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Visit any trade show, and you’ll notice something: Some booths are ghost towns. Others draw crowds, but the visitors only swing by for the swag.
Other booths, however, are humming with energy. Visitors are energized and asking questions. These booths turn strangers into leads, leads into customers, and customers into evangelists.
Why do these booths work so well?
Because they’ve been designed to help the brand deliver against specific goals.
While there are many ways to attract more people to your booth, the big question is: What do you want them to do when they get there? Once you’ve nailed down these goals, use them to design your exhibit space in a way that maximizes engagement.
Consider these seven ideas to elevate your booth design and the visitor experience.
Let’s say your goal is to attract new leads. Can you design a booth to do this without knowing what your potential leads actually want to experience?
To reach your goals, you need your target audience to show up. And to get them to show up, you need to know who they are and what they want. So, take time to think about your audience, what their pain points are, what they’re interested in, and what problems you could solve for them. To get the most out of this exercise, consider creating a buyer persona profile for each type of attendee you’re targeting.
From there, you can map out an attendee journey: a timeline of the experience that your ideal booth visitor is hoping to have with you.
Once both of those elements are in place, you can design your booth around your ideal visitor’s needs and their desired journey, making your booth both irresistible and welcoming.
Whether you’ve decided to target prospects, customers, partners, or suppliers, your primary goal for exhibiting at trade shows is to have profitable conversations. Your attendee journey, however, should inform what type of conversations your booth should optimize. Here are some options:
The value of a trade show booth, like the value of any other real estate, often comes down to “location, location, location.”
Examine the trade show floor plan (the show may even use a virtual floor plan service, which provides real-time updates on any changes). Locate the entrances, main aisles, education sessions, networking spaces, snack spots, restrooms and social areas.
From there, examine your goals and locate areas that complement those goals.
Perhaps your booth goal is to hold in-depth meetings with existing clients or sales-qualified leads. If so, a lower-traffic area will help reduce noise and interruptions. On the other hand, you may be looking for brand awareness and new lead generation. In that case, find the areas that promise to have the most foot traffic and plan your booth to look as appealing and enticing as possible from the area with the highest traffic flow.
Before you sign the contract, though, think carefully about competitors and collaborators. Find out where your competitors are exhibiting on the show floor and in which direction they’ll be facing — then decide on a space.
Are there other exhibitors who offer complementary services or products to your target audience? They may be interested in teaming up to increase engagement in both booths.
One way to make your booth stand out in a sea of exhibits is to literally raise your brand above the others. Here are some high-flying ideas:
Have you ever walked up to a trade show booth, studied their display, and not had a clue what the company did? You’re not alone.
Trade show booth displays and graphics and graphics have a tough job. They must attract people to your booth, present your brand, convey your value proposition, and be memorable. The key to success here is to design your graphics in three tiers.
First Tier – Identification
Second Tier – Directional
Third Tier – Informational
Once you’ve defined the activities you want your visitors to participate in, envision their journey through your booth.
Answer these questions and then design the journey that makes the most sense for your goals.
As you can see, engagement doesn’t happen by accident. You must anticipate it, and design for it. Which means you must also budget for it.
Every organization has different priorities and needs, of course, but you can use this budget from Exhibitor Magazine a baseline as you plan your booth design.
If you’re new to exhibiting at trade shows, consider rental options. Take a trial run with rented equipment so you can scope out other booths, see what features and styles attract attendees, and consider what makes the most sense for your brand before making a larger custom booth investment.
No matter how you approach it, there’s a lot of work that goes into planning for a trade show. So, why not make sure your trade show exhibit gives you the best bang for your buck, by designing it to give you the best chance of reaching your goals?
By keeping those goals in mind, knowing who your audience is and what they want, and then designing your booth strategically, you can deliver an engaging trade show experience that will pay dividends long after teardown.
Spoiler: It’s not always about the biggest booth or budget
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