Treat booth as an event to snare future customers

Catching the attention of potential customers at a busy exposition requires an orchestrated production involving thought, planning and creativity.

Your booth needs to attract the attention of an expo visitor the way a headline grabs a reader’s attention. Getting their interest in a competitive show environment requires both subtle and dynamic techniques.

Here are some proof-positive ways to create your attention-getting booth:

  • Research your audience: In considering who will attend the expo or trade show, try to determine how they differ from your general client base and then define your immediate message. The expo organizers may have these demographics available. If your current client base is the average 40- to 55-year-old male executive and the target expo audience is for professional women business owners, you’ll want to cater to their feminine sensibility while fulfilling their need of your product or service.

An immediate message might convey a particular challenge to this audience. If you were a bank, your message might be “Interest rate discounts for your business.” Ask yourself: Why should I gather information from potential customers, give them information, or both? Collecting business cards or having surveys filled out are two means of gathering such information and determining a particular market niche.

How can you cater to this specific audience? Give away promotional items or samples of your product.

Which of your staff members can best relate to this audience? The expert on your product or service, a colleague or just an inviting bright smile may be the answer.

At a recent women’s conference, a psychotherapy center staff chose to give away homemade chocolate chip cookies to attract people to their booth. Since they are in a service industry and have no product, the cookies were perceived as nurturing to this all.

  • Be aware of layout and traffic flow: Will you tend a table or use a more personal approach and have customers enter the booth? Be conscientious of busy aisles. Consider the particular booth size to accommodate your staff, equipment, signs and information. A modular design may be an ideal alternative that allows for larger, visually dynamic graphic panels.
  • Never take enthusiasm for granted: To avoid monotony, keep your staff alert and friendly by assigning reasonable shifts with breaks. The psychotherapy center’s female therapists chose to invite potential clients into the booth for individualized interaction. Comfortable chairs were easily accessible as was additional promotional literature. A live computer was made available to access their Web site and white noise was used to help eliminate any background hum.
  • Take care with literature and signs: Customizing your message in your trade show materials and signs to reflect relevance is of utmost importance. Condense the volume of literature as much as possible. Hand out Rolodex cards instead of business cards, brochures or two-sided fliers. Be sure to have your originals with you in case you run out.

Your booth sign is your single most valuable tool and, like a freeway billboard, it should be visible from above the average shoulder height. It is responsible for communicating about 70 percent of your message to booth visitors. It should be prominent but follow expo restrictions and guidelines.

Display your company name, slogan and several points. I suggest an odd number of points with an odd number of words, no more than seven words per point. For example: “We’ll market your Web site!” But try not to buy into these graphics as permanent. They tend to get stale quickly, especially to repeat expo attendees, and may significantly limit your options to customize your message.

The same psychotherapy center chose to distribute its tailored literature as a “professional attraction” rather than as a promotion. It was a no-sales concept. The message of the moment: “Do you place a glass ceiling on your goals?” The sign was 10-foot tall, that was 2 feet higher than everyone else’s.

The same psychotherapy center chose to distribute its tailored literature as a “professional attraction” rather than as a promotion. It was a no-sales concept. The message of the moment: “Do you place a glass ceiling on your goals?” The sign was 10-foot tall, that was 2 feet higher than everyone else’s.

  • Address all five senses: Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell are all equally important. These specific elements individually may not be blatant, but collectively will absolutely help create an inviting environment. Your overall presentation should illustrate a theme, matching the visual style of your handouts. Just as the fragrance of homemade cookies wafts through the air, so can the fragrances of dried lavender or fresh-cut lemons. Fresh flowers or tropical plants may give the indoors a sense of nature while flags, streamers or bouquets of balloons may mark your territory.

Don’t dismiss the importance that music plays in creating ambiance. Color can be powerful and often transmits hidden messages to customers. Color theory holds that blue is a “success” color, while red evokes emotion. This kind of creative thinking will help guarantee a positive and successful outcome to your next expo or trade show.

Kevin Cohee is the owner of Eventures, meeting and event planners. Reach him at (916) 446-5800 or DoAnEvent@aol.com.Address all five senses: Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell are all equally important. These specific elements individually may not be blatant, but collectively will absolutely help create an inviting environment.

Your overall presentation should illustrate a theme, matching the visual style of your handouts. Just as the fragrance of homemade cookies wafts through the air, so can the fragrances of dried lavender or fresh-cut lemons. Fresh flowers or tropical plants may give the indoors a sense of nature while flags, streamers or bouquets of balloons may mark your territory.

Don’t dismiss the importance that music plays in creating ambiance. Color can be powerful and often transmits hidden messages to customers. Color theory holds that blue is a “success” color, while red evokes emotion. This kind of creative thinking will help guarantee a positive and successful outcome to your next expo or trade show.

Kevin Cohee is the owner of Eventures, meeting and event planners. Reach him at (916) 446-5800 or kevin@doanevent.com.