How To Come Up With Ideas For Your Next Trade Show Display

Getting your company involved in the trade show circuit is an excellent way to showcase your products and introduce your services to new and returning customers, as well as to network with other vendors or companies in your industry. When you put a company exhibit out at a trade show, you invest a lot of time, effort and money – even if your display is something as simple as a company table throw and a logo backdrop. It’s important that you’re able to maximize your return on that investment – not only in terms of money earned, but also in the amount of new and repeat customers you gain from going to the trade show in the first place.

So how do you get started putting together a trade show display?

Getting Started With A Trade Show Display: Research, Planning and Brainstorming Ideas

When it comes to getting started with your trade show display ideas, it’s best to get some research done, first. Start your research by exploring magazines like Entrepreneur, Inc. and Exhibitor Magazine. Magazines like these often have strategies, guidelines and best practices that many in the industry follow or lists of ideas that that have worked for other brands and might work for your brand, too.

Once you’ve done a little preliminary research, it’s time to get to work. When it comes to ideas for your trade show display, get the whole team involved. Brainstorm a theme that is not only visually memorable, but can be ported over and conveyed to your customers through email, tweets, social media and other tactics to drum up pre-event buzz.

Decide On Your Marketing Setup – Traditional or Guerrilla?

The type of marketing you do in the lead-up and during the trade show is almost as important as your trade show display ideas themselves. Guerrilla marketing has the advantage in that it can be used to turn things on their heads and increase audience retention. Going to a show in Indianapolis in the middle of August, or Minneapolis in the middle of December? Present a luau or surfer theme, or even go for a summer barbeque. No matter which way you go, however, your trade show display ideas need to be non-offensive and safe before they’re smart and witty. You want to surprise and delight your audience, not discomfit and disconcert them.

This is one of the advantages traditional marketing approaches have over more guerrilla ones: audiences know what they’re in for and can react appropriately. The type of marketing campaign you go for also depends on your industry and intended audience. A guerrilla marketing campaign will work better for a company that sells, say, beer, than a company that sells something like hardwood floors.

So what other tips are there when it comes to putting together your trade show display ideas? We’ve got several. Read on below to find out more.

#1 – When it comes to ideas, first impressions are everything.

You’ve probably heard the old adage that says that first impressions are everything. But it’s true, as much as we might not like it to be. A customer’s first impression with a product, company or service has a high correlation with the actual long-term status of that relationship. That is to say that if a customer has a positive first impression of your company, product or service, he or she will continue to have that impression until something changes his or her mind.

So what can you do to create a great first impression? It all starts with your trade show display ideas. A creative trade show booth will give you a huge edge, no matter what kind of event you’re attending. Your brand’s imagery will affect the customer’s opinion, so no matter whether you have a big operating budget or a small one, you should never leave your trade show display’s design to chance. Make sure it stands out.

#2 – Give people a reason to trust your brand: as the saying goes, “monkey see, monkey do.”

One of the biggest ways to get people to invest in your brand is to get them to trust it. Social proof generates trust: that is, if you see people engaging with a brand, you’re going to want to engage with that brand, too.

To look at it another way, let’s say you’re a tourist in New York City looking for someplace to eat. If you see three restaurants and one has a much longer line than the other, which one do you think you’re going to go to? Consider this question when it comes to your ideas for your trade show display booth – what would YOU engage with the most?

When it comes to brainstorming trade show display ideas, make sure that you have things for potential visitors to interact with, whether that’s something as simple as some attached seating or something big like a game or raffle. No matter what it is, make sure you can have people interact with your exhibit, and make sure that there are always employees around to engage with those that are interested.

#3 – Give your visitors a way to interact.

When it comes to trade show displays, it pays to make your products and services interactive. If you give people a way to interact with your booth, they will stay around. One of the best ways to get people to interact with your business is to create an experience. Figure out a way to help your visitors connect with your brand.

However, not all brands are easy to display or create an experience for.  When it comes time to brainstorm, remember that. Find a way to allow visitors to your booth to interact with your products. It will help generate interest and give potential customers a better understand of the value your company can give them.

If you need a simple and easy solution, consider a touch screen kiosk – touch screens are a great way to display your company’s business offerings in an interactive way.
Once your trade show display idea has been executed, there two big things that you can do in the aftermath to determine whether your idea was successful and worth repeating.

#1 – Measure your return on investment (ROI).

When you sit down with your coworkers to brainstorm your trade show display ideas, know going into it that you’re going to have to measure your return on investment. The only way to know if your idea is successful is to test it, and the only way to know that that test worked is to measure it.

If your team is going to use a different marketing technique than usual, find a way to measure its effectiveness. Make sure you can rule out your team’s biases and isolate any outliers – these can skew the data.

After all, if you don’t measure your return on investment you won’t know what works. If you don’t know that, you’re risking failure at the next event you attend.

#2 – Follow up quickly on any leads.

If you get solid sales leads from customers (details such as phone numbers and email addresses, or even out-and-out questions on how/when you can provide a service for them), follow up as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the longer your customers have to forget who you are, what you said and even what your booth looked like. Don’t be afraid to reach out – there’s no such thing as “too quickly,” with most people following up by the next day at the earliest.

People have dozens of interactions at trade shows, from interacting your staff, the event staff, the staff at other booths and even with fellow show-goers. While you might want to believe that your interaction was different, it’s hard for people to remember everyone’s name, what company they’re representing and what product they’re pushing. The longer you wait, the longer your customers have to forget about you and move on to someone else.

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