When it comes to sealing business deals and building customer relationships, the benefits of exhibiting at a trade show are hard to beat. Brands may not always be able to control where their booth is located or how many competitors show up, but for those who put in the time and effort, there are plenty of ways to ensure their exhibit space makes an impact. Every trade show booth varies by size and strategy, but the most successful exhibits share a handful of common traits. Here’s a look at what the best trade show exhibits have in common.
Focus on the Attendee
Brands may be aiming to showcase the benefits of their products or services at a trade show, but the most successful exhibitors listen as much as they speak. Asking attendees questions and understanding what their needs and desires are will be far more effective than bombarding them with a constant stream of sales speak. When you’re completely focused on the attendee, even for a few moments, you’re not only creating a positive first impression, but illustrating the importance you place on customer feedback. In other words, focusing on the attendee lays a positive precedent for a future relationship.
Keep it Clutter-Free
For the majority of attendees, cluttered exhibit spaces are a huge turnoff. Messy booths make it hard to understand what the brand is trying to convey, and even worse, reflect badly on how the brand as a whole operates. To keep things tidy (and welcoming), effective exhibitors offer well-organized booth spaces that minimize clutter and clearly identify the path attendees are meant to follow. And keep in mind that even the most orderly booth spaces can become disorganized if brand ambassadors don’t do their part to keep things clean. Napkins, wrappers, plastic bottles and other items that are not part of the booth can quickly take away from the display, so make sure your staff is on the ball.
Establish a Lead-Gen Strategy
Exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to get your brand in front of a lot of eyeballs, but if you’re not engaging the right target, the experience can be a waste of time. The best trade show exhibitors arrive at the convention center with a firm lead qualification process that ensures the attendees most likely to do business with them are engaging with the brand for an extended period of time. Some organizations even classify attendees into groups like “hot leads” or “potential partners.” The key is knowing how long to spend with attendees in each category, and just as important, when to politely thank visitors who don’t intend to buy and move on to a more viable candidate.
Make it Interactive
The best trade show exhibits allow attendees to physically interact with your brand which is imperative to making a lasting impression. If booth visitors have an entirely passive experience, the likelihood they’ll remember brand messaging is slim. Instead, ensure that some elements of the booth require participation from the attendee. Integrating technology into the experience is one of the most effective ways to make it happen. From gamification to hands-on product demos to simple photo ops, interactive engagements ensure having the best trade show exhibits.
Hire Standout Event Staffers
It may sound like a no brainer, but event staffers can make or break a trade show experience. To that end, the most successful exhibitors are upgrading their brand ambassador training programs. Every brand implements a slightly different strategy but the goal is always the same—to ensure attendees are receiving top-notch service from event staffers at all times. Intel, for example, focuses its training on “snackable content.” The brand serves up three, short virtual training sessions before events like the Consumer Electronics Show that cover the basics of trade show staffing. The content addresses scenarios like how to deal with the press, basic social media skills for those who might post from Intel’s accounts while they’re representing the brand and etiquette like listening, eye contact, posture and body language—key tactics for grabbing and maintaining an attendee’s attention.
Building the best trade show exhibits isn’t an exact science. Budgets and marketing objectives will always play a role in how the experience unfolds, and the approach may change depending on the target audience. Nevertheless, taking a cue from top exhibitors is a great place to start when it comes to mastering tricks of the, well… trade.
Check out trade show exhibits designed and produced by Sparks.