UPDATED: 15TH JULY 2018
Generating interest, footfall and hot prospects at a trade show is a case of simple maths – if you want more red-hot prospects and qualified leads, you need more people stopping and interacting with your stand.
It’s no longer a case of using promotional models in skimpy outfits to draw in a crowd because there are decent laws against this kind of thing now.
It doesn’t matter what your product is, or how amazing it is, if no one gets to see it, or hear about it, you’re not going to generate new business and reach your maximum potential at a trade show.
The trouble is, every other exhibitor at the show is also trying to get more visitors at their stand.
It’s like a battle to the death. While wearing suits and carrying heavily-branded tote bags.
So, how do you compete in a way that gets you some attention?
OK, maybe I should have been more clear. How do you compete in a way that gets you some POSITIVE attention?
1. Specific and Clear branding
There can be a tendency when exhibiting at trade shows to try and aim for as many visitors as possible and, while more visitors are certainly more preferable than fewer visitors, you need to make sure that you’re getting the right kind of footfall at your stand.
One of the first things you can do to help qualify leads is to have clear, distinct and smart branding on display.
Of course, you want your stand to be visually appealing. It’s a shop front after all. You want to draw people in, and that’s great, but don’t lose sight of who your target customer is.
Think about them.
After all, you’ve done all the hard work and research in discovering your ideal customer. You know where they work, what they like and what they don’t like. Make your trade show stand design attractive to them. Draw them in with branding that appeals to them and, once they are on your stand, advertise those key benefits and features that you know are important to them.
Let the branding do the hard work for you.
2. Provide tasty refreshments
That photo of “Duke’s Smoked Meats” made me hungry for some reason, which brings me on to another point – food.
The average trade show day is loooooong. As a trade show magician, I’m on my feet for 8 hours, constantly performing for visitors that walk past my stand. There have been times when I would have happily killed my favourite relative to get a hot brew (of course, I’m ALWAYS ready to kill my least favourite relative for a cuppa!).
The lure of some free food and drink is obvious when you think about long and tiring trade show days (and the exorbitant prices exhibition centres charge for a sandwich – “£5 for a Tuna sandwich! What is this an airport?”).
A coffee cart offering free cups would be a gold mine after a long day of meetings and breakout seminars.
A stand with a burger van on would be super busy when everyone sees the price of the food at the kiosks.
It doesn’t even have to be restricted to food items.
Meditation pods….beds for power naps…anything that could make a trade show attendees life easier has the potential for being used as part of your stand.
3. Teach them something
At a busy two or three day conference, trade show visitors will tour the hall many times. A good way to make your booth stand out, as well as encouraging people to come back regularly, is to teach attendees something. It can be anything:
- Something related to your business,
- a skill,
- a demonstration of a product or idea,
- something totally unrelated, but is quite fun,
- a lecture about how to survive a trade show,
- how to solve a Rubik’s cube…anything really.
Have different slots planned for different days, with different skills and ideas being taught and you’ll have a steady stream of return visitors to your stand.
Not only that but by providing something of genuine value, people will remember you and have positive feelings about you and your brand.
4. Let there be Wi-Fi
Aside from coffee, food and magic tricks, what else do visitors at a trade show REALLY want?
Sex? Drugs? Rock and/or roll?
How about a place to sit down with some Wi-Fi?
Create a nice small space on your stand where visitors can sit, chat, check their Facebook (we all do it) and just relax.
Let them recharge (both themselves and their devices).
Like the coffee/food idea above, rather than thinking about your product/company/message, think about the nature of a trade show. Think about what visitors would really find useful – something they would really benefit from.
What can we put on our stand that would be rare and valuable to them?
Of course, they’ll be a few people who have no interest in your product and just want to abuse you for a quick sit down, but in the long run, being seen as someone who genuinely cares about visitors and wants to look after them will do you more good than harm.
5. Entertain them
Now, I’m not going to lie and pretend that seeing a card trick is guaranteed to book you millions of pounds worth of business.
It might, but it’s not guaranteed. (The chances of it happening are in fact 89.64573%)
The value of having entertainment on your stand though extends beyond just putting smiles on your stand visitors faces.
Having entertainment – such as a magician – on your stand can offer many benefits:
- It’s a soft sell – we can tie your message into our routines, so it’s less “salesy”
- When all of your sales staff are busy, we can hold people on the stand until they’re free and ready to close ’em.
- The spectacle of having an entertainer on your stand will draw people to the stand that you would not have seen otherwise
- We can help qualify leads on the stand, during our presentations – “How many of you are data managers, looking for new storage solutions?”
Some entertainment ideas will be better than others, and not all of them will lend themselves to being able to implement the ideas above, but you get the idea.
An entertainer can be a great “secret sales agent” on your stand.
6. Make a video
As social media becomes even more prevalent in our lives, the power of video is gaining traction too. It’s becoming more important as a marketing tool and you can take full advantage of this on your trade show stand.
Visually, moving images and sound are very eye-catching and appealing to passers-by, who otherwise may not have noticed or interacted with your stand. Not only that, but because you can spend time carefully crafting the video’s sales message, it will be more powerful and likely to convert (it also won’t get tired as the day drags on, or nip off for a two-hour lunch!).
The choice of video is important though…
I’m amazed that I lasted until point 7 before mentioning freebies. We all love freebies. Many attendees make it a point to collect as many as they can (it saves them buying gifts for their families on their return), so you might as well take advantage of their greedy nature by giving them something that they’ll keep and treasure forever.
And by “keep and treasure forever”, I do of course mean, “throw into their bag and pass off to their kids when they get back home”.
T-shirts, chargers, USB memory sticks, battery packs for phones, Rubik’s cubes, magic tricks, pens, stress balls…
If you can think of it, it’s probably been mass produced and had some chemical companies name printed on to it.
The best idea is to think of something your visitors would actually have a use for (it doesn’t have to be business related, it can be something entertaining too), and slap your brand all over that.
8. Virtual Reality
It would be silly to ignore VR. Especially after mentioning the power of video to tell a story about your brand and product.
If you have something that could work well with VR, then it could be a great addition to your trade show stand.
VR is still a novelty idea to most and it alone will be enough to bring people onto your stand to see it first hand.
It’s also really good entertainment, not only for the person experiencing VR but also for the crowd watching, as he fixes an aeroplane wing, completes a surgery or does the Macarena.
If you’re exhibiting at a trade show in the near future, you’ll have given some thought to how to increase your footfall and draw attendees on to your stand. Hopefully, some of the ideas above will have been of help.
Whatever method or idea you implement though, remember the key idea:
Think about what would genuinely be useful to the visitors and offer that.
What would your visitors really want to see, do, taste, feel or experience?
How can you help and serve them in some way at your stand?
What would give them some real value?
By genuinely serving your customers, you’ll magnetically draw them in, which is far better than shouting for their attention.
If the entertainment idea above sounds good to you, I may be able to help you at your next trade show…
*** WARNING!! THERE’S A SALES MESSAGE COMING!!! THERE’S A SALES MESSAGE COMING!!! ***
I’m a trade show magician and presenter who specialises in building crowds at trade show booths and helping qualify them into leads!
USE THE FORM BELOW TO CONTACT ME ABOUT YOUR NEXT TRADE SHOW!