Freebies and promotional items are a great way to share your brand with potential clients and customers. However, if you rely only on pens, calendars, cups and like items to create interest in your tradeshow booth, you could be throwing money away. Here’s why:
Just giving a free item to tradeshow attendees doesn’t guarantee they will actually engage with your brand. Consider these ways to get traffic to stop at your booth and then use specialty items as a thank you gift for the time visitors spend with you.
1. Start promoting before the show begins
Find out if the organizer of your trade show makes the list of pre-registered attendees available to exhibitors. Since they are already planning to come to the show, you can focus on getting them to find your booth. Reach out to these contacts prior to the show through snail mail, email, phone calls, or all three. Offer an incentive that encourages them to visit you during the show. Don’t forget to contact your current customers and prospects located in the geographic area of the show and offer them a VIP pass to the show. Promote your attendance often across as many touch points as possible – on your website, in trade publication ads, your email signature block, even on quotes and invoices!
2. Edutain them
Edutain means educate and entertain your visitors. The number 1 reason people attend trade shows is to see new products and services. They want to learn about how what you offer will help solve their business problems. Whenever possible, demonstrate what makes your product or service unique. A fun and informative interaction will engage your audience. Seeing is believing, but whenever possible, let visitors touchthem, learn how to use them, taste them – experience is what makes face-to-face marketing so compelling.
3. Offer an oasis
Draw people into your booth just by giving them a comfortable place to sit. Think about it – tradeshow attendees are on their feet a lot during the day. Offer them a chair massage, a comfy place to sit, a cold drink, or even a warm chocolate chip cookie. Have a charging station nearby for their devices. Captivate your audience with a few minutes rest from the maddening crowds and they’ll give you their time and attention in return. As an added bonus, visitors may recall their experience with your brand more positively than with your competitors.
4. Create curiosity
Conduct an unusual activity within your trade show display to draw the attention of passersby. When a small crowd gathers, it creates curiosity among passersby that makes them want to stop and find out what is happening. Performance art like sketching caricatures on an iPad or engraving initials on a grain of rice is novel enough to spark stop traffic long enough for your booth staff to strike up a conversation.
5. Sponsor a contest
People love to win so a contest can be great traffic builder. Be sure that the contest and prize(s) align with your brand and theme for the event. Dropping business cards into a fish bowl to win an iPad may get you a bunch of business cards – but not all of them will be qualified potential buyers of your product or services. Shape your contest to around your goals: do you want ideas for your next product or service? collect survey data? Evaluate prototypes? Decide how the prize(s) will be awarded – most creative idea, scoring correct answers or random drawing. Whether or not winners must be present to win or will be notified. Then determine when you want to award the prize(s) – daily or after the show. Just be sure you get their contact information. After the show you can promote the names of winners on your website and to trade press.
Gwen Parsons is Senior Vice President of Nomadic Display, a leading producer of portable and modular displays for face-to-face marketing events. Since joining Nomadic in 1986, she has helped the company achieve a leadership position in the industry developing and implementing marketing programs designed to support the sale of Nomadic’s products and services.