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How to make an impression with your trade show exhibit

A 2013 poll of attendees, from more than 30 U.S. trade shows, reports 49 percent come with intent to purchase. Further studies on exhibit performance show 81 percent of attendees remember visiting a company’s booth … yet only 52 percent report being engaged in any sort of meaningful exchange once there. Not a good way to start the sales process!

The success of any trade show investment hinges on delivering unique experiences through unique channels—in other words, making a lasting impression. “Exhibitor” magazine editor Travis Stanton says, “… if all you’re offering attendees is a regurgitation of what they can readily obtain on your website, your strategy is woefully insufficient …”

Here are four tips you can use to maximize face-to-face interaction and engagement opportunities with your target audience so your time and theirs is well spent and memorable.

  1. Speak on the subject: You have a captive audience—use that opportunity to speak, not just exhibit. Speaking on a topic of expertise shows thought leadership and imparts instant credibility to your organization and its people. It can also act as a conversation starter for booth staffers and visitors alike.To maximize reach, announce your speaking engagement to customers and contacts ahead of time via email and direct mail. Promote it during the show by imprinting a banner or sail sign with your speaking topic, times and location.
  2. Employ hands-on technology: Easy-to-navigate, touch-panel kiosks can keep attendees engaged while they wait in line; be sure to include product images, video, demos and customer testimonials. Or consider 3D-storytellers—these interactive applications allow attendees to engage in augmented demonstrations, presentations, tours and more. Encourage participation with a free gift, such as a waterproof tablet sleeve or phone stand with cleaning cloth.
  3. Host activities: Mini offsite activities, like a running group, cooking class or tour of landmarks, are a great way to network with and engage attendees. Promote your activity to registered participants with an informational packet that can be distributed in trade show bags and hotel rooms. Include literature about your activity, sign-up info and a little something for them to remember you by—perhaps a Multi-Use Measuring Spoon or a bottle of water with a branded Aqua Clip.
  4. Provide an experience they’ll sit for: Sometimes all it takes is comfy seating, a little pick-me-up and a place to recharge. Create the opportunity for some one-on-one time with attendees by designing a lounge area where they can sit, grab a quick snack, like trail mix, and power up their devices. If you make a connection, be sure to send them off with a personal reminder and thank you, like a hanging phone stand or travel snooze kit.

Making a lasting impression with unique and engaging experiences is the key to success with any trade show exhibit or display. For more information on the topic, check out our two-part Blue Paper series on trade show trends and displays.

“Trade Show Trends.” EXHIBITOR Online. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 22 Sept. 2015.

“Tradeshow Benchmarks and Trends.” Exhibit Surveys, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 22 Sept. 2015.

“Trade Show Displays: Trends for Exhibitors— Part 2.” info.4imprint.com. N.p., 03 Aug. 2015. Web. Retrieved 22 Sept. 2015.

Stanton, Travis. “The Brain Drain.” EXHIBITOR Online. Exhibitor Media Group, n.d. Web. Retrieved 21 June 2015.

Asimos, Tim. “9 Steps to Revitalize Your B2B Tradeshow Marketing Strategy.” Circle S Studio. Circle S Studio, 26 Mar. 2015. Web. Retrieved 21 June 2015.

Mulligan, De-de. “TRADE SHOWS 101: The Reason, the Value and the Future of the Industry.” Mulligan Management Group LLC. Mulligan Management Group LLC, 13 Apr. 2015. Web. Retrieved 21 June 2015.

“3D Product Models.” Kaon Interactive. Kaon Interactive, Inc., n.d. Web. Retrieved 22 Sept. 2015.

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