I’ve been to many trade shows where people have complained about not getting enough visitors. Many rookie exhibitors assume that the show organizer will ensure good traffic flow throughout the hall — but people in the aisle doesn’t mean people stopping at your booth. While good show floor design, booth location and incentives like “hall crawls” can provide an advantage, attendees will stop at the booths that they find the most compelling. The onus is on you as the exhibitor to make your booth a “can’t miss” stop.
Don’t rely on show management to let attendees know you’re at the show. People are busy. Most of the people you want to engage with don’t have unlimited time to be walking up and down the aisles, no matter how long the floor is open. Letting them know that you’re there gives them the opportunity to schedule time to visit your booth.
Pre-show: You’ll want to let people know in advance that you’re going to be at the show, and let them know where and why they should visit your booth. At the very least, list the event somewhere on your website, with your booth number and a description of what products, demos, or solutions you’ll be showing or talking about. Consider writing a blog post about your presence at the event or about the event in general. Use the social media hashtags on the channels of your choice to build excitement. Have your sales reps reach out to try to schedule meetings, or schedule demos.
On-site: Once you’re at the show, social media is a great way to keep the momentum going. Share tips and thoughts from the show floor or from any other relevant moments, such as educational sessions. Promote your call to actions (CTAs) to increase booth traffic with simple messages like “At AmazeCon? Stop by Booth 229 to see our latest widget and enter our raffle for three months of free widgets.” If you have a speaking session, let people know at the end that they can visit your booth to have more of their questions answered.
In previous posts, we’ve talked about the importance of good booth design and graphics. That initial eye-catching point is sometimes all it takes to make people take notice, and stop. Maybe you have signage or your booth staff is wearing shirts that ask a question or hint at something that will make people want to find out more. If you have space, in-booth presentations can help drive traffic as long as the content is relevant and interesting (and it’s important to have a good presenter and staff who are good at crowd-gathering).
If you have a larger budget, maybe it’s a compelling raffle prize advertisement, or having a fancy coffee machine. It can be something as simple as having a themed booth where your staff is dressed to match. Giveaways can help you stand out, but make sure that anything you hand out ties back to your goals for the show — if you only want to engage with attendees who meet specific criteria but your booth is clogged by people who just want a free widget, it’s actually counterproductive. Whatever you decide to do to make your booth stand out, make sure it is an accurate reflection of your brand and meets your marketing goals for the event.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but your staff can help make or break your presence. How many times have you been in an environment, whether a trade show or a retail shop, where the staff appears oblivious of your presence? Attendees are usually traveling solo or in a small group, and if your staff are all standing around talking to each other or on their cell phones, it’s both intimidating and off-putting.
Part of this is sending the right people. Not all your booth staff have to be extraverted, but at least half should always be in crowd-gatherer mode, smiling and making eye-contact if not actively trying to entice people into the booth. It’s equally important to have staff who can meet the attendees’ needs, whether that is answering technical questions, showing demos or making connections.
Staff should be trained on common talking points and also on booth etiquette. In addition to the “be friendly and engaging” instructions, things like keeping the booth clean, neat and well-stocked with any literature or giveaways; making sure any monitors are showing what they should be; and making sure there is someone staffing at all times are vital to providing an appealing experience.
Taking these three traffic-drivers into consideration when you plan your expo participation will guarantee that you get more visitors. And you know what else drives traffic? The energy that is generated from a busy trade show booth. When people see how popular your booth is, it automatically will become more interesting — they’ll want to stop and see what all the buzz is about!
Not sure which trade shows are right for you? Read our tips for a more effective trade show selection.
- Danalynne (Wheeler) Menegus