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Trade Shows: Going Bigger On A Budget

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

Heading to a trade show is like the business equivalent of walking into a bear pit, except all the bears are wearing brightly colored clothes, waving flags and letting off air horns in a bid to grab your attention more than the next guy or, in this instance, the next bear.

Weird analogy or not, that’s why you needed to go bigger than your competitors at your next trade show. Unfortunately, a lot of small businesses get put off by this idea because bigger means more expensive, so they go to the trade show with their shy attitudes, meek stands and absorb the cost of attending without seeing any returns, their reputation between their legs.

But what if you could succeed at a trade show by going big on a budget? Well, that is exactly what we are going to help you do because, after all, your voice deserves to be heard, and it needs to be heard at an event where exposure is there to be snapped up.

So, without keeping the Holy Grail of information away from your prying eyes any longer, here is our list of top trade show tips and tricks to make sure your exhibit is the one your attendees remember.

Make Sure You Invest In A Great Display

This is where perception can really become reality because a trade show stall that is well invested in will make your business look like it is more invested in, and that is what people will want to invest in (tongue-twister). That is why you should make this part of your annual marketing budget, and then head to this site to see exactly what sort of event displays will make you stand out more than Lady Gaga circa 2010. We’re talking inflatable domes, branded marquees, banner flags table cloths and catalog stands. What’s more, by investing in great quality displays you will be able to use them year on year, making them an even better investment that you first accepted.

Be Original With Your Freebies

It is 2017. No one is stopping at a marquee to pick up a free pen or branded mug these days. No, these are tired attempts that do very little anymore. Instead, what you want to do is getting a little innovative and give away things that fall into the category of unique. We’re talking about branded headphones, sunglasses, Rubik’s cubes, t-shirts, those water bottle that have built in filters and festival-style wristbands that flash. But don’t stop there. Instead of just giving this stuff away and letting it rot in a plastic bag – at least until your potential customers have got home – create a buzz by holding a competition. Tell everyone you will be giving away free products and services to anyone to a few lucky winners on the last day, and all they have to do to enter is wear a piece of your branded merchandise. Talk about a buzz.

Use Your “As Seen On” To Good Effect

People these days want to be able to trust a brand or a business, which is why so many brands and businesses now dedicate a large part of their websites to “As Seen On” such and such website or TV show. But don’t wait for someone to possibly remember your business and then find out that you’ve featured on a recognizable website later on; boost your trade show success by using this as a focal point of your exhibit. Create a booth that has these big brand recognitions printed on them as big as possible and accentuates these features with lighting. Better yet, have an entire banner, one that stretches up high, celebrating these “As Seen On” features. This is a great way to build trust, recognition, and buzz. Winning.

Bags For Life That People Want

Most of your competitors are going to hand out goodies in a bag for life because, whether they realize this or not, they are great for long-lasting marketing. Put it this way, a Facebook ad has a lifespan of around 40 minutes, while a bag for life has a lifespan of, well, forever. So how do you make your bag for life stand out from the crowd? Very simple: you run with the rule bigger is better. The biggest bag always wins. It will be the bag people put their other bags in and the vessel in which all the other goodies they receive get dropped into, meaning your exposure is maximised. That is how to completely outgun the competition. Simple but effective.

Mastermind Social Proof

This is something that is becoming more and more championed and recognized by brands, and it is also something that can be manufactured. Social proof capitalizes on this idea that if other people like something, more and more will join the herd. Imagine you are in Time Square, New York, and you want the best hot dog there is; are you going to go to the vendor with no one waiting or join the queue of one with twenty people? Exactly. That is why you should get as many of your employees (or friends and family) to dress as attendees and crowd your exhibit. That way people will flock to you and all you’ll have to worry about is whether you have enough salespeople to convert the possibles into definites.

Experience Work Wonders

We were at a recent event when we saw a lot of buzz coming from the Charity: Water stand (no surprises there). What they had done was create an experience that would engage with their audience and see them donate. In this instance, they were encouraging passersby to carry two 25 liter jerry cans full of water down a fifty-foot walkway as means of getting them to empathize even just a little bit with what those in less fortunate countries have to deal with. That is what people want, experiences, much more than stuff. It gets people talking. It allows them to connect with a story. So if you are serious about trying to outdo your competition, arrive with an experience and leave with customers.

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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