I always find it interesting how many trade show exhibitors are shocked that no one stops by their booth, yet when I ask what they have done to promoted themselves at at trade show, the answer is usually nothing. When I ask them what they have done to attract passers-by to it, the answer is again, nothing. In the age of constant visual stimulation, social media and short attention spans, we as trade show and event marketers must plan more if we intend to attract new prospects to our booth and trade show events.

Below are some simple steps you can take to increase your chances of meeting, engaging and connecting with new prospects at your next event. Below is a checklist of things to consider when preparing to draw visitors to your booth.

  1. Know your assets
    • You should be able to explain and articulate what makes your company stand out.
    • Find out if you are introducing a new product or service or promoting existing ones.
    • Research how you compare to the competition.
  2. Put yourself out there
    • Send invitations to existing customers or top prospects.
    • Make sure to have a web presence by promoting your show participation on your homepage.
    • Look at different marketing opperunties such as print, and digital display.
    • Make sure you have a strong social campaign befoer during and after the trade show
    • Consider a strong email campaign that includes attendees and industry professionals
    • Consider purchasing sponsorships from the show – just make sure they are brand relevant.
  3. Be friendly when at the show
    • A simple smile and hello will make it much easier for people to approach you.
    • Prepare open-ended questions for starting conversations with attendees who walk by your booth. Something as simple as ‘what brings you here today?’
    • Offer people a glass of water, some candy or an opportunity to sit down. Doing so is a great way to welcome them into your exhibit.
    • offering a morning coffee hour is a great way to keep people engaged.
  4. Gifts get attention
    • Get small giveaways to offer attendees. Tie them to your promotional message.
    • Make sure the gifts you purchase are relevant to your audience and different than other gifts that may be there. No water bottles, pens or note pads.
    • Announce the gifts using your pre-show AND event promotions.
  5. Dress up
    • Staffer attire should be distinctive, brand appropriate and, if possible, fun!
    • Update your graphics as needed so they are in good condition, clear and brand relevant.
    • Consider using backlighting or tech in your booth to better highlight your key message.
  6. Add a subtle appeal to the senses
    • Maybe a light pleasing scent can be added with a diffuser or by bringing fresh baked cookies or popcorn.
    • If you have a theme, consider incorporating sound with some low volume music. Make sure to avoid jarring or repetitive sounds and be mindful of copyrights.
  7. Add a little bling – but keep it to a minimum
    • Consider adding LED strip lights with your brand colors to highlight a key message or product.
    • Flowers or plants can attract wary attendees who have been stuck inside a show hall all day.
    • Details that are brand relevant and different will make people stop. A well-lit piece of art, a stuffed animal or beautiful food can make the difference between someone walking by or stopping long enough for you to say hi.