Trade shows are potentially an excellent way to promote your brand, engage with your customers, and attract new leads and potential clients. However, the competition at such events is often incredibly fierce. Multiple companies will be vying for the spotlight, aiming to attract the highest footfall they possibly can. In such an environment, it can sometimes be challenging to stand out from the crowd. Thankfully, there are plenty of strategies that you can implement to make your company stand out at a trade show. In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at fifteen of our top tips for making your brand noticeable before, during, and after the event.
Our tips are split into three sections; we’ll cover some general advice for putting your company at the forefront, some booth design-specific tips, and how to successfully market your brand. By implementing some or all of these elements, you’ll soon find that your trade show stand has people flocking to it. Your main aim is to create a buzz about your company that will have event goers spreading the word for you.
How to Stand Out at a Trade Show
In this section, we’ll look at some general tips for making your trade show appearance a success. They cover a wide range of practical advice that should help you with the planning stages of your event. Hopefully, you should plenty of advance notice of a date, so there are no excuses for leaving things to the last minute.
Start Planning Now
It’s never too early to start your planning. Your perfect trade show appearance isn’t going to just fall into place; it takes preparation and hard work. Planning an event can be challenging and often overwhelming. To overcome such challenges, you have to give yourself and your team the best possible chance of succeeding. Your planning should start as soon as you get confirmation that you’ll be attending an event. Even if you don’t know the exact date, you can still start with the preparation. Assemble your team and begin delegating responsibilities, make a master document that everyone can view, and start figuring out what your budget is.
You’ll not want to bombard your attendees and sponsors right away, but you can certainly start with the outreach early on. A gentle reminder that you’ll be appearing at a particular event, even if it’s in the distance, can help start generating interest. You want your business to be front of mind for when the event finally does come around, and you want to be prepared to deliver a fantastic experience on the day.
Check Out the Competition
Trade shows can be absolutely buzzing when they’re in full swing. Attendees will be spoilt for choice when it comes to stalls and booths they can check out. If you’ve put a decent amount of effort into your brand’s presence, you can be assured that other companies will have done just as much. This makes the competition fierce. To try and get an understanding of what you’re up against, you need to check out the competition and see what they have in store. There are a variety of ways you can do so, which will hopefully mean they don’t blow you and everyone else out of the water on event day.
Start by taking a look at the promotional material they’re working on. They may be tweeting or emailing about what their plans are for the event. If there are other expos that they’ll be attending, don’t be afraid to go and check them out. You’ll soon be able to get a feel for how they operate, and in doing so, you can be fully prepared. Don’t focus on your competitors too much though, it’s vital that you have your own identity and draw at the trade show.
Invest In a Great Display
We’ll cover this in greater detail in the next section, but it’s definitely a point that should be part of your early preparation. It’s easy (and cheap) to keep things simple for your trade show appearance. A modest display is easy to prepare for and set up. Unfortunately, it won’t really make you stand out much. You can try relying on your brand name alone, but that may not be enough.
When you’re planning out your event, ensure that you allocate sufficient budget to your stall. You want it to be as appealing and visually impressive as possible. Don’t scrimp on the public-facing part of your booth, or you’ll be damaging all the other hard work and preparation you and your team has put in. If you have the resources in-house to create a great display then definitely use them. If not, you can reach out to agencies, freelancers, or specialists to help you create an eye-catching display.
Unveil Something Big
If you have something big in the pipeline, such as a new product or service, a trade show can be an excellent time to show it off in public. The benefits of doing so are manifold. First, it allows you to create a buzz in advance of the event. You could create a whole marketing campaign around the unveiling of something new, teasing details and images in the run-up, and letting everyone know that it will be on-show at the event. Secondly, it will mean that event attendees will spread the news at the trade show itself. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and a product launch or unveiling is the perfect opportunity to generate some.
One further benefit of a big unveiling is that it will hopefully generate footfall and a queue at your booth. If people are excited to see your latest addition, they will flock to your stand. This attention creates curiosity among other event-goers and is a great way to advertise your stall.
Create a Buzz
Again, this is a point that we’ll cover in further detail further down. Creating a buzz is all about marketing your company at a trade show. Above, we mentioned how a new product launch or unveiling is a useful way of generating interest. However, even if you don’t have such a tactic to rely on, you can still create momentum going into an event. You will need all your marketing wiles to do so and should tap into every resource you have to make it a success.
Reach out to the media, tweet often on the event’s hashtag, work on an email and Facebook campaign. All of these tactics can help to drum up some interest in the event and your appearance there. Focus on your unique selling points and give your customers and potential leads some good reasons to seek you out at the trade show.
How to Create an Epic Trade Show Booth Design
One of the key elements in making your brand stand out at a trade show is having an amazing design. Your booth should advertise your company and its message, drawing casual passers-by to check out why your stall looks so great. Of course, this is easier said than done. Thankfully, there are some fairly simple ways you can increase your appeal. As we mentioned above though, you’ll want to ensure you dedicate enough resource to making it look fantastic.
Even if you’re personally not all that tech-savvy, that shouldn’t dissuade you from incorporating it into your stall. There are many different ways you can do so, but your aim here is to bring something that is unique and preferably interactive. Having a video is a great place to start. It will draw in people more than any amount of written literature ever could. Whether it’s a promotion video for your products and services or some unique branding, a screen with a digital display can really attract attention. You could even have a live stream of something, whether it’s people using your products or a place of interest to your business.
It’s worth considering adding some touch-screen panels to your display. This level of interactivity can make getting your brand message across a whole lot easier. People won’t feel as pressured when they’re at your stall and can take in information at their leisure. Such screens aren’t expensive and can be easily rented for such functions. You can even hire people to assist you with creating content for it.
Go Big or Go Home
You want people queuing up at your booth. Your display should be visible from almost any vantage point, being bright, big, and welcoming. Ideally, you want event attendees to say to one another, ‘have you seen that awesome booth over there?’ when they reference yours. One way of doing so is choosing a theme that fits with the event and your brand. In the planning stages, think about the best possible example of this theme and aim for that. Of course, it may not be possible with your budget, but you can get creative in your aims to achieve it.
Try to come up with ideas based on what would impress you at a trade show. Don’t be afraid to incorporate elements you’ve seen at other trade shows from your competitors, but if you do so, ensure that it has your brand’s unique take on it.
Stand Out From the Crowd
Speaking of competitors, you can learn a lot from what works and what doesn’t by looking at their performance and layout. You can no doubt see the kinds of booths that have appeared at previous years’ trade shows by checking Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. This can not only let you know what the competition is like and provide some inspiration, but it can also give you a benchmark for how you can beat your rivals. Standing out from the crowd requires some forethought and strategy, and understanding the competition is the first step towards that.
You don’t want your booth to be a carbon copy of every other booth at the trade show. Instead, you want all the personality and unique selling points of your brand to shine through and wow people. Some of the points we mentioned above and cover below can help you with this.
Have Swag Bags
Everyone loves a swag bag. They can make an otherwise tedious event worth the while in the eyes of attendees. However, there is a definite art form to creating an awesome swag bag. A plastic bag filled with some pens, magnets, and key chains just isn’t going to cut it. Your goodies should be tied into the theme of your stall and the event if possible. Try to choose items that are functional, perhaps a little quirky, and pleasing for all attendees.
If you can source items from local suppliers, focus on an eco-friendly theme, and have an interesting and valuable mix of loot, you’ll soon have people lining up to get their hands on it. Such a level of hype can be invaluable for spreading your brand message.
Be Friendly and Approachable
This point seems to be a given, but you’ll be surprised how often it’s overlooked. You want to create a welcoming atmosphere for your booth. Such an environment is fostered through how you decorate and portray it, and through how your staff members act. You want your most outgoing and engaging individuals on-hand to sell the brand. People will be drawn to warm and welcoming people who are ready with a cheery word and a big smile.
Trade shows can often be exhausting for people manning the stalls, so make sure you have a fresh supply of volunteers available to take over. The last thing you want is bored and tired-looking people trying to advertise your brand. It will be off-putting for the majority of passers-by.
Marketing Your Company at a Trade Show
Even if you’ve put the effort into the planning an amazing experience and allocated the budget for creating an incredible display, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t properly market it. You need to focus on the before, during, and after elements of marketing for a trade show. Your primary goal should be to create some hype around your stall, but you’ll also want to provide some good coverage on the day and some outreach once it’s all wrapped up. The list below has some useful advice for all three.
Use the Event Media List
Most events will have a list of media outlets that will be in attendance and covering the proceedings. If you are making a big announcement or have something special in mind, contact the event organisers and ask for the list. You’ll then be able to reach out to journalists and reporters directly, telling them about the exciting news you’re planning on breaking. Inform them that you (or someone from your company) are available to give an interview on the subject. This strategy has the potential to provide you with some excellent exposure ahead of the event, and may even give you some coverage during it.
You’ll want to try and choose media outlets that will actually be interested in your appearance. Try to select the ones that are specifically related to your industry. They will often be more than willing to give you some coverage. However, don’t contact them if you don’t have something newsworthy to say, as they won’t be interested and it could seem too self-serving.
Social media has become an increasingly important means of marketing. Through it, your brand can be in round the clock contact with your customers and potential customers. It’s therefore important you embrace this medium and make full use of it. Most trade shows will have their own specific hashtag. You should identify this straight away and actively contribute to it with some worthwhile content. You can also create your own brand-specific hashtag to generate some momentum. Through this, you can tease details of what’s going to be on-show at your booth, as well as provide information for where you’re going to be and when.
Twitter isn’t the only channel you should utilise. Make sure you post on your Facebook and Instagram accounts and even consider an email campaign to back your appearance at a trade event. All such methods will hopefully bring people to your stall when the day of the show arrives. When everything kicks off, make sure to continue tweeting updates and pictures on how it’s progressing.
Send Out a Press Release
We alluded to this in the first point of this section. If you have something newsworthy to report, make sure you contact the press about it. There are two ways you can approach this. The first is to send out a press release in advance of the event, with news of what will be on-show. As we’ve mentioned, generating such interest can keep attendees interested and intrigued for when the day arrives. The other method is to prepare a press release that ties in with your big announcement. You can then release it at the same time as you unveil your exciting news. This method is a good way of maximising the impact of your announcement and can capture the imagination of people at the event.
As with giving interviews or reaching out to the press, you should only adopt this tactic if you actually have something interesting to say. If not, focus instead on the other elements we’ve covered in this list.
Reach Out Well in Advance
You can start giving your customers or event attendees a taste of what’s to come not long after you confirm your attendance and the date of the trade show. Of course, if the event is far in the distant future, you may want to give it a bit of time first. You don’t want to fade from people’s memories. But a campaign on social media or email where you drip feed information to the people who will be at the event can go a long way to making you stand out. It could be teasers for a big announcement, photos of the swag bags you’re providing, or interviews with industry names that will be in attendance.
The last thing you want to do is dump a lot of information a short time before the trade show is due to start. People won’t read through masses of writing, and unique selling points might get lost. Besides, other companies will be vying for clients’ attention with their own campaigns.
Market Before, During, and After
Your marketing efforts shouldn’t be limited to before the event. You should have your finger (or your social media manager’s finger) on the pulse before, during, and after the event. We’ve mentioned the importance of Twitter already, but you can support all of your channels throughout the process. Consider a live feed of the booth on your Facebook page or a series of blog posts in the run-up and aftermath of the show.
If you’re creating new leads while at a trade show, be sure to reach out to them shortly after the event. Thank them for their time and interest in your stall, and try to convert them into customers or clients. Post how successful the event was on social media channels, and including plenty of photos from the day itself. There will be plenty of lessons to be learned from such events, and the next one will be just around the corner.
Standing Out at Trade Shows: Final Thoughts
In this post, we’ve covered a variety of practical tips you can implement to stand out from the crowd at events. Much of your success will be determined by how well you plan out your appearance, and there are many elements to consider. Your main goal is to differentiate yourself from your competitors by creating a stall that has the wow factor. Doing so will generate a whole lot of footfall.