The Essential Guide to Boosting Booth Presence at Trade Shows
In the recent past, there’s been a significant change on trade show floors. Customers and clients are entering exhibit halls equipped with information.
They’re already aware of what kind of problems they have and even know what solutions they’re hoping to find. They have a clear objective in mind when they enter the event, so how can you attract their attention?
By personalizing their experience
While ‘brand experience’ may have just been a marketing buzzword a few years ago, it has become one of the main pillars for exhibitors who are seeking to build a meaningful relationship with their audience. In 2010, 36% of companies competed with each other primarily on the basis of customer experience.
In 2018, 89% of companies started to focus on customer experience. And while a majority of companies believe that they are delivering ‘super experiences’ to their customers, the reality is quite different.
Only 8% of customers said that companies have provided spectacular experiences, which means there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
As an exhibitor, you will have to show your clients that you understand the challenges they’re facing and provide them with unique solutions. This will result in better conversations with clients, the generation of quality leads and an increased return on your investments.
Here’s a look at a few ways in which you can customize and personalize your booth to boost your presence at a show and drive engagement with your target audience:
Stay Focused on the End Game
The popular saying, “Don’t lost sight of the forest for the sake of the trees” still holds water. It is unwise to get lost in the perfection of the finer aspects of your booth if you end up losing sight of your long-term goals.
Instead of focusing on how to do things, pay attention to the reasons why you’re making certain choices. When you understand why you’re opting to carry out a particular marketing strategy, the how to do it becomes easy.
While you’re working on the various elements of your trade show strategy, take a little time to ensure that it meets your overarching business strategy by considering the following:
Determine Your Destination: Have a clear idea of what your company is working towards and where you hope to be in the future. Now, create a marketing plan that will allow you to achieve these goals. Pay special attention to the kind of role that your brand experience will play in your overall strategy.
Trade Show Milestones: List out your objectives for each event that you will be exhibiting at. Ensure that these event objectives allow you to continue down the path you have set for yourself and your brand.
Understand Your Clientele: Who is your target audience likely to be at an upcoming event? Are you aware of the challenges they’re facing and the kind of needs they’re looking to fulfil? Do your research to ensure that you can deliver exactly what is required of you.
Define Your Success: Most trade show goals are vague and ambiguous. It’s important that you find a way to quantify your brand’s achievements during the event. If you want to generate more leads, put a number to quantity. If you’re hoping to sign more contracts, set yourself an achievable goal. This will allow you to understand how successful an event has been for your brand.
Count Your Pennies
Exhibiting at a badly-executed trade show can seriously drain your finances. This is why it’s absolutely vital to plan properly and budget for the event with immense precision. Start by chalking out your trade show schedule for the year.
Attend only those shows where you’re sure the customers will be looking for a company with your experience and expertise – this will allow you to generate a large number of leads and close more deals.
If you need to get sponsors to help you cover the cost of exhibiting at an event, look into what you can offer them. Come up with a strategy that will be beneficial to you, your attendees and your sponsors.
Walk a Mile in Your Clients’ Shoes
When you choose to exhibit at a particular trade show, it is implied that a large portion of your target audience will be attending the event. But, what most brands fail to realize is that different audience members tend to have different needs.
If you’re expecting more middle management audience members than technical specialists, curate your content accordingly. Ask the event organizer for information on the expected crowd.
Do some research on the kind of demographic that has attended the same event in the past – find out more about their job titles and the kind of organizations that they work at.
Understand Your Audience’s Requirements
Most often, exhibitors will create elaborate displays that showcase a cluster of products together. While this may work for some brands, it’s not always the best strategy.
If you’re looking for a way to enhance customer experience through customization, you might consider reorganizing your booth based on your customers’ needs instead.
Start by understanding who will be attending the event. If you’re expecting more C-suite biggies than middle-management employees, focus more on innovative and inspirational products.
Create a space that is about the future of your products and include information about products that haven’t been introduced into the market just yet. C-suite individuals typically head to trade shows for insights into the future of an industry.
It’s also a good idea to create an educational hub within your booth to provide new leads and existing customers with a little more information about your offerings.
Instead of simply handing out brochures or pamphlets, have interactive kiosks that customers can use to find exactly what they’re looking for. You need to rely on face-to-screen marketing more than face-to-face marketing.
Personalize Your Communication
A customer’s experience with your brand doesn’t start when they walk through the doors of the trade show halls. It starts when you send them an e-mail or an invite asking them to visit your booth at the event.
Ensure that all your e-mails and invites are addressed to your customers before you send them out. As part of your invitations, ask your clients questions about what they’re hoping to see at the event or what kind of problems they’re currently facing within the industry.
Keep this information handy during the event. When clients walk into your booth, you can easily identify them and start up a conversation based on how you propose to solve their particular pain points.
Promote the Show
Marketing your participation at an upcoming event will allow you to reach out to a wide audience that you may not have had access to otherwise. With targeted ad campaigns, you can curate content that will speak to the people interested in your products in and around the area where the event is being held.
Ensure you use the event’s official hashtag with all your posts to drive engagement and keep your brand relevant. If the event has an official social media page, post relevant and exciting content on the page and look up the RSVP list to ensure that you have understood your customers correctly. In the run-up to the event, you still have a little time to correct your course.
Find the Right Employees
Now that you’re fairly aware of what the attendees are looking for, you can start building up your team for the upcoming event. To start with, understand how many people you will need in your booth at any given time.
If you think 6 staff members are enough, ensure you have 8 people on your team. This way, even if a couple of staff were to take a break at the same time, your booth won’t appear to be short on staff.
On the other hand, you need to ensure that you don’t overestimate the number to such an extent that you always have more staff than customers in your booth. Once you’ve narrowed down your team size, it’s time to identify what kind of people you want on your team.
Every individual you choose should be made aware of your trade show goals. They must be equipped with the information they need to engage potential clients and draw them into your booth.
If required, spend a little time providing booth staff with a complete orientation on your brand’s history and what you stand for. If your budget is a little constrained, you might even ask company employees to volunteer their time.
This will ensure that you always have highly motivated individuals manning your booth, which is likely to create a positive impression on clients.
Create Unique Experiences
This has got to be the Holy Grail if you’re hoping to create super experiences for your clients. Use the tools available to you to take attendees on a journey with you.
Augmented and virtual realities have become the most popular means by which brands provide customers with details about their journey so far. You might also use demos and games to drive traffic towards your booth on the show floor.
If you’re looking for a completely new and innovative way to engage with your audience, conduct a brainstorming session with your employees before you outsource the job. You never know, one of your staff could surprise you with a brilliant idea.
As a smart marketer, we’re sure you understand that these activities can also be used to determine the attendee’s persona and their needs.
This can be done by addressing the gathered crowd and asking them questions, or by simply allowing clients to choose the kind of activity they would like to indulge in – a quiz, augmented reality experiences or something else.
Once you have determined the client’s persona, your booth staff can interact with them in a way that will make them feel at ease. You can also directly talk about solutions that will alleviate their troubles.
Harness the Power of Technology
Using technology at an event may prove to be a double-edged sword. If you get the tech wrong, it could have disastrous consequences. But, if you get the balance spot on, you’re well on your way to driving traffic to your booth and enjoying a successful run at the trade show.
Digital signage, interactive touch screens and creative lighting will help set the mood for your booth and create the kind of ambiance that you want. You can use the tools available to transport the attendee to a tropical jungle or to the top of the Willis Tower.
Conversely, placing tablets with feedback forms all around your booth is incredibly off-putting and will encourage customers to leave your booth without engaging with you. Carefully consider what you’d like to do before deciding how to use the tech available.
Match Every Client’s Momentum
Every individual who enters your exhibit booth will interact with you and your offerings in a different way. Certain individuals may want to directly strike up conversations with your staff and complete a sale, while others might want to take in all the information on display before talking to a staff member and asking for help.
This is precisely why you should ensure that your booth is designed so that everybody can navigate through it without any assistance from staff members. Additionally, you shouldn’t hound people by constantly asking them what they’re looking for.
A good rule of thumb is to offer assistance once. If the customer says they’re okay, leave them alone until they seek you out.
Measure Your Success
At the end of the day, even though the event is over, there are still a few things that you will need to do. Look back at what you have accomplished and quantify your results.
Did you reach the targets you had set for yourself and your team? If yes, good job! See if you can raise the bar at your next event. If you’ve fallen short, head back to the drawing board.
Identify areas where you might have made mistakes and come up with innovative solutions to correct them in the future.
Stay in Touch
Ensure that you build your relationship with your clients all through the year instead of simply reaching out a few weeks before a trade show.
Use a CRM system that allows you to send customized thank you e-mails and notes to the people who attended the event and dropped by your booth.
Include thoughtful information that you have collected about these individuals in your communication to make them feel special. Follow up with individuals who showed interest in making a purchase or signing a deal and schedule a meeting with them.
Today’s brand experiences are driven by impactful engagement. By carefully planning and executing your brand experience strategy, you can create memorable experiences for your clients while also achieving your company’s marketing goals.