Down to Business: Boost your trade show booth traffic

Andy Singer - Speaking

Trade shows can be a great networking opportunity. By attending the right trade shows you can meet with existing customers and new customers, check out the competition, mingle with media and catch up with old friends.

I was at a trade show last week and ended up discussing how to draw people to your trade show booth with a friend of mine. Over the years I have attended and exhibited at more trade shows than one life deserves. At these exhibits I have witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly ways to boost booth traffic.

Here are several ways to boost trade show booth traffic:

Food/Beer: Food and beer will definitely draw people to your booth. The question is will there be a good return on the investment. The answers will depend on how focused the show is. If it’s a smaller show and your product or service could be used by most of the attendees, the return on investment can be excellent. If it’s a large show and your product focus is narrow, the majority of the attendees you serve may have no interest or need for your products.

Drawing for a prize: At my friends booth they utilized a drawing for a tablet as a way to achieve interaction with customers and potential customers. Having a drawing for a desirable item can be a very effective method to boost traffic. Additionally, it offers your booth staff “bait” to draw attendees walking by toward your booth. There are a number of variations on these drawings, all of which can be effective.

Room drop: Most exhibits have a host hotel and executing a room drop can be a very endearing method to build brand recognition and get people to your booth. If you are targeting a broad group you might just utilize a door hanger or post card. A more targeted room drop to your best customers and potential clients can be one of the most powerful methods of making a lasting impression. As an example, in 1990, I interviewed with a company that executed a room drop at the hotel they booked. When I walked in the room I found a bottle of wine and chocolates waiting for me. Here it is 24 years later and the image is as clear as if it happened last week. For these targeted room drops use a nice gift such as wine, cheese, nuts or chocolate. A combination arranged in a basket will never fail to make the right impression.

Games: Having some type of game in your booth is a classic that still works today. It can be a Wii type game, a trivia contest, prize wheel, slot machines or a putting contest. You will want to have prizes and set the booth up so that it is easy for booth staff to speak with attendees while they wait for their turn. You can also consider a brief survey that attendees need to fill out in order to participate. Once you attract a few people, the crowd will grow larger. Leveraging this aspect of human nature is as easy as getting the first few people lined up for the game you have chosen.

Promotional items: If you have ever walked around a trade show you know there is an unlimited number of promotional items available. If you are going to spend money on promotional items, be certain they are either very useful or very unique. Be careful with promotional items, unless well executed they can be a complete waste of marketing funds. If well executed, they can make a lasting impression for years to come.

These are only a few of the ideas you can consider. The key is to understand your target for these marketing efforts and assure you obtain a good return on the investment in increasing your trade show booth traffic.

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