These days, trade shows are a multi-billion dollar industry. Big events like the Consumer Electronics Show are talked about for weeks on end, and the companies who make a splash can even become household names. So how do you design a trade show booth that’s sure to generate buzz with your audience in mind?
The key is in the name itself. You have to put on a show. In a lot of cases, cardboard panels and laminated posters just aren’t enough these days. While you’ll want to match the tone of the show, for many events, modern trade show exhibit marketing has become incredibly sophisticated. You might see everything from lights, cameras and (inter)action… it’s a show, after all!
The Don’ts of Generating Buzz
Like with any show, what people really want to do is stand out. That said, there’s the good path to take when it comes to attracting a crowd, the bad, and the downright ugly. You want to be buzz-worthy for the right reasons.
One dodgy way of garnering publicity is by attempting to be the next Elon Musk, or really, just trying to be anybody you and the company are not. It takes a certain character to carry off crazy statements and speculations without facing mockery and other negative repercussions. Know your audience and be real with yourself. If you have the charisma and the reputation to pull off a bold declaration or two with the right crowd, have at it.
On the other hand, if you’ll come off looking like you partied a little too hard the night before, don’t risk it – especially considering the ubiquity of smartphones and recording devices. There’s a fine line between bold and ridiculous. Don’t become the next viral meme.
You wouldn’t get dressed for a fashion show without looking in the mirror, would you? So why would you forget to test out your booth? This is especially important if you have interactive components. You need to do proper user experience testing.
You should also check standard things, like if the display text look cluttered. Is it too small to read from a distance? Are the lights too distracting? The colours too irritating? Poor design choices can certainly make your booth stand out – for all the wrong reasons.
Speaking of colours, there are some standard practices you need to follow. For instance, you don’t want to alienate any potential leads because your red and green colour scheme didn’t quite work out for the colorblind attendees in the crowd. Of course, if you’re working with a reputable local designer, they’ll be able to advise you on such standard practice dos and don’ts.
The Dos of Generating Buzz
If you want to stand out from your competitors in all the right ways at the next tradeshow you attend, here are a few tips and tricks you can follow to ensure you garner the appropriate attention and pick up some new leads.
Provide immediate, valuable service
The best trade show booths offer something valuable to existing and potential customers, and they do it on the spot – that is at the show itself. It’s one thing to offer a discount on a future purchase, but what’ll really give you a leg up on your competitors is if attendees have a reason for hanging around your booth. Maybe you’re offering a lounging area with free high speed Internet, or perhaps you’ve set up a food sampling station. This is not a random service. Use your products to their best advantage in order to show how your company can best serve its clients.
Contests and giveaways
It’s practically expected of trade show booths to offer contests or little trinkets of some sort these days, but don’t do it in a careless manner. Think about what your brand stands for. If your company sells chocolate milk, why are you giving away free water bottles? Contests and giveaways can generate excitement, but that excitement has to be in relation to your products and brand. A vacation in Hawaii might be buzz-worthy, but it won’t generate the right leads for a company that sells accounting software. On the other hand, a virtual reality production company could offer a free package at a tech convention, and that will generate the right attention with the appropriate target audience.
It’s all about location
The restaurant industry is a cut-throat business, and this is partially due to location. The same is true of trade shows. While you can’t always control when your booth will be placed, if you do have a say, you need to be strategic. It’s important to place yourself somewhere spacious that is guaranteed to have heavy foot traffic, like near a check-in tent. If your location is less than stellar, the right display booth marketing will be important in drawing attention to you and your company, regardless of where you’re placed.
Design creativity: Colours, fabrics and designs
So this point might sound like it’s more appropriate for a fashion show, but design choices, fabrics and colours can be the deciding factor when it comes to how your booth will be judged. Again, trade shows require showmanship and visual flair. This is one of those things where you’ll probably want to avoid going the DIY route if design isn’t your forte. Consult a local trade booth designer – go through their portfolio for inspiration, and to decide whether or not they can reflect your brand appropriately and in a compelling manner.
Interactivity is one of the biggest ways to boost attendee excitement about your booth. This is the part that offers the ‘action’ aspect of a trade show. When attendees see lineups, they get curious. If your booth offers the right interactivity, excitement levels go up. For instance, if you sell video games, set up a lounge area or a live gaming contest for attendees. Look up what other trending companies have done in the past to see all the different ways your company can offer interactivity in relation to your products or services.
Social media campaigns
It should be a given that your company will have some sort of social media campaign ready for a trade show. This should begin well before the date of the show itself. You need to generate excitement amongst existing clients and potential leads, and alert them of your presence at a show.
This is not something that you should do in an offhand manner. Prepare hashtags in advance, and decide which audiences you’re going to target. This will determine your platforms of choice. Facebook might be a good option for a wide audience, but if you’re selling floorboards to retired homeowners, Snapchat will probably be the least important platform for your social media campaign.
Trade shows are an exciting event for everybody involved, and you’ll want to encourage the appropriate level of enthusiasm amongst your staff, the attendees, and anybody who might read about the show at a later date. Planned well in advance, you’ll be able to leverage your brand and your products or services to create an exciting trade show booth worthy of becoming the next (good) viral hashtag!