Are you suffering from
“candy bowl syndrome”? This particular malady refers to exhibitors
who resort to a bowl of candy to lure passersby into their booths.
Wouldn’t you rather pull in the right prequalified leads and compel
them all not only to remember your firm but also to make a point of
seeking out your products and services after the show? Here are
Yours or Theirs?
Should you bring your own booth or go
turnkey? If you have a great booth already (or plan to invest in
one that you will use long-term), you should ship it and use it. If
you are just testing out the trade show scene or have a fairly
green team, it is best to go turnkey, where the trade show
organizer supplies everything.
With a turnkey booth, you might spend
more, but as shipping costs rise, the price differential could
dwindle. On the plus side, you’ll get a booth with the look and
feel of the show, as well as your electrical, drayage (movement
from dock to show floor) and other details handled for you,
typically for a flat fee.
The next step is to determine what you
want from the show. What do you want to say to attendees? How do
you want them to remember you? How will you collect leads? How will
you prequalify leads?
Also critical: Where should you
allocate your spend? Among the possibilities are booth design,
entertainment, furniture, decor, booth staff, demonstrations,
giveaways, and food and beverage. It’s generally more prudent to
focus spend on one standout element, rather than dilute the dollars
across all elements.
If booth size is restricted to the
typical 10-by-10 feet or some other dimension, consider the
* Stay open. Remove
walls (if possible) to eliminate barriers between you and your
visitors. It creates a far more intimate setting.
* Go round. You also
can set your booth “in the round,” giving more surface area and
more opportunities to engage passersby.
* Island-style. An
island booth is a premium spot on the show floor that stands alone
and gives attendees 360-degree access.
Note: If you go against the standard
grid setup, beware of potential gaffes. Most booths share side
walls or are flush against each other. If you change your shape,
you likely will need a clever way to disguise the open areas.
Plants are always a great option.
* Use demos. A great
way to draw traffic is with some type of multimedia demo. These can
be created by your in-house team, or you can hire a media company
to create one for you. The better demos use mounted flat-panel
displays with high-definition screens; interactive touch screens,
3-D images or products/services your visitors can really test out
also are great options.
* Give gifts. Booth
giveaways should be compelling, unique and speak to/support your
messaging. Offer items that are either consumable or easy to pack
and lightweight for shipping and carrying, and think green.
Great booths should:
* Elicit emotions and draw people
* Be interesting, unique and impress
people with their innovation;
* Tie participants to elements outside
the booth, such as the company’s website and/or events, as well as
encourage follow-up after the show;
* Have a data-capture system and method
for reconciling the data and taking action with prequalified
* Be staffed adequately with highly
knowledgeable and personable people; and
* Look neat at all times, and be
restocked regularly with promotional materials and giveaways.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is senior event operations manager with
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos,