By Leslie Schmidt
So you want to stand out at a trade show? Don’t expect to sit back and wait for prospect to come to your booth or attend your panel just because you’re there. You need a spark. You need to lure them in and grab their attention.
Here are the top five ways to steal your competitors’ thunder (plus my own personal favorite):
1. Food, Glorious Food
At last month’s Management World Conference in Dublin, NetCracker offered candy to pull in the attendees passing by. Although I think my choices of candy would have differed from the available sugary gumdrops (maybe some Sour Patch Kids, Peanut M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces – you know, the good stuff), it was still a huge hit.
One company, Lantiq, stole the crowd at last year’s Broadband World Forum with their table full of sausage, cheese and chips. They even provided BEER! Which brings me to my next point…
2. Drinks, Drinks, Drinks
Food is one thing. However, if you really want to lure in conference attendees who have been wandering the event floor searching for their next form of entertainment – try something other than coffee.
The Lantiq booth not only offered visitors some delicious food; but also, it offered something to wash it down with. After coffee, beer seems to be the beverage of choice at these events. Companies that use this tactic will see the crowds fill their booths.
3. Shower them with Gifts
Giving away gifts is a popular way to get attendees to visit your booth - we’re talking everything from branded pens to calendars to T-shirts. However, I personally would not list this gimmick as a top favorite. My issue with handing out gifts (aside from pens, everyone loves pens!) is that the attendee will exit your booth once you hand over the goods.
At the 2011 Cable Show, the FOX Networks booth played the celebrity card by having American soccer star Cobi Jones sign soccer balls for guests. If you ask me, a soccer ball sounds like quite a large gift - unless you’re planning to leave in 5 minutes.
4. It’s All Fun & Games
What grown-up doesn’t like to play games every now and then? (Ask anyone in this office and they’ll let you know that I do). There were several companies offering games at Interop 2011 but the top contenders were:
- Xerox, who offered guests a chance to become a cartoon. With a professional cartoonist on site, each guest could sit down and watch on screen as they slowly began to look like Goofy.
- Ixia brought in a mechanical “bull” resembling the inside of a computer – Would have been quite entertaining to watch!
- Another booth used gifts and games to reel in their visitors – Race for an Xbox? Absolutely!
5. Draw Them in with Visuals
It has been said that humans are considered visual creatures. When planning next year's booth or PowerPoint presentation for an upcoming speaking session, think big. Think visual. Give yourself a presence. Get them to “Ohhh” and “Ahhh”.
As an example, here are a couple of twitter reactions to companies with a strong visual presence at this year's Cable Show:
Amid Kardashian and RHONJ sightings, Univision had a wildly spectacular presence at #cable12 Boston
One part of my #cable12 reporting: the fascinating @NDS Surfaces demo, and why it reminded me of giant telescopes
And, now to my personal favorite: the above and beyond, untouchable and original thunder stealer -the flash-mob. If you didn’t hear or see via social media, Cisco did the unthinkable – they brought the flash-mob to NCTA’s Cable Show. Sure it has been done, but never at a trade show. It was unexpected, memorable and received a ton of attention. Check out the video to see just how it went down.
The trade show world is big - plan your next appearance wisely and go steal the spotlight!