Are you attending a trade show this year? Take the event by storm by making your booth the best of the best. In this guide, we’ll show you how to supercharge promotion, optimize exposure, and build meaningful brand connections with 10 trade show booth ideas from our event experts at Extreme Canopy.
- Start Promoting Long Before the Show
The first step to standing out at any trade show is to start promoting long before the show begins. Use social media channels to notify your followers of your upcoming event appearance. Use the trade show’s hashtag and attract attention with creative and compelling tweets and posts. Get the event’s attendees involved by inviting them to vote on the things they want to see at your booth. Do the people want swag? If so, what kind? What about food? Fun? Early promotion can generate interest and give you valuable insights into what potential patrons want from your booth. This can help you invest intelligently in merchandise, infrastructure and experiential marketing.
Once you’ve exhausted social media for all its worth, spend some time and money (if you have either to spare) on regional promotion with radio and TV spots, as well as targeted online advertising. Then, if you still have the resources, take to the streets with billboards and flyers. Both real-life and digital means of advertising can help raise awareness in advance of your next trade show.
- Modernize Your Marketing Approach to Generate Buzz
As you begin to advertise for your big trade show appearance, it’s important to modernize your marketing to stand out from the competition and make a lasting impression. We already mentioned using social media, but modern marketing goes way beyond the feeds of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Modern marketing means using creative tactics to make people take notice. Intelligent, unique, and at times disruptive, modern marketing is how today’s most innovative companies generate buzz. So, how do you bring modern marketing to your trade show booth? Here are a few ideas.
- Go guerrilla. Guerrilla marketing is defined as any type of marketing that breaks the conventional rules of advertising and bends the rules in general. To generate buzz before your trade show and at the event itself, find a way to be disruptive. Turn up music a little too loud, send employees out for performative advertising or host a surprise event when the crowd is at its thickest. The results may surprise you.
- Break out the mascot. If you don’t want to go guerilla, go gorilla. A mascot may not sound like the pinnacle of cutting-edge marketing, but it’s an organic and fun way to draw eyes to your trade show booth. Everybody loves taking pictures with mascots, and many who do will stop to check out your booth.
- Launch an app. Apps are a great way to keep people connected long after a trade show is over. To show that your organization has something to offer in today’s tech-driven world, launch an app that showcases your goods and services, or ask attendees to find you on some of today’s most popular platforms and incentivize followers with potential prizes.
- Use technology to interact with your audience. Audience engagement is essential to successful marketing. (See our section on experiential marketing below.) Use technology to interact with your audience by airdropping invites and secret info, hosting silent dance parties or audio tours, and document (and share) any live events you might be hosting.
- Have fun. Too often, trade shows are cesspools of boring businesses and hackneyed advertising. Everybody wants to seem professional, but many sacrifice meaningful engagement for perceived professionalism. Don’t be afraid to let loose and have a little fun at your booth. Getting your audience to laugh, cheer, or even sweat will separate you from the pack — and, despite what you might think, it will likely improve your organization’s reputation.
- Check Out Your Competition
To stand out, you can’t blend in. This concept isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s not always easy to execute at trade shows — especially when you don’t know what you’re up against. To ensure that your trade show booth design is delivering something unique, check out the competition by doing some research on the event’s other attending organizations. A quick Google search of a business will lead you to press releases and other company news, where you can find out how your competitors have set up for past events. This will give valuable insight into what to avoid and what to emulate. Outside of your own event, research some of today’s hottest brands to see what they’re doing at trade shows and other public events. You’re likely to find several ideas and essentials to bring to your booth experience, and your search may spark inspiration for something entirely new.
- Look for the Best Location
At trade shows large and small, not all locations are created equal. In fact, booth location is one of the biggest factors when it comes to determining visitor volume — and the success of different locations varies widely. Booths located near entrances and exits are good spots to set up, as they attract visitors entering and exiting the trade show. Booth locations near interest points such as cafes or restrooms are another good option for catching attendees in transit or waiting in line. However, the best booth locations are those that are located at the intersection of several thoroughfares near the center of a trade show. As the most trafficked regions of any trade show, these areas are likely to draw the most visitors to their booths.
If you’re scheduled for a trade show and you get to choose where you set up, be sure you choose one of the above areas. Setting up anywhere else will put you at a disadvantage. If you have no choice in the matter, compensate by using some of the other trade show booth ideas in this guide to make your presence felt.
- Set Up Smart Shelter
No matter what type of trade show you’re attending, your trade show booth design will play a huge role in your organization’s success. By far the most important aspect of your trade show booth is your structure: your temporary storefront, so to speak. When setting up for a trade show, you want to think beyond the booth and invest in a tent with a degree of professionalism and eye-catching aesthetic appeal to fit your trade show space. A custom-branded tent will help you stand out and will give your potential clients something to stand under as they learn more about your products and services. It’s an essential for any trade show.
As you search for a tent to use at your next trade show or commercial event, a few things should top your list of priorities. These are size, portability and custom options. You’ll likely be allotted a very specific amount of space at your trade show, so you’ll want to start by finding a tent that fits. Usually, this space won’t be very large — 100 and 200 square-foot booth spaces are standard at most trade shows. Once you know your size requirements, shop around for a tent that is portable and easy to set up. Instant canopies (or “pop-up tents”) and inflatable tents are among the best size-efficient, easy-to-set-up tent options on the market today. When you order these tents from our industry-leading manufacturers here at Extreme Canopy, you get the option to customize them with sizing, shaping and printing options tailor-made to fit your needs. Going the custom route will ensure that you get an event tent that embodies your ideal trade show booth design and stands out from the competition.
- Get Creative With Your Signage
With smart shelter taken care of, another great way to attract attention at a trade show is to use custom, eye-catching signs. Among the most versatile and affordable options are banners and flags, which can be ordered in a number of different shapes and sizes to fit any trade show space. Traditional hanging banners, pull-up banners, pod pop banners, shuttle pop banners and oval pop banners are all excellent sign options that will catch eyes and help bring people to your booth. Feather flags and teardrop flags are great free-standing solutions that can be set up at strategic locations to help boost trade show traffic to your space. At Extreme Canopy, we custom-design and manufacture all of these sign solutions and more.
- Invest in Video Production
Sure, signs are great, but they’re also static. The same thing is true of photos and other graphic displays. If you want to really stand out from the competition and bring your trade show booth into the 21st century, consider investing in dynamic video production for your space. Showing professional-made videos via projectors, TVs or monitors at your tradeshow booth will instantly boost your credibility and catch the eyes of passerby. Your videos will also do a lot of the talking for you, leaving your employees to handle more nuanced interactions with potential clientele.
- Give Away Free Swag
Who doesn’t love free stuff? If you’re giving away free goods or services at your tradeshow booth, people will show up. It’s that simple. To really maximize traffic and get people to stay, don’t just hand your freebies out — give them away as part of a contest. Host hourly raffle drawings or small contests to get people involved, and make sure that your prizes are goods and/or services that patrons actually want to win. Check out the following section for ideas on how to give away free stuff at your trade show booth.
- Offer an Event Within an Event
Today’s research suggests that “experiential marketing” is one of the most effective means of generating exposure and driving sales. Unlike traditional marketing, which tells or shows, experiential marketing invites prospective consumers to participate in an event or experience. This fosters a higher level of engagement, which leads to better brand awareness and stronger bonds with the consumer. If you are wondering how you can bring experiential marketing to your trade show booth, start here. Square one, your cornerstone, is creating an experience. You need an event within an event.
There are a number of tried-and-true events and activities that can be used to help boost business and generate exposure. There are also a host of newer, less-common activities that can also contribute to experiential marketing. If your trade show is taking place outside, take advantage of the great outdoors and offer a physical activity such as relay race, accuracy game, or even a dance party. Indoors, keep things intimate with a small show, raffle or photo booth. If possible, incorporate your brand into your experiential event to help your patrons build a strong connection between their experience and your organization. Host trivia or guessing games involving your brand, offer your goods and services as prizes, and always keep your media front and center during your experiential event.
- Make Your Team Official
Nothing says success quite like a coordinated team. If your employees or volunteers look mismatched (or worse, if they look like event attendees), your booth will seem unofficial and amateurish. To transform your team at your next trade show, invest in outfits that match and display your brand for an official look that will stand out in all the right ways. Branded t-shirts are the most cost-effective team uniform. However, they’re both informal and commonly used. You can start with them, but don’t stop there. Deck your team out in hats, hoodies, matching pants and accessories for the full-package uniform that can’t be missed. Choose colors that pop, but stay away from glaring neons or outdated shades that may put people off. Most importantly, make your uniforms look cool. Bring your best logos and designs out for your trade show and stick them on your employees and your merchandise. This turns your team into walking advertisements for apparel that your patrons may actually want to wear. Not only will you make a few extra dollars on merchandise sales — you’ll get free advertising from those who may be wearing your brand after the event.
Is your trade show booth a suit-and-tie affair? You can still make your team stand out and look unified will small accents. Decide on a tie type, shoe style, or name tag look that all team members can sport. Pick a color that employees can use in their accents, preferably one that matches your organization’s logo and other branding. This will not only create unity between team members but it will also build a visual connection between your team and your brand.
Learn More and Take Your Trade Show Booth to the Next Level With Extreme Canopy
Want to learn more about how to stand out at your next trade show? Our event experts at Extreme Canopy are here to help.Contact us to speak with a member of our team and get professional advice on trade show booth design, advertising and other event strategies. Ready to invest in a high-quality tent, banner, or flag for your next trade show? Follow the links listed and explore our site to learn more about the high-quality event products we offer, and order directly from our manufacturers for unparalleled custom options and savings. When you want the best for your trade show booth, there simply is no better place to shop.