Tips for Exhibiting at a Trade Show or Festival
Your company has received an invitation to exhibit at a trade show or outdoor festival but you have no idea where to begin. Here are some of our tips for making your company stand out and attract interest from attendees.
The most important tip that we can give you is to find the right people to man your booth. They will be the ambassadors for your brand and you should pick people who are well-versed and passionate about your product, service or cause, and of course people who like to engage an audience. Since festivals and trade shows can be very long, often lasting as little as four hours to a couple days, make sure at least two people (three or more is ideal) to man your booth to ensure your team of staff, interns or volunteers don’t burn out. Its great if you can manage to have shifts of 3-4 hours and rotate out your volunteers or staff. Even if you find the most outgoing and gregarious person, they will need a break. No one can stand and talk to people non-stop for four hours or more and still be energetic. If you are relying on volunteers or interns, it's important to remember that they need to be oriented to the product, services or cause in advance. Don’t assume that they know everything. Give them talking points and goals that they can reference during their shift. A great way to convey this information is to host a volunteer training and provide a one page cheat sheet with the key messages you want them to share and any logistics they should be aware of. The better prepared, the greater likelihood that everyone involved will represent your brand well and have a good experience.
Styling your booth
According to Trade Show Advisor, exhibitors have only 3 seconds to attract the attention of attendees passing their booth. The key is to make your booth appealing with decorations, signage and brand imaging. You will also need to determine the size of your booth if it’s not your typical 10 x 10 feet exhibit. Here’s what you will need:
Tent: If your event is outdoors, you will need to rent or buy a tent and you should consider purchasing a branded tent if you attend more than one festival a year. For the obvious reasons, tents provide shade from the sun for your staff manning the exhibit.
Banner: You will need signage with your company’s logo, messages or slogans. You can hang a banner at the back of your tent and place barracudas on the side of the display table. We recommend purchasing a fabric instead of vinyl banner. They are easier to maintain and will last longer than a vinyl banner.
Table cloth: Purchasing a branded table cloth with your company’s logo, messages or slogans ties the exhibit together and makes it look more professional. Depending on how often you exhibit, you may want to consider purchasing more than one table cloth in case there happens to be two trade shows on the same day. Also, try to refrain from purchasing a white tablecloth if you can, especially if you’re a food or beverage vendor. White needs to be cleaned frequently; if you aren’t going to have it professionally cleaned after each and ever use, it’s best to stay away from white.
Props: Props can help to create an enticing atmosphere for your booth that attracts visitors This is especially key for brick and mortar stores-- props can help to replicate your storefront. . We were at the Los Olas Wine and Food fest in Fort Lauderdale this year and many restaurants displayed props that were consistent with the theme of their restaurant and brand. A good place to shop for props or get inspiration is TJ Maxx or Home Goods. If you are looking to stand out from the crowd, you should consider purchasing or renting props for the display table. Another route to go is to hire an event stylist to take care or the look and feel.
Make sure to ask the event organizer for access to a power source. If you are planning to be online or sign attendees up on an ipad or laptop, having a power source will be essential. You will also want to bring an extension cord if you have multiple devices. Also, don’t forget lighting! If you will be at an outdoor festival late into the evening you will want lighting to illuminate your booth and make it visible for attendees to find and to see your display.
The materials you choose to display and pass out depends on your goals. You may decide its more useful for you to collect contact information of attendees to add them to your mailing list or hand out invitations to a future event. Either way, you will want to pass out something. Be it business cards and promotional flyers or pens and key chains. If you don’t bring anything, it's as if you weren’t there. Think about it from the attendees point of view and give something that’s useful. It's a sure way for your attendees to remember you and your brand.
Here is the deal, You want to attract the right types of festival or conference goers; not everyone that walks by will be interested in what you are selling but a number of attendees could be future clients, so how do you get them to stop by when there are a sea of other vendors, products or services that will be vying for their attention? The one other thing you can do besides what was mentioned above is offer something of value. It could be a free e-book, or discount. Think strategically about what you can offer. It can be as big or as small as you want, just as long as it's meaningful to your brand.
We hope these tips help with your next trade show or festival. Need help styling your booth? We can help you take your booth to the next level. Get in touch for a free quote.