With all the exhibitors, exhibits, attendees, and all the activity at a trade show, how on Earth can you help your company’s brand be etched on attendees’ brains for longer than 15 seconds? The answer is fairly simple – think of your audience. If you think of your audience as individuals who need you, then it will be easy to think of WHY they need you and HOW you could help them. From there, think of your time, your giveaways, your booth experiences as little gifts for these people who are interested in what your company and what you have to offer.
You’re not necessarily interested in capturing EVERY person who walks through the expo hall doors; you’re just interested in capturing the attention of those for whom your product or service would be a good fit. So, think of THOSE people. And use the following ideas to leave an impression on your booth attendees.
1. BE MEMORABLEEasier said than done, right? Maybe, but there are lots of ways to be memorable, to make an impression on your audience. You need to have stellar merchandise (more on this later); you need to have booth activities that stand out; you need to have friendly, engaging booth staffers. Booth staff should always be “on,” whether they’re in the booth or in the aisles or in the restroom. If they represent the company and especially if they’re wearing company merch or a nametag, they need to have their heads in the game. That means they need to be at their best, most wonderful selves – conversing with a friendly smile, holding a door open for someone, etc. As for booth activities, remembering your target market, the expo theme, and your own company’s brand can help determine the kinds of interactive experiences you want to provide. The starting point is that you’re trying to create an unforgettable experience. When you do this and people begin to participate, other attendees see it and it makes them want in on the fun, too. Along with the experience, attach a prize the game. The higher quality the giveaway merchandise, the more memorable you’ll be. Every time the attendees see or use that merch, they’ll think of you. .
2. BE RELEVANTWhen you begin to think about WHAT you could give away, make sure you know your audience, your specific target market. Are you trying to attract Adults? Teens? Kids? Is your company construction? Banking? Farming? Ask yourself what your target market needs. For example, say your business is a construction company or an interior design company. One idea for a merchandise giveaway could be a tape measure with your company’s logo on the side. People will save that tape measure because they are so handy and you can easily throw one in the junk drawer, the tool box, your car, and so forth. They’re never in the way and you’re always needing one. As time goes on and the recipient is in need of a construction company or interior designer, they’re going to have your company’s name in their recent memory, having seen it over and over again.
3. BE ATTRACTIVE
The last thing you want to do is give out merchandise that doesn’t make it past the garbage bins by the expo hall doors. The first thing you want to do is choose a giveaway that creates buzz, that people want, that they’ll use. A good rule of thumb is to think in terms of trends and of necessity. Here are some great ideas for giveaways that won’t get trashed:.
- Technology – Anything techy is going to be a big hit because people can’t live without it. Every person at the conference is going to have a phone (and probably an iPad, laptop, or other device). Slap your company’s logo on portable phone chargers, car adapters, pop sockets, charging cords, screen protectors, selfie sticks, or phone wallets and you have got yourself a winner!.
- Apparel – People love to get free clothing because it seems to be a more elite giveaway. Apparel is a great giveaway because people are not likely to throw it away and it gets carried beyond the expo walls. Think beyond just t-shirts, however. Your logo can go on tank tops, hats, headbands, socks, sweat shirts, hoodies, sweat pants, or even flip flops.
- Necessities - Try to think of items that people NEED but don’t necessarily want to buy. Or think of items people might have forgotten or need an extra of as they travel. Branded tooth brushes, ear plugs, ear buds, first aid kits, sunscreen, lip balm, and more are great ideas. Depending on your company’s industry, you might decide on some luxury items like facial masks or makeup bags/kits.
- Food - We've all seen company branding on water bottles, but have you considered mints? Gum? Granola bars? Trail mix? Gummy bears? Flavored water packets? Food items can be a hit because people like to snack, and sustenance is viewed favorably as a giveaway. Some expo halls frown on messy giveaways, however, so check your expo’s rules before you decide.
- Dailies - Some giveaways can be popular just because they are so darned useful. Mugs, water bottles, cozies, lunch totes, disposable wipes, and more get daily use in America. Consider your brand and try to link it to a daily-used item that might make a great giveaway.
- Trends - Following the trends is always a good idea. The trendier you appear to your attendees, the more hip your company seems. To achieve this, choose a trendy giveaway. Even if the trend goes away a month later, you were there for it! Think fidget spinners!
4. BE FINANCIALLY SAVVYMaybe you need to watch your budget and don’t have a ton to spend on expensive giveaways and flashy games. (Many companies don’t!) Not to worry. Social media is FREE advertising. Create a memorable hash tag so attendees can tag your company, creating exposure and reach outside the expo walls. It’s a proven fact that people are more likely to believe in and frequent businesses that their friends boast about. You could even set up an online contest incorporating the hash tags. For example, whoever has the best photo wins a Bluetooth speaker, flat screen TV, or a unique experience off the show floor (like a helicopter ride)! At the event, have a selfie area with some fun props. Or have someone there who can take the photos. You want buzz IN the booth and OUT of the booth, so make sure everything is easily shareable on social.
There are lots of ways to make an impression and make it last. Consider your audience and consider what you are trying to communicate. Just these two considerations will help you immensely as you seek to capture the attention of new business.
This article was inspired by ""How Do You Create an Unforgettable Booth" by Kristi Schulz and first appeared at skyline.com