Although trade shows offer a great opportunity to network and generate new leads, they can be a lot of work. By the time you add up booth rental, labor costs, travel/hotel/food and all of the supplies it takes to pull it off? It can be a major investment. If you want to get the best possible return, you need to drive more traffic to your trade show booth.
Here’s the problem. You’re at an industry event and your booth is just one among many offering similar products and services. So how do you distinguish yourself from the competition AND attract your ideal customer?
Check out these five creative strategies to drive more traffic to your trade show booth!
1. Plan a pre-show outreach.
Approximately 70% of show attendees will create a list of what brands/booths they want to visit before they ever hit the show room floor, so make sure you’re on the list! Since only about five percent of the average event budget goes to pre-show promotions, that means many of your competitors won’t make any effort to connect with attendees beforehand. (Source: Center for Exhibition Industry Research)
Set your company apart by putting together a targeted email or direct mail campaign that will motivate people to stop by your booth. Start with your in-house file: that’s your current customers, contacts and qualified prospects. Then contact the show organizers for a list of the registered attendees and their contact information. (If you’ve paid for booth space at the event, it shouldn’t be a hassle to get the list.)
Although an email campaign is certainly the cheapest route, it might not be the most effective. In the digital age, your customers and prospects are bombarded with hundreds of marketing emails every day. Snail mail might actually get a better response. [Insert shock and awe.] Consider sending “lumpy mail” — something like this 6″x 9″ postcard –to make a strong first impression before the show.
The old “drop your business card in the fish bowl for a chance to win…” will still get you lots of business cards. Here’s the deal, though. How many of those cards will produce viable warm leads after the show ends? Chances are, not nearly as many as you would like.
Our suggestion? Make your incentive something that’s geared toward your ideal customer. You can even tie this into your pre-show email/direct-mail campaign. Perhaps it’s a free consultation, a sneak peek at a brand new product, or a premium promotional item that’s not available to every tchotchke grabber who passes by the booth.
Word to the Wise: If you do decide to offer a premium gift as part of your incentive, take the person’s information when they visit your booth and tell them you’ll drop it in the mail after the show. Not only have you saved them the pain of lugging more stuff around the show floor, you’ve also created an incredible opportunity for follow up! (This also eliminates potential jealousy from the tchotchke grabbers.)
3. Use social media to connect with attendees.
With well over 200 million active Facebook and Twitter users in the U.S. alone last year (see source), social media continues to play a vital role in developing relationships with customers and prospects. Why not harness that marketing power to drive more traffic to your trade show booth?
Create a #hashtag for your presence at the event, and throughout the show, post videos, pictures and interesting things happening at your booth. If there’s an event hashtag, be sure to include that in all of your posts, too.
Here’s where you can really make the most of a drawing/raffle! Encourage people to share something about your booth on social media for a chance to win a gift with high perceived value, preferably one that’s branded. (There’s nothing like handing out a gift card only to have the person forget who gave it to them.) We like this sports cabana, Igloo 5 day cooler, and Brookstone Big Blue speaker, but you can find more ideas by clicking here.
Once you’ve designed your giveaway, promote the heck out of it! Make sure you’ve got big bold signage in the booth that says something like “Share your pictures and videos from our booth on social media using #yourhashtag for a chance to win ______ !” Train your booth staff to mention it as part of their pitch, too.
4. Make your booth both functional AND appealing.
If you’ve got a 10′ x 10′ booth, you’ve got about four seconds to draw someone in as they’re walking by. That means your booth needs strong visual appeal and a good layout. At minimum, you need branded table covers and an attractive display that showcases your products/service.
Think about retail when you’re designing the floor plan for your booth. If at all possible, create a layout that invites people in and gives them room to hang around for a while. You want your booth staff to interact freely with visitors, and that’s tough to do when they’re stuck behind a table.
Speaking of standing, try adding padded flooring mats or even chairs to your booth. After hours of walking on hard, concrete floors, people will welcome a spot to rest their tired tootsies. (Thus, giving you more time to build those new business relationships!)
5. Use games or food to increase foot traffic.
Nothing draws a crowd quite like games and good snacks. The longer someone walks the show floor, the more likely they are to breeze by your booth…unless you have something really interesting to reel them in. This is where games come in.
You’ll want to set up the game so that your booth staff can chat with attendees while they wait to play. From prize wheels to pinball games, these portable games have mass appeal. (Click here for more information.) It’s easy to customize and change out the graphics, and you’ll be able to be more purposeful with your giveaways, too!
You don’t need to spend a fortune on prizes, either. Just make sure that they’re useful and interesting. As far as food goes? Think bottled water (with your logo, of course), individual cookies, breath mints or packets of trail mix. People will stop by your booth if they know you’re the ones with the good chocolate.
Whatever you do, plan ahead, be strategic with your incentives, use social media, and make your booth as attractive as possible to draw people in. By putting these into action, you can get an edge over the competition and successfully drive more traffic to your trade show booth!
Interested in a free consultation to discuss your trade show strategy? Click here to contact us.
For more tradeshow prize/incentive ideas, check out these related posts:
Don’t miss our upcoming show on March 3rd at the Pelham Civic Complex in Pelham, AL! Click here to register or scan the QR code below for more information!