Once you’ve secured a spot at a local or international trade show, it is go big or go home. And you’re likely busy brainstorming creative ideas to stand out from the crowd.
Of course, you can leverage tech and consider which trade show apps to organize schedules, hotel arrangements, inventory, staffing, and more all in one central location hosted on a cloud server or even rent the best floor displays, pop up booths, and table top displays.
This is just the tip of the iceberg toward ensuring success at your next trade show. Here are 10 more ways to make sure buyers remember your exhibit, secure leads and position your team to close more sales.
1. Select your best verticals
Real estate agents know it’s all about location, location, location. So, keep this in mind when you map out your trade show marketing plans. You know how crucial it is to your business to focus on the niche in your market. In fact, that’s marketing 101: the more tailored your products to a vertical market, the more leads you’ll earn. And that’s one step closer to securing a sale.
2. Go against the grain
There’s no way to be creative without going against the grain. Creativity is what draws people in. Presenting the world in a new light and offering endless possibilities. Be new! Be exciting! To heck with “by the book” booth and vendor tactics. Have the guts to create a visually stunning experience! Why not? This is your chance to inspire, wow and awe.
3. Make it a game of things
Keep the day light and easy. Keep it fun. Entertain and amuse. Three “prize” games you can add to your exhibit include the Money-Blowing Machine (exactly what it sounds like), a customized Prize Wheel, and attention grabbing promotional items that are well outside the box.
Coined by legendary direct marketer and copywriting genius, Gary Halbert, grabbers or “items that grab attention” are tried and true tactics. When Halbert, the “Prince of Print” ran his mail promotions, he’d attach dollar bills to the tops of his sales letters. This dollar represented what the letter was about: making money.
Nowadays that shtick has run the gamut, and is worn-out and done to death. So, what new, exciting grabbers can you come up with? Go nuts here!
4. Don’t forget “WIIFM?”
This is the hard fact (and if you don’t know it by now, today is a good time to learn): Nobody cares about your business — until you make them! Simply showing up isn’t enough.
You’ve got to be fearless when it comes to generating leads and closing sales. When you design your exhibit, focus on answering the question “Why should people care about us?”
What do you bring to the table? How does your business help people’s problems? What do your products offer? This is less about solving your niche’s problems, and more about re-evaluating the reason you created your business in the first place.
Then splattering that message all over your customers’ faces. Remind them why they should go with you, instead of competitors. This is the core value behind marketing, remember? You owe it to your customers and prospects to solve their problems and make life easier.
Forsaking that in the name of being overly entertaining for the sake of amusement is sacrilegious. And bad for sales. Don’t believe me? Watch.
5. Deliver P.T. Barnum showmanship
That said, entertainment draws. “Exciting” awakens. P.T. Barnum, the “Shakespeare of Advertising,” was known for his crazy antics and public deception. He had a museum and, to draw in a crowd, he paid a man to lay bricks in a circle outside his museum. The man would lay down a line of bricks, pick them up, and lay them in another line.
Believe it or not, this drew an audience! To the point local police had to shut down the event. The brick-laying goon was blocking traffic. Naturally (since human behavior can be typed down to a science) people in the crowd wanted more. And they went into Barnum’s museum. Mission success? I think so.
6. Hire keynote speakers
Or, better yet, sponsor one! Hiring (or sponsoring) keynote speakers that are dominating the public arena will… (drum roll) ... Drive traffic to your exhibition! This is really a no-brainer, but it’s a good refresher to keep in mind when your creative ideas are running on fumes.
7. Go social media crazy
Develop a way to incorporate your official social networks before the show and during the event … Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, you know the deal. “Social media” is just a fancy phrase for staying in touch.
8. Charge up
Let me ask you this: Do you know how many people in the world have mobile phones? Six billion. Prospects at your booth who are out and about probably forgot their charger at home, in their hotel room, or simply don’t have it. For shame.
Listen: Standing out from the crowd is crucial. Having a charging station at your booth shows prospects and guests that you’re considerate and thoughtful. If they’re really serious about doing business with you, this hot tip will center you on the top of their minds.
9. Be human and get in the crowd
Listen: We’re people. Not statistics. You can’t learn what’s going on in the hearts and minds of your customers by sitting at your pumped-up booth. You’ve got to actually sell people by walking with them and talking with them. Maybe even eat with them! Crack a joke and laugh together. Maybe have a couple beers after the day’s done and it’s closing time.
It’s been said in advertising that door-to-door salespeople are better copywriters than “real” writers. This is true (and rightly so). Why? Because door-to-door salespeople experience human life first-hand. You can’t sell to people if you don’t understand what they’re looking for, what makes them buy and what problems they need to solve. It’s selling 101.
Same as with testing direct mail promotions, website testing analytics or doing A/B split tests for your lead gen forms, you’ve got to test your big day’s work after all is said and done.
Figure out what worked. What didn’t. What brought the most public interest? Why’d people spend time at your competitors? This is easy to overlook, especially when there’s so much to evaluate… but we’re out to make money here.
When money is on the line: cutting corners is unacceptable. You’ve gotta be mercilessly when it comes to analysis. In the world of marketing, the only thing that matters is results.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Rohit Agarwal is the co-founder of Smart Web Point, an India based content marketing company. He is an architect by profession and content marketer and writer by passion. He is also an author at The Huffington Post, where he shares his own experiences and things that matters him most! Connect with @rohiag on Twitter.