We all want a better trade show booth. We all want to be the hit of the show—the booth that has otherworldly magnetic pull and Gorilla Glue on the carpet keeping those attendees stuck in your space. And we all wish there was an easy way to make that happen.
Well, in some ways, there is! Although it might mean having to be a bit brutal with your booth.
The trade show floor gives you the best possible opportunity to see what works and what you can change. It’s a virtual Petri dish of booth experiments taking place—and someone has just discovered that trade show booth breakthrough. You just have to step far enough out of your own booth to find out what it is. That’s the beauty of it: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; you just have to cruise the floor and see if there’s a better one out there.
Here’s what to do at your next trade show:
1) Get away from your booth. Literally back yourself against a wall if you have to, but get far enough away to be able to objectively observe attendees interacting with (or walking away from) your booth space. I know you spent a fortune on that booth or at least put a lot of love into it. But for a moment, disconnect yourself from your own brand. Imagine you’re just a random person walking the floor. Look at your booth. Do you have a clear idea what these guys do? Would you want to go in there? What are the people around you doing? Why?
2) Now walk around. But walk around differently than ever before: You’re not cruising for clients and prospects; you’re just an attendee strolling the grounds. Again, look objectively. Which booth looks most inviting? Where do you want to go? What’s pulling you? Is it interesting or entertaining? Is it a catchy message or flashy graphics? Is it a magician submerged in a water tank? What is grabbing you?
3) Keep walking. You’ll likely blow past lots of small booths with dispirited folks staring at their smartphones. No problem. Channel your inner tradeshow attendee. Imagine you’re on a quest for the ultimate giveaway. But, in this case, the “giveaway” you’re looking for may be the one brilliant idea that will make your next booth better.
4) Return to your booth, reflecting on your experience. On the way back, pay special attention to traffic flow and location. Now, granted, you may not have your choice of the prime real estate at the show, but you should still do some reconnaissance. Does the booth by the main entrance get the most traffic, or do people blow right past it to get deeper into the hall? Check out the booths near the bathrooms or Food Court. How are they doing? Is it worth considering positioning yourself next to some of the biggest players at the show? Or just to get as close to the Starbucks as you can??
5) Review this checklist, circling anything that really leapt out at you during your journey:
• Visual appeal (circle all that apply): The booth was eye catching. The lighting was visually stimulating. The activity drew me in. The live presentation was captivating.
• Flow: It was as if I accidentally strolled right into the booth and stayed there … or once I was in, something about the booth kept me there.
• Personnel: The booth staff members were engaging, smiling at me from afar, were interested in what I was saying and asked interesting, open-ended questions that kept me talking and learning.
• Location: I ended up in the booth because of what it was near. What was it near?
• Clarity & power of messaging/signage: The message made me stop in my tracks. It was as effective and memorable as a great highway billboard.
Go through this exercise. Pay attention. And you just might walk away with something that will make your next trade show the best one you’ve ever done.
I’m going to end this post with asking something of you: Post comments with your booth observations here. What did you see that worked? What can you change next time? What have you changed already that made a difference?
It could be after trying this exercise or just based on past experience. My goal is to compile a list of your responses and post it for everyone’s benefit. With your help, we’ll create a magical list of specific ways to improve your next booth.
Do you have an industry-related question you’d like answered on “Hey Newman”? Send him an e-mail and get your inquiry answered on the blog.