The interactions you have with trade show attendees are often all too brief. Most have a long list of contacts and booths they want to visit, so when they swing by your exhibit, they’re usually in a hurry. You don’t get long to make an impression—and tell your story—so it helps to have printed material that you can hand out as you’re talking, or even in passing. This gives attendees something they can review when they have time to decompress and debrief, and it gives you a second chance to capture their interest.
What makes a trade show brochure effective? There are three simple but essential elements to include if you want your brochure to do its job.
What’s the Point of a Trade Show Brochure?
When you hand out trade show brochures, you’re letting attendees know you have more to offer than you have time to discuss in a quick, five-minute chat. The brochure also serves as a connection between you and the people who visit your trade show exhibit. Once they leave your booth, you’re out of sight, but you don’t have to be out of mind. Give them a great brochure, and you get a second chance to grab their attention later on.
In order to do that, an effective brochure must have strong visual appeal, but that’s just the start. A great trade show brochure also tells readers very clearly what you’re offering, how you can help them, and what they need to do to benefit.
Element 1: Grab Your Reader’s Attention
The first essential element of a great trade show brochure is its cover, or whatever part of the brochure the reader sees first. For most people, the eye is drawn to graphics and photographs, so interesting and visually appealing images are essential for the cover of an effective brochure. If your brochure isn’t interesting to look at, there’s no motivation for a reader to dive in. If the cover doesn’t grab their interest, chances are your hard work ends up in the trash.
How do you make your brochure look interesting? By understanding who your target audience is. By getting into the readers’ minds, you’ll understand what kinds of images will be most interesting to them and what will induce them to look beyond the cover page.
It helps to work with a great graphic designer too. This isn’t something to throw together at the last minute on an office computer. If you do, you risk throwing away leads. Find someone who can take your vision and turn it into a dynamic and visually appealing piece that gets read, not thrown away.
Finally, make sure that the brochure’s design is consistent with your company’s branding and with your trade show exhibit design. Whatever marketing materials you produce for the trade show are only effective at raising brand awareness if they’re clearly associated with your brand.
Element 2: Meet Your Reader’s Needs
If a reader—a potential customer—opens up your brochure, they’re already demonstrating more than a passing interest in what you have to offer. At this point, they’re wondering, “What can this company do for me?” The answer to that question is the second essential element an effective trade show brochure should include. For a brochure to be effective, it has to be relevant to the reader.
This means the brochure should do more than just describe your company and the products or services you offer. Focus on addressing the needs your audience has by telling them specifically how you can help them. Generally, most customers want to know how you can save them time or money—or both. They want to know if you can solve their problem, or address their need, better than anyone else can.
This means your brochure content should tell the story of what you can do for them. Regurgitating company statistics isn’t useful here, and it’s boring. Tell your reader exactly how you can help.
Element 3: Give Your Reader an Action to Take
Once your audience has a good idea of what you’re offering—and what you can do for them—one of two situations arises. Either:
- They’re not interested, in which case their story ends here, or
- They are interested and want to take the next step.
Therefore, the third essential element of the brochure is that you tell the reader what action they need to take to keep moving forward and get the benefits they seek.
For instance, do you want them to:
- Get in touch with you?
- Visit a website?
- Call a sales representative?
- Follow you on social media?
Whatever your end goal is should be stated as a clear and enticing call-to-action. Remind the reader of what you can do, and let them know that taking action is the first step toward whatever benefits you can provide.
You must also clearly outline the steps the reader needs to complete in order to take that action. For instance, if your goal is for the reader to get in touch with you, your call-to-action should specifically state this, and the following text should include details of the different options for reaching you. This could include:
- A website
- Your office address
- Social media sites
The key is to make it easy for the reader to take the action you’re asking them to perform. Don’t give them a call-to-action and leave them hanging with no idea of how to take that action!
Pro Tip: Design matters when it comes to calls-to-action. Make them bold, colorful, and eye-catching.
Bonus: Make Use of Digital Tech
Don’t forget to make good use of digital and online tie-ins to your printed trade show brochures. When you’re using printed marketing materials, your efforts are always more effective if you can tie those materials to your online presence and brand. This keeps the story going for the attendee, allows you more opportunities to prove you’re the right choice, and holds their interest for longer.
One simple way to do this is to include elements that make it easy for readers to access further information online. For instance, a QR code might direct them to your company website, where they can access videos, testimonials, and other content that they can view at their leisure.
With today’s virtual reality tech, it’s even possible to add extra elements right on the printed page. Your readers can use their smartphones as simple augmented reality viewers to look at interactive content and even 3D images. It’s a tactic that’s increasingly popular with retailers and print magazines, but it can enhance any printed page.
Take Your Trade Show Brochure from Boring to Best
There’s always something you can do to make your trade show exhibit and presence more effective, to attract more visitors and to hold their attention for longer. A well-designed brochure is a great way to do this. Not only does it provide extra information about your company that you might not have time to get out during a quick chat, it serves as a connection between you and the attendees you meet. And that’s a connection that can lead to new business contacts and relationships—and new clients.