This is a fairly typical scenario for trade show marketing planners: You have made the decision to have an exhibit in your industry’s leading trade show. You have planned properly by selecting the appropriate trade show; nailed down the key objectives and goals of your company’s trade show marketing team; and hired professionals to build a dramatic, eye-popping trade show display. Now all you need to do is wait for visitors to find your booth. You believe in the motto, “If you build it, they will come,” right?
Not exactly. With tens of thousands of square feet of trade show floor and hundreds of competing trade show exhibits, prospects finding their way to your company’s booth can be an overwhelming challenge.
Fortunately, there are proven ways to get crowds to your trade show booth. According to Elaine Cohen, Founder/President of Live Marketing in Chicago, you need to be imaginative and pro-active to stimulate trade show exhibit traffic. You need to design a fully integrated crowd-gathering campaign for success in getting visitors to your exhibit. Once there, you need to educate them, connect them with a sales representative, and get them to take a desired action.
Cohen sites an example of a crowd-gathering trade show campaign that she designed to produce highly successful results for Purina Pro Plan® at the National Dog Show in in 2005. The campaign was titled “The Difference is Real–Real Meat, Real Commitment, Real Experts.” The trade show live presentation was so successful that it was repeated at other shows.
Cohen not only got people to Purina Pro Plan’s booth, but had them actively involved once they were there. Here’s what drew the visitors:
- The stage was set with banners at the entry to the trade show hall, announcing Purina as the presenting sponsor of the show. Signage was displayed inside and outside the event venue. In addition, the custom trade show exhibit had the prime location at the hall entrance.
- High-energy music, visuals of great-looking dogs, and colorful signage drew trade show visitors’ attention to the Purina Pro Plan exhibit and theatre.
- A crowd-gatherer greeted visitors and directed them to the exhibit by inviting them to learn how to get the most out of the show. People-movers such as a presenter and a booth ambassador enticed people into the booth and moved them from activity to activity. Visitors got insights into how their dogs could lead happy, healthy lives. Purina brought 10 staff members to work the exhibit—brand specialists, experts, and field sales people.
- A live theater presentation featured a presenter who gave away complimentary Purina Pro Plan hats and entries into a drawing to win a year’s supply of Pro Plan food. Pro Plan Frisbees and dog food bag clips were awarded to those who answered questions. The audience eagerly participated.
Many trade show visitors who wore their hats around the show floor were rewarded by being spotted by roving exhibit staffers. Those who were spotted received coupons.
The results were significant:
- 1,222 consumers experienced the live presentation over the 2-day show.
- 60 to 80 people participated per presentation, with many standing and sitting around the theatre area (the theatre had 30 seats). This exceeded the initial goal of 400 by over 300%.
- 1,672 people completed all 3 activities.
- 2,000 Pro Plan hats were distributed.
- 100 Pro Plan hat wearers received $5.00 off coupons from Pro Plan spotters.
- 1,000 Frisbees were given out.
- 3,500 coupons were distributed.
In order to have a successful trade show exhibit experience you must have a plan in place to bring people to your booth and also give them a good reason to spend time at your there.
The next time you exhibit at a trade show, by having pied pipers attract a crowd to your audience-focused, live trade show presentation, your exhibit will become a crowd-pleaser.