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Once upon a time, trade shows were viewed as relatively unexciting affairs: dull rows of identical-looking booths, staffed with bored-looking employees handing out cheesy promotional materials. Fortunately, this stereotype from decades past is long gone, and a new age of trade show marketing is on the rise.

More and more businesses are using trade shows as an opportunity to bring together the greatest minds in the industry, to generate buzz for their product or brand, and to create meaningful connections with their customers. The standard cookie-cutter booth and elevator speech just don’t cut it with today’s modern audiences!

Ready to revitalize your trade show marketing and get the biggest ROI on your marketing investment? Here’s how you can do exactly that.

Snag a speaking gig

Even with an amazing booth, attendees may still struggle to remember the brand or name behind the display. Designated speakers, however, are not so easily forgotten. Speaking at a trade show is a great way to show your credibility, promote your brand, and direct attendees to your booth for more information. There are far fewer speakers than there are exhibitors, so you’ll stand out significantly more if you can snag one of those coveted speaking gigs.

Be warned that being selected as a speaker won’t come without some hard pre-conference work. You’ll likely need to submit a proposal months in advance, but the rewards are certainly worth the effort. Not only will you have a better chance of gaining your target audience’s attention, but you may also receive a discounted or free exhibitor spot.

Social Media

Image from Flickr

Generate social buzz before the event

A lot of companies realize the importance of live-tweeting and posting during a conference, but far fewer are proactive about generating hype on social media before the event actually begins. Let your followers know where you’ll be and when, and be sure to highlight any special demonstrations or presentations you’ll be leading. Create your own event hashtag several days before the event, so your followers and other conference attendees know how to find your trade show-related activity online.

You want your customers to be thinking about your booth from the moment they arrive at the event, not just after it begins. This is will increase the likelihood of your social posts reaching their intended audiences and making real connections happen.

Invest in your displays

Blog Image 2 Simply put, your signage and other booth display items are worth spending the big bucks on. As trade show attendees roam through the endless sea of exhibitors, what is going to inspire them to walk up to your booth over any of the others? Your booth should display your unique brand clearly and proudly, and it should also be inviting and interesting.

You could even make your displays a fun point of conversation by including videos, live demos, or other engaging visuals. If your booth is unique enough, you may even end up in a few photos, social posts, or publications. Win-win!

Select your staff carefully

Nothing ruins a potentially great customer interaction more than an employee with a sour attitude. Your booth staff should want to be there, and they should be engaged, excited, and always looking for that next genuine customer connection.

Make your booth a device-free zone for your employees, meaning they can’t catch up on emails or mindlessly scroll through social media when they should be paying attention to your customers. When they’re working the floor, their primary focus should be on starting conversations and sharing your business’s products or services…no distractions allowed!

Think way outside of the box

Want a surefire way to make sure your new connections remember you? Think of something that no one else is doing, and do it! Make your swag something that’s totally unique to your brand or logo, or even go for something witty and humorous. Host a raffle or contest, hand out free food, or provide some unique entertainment.
Draw trade show attendees to your booth all day long by offering a charging station (all you need is a power strip!) or WiFi hotspot. The point is to think creatively, and to give your visitors something that they’ll truly need or enjoy–be it a laugh, a freshly baked cookie, or a full iPhone battery.

You don’t need to have a sky-high budget, special connections or the world’s coolest product to make your trade show booth shine. At the end of the day, a unique idea, some friendly and professional employees, and a little bit of pre-planning can give your trade show marketing the boost of life it needs to help you stand out and generate new leads for your business.
Need help creating an eye-catching display or determining your trade show marketing strategy? Contact us today to find out more or receive a quote!