Making a visual impact at trade shows

When looking to make a statement when visiting a trade show be sure to follow these steps to maximize your presence.

This article is written for the smaller exhibitor, the exhibitor who rents a 10' x 10' or a 10' x 20' booth. Those big guy's whose 1,600 square foot exhibits dominate the trade show floor have a lot of options. Aside from size, they have a lot of arrows in their quiver to get the attention of the over stimulated attendee. They bring in antique automobiles, squads of pretty models, prize giveaways, free coffee drinks, and even exotic animals, the works. Anything to grab attention. So you have your work cut out for you. However there are ways you can increase your small trade show booth's visibility without breaking the bank.

Location, location, location. There's a reason the spaces by the entrance are grabbed up first. Attendees attention span tends to fade as they patrol aisle after aisle. So catching them early is a good strategy. There's a valid argument that is they see you early they might forget all about you by the time they walk the show. We'll deal with that later. Aside from being near the front doors getting a corner booth is just as important, if not more. First off, a 10' x 10' space has 20' of facing, if you place a two-sided banner stand at a forty five degree angle on the outside corner it can be seen from four directions. Again, grabbing on of these preferred booths requires registering early.

Graphics. As in transit advertising you're trying to grab the attention of a moving target. You probably have about three seconds to get anyone's attention. So, Keep it simple. If your graphics read like a book no one's going to bother. Make sure you can communicate what it is you do as simply as possible. you can communicate what it is you do as simply as possible. You can communicate the detail later, verbally or in your brochure. Graphic design is also very important. Dull boring graphics communicate dull and boring. Make a statement! Be bold about it! I promise, you'll get more attention than something that's just so-so. I once walked by a booth twice without getting any idea what they were selling/ The only reason I stopped by the second time was to ask just what in the hell they did. I suppose it's a strategy but I wouldn't recommend it.

Hand outs, or swag. Please don't bother handing out pens or other cheap and forgettable junk. Spend a little more money on something with quality and that's unique. You might even have something a little more expensive to give to attendees who seem more interested in your product. But either way, be sure to get their contact information.

Prize giveaways are another successful way to get the attention of over exposed attendees. There are a lot of games that have been used like darts, basketball, or knocking over pins with a ball. Another way is to do a good old fashion drawing wherein people who register have a chance to win a range of product or cash prizes. Cash prizes tend to be the most popular. For example, do drawings every two hours for one or two hundred dollars. Then at the end of the day the big prize of five hundred, one thousand, or whatever you can afford. Obviously, the bigger the prizes the more attention you'll get. People who participate will not forget who you are. Again, take the contact info from everybody who stops by. Since trade shows are face to face, it's the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your product or service if it can be demonstrated in the show environment. If it's something your audience can do, all the better.

Technology and social media are increasingly finding a place in trade shows. Touch screens, digital signage, and social media are all being used to some effect. Unless these media can play a specific role in your products use they're not as important as what you do with your physical space.

Robb Murray