I have attended, help set-up, presented, and designed many projects for various trade show and business showcase events. Whether you are selling items at a flea market or attending an international expo, you will need a way to make sure you stand out from everyone else. This is easier said that done, but you would be surprised at the small things you can do to improve your position on the floor.
Location, Location, Location… well kind of.
Many times, you may not even get a choice of what spot you get at the event. There is always “the worst possible spot at the show” but even if it is yours, you have to do what you can to make it the best spot. (more on that later)
So what would be the best spot? Where the traffic is, if you can be near an entrance or near (or part of) the biggest attraction for the event, you are in a great spot to be seen. If you have an option, you would do best to get yourself in those spots as soon as possible. (Because if you do not, others will.)
What is the worst spot? In a back corner of the event, especially if it is the most dimly lit part of the event, far away from any refreshments or bathroom. But if you get stuck here, it is not the end of the world. You just have a little extra work to do.
The best thing you can do is plan like you are going to be in the worst spot possible. Rather than be upset, take it on as a challenge. Your new job is to find a way to make yourself not only an attractive booth, but a general point of interest. Figure out what you can do to not look like “just another booth”. I have some ideas to share in a future post of what I have seen at some of the shows I have attended.
For now let’s focus on your booth, no matter where it is going to be at the event.
Best foot forward
A lot of this you would think goes without saying. But there is always a few people at every show that are breaking my preconceived expectation for business presentation.
Some people are rebels and that is fine, but don’t go against the grain unless it has a purpose or you are targeting a specific audience. If you are presenting your product or service in jeans and a t-shirt, I hope you are selling me jeans and t-shirts. This isn’t to say that you need to have a full suit either, just make sure that you are presenting yourself in a way that says ‘my business is important to me’. If you feel a polo and jeans will get the job done for your type of business, then I really recommend that you make sure that they are clean and not faded. The idea here is that you want to be seen as an approachable authority in your business.
You are the most important part of your booth. Be well groom, appropriately dressed, and the most important thing do not forget to smile. (Oh, and unless you have a medical reason, it looks better if you are standing. No, George, leaning does not count as standing.)
Your set-up needs to be well groomed as well. Some events will provide your table cloths and back drops, but if it is something you have to bring, make sure it is clean and not wrinkly. I highly recommend setting up a mock booth at the office. This will not only help you figure out what needs some care but will also give you a chance to figure out your layout.
Unless every person that stops at your both is going to fill out paperwork, I really recommend putting the table behind you and getting yourself in hand shake range of the people passing by. From there, you should have sign out front that gives off a reason for people to be over by you. Give away items should be back with the table, forcing people to engage with you to get them. When possible, make sure your area is brightly lit. If you are promoting tents from inside of a tent, find a way to get that thing lighted from the inside. It is all about trying to be welcoming and to funnel people to you.
If everything is bold, nothing is bold.
This is something I was taught about graphic design, but it is also true many forms of marketing and presentation. If this entire paragraph was bold, not only would it be a little hard on the eyes, but nothing about it would seem important, including your promoted subject. If you have a lot of big, bold signs or flashy items, it is all going to bleed together. Make sure you have one big flashy sign. The biggest boldest text should be short and to the point. You have about 3 or 4 words to hook their attention.
If the viewers are thirty feet away from your booth and see Free Gas Card they are going to want to know more. A lot of people will read that bold text before they read the actual sentence and the same goes for your booth. When you are considering your booth presentation, consider what it is your viewers will see first and make sure it is something they want to know more about. (And it does not have to be a free give away, it can be something like Best Realtor In Town, anybody who is thinking of buying or selling a home wants the best right? Just make sure you can back that up when asked.)
There are many things you can do to improve your standing and I will add to the list in Part 2. Stay tuned.
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