There are hundreds of companies at trade shows vying for your audience's attention. They distribute branded items, talk about their products, and do everything possible to scan attendees' badges with lead retrieval scanners. Most companies use the same trade show tactics as each other, and attendees eventually forget who was who. But there are other, smarter ways to strategically approach trade shows that will make you stand out from other companies and competitors and stay on attendees' brains long after the event is over.
Here are 8 awesome suggestions to help your business stand out at the next trade show and make a lasting impression on event attendees.
How to Make Your Business Stand Out at the Next Trade Show
1. Make Your Trade Show Presence 'Inbound'
Conduct a brainstorm and do something different than the average trade show booth. Whether that means constructing unique signage, showcasing something truly unique in your booth, or featuring an activity that draws people to your neck of the woods, do it! Give attendees something they won't not be able to resist as they walk by, pulling them in the inbound way. To make a splash at Dreamforce this year, for example, HubSpot created an iPad app for one of its free marketing tools, and HubSpotters ran reports to measure the website performance of booth passers-by. This drew people in organically, provided them with unrivaled value, and kept HubSpot top of mind.
2. Promote With Creativity
How can you effectively draw people to your booth when there are over 100 other booths and companies with competing products? Think of a contest or mini event that you can hold in your booth. Hook up some speakers, get excited, and attract people who are walking by to enter your contest or attend your mini event.
3. Leverage Social Media to Promote Your Presence
Start telling your fans and followers in social media far in advance that your business will be present at the trade show. Create a hashtag for your presence and give fans/followers compelling reasons why they'd want to come visit your booth. This may include a special giveaway, a new product announcement, or even the opportunity to be the first to have access to new data. Make your posts personal, and engage with your followers one-on-one. During the trade show, promote your hashtag at your booth or use the event's hashtag if one is available, and tweet about the interesting things you have going on at your booth.
4. Make Use of Location-Based Services
Create a Foursquare location for your booth at the trade show. You'd be surprised how many people are checking in to specific booths on Foursquare when they attend a trade show. Take it a step further and offer a special promo to people who check in to your booth. The promo may be a 15-minute consultation (when others receive a 5-10 minute consultation) or an extra prize. This will incentivize people to check in to your booth and will promote your presence to other Foursquare users.
5. Generate Buzz About the Trade Show Internally
Make the rest of your company aware of your trade show presence, and get them excited about it! Leverage the power of their individual connections and encourage them to talk about your trade show presence to their networks. If they're on your business' sales team, they should tell their leads to attend to leverage a one-on-one, in-person sales touch. If they're in marketing, they should promote it on their personal and corporate social media accounts. Internal support can go a long way with little effort.
6. Create a Targeted Offer for the Trade Show
Set up a unique landing page on your website that promotes your trade show presence and gives hints about the value attendees can expect to get from you by attending your booth there. Use this opportunity to also provide them an opportunity to download an ebook or whitepaper that relates to the theme of the trade show. If people are interested in what you are saying, they will have another reason to attend the trade show.
7. Create a QR Code to Generate Leads & Track Engagement
Take our previous suggestion one step further by generating a QR code that you can add to collateral you distribute at the event. Configure the code to send people who scan it to a dedicated landing page with language that addresses the trade show connection and invites them to download a targeted offer. This will not only help you generate leads from your trade show presence, but it will also give you a way to track results from the event.
8. Include Social Sharing Buttons on All Promotions
On the landing page you created to promote your trade show presence, include social media share buttons to encourage others to promote the event through their own social networks. You will immediately increase your reach by making it easy for trade show attendees to promote it themselves. Also, when you promote your trade show presence using social media, ask others to retweet or repost the content. Generating third-party recommendations from people not directly associated with your business is sure to help increase attendance to your booth.
How else are you promoting your trade show presence in an inbound way?
Originally published Dec 26, 2011 12:00:00 PM, updated August 25 2017