How to Get Prospects to Stampede to Your Trade Show Booth

by Robert Moskowitz on August 28, 2013
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If your small business exhibits at trade shows or conferences, you know both the importance — and the difficulty — of generating substantial traffic from attendees. To bring more people to your booth, try one or more of these tactics.

  • Ask for tweets or text messages as entries in a contest. Raffles and other prize giveaways can dramatically increase the footfalls at your booth. Make it easy for people to enter your contest by asking for a tweet or a text message with the person’s contact information. To attract the greatest number of prospects, keep the contest closely aligned with your product, service, or brand.
  • Give away valuable information. Another angle on the freebie is to disseminate sought-after information at your booth. Most people willingly yield their contact information in return for a white paper, an e-book, an industry report, and the like. In fact, if contact information is all you seek, you could deliver the goods wirelessly and remotely via email, text, or other means. To draw people to your booth, provide the information in a tangible format, such as providing a printed report, a prerecorded CD, or a download to the recipient’s flash drive.
  • Hire an extrovert in a costume. Draw traffic to your booth by hiring an interesting character to pose for photographs with attendees who leave a business card or otherwise share their contact details. Your extrovert should pose in front of a large sign touting your brand, product, or service. It’s also helpful to ask your character to put a flyer, a coupon, or a spec sheet into the hands of each person. Be sure to snap your own pics, too; you’ll get even more marketing mileage out of these shots by streaming or posting these photos online.
  • Supply free Wi-Fi. You’d think that every exhibit hall or trade show venue would offer free Wi-Fi to all comers, yet connectivity remains a major issue at many industry gatherings. Capitalize on this shortcoming by providing wireless access at your booth, trading the password for people’s contact info and providing a place to sit. 
  • Provide a charging station. At many trade shows and exhibitions, the only things in shorter supply than free Wi-Fi are electricity and a place to set devices while they recharge. You can earn a lot of appreciation from attendees by providing extra AC outlets and shelf space — and if the area happens to be boldly branded with your logo, they’re unlikely to complain.
  • Donate to charity for each visitor. Giving your time or money to a worthy cause sends a positive message about your company and influences people’s attitudes toward you, your product or service, and your unique selling proposition. Donating $1 per business card collected isn’t likely to break the bank, but it makes a powerful statement. This tactic will be even more powerful if the charity you select ties in with your brand.
  • Give live talks on interesting topics. Does your company have interesting insights to share? Dynamic mini-lectures on topics related to your offering can quickly draw a crowd around your booth. Line up a charismatic speaker to offer a 10- to 15-minute talk every hour — or give the presentations yourself.

Robert Moskowitz is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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