Conference Exhibits: How to Stand Out from the Crowd
03.19.2015 / Posted in Articles, Branding
Attending industry conferences can help companies gain exposure and develop new leads. But does your company get the most out of its investment in these events? (For a quick read on the four biggest overall conference-appearance mistakes we see over and over again, click here.)
While there is no doubt that conference selection, sponsorship opportunities, preconference promotion, and the employees you select to represent you all contribute to conference success, your booth is a major element that is often overlooked. So we’ve put together some tips to help you make a lasting impression.
Start with a Strategy
Before you can create the optimal booth, you must ask what your company plans to achieve by attending. This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised at how many companies skip this step—and at how much of a negative effect it can have when they do. If nothing else, going into a conference without a strategy and plan is a surefire way to waste resources.
Do you want to acquire a certain number of solid leads? Are you trying to drive brand awareness? Is it important for your company to be seen as a thought leader in its industry?
Once you have decided on a strategy, what you do at the conference to achieve your goal becomes much easier to determine, including:
- How to design your booth
- How to best position your booth in its exhibit space
- What information to provide at the conference
- What activities and events you should conduct at the show
Layout is Important
Make sure your booth is open and inviting. We’ve all seen the “typical” booth setup, with a table at the front, a graphical panel or a curtain at the back, and representatives sitting or standing behind it. By positioning your personnel behind a table, you separate them from potential customers walking by, creating a physical barrier to easy conversation.
Instead, place the table at the back of the booth or to the side and make sure your representatives stay alert and attentive. Passerby will be much more likely to stop and ask questions if your booth and staff appear welcoming. It’s easier for your representatives to engage and pull people in to your booth with this setup, too.
Don’t forget to tailor your layout to the types of interactions you want to have. If you want to develop significant leads or even close new business, consider having an area where you can sit down and have a more in-depth conversation with interested prospects.
Highlight Key Information
Once you’ve created an environment that encourages attendees to stop by, make sure they can get the information they need from your booth. All booths should provide information, but the information you provide should serve the conference strategy you’ve developed.
How to highlight the most important tidbits?
Use lighting to your advantage. Position a spotlight to highlight the most important pieces of information or takeaway materials. The brighter light will draw visitors’ eyes to key areas, guiding them to what’s most important first.
Remember: You don’t have much time to capture attention. If your audience can’t figure out what you offer, it will likely move on before you’ve had a chance to engage.
Dare to be Different
Conference attendees see so many booths that they start to blend together. Exhibit halls are choked with “visual noise.” If you want this audience to remember your company, products, and services, you need to stand out from the clutter.
Consider using one or several of the following tactics:
- Host a unique activity. The main pull at many booths is a prize drawing using the standard “business-card-in-a-fish-bowl” method. Break away from the norm with activities like customizable giveaways, photo booths, or a game that awards prizes. This is an especially good tactic if your main goal is to drive brand awareness—it will get everyone talking. Just ensure any promotional activities you undertake align with your conference strategy and marketing messaging.
- Give a unique prize. If you are going to do a prize drawing, choose a unique item that ties into your company and brand. These days, everyone gives away iPads. Offering something different will gain attention, and if you can relate it back to your products or services, it will be even more memorable.
- Play with color. One of the easiest ways to draw attention is with a pop of color. If your display is fairly understated, consider using filtered lights (in brand colors, of course!).
- Reward valuable conversations. If your primary goal is to develop new leads, consider having higher quality items for prospects that engage in meaningful conversation. You can still order pens or lanyards for ordinary passerby, but giving a more coveted item to attendees who demonstrate real interest will leave a lasting impression.
Now that you know how to set your company apart from the rest, try implementing some of these ideas at your next conference.
Not sure what your strategy should be or which of these tactics would work best for your company? FrogDog would love to help!
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