09 Aug, 2023

How to Attract Attention at a Trade Show: 12 Inventive Ideas

Watching people fly by your trade show booth without giving you a second glance is disappointing. It makes the whole event seem worthless, and if you don’t generate any interest, your efforts are in vain.

Fortunately, most people do go to trade shows with an intent to explore a particular area their business they need help with, but that doesn’t mean they’ll come over and start asking you hundreds of questions about what you offer.

To spark an interest in your offering, you need to learn how to attract attention at a trade show. If you can attract people, you have a better chance of engaging them and turning them into lead or a customer.

How to Attract Attention at a Trade Show: 12 Inventive Ideas

How to Stand Out at a Trade Show

1. Attend Trade Shows

Plenty of exhibitors go to trade shows without attending as a visitor. Immersing yourself in the experience will allow you to determine what you like and don’t like about trade shows. We’d suggest doing this first if you’ve never exhibited before.

Every trade show is different in terms of the setting and the people exhibiting and running the event. Try to keep it as close to your industry as possible; there’s no point attending a tech event if you’re a manufacturer.

Once you’ve got an idea of what stands out at a trade show, you can start planning how you’re going to attract people to your stand.

Further reading - UK Manufacturing trade shows: Which One Should You Exhibit?


2. Pre-Show Marketing

You’ll have to do this sometime before the event, but it’s worth doing as it can generate a buzz about your company long before the event begins.

As long as you’ve got an exciting tale to tell and a decent budget, you can reach out to trade publications. Most writers and journalists will jump at the chance to give you some column inches. You could use your USP or mission to show why it’s worth attending your stand at the show.

You should also consider email marketing and social media if you’ve got an email marketing database and a substantial social media following.


3. Create a USP or Theme

What is your business plan for 2020? Whatever is driving you forward in the coming months (or years) could form a theme or USP for your trade show booth. You should also tie your company vision and values into your exhibition appearance.

Let’s say you’ve committed to using 50% sustainable materials by the end of 2020 and 70% by 2030. How you incorporate that into your trade show appearance? Your staff could wear sustainable clothing, or you could build your stand from sustainable materials.

Ensure your theme ties in with the reason you’re attending the event; you don’t want to go off track and damage the reason you’re there in the first place.


4. Know what you want

If all trade show staff know what they’re trying to achieve by exhibiting the event, you’re more likely to attract more people to your booth.

Unclear goals create uncertainty, and uncertain people tend to hide or avoid starting conversations because they don’t know what the result of that conversation should be.

You’re either going to stand out for being full of energy and certainty or avoidance and nervousness.


Set Goals & Have a Vision

It’s always good to have a target. For example, you want to generate 100 marketing qualified leads and 50 sales qualified leads.

However, numbers are a little bit cold, and they can lead people to pursue the number without any care. Give your staff a purpose, and they’ll be much more willing to engage, and the event visitors will sense that energy.

How effective are trade shows in 2020


5. Make people want your giveaways

How often have you received a free pen? There’s no doubting a pen is a useful tool, but it isn’t anything out of the ordinary. If event attendees receive a pen from every stand they visit, how is yours any different?

If you’re going to give something away, it has to be both useful, unexpected and desirable. We like the popsockets exhibitors are giving away at the minute.

Most people take selfies, read on their phone or play games, so something that makes it easier is definitely worth giving away.

However, if you can, giving away something related to your product is always more effective. For example, if you manufacture tiles and you know there’ll be tile manufacturers at the trade show, you could give away a branded adhesive grout spreader.


6. Make your booth stand out

Other than the people representing you at your stand, the stand will be the first thing your potential customers see.

Whatever industry you operate in, nobody wants to invest in a company that’s sloppy or boring, which is why your design and display need to be eye-catching.

Here are three reasons your display stand is your most important method of attraction:

  • It’s your brand’s showcase – when visitors look at your stand, it’s your time to shine. It’s their first impression of your business, so you want to make it count.

  • Communicating information – your stand should also contain information about your business, like your website and social media profiles.

  • It’s your chance to interact – If your display is worth talking about, people will approach you, and you’ve saved yourself one job if that happens.

Also, you should ensure your stand is different from the rest. A lot of the time, stands blend into other stands because everyone has similar ideas. You want to **stand out**.


7. Make your booth stand out

If you want to attract some attention, you could experiment with some interactive games. Games are a great way to make people comfortable at your stand and work as an icebreaker, too.

Some common ideas for games include:

  • Price wheel– people like to win things, so not many would turn this down.

  • Business card raffle – get people to fill out business cards and run a raffle, make sure the prize is worth a trade of information (like an email).

  • Scratch cards – develop scratch cards with your company branding and logo on them, so people remember you.

While games are useful for attracting attention and engaging with potential leads, that’s all they’re there for. You have to know when to move the conversation along, so you aren’t talking about scratch cards.


8. Allow people to test your product

If people go to trade shows to buy things, they’ll want to test the product or a prototype of the product. You can’t wax lyrical about how amazing your offering is if there’s no way to show it. Actions speak louder than words.

For example, if you manufacture office furniture or sell food, you need to let the people who you’re trying to convert try your product. If people can’t review it on the spot, there’s less chance they’ll buy it.


9. Live demos

If your product has a learning curve, it’s probably unwise to place it in someone’s hands and tell them to play around with it. If you want to show them it can be simple, teach people how to use it.

Afterwards, you can invite people into your booth to play with your product. You’ll know these people are genuinely interested as they’ll have just watched you using it.


10. Free wifi access

Many event venues don’t offer free WiFi, or you have to pay a premium to access it for a short amount of time. A guaranteed way to get people around your trade show booth is to let people use your hotspot.

You could use this as your USP; we can guarantee you’ll have a herd of people latching onto your hotspot to update their social media feeds or send emails. Use this opportunity to get in and engage with the right people.


11. Free charging station

If attendees are using their phones for emails, social media updates and phone calls throughout the show, they’ll need somewhere to recharge. If you can provide that facility, you’re likely to attract a crowd of people who are running low on battery.

You could provide tea and coffee and a place to sit as well, so people can get the mental and physical recharge they need. Take this as an opportunity to ask a few questions and engage with the people who use your facilities.


12. Booth location

This one may seem a bit too obvious, but it’s one that companies often get wrong. You’ll pay a premium for the better spots, but it’s worth it if you can generate more interest in your stand.

Speak to your event company and ask which spots they recommend, and check for spots that are near food halls, entrances or exits. Further reading:


What's next?

Once you’ve attracted someone to your booth, you need to engage them. If you engage with people they’re more likely to engage with your product. If you want to engage people think about:

  • What staff you’re going to take to the event.
  • How you’re going to pitch your product.
  • The appearance of your booth and your employees.
  • How you’re going to maintain energy levels.

Thanks for reading, and good luck at your next trade show!