Five Tips To Attract Visitors to your Trade Show Displays

Somewhere in the vicinity of your trade show display, there are hordes of people wandering around. How do you get them to stop by your booth? Or, even better, how do you get the right people in that throng to come to your booth?

There are plenty of ways to get people into your trade show booths and exhibits, but the hard part is separating the wheat from the chaff, so you can focus on the kinds of attendees you want to talk with.

For example, you could sponsor a contest that gives away a flat-screen TV. People will line up to enter the drawing! But they may just want the TV, not your product, and you don’t want to spend your time with tire kickers who aren’t in the market for what you’re selling.

A “spin and win” wheel or a “cash grab” booth will accomplish the same thing, with the same result. In fact, most tradeshow “attractions” suffer from the same shortcomings: they’ll build traffic, but traffic doesn’t translate into potential customers.

Our advice is, forget the gimmicks. Instead, use these five tips to separate attendees from prospects, and then tantalize those prospects to enter your exhibit.

1) First, your efforts to attract prospects shouldn’t start on the trade show floor.

Instead, your planning should begin well in advance with a pre-show promotion strategy. There are two aspects to this:

Start with your in-house customer list. Send letters telling these people that you’ll be at the trade show, include your booth number and (here’s the important part) give them a reason to stop by and see you. Maybe it’s a special gift you have for them (and we’re not talking water bottles or pens here), or it’s a chance to meet with a company executive who’ll be at the show.vburst-flat-backlit-4x3-resized-600

Next, contact show management and request the attendee list. You’ll need to do some research in order to identify prospects on that list you could do business with. Then, do the same thing you did with your customer list: contact these prospects and invite them to see you at the show, emphasizing that all-important reason to stop by your trade show booth.

2) While you’re at the show, the most effective way to reach prospects is to present an inviting exhibit.

Being inviting has both hard and soft qualities to it. The hard stuff is how your trade show display looks to potential customers. Is it open and attractive? Are your signs and graphics clear, interesting and memorable? Is it obvious what you do? Are your products on display, so prospects can interact with them?

The soft stuff is your people. Are they welcoming? Are they trained to engage attendees in open-ended conversations? Do they have the tools to gather leads effectively?

With an attractive booth design and a well-trained, welcoming staff, you’ll be busy talking with prospects all day long.

3) Be sociable before, during and after the show.

Maybe you’re not the kind of person who lives for the next Twitter tweet or Facebook post, but you’d be surprised how many of your prospects are. Take advantage of this by making use of social media throughout the show.

Put up a Facebook page especially for the tradeshow, and post pictures of your preparations for the event. Next, add pictures from your display stand throughout the show and even during tear down. Continue posting pictures back in the office, showing your sales staff doing follow-up. All of these efforts humanize your people, and people like to do business with people they like.

If you plan on having executives in your trade show displays, tweet their schedules well in advance, so interested prospects can stop by and have a conversation with management.

Ask people within your organization for ideas on how to use other social media platforms like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Vine. You’ll be surprised at the ideas your staffers come up with. Incorporate the best of them into your exhibit plans.

4) Attract the people you’ve already got a relationship with.

If you’ve done your homework up to now, there will be people in the exhibit hall who know you. How?

Prior to the start of the show, they received an invitation to your trade show display, or your sales staff called them (or both). Make sure they can find you.

Your signage should be highly visible and legible. Choose your words carefully. You don’t want a lot of them (words). Your graphics should make two things clear to the attendees – who you are and what you have to offer.

Signage should also answer the prospect’s inherent question: “What’s in it for me?” If you can’t read the answer from at least ten feet away, neither can your prospects. You’ve only got about four seconds for them to see your sign, react and decide to stop and do business with you.

5) Don’t let your prospects get away.

You’ve got a limited amount of time on the show floor to interact with each prospect. During this time, your goal should be to build a relationship and generate a lead. This is where a promotional item helps. It can serve as the gift you promised in your pre-show invitation (if it’s nice enough), or it can be something you offer to cement your connection with this prospect.

You’ve got a limited amount of time on the show floor to interact with each prospect. Share on X

Doing this sets the “cycle of reciprocity” in motion: you’ve done something nice for your prospect, and your prospect now feels obliged to do something nice for you. Whether that becomes an immediate order or the possibility of business in the future, reciprocity plants the seed.

One more thing: before your prospect leaves the trade show booth, scan his or her badge, collect a business card or write notes—whatever method works for you. But your goal should be to do whatever is necessary so you have both a reason and a means of connecting with the prospect again.

We’ve been in this business quite a while, and like to help our clients get the most out of every tradeshow. If we can help you create an attractive trade show display design that’s open and inviting, give us a call.

If you have other questions about exhibits or exhibiting, maybe we can help. If we don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll bet we know someone who does! Contact us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected].

For more, check out tips for convention displays or the keys to success in displays.

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