5 tips for an unforgettable convention booth

1. Mix it up spatially, but stay approachable 

Sometimes it’s just as simple as rethinking the generic booth set up. Hubspot shared this graphic on their marketing blog about unique ways to set up a trade show booth, while still making sure the design is versatile for different sizes and different styles of show.

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Your booth’s look and feel is very important at conventions where first impressions are pretty much everything. Too generic a setup won’t foster potential connections, but you also don’t want people to feel like they’re walking into Dragon’s Den to pitch themselves to you.

Here’s a tip: having good lighting in your booth is a simple and effective way to get more people to simply wander in and chill for awhile. While loud music or crazy strobes may catch someone’s eye for a moment, a softer, more ambient lighting is more inviting and will attract people for longer periods of time. Even though the example below takes some financial means, it could be as simple as bringing a few nice lights from home to make your area more homey and comfortable.

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2. Promote interactions with a unique giveaway 

Everyone likes to get free stuff at conventions. Just look how happy Michael Scott is at a convention on this episode of The Office:

It’s a safe bet, however, that one more free pen might send someone into a fury. So get creative (but try to stick within a budget). Clever ideas don’t have to be expensive. Start by thinking of fun ideas to connect people with your brand and your message. Here’s an example of some fun stickers we made for Uranium Energy Corp to hand out at some of their mining conventions:

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If there’s a clever way to incorporate your company in a themed giveaway that’s great, but don’t force it (so no free ‘pet rocks’ from a mining company).

While giveaways are great, at the same time make sure you’re getting something out of it. If the giveaways are part of a game or short contest, have people drop their business cards in a bowl before they play, or have to give you their email in order to receive a free download/ebook/etc.

3. Give demonstrations and let people touch things

Sounds silly, but it’s so effective. People are much more likely to engage with you if they get to see a demonstration of exactly how your product or your company will change their lives. Demonstrations aren’t only for cookware companies or cleaning products. The image below shows an example of a company at the PDAC (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada) convention. The booth cleverly engages others with their industry by supplying different mineral samples for viewing.

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People checking out samples at a booth at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention

4. Your message should be clear from every angle  

Everything needs to be cohesive. From the moment someone crosses the line from observer to interested party, they should know exactly what you’re selling or what you’d like them to do. An easy way to do this is create a tagline beforehand that cleverly gets your message across. This tagline can be used across every pull up banner, giveaway, and business card you distribute. Can’t think of a tagline? Then start with a cohesive colour to tie all your materials together.

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Each giveaway, pamphlet, or banner at your booth should represent your interests and push the same feeling.

5. Pay attention to the people already at your booth; no wandering eyes 

As the old adage goes, quality over quantity (AKA don’t be greedy). Though this may seem self-explanatory to some, we feel it’s still important to bring up the #1 most important element to having success in your booth: listen to those people who have already walked in and give them your full attention. No one feels good when someone they’re talking to is constantly scanning the room for a better offer or a more stimulating conversation.

If you really want to have as many people as possible in your booth, designate a ‘booth host’ or someone who’s sole job it is to greet people outside the booth and direct them inside to talk to a specialist or specific person. It’s important to treat everyone who comes into your booth, even if it’s only to ask where the bathroom is, with the same amount of respect and attention.

If someone gets a bad feeling or feels dismissed by your booth representatives, word will travel fast. Not every conversation will be a chance to sell; sometimes it’s just about building relationships.