6 Keys to Becoming More Attractive (Your Booth, That Is)

September 05, 2019

Exhibitors often believe it’s the trade show organizer’s job to generate traffic, but that’s not true.The show organizer’s focus is on bringing attendees to the event, but it’s up to you to draw them into your own booth space. One great way to do that is by designing an engaging booth attraction.

Today’s attendees are on sensory overload, with colorful banners and LED walls at every turn. But all this visual stimulation becomes a blur and the exhibits all begin to look the same. In order to stand out, you must take a different approach and become irresistibly engaging to attendees.Here are six key strategies to make your booth more attractive:

  1. Create activities to appeal to your ideal target audience, not just bring in the masses. Sure, everyone likes to be the led panelsmost popular booth on the show floor, but exactly what does that get you? Probably not the most qualified leads! Instead, take time to define your ideal client and how they think – the solutions they desire and what delights or frustrates them. People crave experiences more than things. Find an activity that speaks to them and creates a personal connection, and you’ll become a magnet for the right audience.
  2. Design an interactive activity that educates, entertains, engages, and overcomes objections. Sound like a tall order? It doesn’t have to be. Games or multisensory experiences are often good for this because they’re fun and educational without feeling like a recitation of facts about your products or services. Be share-worthy by providing “Instagrammable moments” so attendees can’t help but spread the word about your exhibit (and your company). Focus on the why (message or story) before selecting how (technology or tools) to create it.
  3. Build memorability for your message and brand with meaningful connections. Creating an in-booth attraction that’s out of alignment with your brand doesn’t make sense. Don’t do something just because it’s fun or clever. Deliberately focus on tying in with your message, like a gamified food tasting challenge for a food manufacturer or a driving simulator for a heavy equipment company. That brings your message to life.
  4. Train your staff how to manage the traffic coming to your booth. A great attraction will serve as an icebreaker and conversation starter, but only if your staff understands how to take advantage of it and how to work the line. And while we’re on that topic …
  5. Remember it’s not just about the traffic – your attraction should serve as a lead-gathering tool. You’re not there to win a popularity contest, so focus on gathering information from those hot leads who are drawn to your booth, so that you can follow up with them later.
  6. Stack the odds in your favor by promoting your booth attraction before the show. Put out teasers so attendees will be curious to check it out. Give them a reason to put your exhibit on their must-see list (call to action).

So what kind of engagement would be right for your exhibit? That’s a question with as many answers as there are exhibitors, because the very idea here is to be unique, not a cookie-cutter copy of anyone else on the show floor.

Here are some great ways to jumpstart your idea generation process.

Check out the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) report, “Designed to Engage – How to Build Elements of Engagement Into Booth Designs,” which includes three case studies incorporating engaging attractions. (It’s written by yours truly.)

Sit down with your exhibit team – designers, marketing, sales, in-booth staff, and whoever else – way in advance of your next show to put these strategies into play throughout every phase of the exhibit design process

Study the show’s prospectus and other data to uncover the various audience personas, then craft a attraction that appeals to each persona.

It may take some brainstorming, but when you get it right, you’ll be rewarded with a flood of exactly the kind of attendees you want to meet.
With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.
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