Several years ago I attended a fledgling convention here in Indy because a few actors I was a fan of were guests of honor. Upon entry, I quickly realized that most of the booths and merchandise were not relevant to my interests. I spent maybe an hour wandering the hall before I decided to leave without even trying to brave the autograph lines, which seemed to be where 75% of the attendees were gathered. (In hindsight, getting Carrie Fisher’s autograph might have been worth it!)
Most of the time when you go to trade shows as a small business, you can be fairly certain that the attendees are there because they are part of a relevant industry. Even at conventions or public events, you can generally assume the average patron is part of your target market – but you can also bet on the fact that your competitors are present as well, vying for attention. So how do you make sure that your business stands out in an exhibit space?
The short answer is that trade show success is measured by how much effort you are willing to put into it, both in terms of booth and display materials as well as customer interaction and engagement. The more time, money and effort you invest, the higher your foot traffic and the greater your return.
Below are a couple of best practice tips and tricks to maximizing your ROI at trade shows and events:
First Impressions Matter – It’s cliche, but it’s the truth. You have a fraction of a second to make a first impression on a passing patron. Creative, well executed and engaging booth displays will make your business more memorable.
Build a Network of Peers – Explore what your competitors and colleagues are doing and learn from their mistakes and successes.. Share insights and experiences, and develop a network of like-minded businesses (not necessarily competitors) who can share referrals and leads.
Cultivate the Customer Experience – Don’t merely rely on a few marketing handouts to sell your business to a passerby. An interactive, engaging booth will almost guarantee you a higher response rate, whether it’s through visual aesthetics, video, personal discussion, promotional giveaways or merchandise.
Get Your People Involved – Preparation for a big trade show or event goes beyond getting your staff or volunteers organized. Building relationships in person with customers and prospects is a huge benefit of trade show marketing. Let people know how and where to find you ahead of time, and don’t be afraid to incentivize them to stop by with gifts or prizes.
If you have any exhibit or display needs, let AlphaGraphics Carmel and AG Signs help you find the best solution.