Learning to boost trade show booth traffic is the the holy grail of any of your convention marketing. More importantly you want them to be qualified visitors. What is the point of having a big crowd in front of your booth if the mob is made up of nothing but people interested in taking home a tote bag full of swag.
Getting someone to head home with some desk widgets or tools with your company logo on them can be excellent for brand retention, but what about getting more people to visit your booth that should have a genuine interest in your product?
There are many great tips out there that have suggestions for doing just that.
1) Plan Ahead to Boost Trade Show Booth Traffic
There is no goal that can hope to be achievable without a strategy and good planning. Christine Lagorio-Chafkin writes on the importance of pre-show planning as a two pronged approach:
“The first would be to contact your in-house file – that’s your regular customers, local contacts, and solid prospects. The other? Registered attendees of the show…You should conduct some outreach to them – or a segment of attendees that might be interested in you – either through direct mail, e-mail, or even phone.”
In this way your expectations for success on the actual day of the trade show improve. By reaching out to your existing clients you begin to shape a real world view of your convention audience. This should help ensure that the trade show you want to exhibit at will contain people who are there to see your product and similar.
Use this valuable time leading up to the event to reach out to your existing customers you want to become closer with, or prospects that might close if you could just get a face to face conversation. Christine adds:
“While you’re at it, make a substantial effort to contact and make appointments with your local clients, suppliers, or anyone you do business with in the geographic area of your show. It’s a simple way to get face-time with folks you might not otherwise be able to sit down with – and a way to make sure you or your employees aren’t wasting time standing around in an empty booth.”
Whether your expectations for the upcoming trade show relate to improving brand recognition with a gambit of in person discussions or you have more grandiose outcomes in mind, your ability to achieve the goals you set is going to relate to the strategy you plan.
Fulfilling your trade show expectations depends on having the booth traffic to make headway with your goals. This means having enough visitors to make a measurable effort and figure out what works and what doesn’t. This becomes a ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario where you need visitors to get leads, and your most qualified visitors would come out of your existing customers and leads (remember pre planning).
Now that you are prepared to engage with your attendees, you’ll want to have a logical next step in mind to send someone once you’ve peaked their interest. There are many clever ways to attract more attention toward your booth such as games, contests, and prize raffles.
Normally you want this process to be as easy as possible to avoid making your attendees work. Sometimes however, you can capitalize off of someone’s need to go beyond the status quo and discover something more.
An email campaign to your existing customers may offer a discount for attending the show that can be redeemed at your booth. This sends qualified traffic your way that comes to the show having a preconceived plan of companies they want to visit. Similarly you can create a scavenger hunt that rewards users for seeking out more information on your brand like a QR code. Scott F. McFadden of CSW Corp. points out:
“QR codes (Quick Response codes) are a great way to be innovative at tradeshows. They can be imprinted on banners, shirts, your booth, chairs, rugs, and all your tangible marketing giveaways. They are a great conversation starter to encourage visitors to download a brochure, watch a video, visit your website, or follow you on different social media channels.”
QR Codes allow you to post cryptic emblems in your emails, website, and all around your trade show booth that allow attendees to interact with your brand and feel technology savvy at the same time. While these tech tools can be great at sparking interest, you’ll want to make sure they are a part of a bigger strategy that does not rely on this sort of gimmick, McFadden warns:
“These aren’t exactly new and trend setting anymore. In many cases they’re overlooked and a novelty. However they represent a merge of technology, interest, and spontaneity. Take advantage of this quick lookup for that moment when you have someone’s interest peaked. They go through the effort to snap your code and look at your promotion, so try to have something worthwhile there to keep them with a favorable memory and not feeling like their time was wasted.”
3) Become the Experience
Sounds spooky and existential – but what does it mean? A trade show can be a lot of fun and a lot of work for attendees. To improve your brand awareness and drive people to your booth try thinking about how you can alleviate headaches and improve their experience.
When you’ve been walking around talking for hours and someone hands you a bottle of water, whatever you were feeling is paused for a moment as you thank them, notice who was so kind and continue on your way. In that moment of refreshment the water giver has become part of your experience and helped it improve.
Anything that breaks up the norm, especially if it saves someone time and effort is appreciated and earns you some good will. Doesn’t everyone hate trying to find parking and then walking in the heat toward the convention center? While not within everyone’s budget, Tim Carter explains how becoming a car service does just that:
“Consider renting a small van or bus for the day. It can give you a unique opportunity to increase traffic to your tradeshow booth. Putting the name of your company on the van or bus gives you instant exposure to anyone moving through crowded parking lots. Those who catch a ride may also feel indebted to your company. The least they can do is give you a few minutes to learn more about the products and services that you offer. Of course, running a shuttle bus also gives you a chance to take control of the experience. If you choose a booth near the tradeshow’s entrance, you can use the location as a pick-up and drop-off point.”
In one swoop many of your goals of brand awareness, goodwill and an opportunity for face time to explain your product have been achieved.
4) Nurture the Now and Later
Just as you worked hard to set up meetings and promote your attendance to boost trade show booth traffic, you want to carry on that effort after the show to nurture your leads. Megan Zweig at The Core, Marketing blog suggests hiring a photographer to increase demand that people seek out your brand.
“Hire a photographer to chronicle your experience at the tradeshow by taking photos of your team in action along with fun photos of you with your customers on and off the show floor. After the event, mail your customers a card with the photo of you and the customer framed and ready for placement on their desk.”
If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? This classic philosophical adage is my best way to sum up your marketing. In the ever more important world of social media, anything good that your brand has done (sometimes winning points for admitting when you do something not so good) should become part of your social media strategy.
You want to get the word out, and so do the companies you are there to meet with! If you have thoughtfully put some of your budget toward showcasing the people you have met at the show and sending them a little something that pictures them at the show, they should appreciate it. The added benefit is you’ve started the conversation by doing something nice and now they have a way to be reminded of you the next time they need something.
5) Go Above and Beyond
In today’s world of marketing there is almost nothing that hasn’t been thought of already. This doesn’t mean you want to stop trying to exceed expectations as well as boundaries as you seek to reach your audience even after a convention.
While trying to market to exhausted trade show attendees during the after hours will most likely become noise, you can still become part of their end goal: relaxation! While giving out food or drink and offering a quiet place to sit are great ways to improve an attendees’ experience at the show, Megan points out that your efforts can continue on:
“Invite existing and potential customers and partners to your gathering and offer them light bites and cocktails featuring your fresh products. People will head to your booth in droves for an opportunity to attend THE social event of the show. Take advantage of their visit by sharing your latest products/services/news.”
Many of these suggestions may come off as pandering, and that’s not wrong. Anything that calls attention to your brand and leaves a person with a positive mental association with your company is a win. During the busy chaos it becomes the difficult task of your marketing team to boost trade show booth traffic and manage the leads produced. Leave an impacting impression and reinforce that brand recognition in the days and months after your exhibition.
Did we find the best choices? Let us know what your favorite strategies for boosting trade show booth traffic.
The Monster Displays team can be reached at Sales@MonsterDisplays.com or call (888) 484-3344, we’d love to put our experience to work for you.
Read more Monster advice on How to Attract Business at a Trade Show.