10 Ways to Stand Out at a Trade Show

July 22, 2015 Megan Stoeckel

After all the innovative talk preached about at meetings, companies seem to continue to find a way to just “fit in” at trade shows and expos. We’ve all seen the regular approach: a vendor buys the biggest booth they can afford, gets their logo printed on some knick-knack and sets up a dinner with an important client at a local restaurant. Boring!

OK fine, their strategy may pick up a client here and there, and it may possibly provide minimal growth, but since everyone’s doing the same dull things, your ceiling is on the lower end of the scale.

Center for Exhibition Industry Research demonstrates that B2B marketers utilized 39.2 % of their budget on expositions back in 2011. If your goal is to stand out amid all the big spenders, then you must invest in a diverse hunting strategy. Real success comes from destroying the tiresome mold.

Here are Ten Ways to Stand Out  at a Trade Show 

  1. Develop a Theme. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate or costly idea. It just has to be related to your company or the sales pitch you prepared. For instance, if your business sells coffee, you should go with a coffee shop theme, with workers that are dressed as beautiful baristas, and cafe lattés freshly made. Or you can link your theme to your firm’s physical location. If your company is based in Brooklyn, consider going with a Coney Island theme. A carnival theme and hot dogs won’t steer you in the wrong direction.
  2. Audio/video materials. Mull over the possibility of adding a video kit to your modular or portable display. Often times it’s as easy as adding a monitor mount, a keyboard shelf, a monitor, or a counter. Collaborative A/V presentations are engaging, interesting, and informative. Like a bee to a flower, expo attendees are drawn to video displays that are produced with excellent quality.
  3. Special effects to impress. If your business sells makeup made from all natural ingredients (for example), then try playing a recording of nature’s favorite sounds. Place your audience in a natural and relaxing setting so they can get the full effect of your product’s origin. Remember to use spotlights as an excellent way to highlight your prize product.
  4. Unshackle yourself and provide hospitality. A lot of exhibitors make the mistake of using their booth as a crutch. They sit there waiting for a dream client to stroll on by and (maybe) stop to talk. Good luck to those folks. Instead, stand up and a bit outside of your booth. If you have staff with you, send someone out into the aisles to spark up a conversation with attendees. Once you’ve enticed someone to come towards your booth, as any good host should, offer some coffee, refreshments, tea, and perhaps some pastries to go along with it.
  5. Music Mood. Select something fitting to your company, not vanilla elevator music, but something more along the lines of event music that doesn’t overpower your demonstration. If your business sells invitations, you may choose light rock or country music with hallmark-like lyrics. At the right decibel, it sets the right mood and can pull a heart string or two for someone interested in a sentimental and well-designed invitation for their event.
  6. Aromas and scents. Go above awakening the sound and vision senses. In fact, try appealing to all five sense if you could. For example, caterers know that the scent of homemade cake can evoke romantic emotions and help sales. You might want to consider this method if you’re a florist as well. Make sure you choose flowers whose scent is overwhelming.
  7. Promotional Items. There are many promotional items that are on an attendee’s invisible list of “must bring home” items. Things like calendars, water bottles, and tote bags will not only go fast, but they are great for keeping your company’s logo and name in offices throughout NYC. If a calendar is placed in a room that has constant traffic like the company’s lunch area, your brand will be on people’s minds each time they glance at it.
  8. Raffles and prizes. Get creative when you are distributing your press kit and pre-show promotional content. Consider having a raffle with a hot item as a prize. Posting the raffle information along with your booth # on your social media pages and website will let prospects know that an incentive exists for visiting you at the expo. So long as you word the content on your pages right and provide excellent pictures, you should see a swarm of people visit you at the expo.
  9. Bring the company mascot. You’d be surprised how easy it is to design your own costume that represents your company. For a less luxurious alternative, you can also rent a costume that one of your staffers could wear, or perhaps you’d like to contact a local theater company for props. In a packed exhibit hall, a character in costume will be obvious, and attract individuals to your booth.
  10. Hire a model or celebrity spokesperson. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an “A” list celebrity or a supermodel but consider a local personality, aspiring talent, or athlete to represent your brand for the day. Make sure they are well-versed on your products and services before the expo so that they can speak intelligently about your company. You’re not looking for someone who will have a bunch of “blonde moments” when someone shows interest. Create a strategic plan with your team so that your spokesperson knows how to draw them in with just enough info before they do a soft hand-off to you or another member of your staff.

These are just some of many recommendations on how to get noticed at the New York Event Planners Expo, but let’s not forget to work together with a reputable exhibit designer as well. The right booth display with perfect graphics will go a very long way toward highlighting your unique services and products. Getting noticed is only half the battle. The other half is to get noticed for all the right reasons.

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