that differentiates it from other exhibitors?
Create a game or contest your target audience will enjoy.
Contests are fantastic tools for generating interest, excitement and emotional investment at a trade show. The only problem is that trade show contests are rarely new or interesting, with a selection of classics like bingo and raffles dominating most conventions and events.
In a HubSpot piece, Nathan Yerian of Adhere Creative explained how building a miniature golf hole inside a client’s trade show booth helped them attract a huge amount of attention at their next trade show. The game was both unique and fun, making it a massive hit with attendees.
The key to an effective trade show game is understanding your audience. What are their main interests and hobbies, and how can you create a game that taps into these? A highly relevant, fun contest will always outperform an old-fashioned raffle or overused game like bingo.
Remember that it’s all about ROI.
It’s easy to get carried away with your trade show exhibit in an effort to be as fun, exciting and different as possible, all while forgetting that the entire purpose of a trade show is to generate a positive return on investment for your business.
When you’re planning your trade show booth, remember that it needs to be — above all other things — ROI focused. Contests, product demos and freebies need to offer measurable value, otherwise they’ll generate attention without any real results.
Designing and creating a trade show exhibit is a fun process, but it’s essential that your team is always aware of the importance of ROI. Develop a fun booth and you’ll only ever exhibit once — develop a fun, profitable booth and you’ll create a valuable, scalable marketing asset.
Get more from your next trade show.
We specialize in helping businesses design and create effective trade show displays. Contact us to learn about how we can assist your business with trade show exhibit rentals in San Francisco and the surrounding area.