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The old razzle-dazzle: Lessons from game shows

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Television game shows have been around almost as long as the television itself. Audiences have delighted in the exuberance, the suspense and the prizes of game shows like “$20,000 Pyramid,” “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Price is Right.” So what does a good game show have in common with a good trade show? And what cues can your booth take from Hollywood? More than you might think …!The set
An important key to setting a game show’s mood is the set. The same holds true for a trade show. Use your booth to enhance the experience and interest for  visitors or passersby:

  • Draw them in with prominent signage and outstanding displays like a colorful Drapery Banner or a fun Floor Graphics.
  • Create a fun atmosphere with additional decorations like balloons. Create a more dramatic and simplistic atmosphere by sticking to monochromatic colors and a minimalistic approach to signage, props and tables.
  • Consider adding lighting to your booth that either draws attention to signage and displays or backlights drapery with colored or cycling lights to add movement and color in an unexpected and fun way. Consider playing “theme music” throughout the show—choose a song that resonates a message that aligns with your business or product.
  • Game shows are all about interaction and trade shows should be, too. Configure booth tables in a way that welcomes visitors into the booth space—try putting tables along the interior perimeter of the space and standing in front of the tables instead of behind.

The host
Game show hosts are infamous for big personalities. They recognize that in offering entertainment value and guiding the direction of the show, they can hook not just the game show contestant’s attention, but the attention of spectators, too. Have booth hosts emulate this idea:

  • Interact with booth visitors with two goals in mind: 1) Make visitors remember your business and 2) Show them a good time.
  • Speak in loud, clear and happy intonations through a smile. Excitement is often contagious: If your booth’s hosts talk about a product or service in an excited tone of voice, you’re more likely to incite the same sentiment in others.
  • Use a gimmick. Many game show hosts have a memorable wardrobe, hair style or a signature tagline. Create your own trade show tagline by tying your brand name to a phrase and a swag item, like imprinting measuring spoons with “You and Company X: A Recipe for Success!”, or a Smiley Notepad imprinted with your logo and the phrase “Smiles above the rest!”

The game
All game shows have a purpose—some are quiz shows, some are based on talent and others are based on sheer luck. But the bottom line is that interesting content is offered to the audience and provided by the show. Just like a game show, trade shows are more than about just showing up:

  • Don’t just offer literature and promotional material at your booth– showcase your business and its products and services. Use tools like LCD displays with scrolling footage of your product with voice-over audio of real-life customer testimonials.
  • If possible, ask to participate in hosting a break-out or mini seminar at the trade show that details a general topic of interest to trade show goers. Then drive them to your booth by providing raffle tickets to a prize item, exclusive to seminar attendees. The result? Potential thought leadership status and enhanced visibility.
  • Consider taking the game show analogy all the way. Use a game show prop like a Plinko Board or create a quiz show based on questions relating to the products and services your business offers and ask visitors to participate and compete against other visitors for a prize. Position them on logo’d chairs, arm them with bells or buzzers and ask away. Draw others into the excitement of the game by using microphones to broadcast beyond local earshot, while giving your best game show host impersonation.

The prizes
Last but not least, game shows have a single motivating factor for contestants—prizes. Whether you offer swag like branded pens, sport bottles, or bigger items like Tool Sets and Blanket Totes, these gifts can serve multiple purposes such as thank-yous, brand recognition, or a reason to participate at a fun trade show booth.

Come on down! Start seeing the game show possibilities in your trade show booth today!

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