Trade shows and industry events are a great opportunity to network and get your product or service in front of your target audience. However, the cost of participation, from the exhibition fee to the cost of marketing materials, can add up quickly. Getting a return on your investment depends upon generating interest in your trade show booth, and engaging attendees to acquire leads. If you’re tasked with setting up a trade show booth or at a conference, you can find comfort in knowing that there are countless tricks to help attract attendees to your exhibition; by solving some simple problems that they face, offering promotional materials which are attractive to prospective clients, and appealing to the senses, you will succeed at conference lead generation and sales. Design A Unique Booth Because conferences and trade shows are filled with hundreds of booths often selling similar and competing products, your first instinct on how to design your space might not allow it to stand out; this is because it will also be what first comes to mind for other exhibitors. If it’s a tech conference you’re attending, consider ditching the flash and instead create a more natural environment, such as a living room or an “outdoor” setting. Having a comfy sofa for attendees to sit down on can be an appealing site to attendees who’ve been walking around the tradeshow networking for hours. Having attendees sit down to relax is the perfect opportunity for you to strike up a conversation and network with them yourself. Some exhibitors utilize television to catch the eye of passersby, some utilize it to play video or slideshows about their products, however, you can utilize it in other ways. If you’re attending a tradeshow over the weekend, maybe there is a sporting event you can display on the TV that attendees may be interested in checking out, or utilize the TV to play music videos or performances, anything that will make people stop at your booth to check out what’s going on. Not only will this provide you with an opportunity to speak with those who stop at your booth to enjoy the entertainment, but it will also help you stand out amongst the other booths and leave a lasting impression after the show. Appeal To The Senses The environment you create will directly affect people’s desire to spend time in your booth, thus you should appeal to as many senses as possible in a way which isn’t overwhelming. Offering snacks and beverages is one way to bring in visitors, and even scent can be a marketer’s best friend. It may sound strange, but keeping in mind the close connection between scent and memory, it can be used to trigger warm feelings by attendees. Something as simple as having a popcorn machine at your booth can draw all kinds of attention, not only from those who walk by and see the delicious treat but by those wandering around the rest of the venue who happen to catch the scent of freshly popped popcorn. Walking around a tradeshow floor and striking up conversations all day long can make one work up a serious appetite – you can bet that many who catch the scent of fresh popcorn will be determined to seek out the source. Hot dogs can be easily prepared at a tradeshow booth, only requiring a hot dog roller to cook and keep warm. Coffee can also be a huge hit among attendees, giving them a much-needed boost of energy to continue on with perusing the venue or operating their own booths – all you need is a drip coffee brewer, or single serve machine if you prefer. You could serve attendees hot java in Styrofoam cups to be cost effective, or, you could take it one step further and increase your visibility to the rest of the trade show by serving it in branded coffee mugs that you offer up to visitors of your booth. Offer A “Relax and Recharge” Station Keeping busy at a conference is important, but we all know that doing so can be overwhelming for attendees who are far from the creature comforts of home. Fulfill their basic technological needs by offering a space for people to sit and recharge their devices. This can be a great addition to the unique booth design previously mentioned, especially if you’re offering a comfortable sitting area. Having a demo of your product or service on standby for people to tinker with while they wait for their device to charge is an easy way to draw attention to your product and segue into a sales pitch when appropriate. Give Attendees A Chance To Create The best marketing materials are those which develop organically, and conferences are an opportunity to coax attendees into creating iconic images for your brand: a story built by hundreds (or thousands) of people can catch attention long after the trade show is over. If you are very comfortable with your product, ask attendees to write a one word or sentence thought about your product on a chalkboard, then share the image online. Or, if you want people to get even more creative and don’t mind getting a bit messy, set up a large canvas and draw part of a picture related to your brand. Then have booth visitors spend a couple of minutes adding to the drawing themselves. The end result will (hopefully) be something you’ll be proud to share on social media, as will those that participated. Or, Create For Them This can come naturally for some applications, like 3D scanners. Simply allow people to scan an item, or themselves, to be 3D printed, creating a memorable experience and a tangible way for your new brand evangelists to tell the story of your product. For some offerings, though, what personalized giveaways are appropriate might not be so clear. If this is the case, consider bringing in a sketch artist who can draw pictures of attendees interacting with your product for them to keep. Offer Swag As A Reward For Playing Games Salespeople and buyers can be competitive, so offer them the chance to one-up others in their industry for a sure win. Give away top-tier branded swag as a prize for reaching a certain goal, and offer your product as the top prize to the person who scores the highest during the conference. This will allow you to take contact info as a condition for playing so you can inform the high-scorer of their win, in-turn creating valuable leads. Sure, pens and keychains are great, but in order to get someone to hand over their information, you’ll want the item to be useful and have perceived value. Logo t-shirts are always a great item, as they can be used for lounging around or as gym attire. Promotional backpacks or drawstring bags can come in handy at a tradeshow, as they can be used to store all of the other swag received. With many trying to charge their cell phones and portable devices after a day of networking with new contacts and social media posting, popular tech products like power banks or wall chargers are worth their weight in gold at these events. Use Giveaways To Disseminate Marketing Materials Getting marketing copy into the hands of attendees can be a challenge as many people won’t choose to pick up a whitepaper that is sitting on a desk and actually bring it home. However, by giving them something they want, and filling it with marketing copy or demo’s, you can ensure that people don’t forget about your products the moment they leave your booth. One tactic to consider is giving away branded USB drives which contain a demo of your product or simply a PDF brochure, while another is filling tote or other bags with whitepapers and flyers detailing your offerings. In the end, just remember that being friendly and assertive will go much further than being a pushy salesperson. But a little swag, comfort, and competition never hurts. Images: ” LONDON – MAR 15: visitors walk past stands at the Ideal Home Show 2013 in London on March 15, 2013. It is the annual event that brings together the latest inventions and designs for the modern house. /Shutterstock.com“ ____________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. 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