Other Lessons in This Course
- How to Improve Traffic to Your Trade Show Booth
- How Do I Use My Promotional Products?
- How Do I Distribute Promotional Products?
- How to Wash a Baseball Cap
- Why Some Drinkware is Not Dishwasher Safe
- How to Shrink a Shirt
- What Prevents Ink From Rubbing Off an Item?
- How to Clean Your Reusable Water Bottle or Travel Mug
- A Guide to Caring for Your Gadgets
- How to Wash Your Tote Bags
- How to Improve Traffic to Your Trade Show Booth
- The Best Trade Show Giveaways for Your Industry
- How to Choose the Right Trade Show for Your Business
It's loud, crowded, and exciting. No, we're not talking about the Super Bowl or Lollapalooza. This is all about trade shows, which are giant conventions where businesses can show off their products or services while housed under giant displays. It's like Comic Con with just as many nerds, but fewer people dressed as Batman.
What are some ways to stand out? How do you attract a crowd to your booth? It's time for your business to be the shining star at your next trade show!
There can be a lot going on at a trade show, to the point where it's information overload. That's why it's important for your business to do whatever it takes to stand apart. You want to be what attendees talk about with their friends and family after they leave the convention hall!
Luckily, there are a few things you can do before and during the show to bring more attention to your display.
Use Social Media
Social media is a beautiful thing. You can use it to send out updates about the trade show and encourage your followers to come visit. Let them sneak a peek at how exciting it's going to be at your booth.
Create an Eblast
Are you displaying a new product at the trade show? Give your subscribers a heads up with a pre-show eblast. Even if you don't have a design team, you can still craft a well-designed email that will hype people up!
Set Up Appointments
Make it possible for prospects to schedule a time to talk with you at the show. You can even take it a step further and give them a nice gift for thinking ahead. If the attendees know a gift is involved, they're more likely to pay you a visit.
Send Out Direct Mailers
While it may seem old school, direct mailers are still valuable in the business world. Be creative with your design and remember to include a QR code, promo item, or raffle ticket they can use at the show.
You want attendees to visit you before anyone else. Maybe the first 100 people to visit your booth will get a complimentary dinner or a prize basket with your new product, free of charge! There should always be a reason for them to visit you over anyone else.
- Post about your appearance at the trade show on social media.
- Send an email to your followers.
- Set up appointments with attendees.
- Create a direct mail package.
- Offer some kind of incentive for visiting your booth.
Give Away Something Cool & Relevant
Free giveaways like logoed keychains, tote bags, and pens come with the trade show territory. Every business has these tchotchkes decorating their booth. Stand out with giveaway items that look unique, tell who you are and what you do, and will actually get used rather than thrown into the garbage.
Put It Into Action
You can talk all day about how awesome your products or services are, but the attendees want to see if it works. Whether you give a demonstration or let them take it on a test drive, it's more powerful to show human hands using the product or service instead of listing out bullet points about its benefits on a piece of paper.
Bring the Right People
The grumpy guy in accounting should stay home on trade show day. Stock your booth with vibrant, enthusiastic personalities! Your staff should avoid jargon, dress nicely, and be willing to dance, laugh, and venture out of the safety of the booth.
Make it Visual
In this context, looks definitely matter! You're not going to attract attention with just your brand personality. Dress to the nines with a colorful display, bright lighting, and floor arrows pointing in your direction. Some companies even go all out and use eye-catching inflatables!
Create an Experience
Raffles, games, live shows, and fun extras will attract the crowd to your booth. The attendees are likely tired, so also consider hosting a relaxation station with chargers, Wi-Fi, comfy seats, and food. If you have a personal masseuse there too, that definitely wouldn't hurt!
- Give away promotional products.
- Demonstrate your product or service to the crowd.
- Staff your booth with enthusiastic people.
- Make your display visually appealing. Create a memorable experience.
1 Free Giveaways That Aren’t Lame
2 Staff Members
with Good Personalities
3 Bright Lighting &
4 Relaxation Station
with Chargers, Wi-Fi,
& Comfy Seats
5Raffles, Contests, or
Games that are Actually Fun
6 Fun Extras like a
Comment Wall, Smoothie Machine, or Photo Booth
7 Live Entertainment or a Celebrity Appearance
8 Follow Up Incentive like
Coupons, Workshops, or Tickets to an
9 Decorative Display
10 Free Food and/or
- #1 - Free Giveaways That Aren’t Lame
- #2 - Staff Members with Good Personalities
- #3 - Bright Lighting & Eye-Catching Props
- #4 - Relaxation Station with Chargers, Wi-Fi, & Comfy Seats
- #5 - Raffles, Contests, or Games that are Actually Fun
- #6 - Fun Extras like a Comment Wall, Smoothie Machine, or Photo Booth with Props
- #7 - Live Entertainment or a Celebrity Appearance
- #8 - Follow Up Incentive like Coupons, Workshops, or Tickets to an Exclusive Event
- #9 - Decorative Display with Easy-to-Read Signage
- #10 - Free Food and/or Beverages
While these tips are definitely a great way to get the crowd’s attention, it also pays to have a theme at your trade show booth.
David A. Gilliam, a Professor of Marketing at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is a strong proponent of themed displays. In 2012, he studied trade show booths at multiple conventions across the United States to see which ones had the most traffic. Based on his research, he found that the most successful booths were the ones that honed in on a target goal, created an interactive experience, offered relevant, unique giveaways, and had a memorable theme.
For example, Gilliam went to one show where the company was named Tango. Even though their company had nothing to do with dancing, they still featured live tango dancers at their booth. This was an effective way to pay homage to their company name, while at the same time attracting attention.
Overall, it pays to create an experience the audience will remember, which could include a theme. The attendees will associate that experience with your brand and immediately recall the product or service you were there to advertise. After all, who could forget seeing live tango dancers at a convention?
Ready to be blown away by some nifty displays? Get inspired by the most incredible trade show booths of all time!
- Nickelodeon – Licensing Expo
- SplashTacular – Skyline Exhibits
- Nature’s Path – Living Maxwell
- Ply Gem – International Builders Show
- Brooks Sports – Outdoor Retailer Winter Market
- JustWink – National Stationery Show
- Organic Valley – MG Design
- Junk Food Clothing
Nickelodeon, a leading network in children’s programming, dazzled the crowd at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in 2014. Not only was their display large and bright, but they also had a Twitter-activated vending machine, a video wall that welcomed guests, and small prizes.
SplashTacular made visitors feel like they were walking underwater at Skyline Exhibits. As one of the most exciting waterparks in the country, this giant display matched all the excitement you would feel on SplashTacular’s breathtaking slides and rides.
Do you remember going bananas over the cool treehouse in your neighbor’s yard? Nature’s Path, an organic food company, brought that feeling back with this arboreal display, which they used to get attention at Living Maxwell’s annual trade show.
When in doubt, just build a giant house in the center of the trade show floor. That’s just what Ply Gem did at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas. The company, which specializes in home remodels, made attendees yearn for home sweet home.
Brooks Sports took their theme to a whole new level at the 2013 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City. The company specializes in athletic footwear and made sure that was reflected with giant runners at the top, an interactive screen, and stools made from mannequin legs.
This truck doesn’t sell tacos unfortunately, but it’s still pretty cool. JustWink, a trendy greeting card company, rolled up in “The Wink Wagon” to the 2013 National Stationery Show in New York. The truck had an HD screen, tablet devices, and a speaker system with bright lights.
Organic Valley made sure to reflect their commitment to environmental sustainability in their display. Along with wind turbines and solar panels, the company also creatively showcased both their products and promo giveaways. Custom lanyards could be found on the end of rakes and samples of fresh grass from their farm were scattered throughout the display.
Junk Food Clothing went for an all-American look with this rustic display. The brand, which is known for their washed vintage tees, took the “junk food” in their name to heart by offering sweet treats to all the visitors. The cozy atmosphere encouraged people to spend more time at their display.
Now that you’ve taken steps before the show and are all set with a good theme and awesome giveaways, there are a few last-minute things to get in order. Make sure you’re prepared with this useful trade show checklist!
At the end of the day, customers are going to gravitate to the booths that look prepared and aren’t running around in a frenzy. What good is spending all that time preparing for an interactive experience if you end up forgetting comfortable shoes at home?
The Bottom Line
The show, or in this case trade show, must go on! A little bit of pre-show planning, trendy promotional products, and an energetic vibe can make all the difference when it comes to attracting visitors. Be creative, and most importantly, remember to have fun!
Alyssa is a super cool Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. She's a fan of diving into the history of some of the earliest promos on the planet. If you need her, you'll find her buried in research, in the middle of a phone interview, or singing way off-tune in her office.