Missing trade shows and their leads? Read: 18 Ways to be productive when you can't exhibit

Attracting Stand Visitors: 12 Ways To Engineer Greater Visitor Engagement         

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Posted by , 11th July 2017

Attracting stand visitors: model racing cars can help attract visitors to your trade show stand

Attracting stand visitors: model racing cars are fun and they can help attract visitors onto your stand at trade shows as shown above 

1. Present clear and consistent messaging all around your stand 
Visitors walking the floor of a show hall, have just a few seconds to assess each stand and its relevance to them. This is why having clear, consistent messaging is so important whatever the size of your stand.

In the weeks running-up to the show, decide with your colleagues, what are the products services or messages about your business, that you most want people to notice. Don’t have too many. Ideally, you want one strong theme that unites what you do and you want this to blaze out strongly all over your stand.

Attracting stand visitors: strong graphics highlight what a company offers clearly and quickly

Strong graphics highlight what a company offers clearly and quickly 

2. Use big, strong graphics to highlight your message 
Once you know what it is you want to say to visitors, use your stand to promote that message using strong, clear graphic messages. With graphics, less words equals more impact. For attracting visitors, your graphics need to be read by them as they come towards your stand rather then when they are on it. This means that small type and lots of words won’t work well for this job.

If you are exhibiting on a shell scheme stand, talk to the official contractor about the type of graphic panels they offer. Flat graphics i.e. graphics placed on board that runs flat across the panels of the shell scheme will usually look stronger than graphics placed inside each individual shell scheme panel. The flat graphics present an unbroken picture when compared with standard shell displays (but they can be effective too, if that is what your budget will take).

Digital screens are being increasingly used to display messages and moving images and  big screens can be very visitor attractive. If you are exhibiting on a small stand and working with a tight budget, then printed graphics are probably a better choice than a small digital screen. If you have a big stand and a bigger budget, then digital screens and strong graphics make a great combination.

3. Make your stand welcoming
It’s amazing how many bare stands, usually white walled shell schemes with very little or nothing at all on them, can still be seen at a trade show. Often there will be a counter or table and a couple of chairs, maybe a small digital screen or pull-up banner and one or two exhibitors to complete the whole thing. It just doesn’t look very inspiring and that means it also doesn’t look very attractive to visitors as they approach.

You have to think that the companies who paid good money to exhibit this way, have put very little thought if any, into their pre-show preparation. Avoiding this situation isn’t hard. Graphics were covered in Point 2 – they make a huge difference especially on small shell schemes but so do;

  • Lighting – make your stand bright, who wants to visit a dark space?
  • Fun – use some kind of game; quiz or competition to encourage people to stop and engage (see Point 4)
  • Sampling – huge at food and drink shows, but what if you are offering a service, say you are an accountancy firm? You provide samples of mini reports; quick assessment quizzes; case studies from clients in very different markets…. Think out of the box. Show then tell.

4. Use some kind of interactive activity on your stand
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to encourage people to stop at your stand is to offer them a chance to play a game and if you offer the chance to win a prize, even better. What about:

  • Wheel of Fortune; the questions and answers are of course directly related to the marketplace and what you and offer.
  • Model car racing; yes, this is still highly effective especially if you display and tweet a leader board.
  • The electric buzzer game; so simple so effective. This is the game where you try to move a metal hoop along a course of curved metal wire without touching the wire. If you touch the wire, it sets off a buzzer.  Offer prizes (branded products) for people who complete the course. A game like this takes up very little space and so is great for small stands.
  • Simulators: for golf, racing cars, surfing …..There are tons of choices and you and your team get to play them too (before and after show opening of course).

5. Use branded giveaways
Present visitors with a branded promotional item in return for doing something. Answering a survey, playing a game, sitting in on a demonstration. Try and tie-in your giveaway to the  message or themes that you are presenting at the show. This will make your business more memorable when you follow-up post event.

6. Have your conversation openers ready and practiced 
You don’t have a lot of time to get people to stop on your stand, it’s a matter of seconds. Think about phrases you can use to try and achieve a stop. A stop is where a visitor stops walking and replies to something that you or a team member has said.

  • “What are you looking for at the show today? (one of the simplest but most effective)
  • “Are you looking for space saving shelving display systems?
  • “Are you happy with your current widget/utility/accountancy company? Would you like to know how we can you offer your business greater (savings, efficiency, returns…)?

You and your stand team will need to be proactive if you are to engage with more visitors so you can’t leave any detail to chance. Think about conversation openers in advance of the show. Practice them.stand  Change them if you find that they don’t work. Use the phrase or phrases that prove most successful when used.

7. Know where to take conversations with visitors
Getting a visitor to stop using a conversation opener is great, but “the what happens next” needs to be prepared for too. Is the next step to show a visitor a physical exhibit or a product simulation or a video demonstration?

How are you going to record their comments, questions and requests and of course their contact details? What information do you need to obtain from every visitor that you talk to? What can your visitors expect to happen next in the days following the show?

All of these details need to be worked-out before you leave for the venue.

 8. Attracting stand visitors: Ensure that your stand team is prepared and engaged
Your stand team are your brand ambassadors, pick wisely and brief them well. Define the goals, explain procedures and manage your team whether that’s you and one other person or thirty people. Ban team huddles, phone calls, eating on the stand. Encourage competition, fun and salesmanship.

With conversation openers ready, big smiles, no matter how sore the feet, and a lot of enthusiasm for being at the show and being part of the opportunities it offers, your company’s temporary HQ will be attractive and engaging to visitors no matter where in the world it happens to be.

9.  Offer tea, coffee or other forms of refreshments for deeper conversations 
If your product or service is a big ticket item or very technical in nature or if you find your self engaged in a conversation that could lead to a fast order being delivered, it is an advantage to be able to offer your guests the chance to sit down so that you can discuss things in more detail over a coffee or other form of refreshment.

And you don’t need a big stand to do this. A coffee machine and a small fridge on your stand take up very little room as do small but tall, bar style tables and stools. Be ambitious, be friendly and most of all be businesslike.

10. Build engagement before the show 
Contact current clients, dormant clients and prospective clients pre-event inviting them to come and see you at the show.

Offer them a good reason to put your stand on their visit list. If you have a game or some other form of attraction tied in to your theme, tell them about it. If you are offering a promotional gift for attendance tell them about that too. And don’t be scared to repeat your invitation. A one-off invitation might be missed on a busy day. Your second invitation might strike a cord or come at a better time.

Use email; social marketing and direct mail for personalised invitations. Use social and the trade media for market awareness building with news stories and content releases. Use every asset you can to let the people you want to be doing business with, know why it will make sense for them to meet your company at the show!

11. Branded clothing helps you stand out 
A branded or corporate look for everyone working on a stand is highly effective when it comes to engaging with more visitors. Why? Because visitors know who to approach in order to have a question answered.

Think about the last time that you were in a busy shop and you needed someone to help you find the right size for shoes or clothing. You automatically scanned around the store looking for someone who looked like they work there. In retailers, where staff are all wearing the same colour, they are easy to identify and the same principle works on stands in busy shows.

12. Follow-up fast
The easiest way to lose engagement with someone who was really keen on your products or services at a show is not to contact them soon after the event. In fact, the longer you leave your follow-up, the less likely it is that they will even remember your company or what they talked about with with you, let alone buy from you.

If you delay following-up, you are effectively creating a cold-call sales situation all over again with someone who actually showed themselves to be a much warmer prospect. Plus, of course, you also run the risk of that person having gone somewhere else for a solution in the time you took to follow-up with them.

Don’t let this happen. Just like all of the other details of your participation, have things worked-out in advance. Agree what the follow-up procedure is to be including timings for each part of the process e.g. for your email or phone follow-up; for data entry; for passing to the sales team; for an appointment-making call; for results reporting etc.

Attracting Stand Visitors: Take action now for the shows ahead

If your company is going to be exhibiting in the autumn show season, now is the time to get working on your visitor engagement strategy. Get thinking; get enthused and most important of all, get engaged with your own plan for generating more conversations and more meaningful sales leads from every show you participate in.

Posted in Sales  /  Shell Scheme & Small Stands  /  Stand Management  /  Visibility & Impact

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