Today's guest post is courtesy of Sarah Bridgewater.
Trade shows are one of your best ways of saying to your customers and competitors "This is who we are; this is what we're about." It's an opportunity to show your company at its absolute best and to attract new business. In order to get new business and a better return on investment, you're going to want the best booth you possibly can.
Draw them in before the show: If possible, send items — the more novel the better — to prospective attendees before the show even begins. This will create a buzz and make your booth if not the first stop, a must stop, of the conference. You can even send vouchers for discounts or coupons on products in services in advance, to be redeemed at the booth.
Draw their eye: A good booth will attract people like anything else in the world: with great lighting and great colors. The more vibrant and well-lit you can get your booth, the more likely it will demand attention. This isn't to say the busiest booth will win out every time. Simplicity can be more effective than a stimulus overload as long as it's bold. Sharp colors like reds, oranges and greens, as well as shiny metals like chrome, gold, silver and bronze will call the visitors' eyes like ringing a dinner bell on a farm.
Make it hands on: Trade shows have the uncanny ability to speak to the child in all of us. Make your booth interactive; get your visitors involved. This can be demonstrating a new technology or product, a raffle to win services or prizes; it can even be a game like a scavenger hunt or bingo. The more involved they can be with your booth, the more opportunity you have to sell them on your company. The more entertaining your booth is, the more likely they will remember it well after the trade show has come to a close.
Make it count: Give them a reason to attend your booth. Offer deals, promotions or discounts only available through the trade show. No one likes missing out on a deal and the climate of the expo might push them into taking advantage of all they can, or in pulling the trigger on a transaction that might have otherwise taken weeks or months to close.
Location, location, location: Whenever possible, try and secure the best location you can for your booth. Sometimes booths are pre-assigned and you won't be able to. But in those instances where you can pick your spot, even if it means doling out a little more money, the increase in traffic will only lead to more potential customers and will be your best plan for a solid return on investment. Corners are great, as are entrances and areas where there might be a special display already drawing people in.
Get out from behind the table: Get out there and interact with attendees rather than sitting down at a table literally putting distance between you and a potential sale. Be engaging and allow traffic to flow in and out of your booth, rather than just passing by. This will allow you to mingle and draw them in instead of shouting to them to stop and check you out. If you have to have a table, place it in the back or perpendicular to the back.
Finally, smile and have fun: No one wants to go up and talk a bunch of disgruntled people who look pained to be there. Pleasantry and a smile might be your best instrument for assuring ROI at a trade show.
About the Author: Sarah Bridgewater has been writing about B2B marketing for more than 20 years. When she is not writing, you can find her at home or traveling with her husband and two boys.