Combine direct marketing and branding
The best trade show stands effortlessly balance direct marketing and branding to close deals at the show and in the future. While the focus of your stand should be attracting visitors, increasing brand awareness is a great secondary focus.
Make sure your stand features your company name, your logo, and any branding material that you think might be relevant. The perfect exhibition stand strikes the perfect balance between branding, product showcase, and sales-driven direct marketing campaign.
Use useful free giveaways to your advantage
Most free giveaways don’t work. Some free giveaways, however, are incredibly good at helping prospects remember your business. Choose a giveaway that’s useful and memorable for attendees and you’ll enjoy some serious feedback and sales action.
The key to a great giveaway is making your free product something that your target audience has a genuine, immediate need for. Things like plush toys might look cute, but they’re not something that most prospects genuinely care about.
After all, when you’re spending the entire day browsing trade show displays, would you want to carry around a plush mascot toy? The best free giveaways are useful on the day and small enough to carry round.
Pens fill a need. Your prospects will visit anywhere from ten to 100 stands during their time at a trade show. Give them a customised company pen and they’ll have something that stays in their pocket for the entire trade show and gives them an immediate reminder of your company whenever they make a note
Coffee cups and drink bottles are popular giveaways that only work when they’re used properly. Most people aren’t going to collect multiple coffee cups or bottles during a conference, but if you can give yours out reasonably early they’re very likely to stay with your prospects long after the show.
Other common trade show giveaways, like plush toys, beer coozies, and key chains are less than ideal. At the end of the trade show, you’ll find that a lot of them end up in the trash. The best giveaways are functional, small enough to carry in a bag, and used frequently enough to be a useful branding tool.
Expensive giveaways – things like USB memory sticks – are a mixed bag. The goal of a free giveaway is to be profitable, and overspending on your free gifts can hurt your trade show exhibit’s profitability. If you must choose a high-end giveaway, save it for prospects that seem serious about becoming customers.
It should also go without saying that cheap and tacky giveaways such as laser pens or plastic toys are rarely a good idea. How effective is a giveaway if it’s broken by the time the event is over?
Competitions work best at horizontal trade shows
Competitions for high-value items like iPads or televisions work best at trade shows where you’re targeting a large group of prospects. Since the goal of a competition is to attract a large audience to your stand, it’s not a good idea if you’re exhibiting at a trade show where only a specific audience will be interested in your product.
However, if your product or service appeals to a broad audience, you can use a high-value giveaway to attract thousands of people to your booth. Prizes like iPads and laptop computers are perfect for generating thousands of sales leads, particularly consumer sales leads, during a trade show.
Since competitions won’t attract the warmest leads, they’re best used for business-to-consumer products and services where the lifetime value of each prospect is lower than in a business-to-business environment.
Attract your audience with interactivity
The more interactive your exhibition stand is, the more effective it will be in attracting your target audience. Things like product demonstrations – or better yet, products that prospects can test by themselves – are excellent ways to make your exhibit more interactive and attract prospective customers.
If your product has a unique feature that could impress your audience, have one of your staff members perform a live demonstration. The infomercial approach – a live demonstration that explains the product and sells it – works well at a trade show.
An even better approach is to have a live product demonstration and samples that prospects can try out. Apple has built a multi-billion dollar retail empire using the simple strategy of letting prospective customers try products before they buy.
When your product has a unique selling point that makes it better than anything the competition is offering, your best sales strategy is making it an integral part of your exhibit.
Quizzes, particularly quizzes about your company’s products or services, are a great way to add interactivity to your booth. Instead of running a normal competition for an iPad or notebook computer, put together a competition that requires entrants to learn something about your company.
Include some questions on your quiz form about your product and note that all of the answers can be found within your exhibit. This gives prospects an incentive to look around your stand and learn more about how your product can help them.
The best interactive booths draw prospects into the experience of your product or service. If you can show the value of your product using a demonstration or quiz, you’ll be in a far better position to convert visitors into customers.
Remember that successful interactive exhibits will draw crowds. Have brochures and other sales material ready to keep prospects occupied while they’re queuing up to try your product or watch a demonstration. Your brochures should address the questions customers frequently ask, priming them for your sales team.
Creating a comfortable environment for attendees:
One of the best ways to make your interactive trade show stand really succeed is to offer comfortable seating for attendees. Put yourself in the average attendee’s shoes – after a long day of wandering and standing, nothing is as tempting as a sofa.
Set out your demo products beside a comfortable sofa or lounge chair and invite attendees to come in and try them out. If they’re interested in your product, have your sales staff pull up a spare chair and close the deal on the spot. Ensure your sales team knows that the chairs are for customers only – not for relaxation!
Don’t be afraid to try a unique or unusual design
If you’re aiming for direct sales and maximum ROI, your best choice of stand is one that puts your product or service front and centre. However, if you want to attract media and blogger attention, building a unique booth is a great idea.
These unique trade show booths are a great example of what you can achieve with a large budget and a focus on creative design. Note that almost all of the examples are for large companies that rely heavily on branding and media coverage.
If sales and a positive ROI are your objectives, stick with a booth that attracts sales prospects. If media coverage is your goal, go wild with your exhibition stand design to attract the attention of bloggers, journalists, and industry commentators.