What’s going to make your business “new and exciting” this year at your first trade show? What’s going to make people stop and spend some time in your booth? If you’ve got an unbeatable product or service, you might not have to do too much work. But if you’re one of those small businesses struggling to get a foot in the competitive door, you’ll appreciate all the help you can get. Here are a couple of ideas.
Unless you’re planning a royal wedding, the KISS principle always works. Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm with loud music, flashing lights, ridiculously costumed performers, and trashy giveaways. You want the focus to be on your product, so make decisions that will move you in that direction. For example, rather than flashing or strobe lights (which will invariably drive some people away), try some super-focused lighting that spotlights your product. Keep the lights themselves subtle, perhaps even hidden, so that the product really pops. Regular lights are great, but you can even coordinate the hues with your company colors for a gentle blend that speaks attention to detail, something a customer always notices.
How do your potential customers feel when they walk into your booth? Surprise them with some unexpected flooring. Most trade-show-circuit veterans will tell you what a pain it is to haul carpet around, but you can do better. With some lightweight foam mats that interconnect like puzzle pieces, you can configure just as much or little space as you need when you get to the venue and see what you’re dealing with. These mats are soft underfoot, a welcome surprise to your customers as well as your booth staffers. You can choose from solid colors, mix and match if you’d like, or even realistic wood grain patterns for a very professional look. For an extra soft look, even carpet top mats are available. Customers will be in a comfortable frame of mind as they peruse your booth, chat with you staff, and hopefully make a connection that will result in a long-term relationship. The mats clean up with a little water, air-dry, and can be stacked for easy transportation. No more rolling up heavy carpet! You can even choose differently colored mats to match your business’ logo and decor.
It’s true, location is everything, and the “little guys” don’t often get the biggest or most advantageously located booth in the building. So make the most of what you have. If you are given the opportunity to choose a space, make sure it is in a main avenue, but not too close to the Big Guys. You’ll be overlooked and overpowered in that case. But you can always benefit from their crowd-drawing power if you’re nearby. Avoid entrances and exits; these booths are often overlooked. But if you have to take what you can get, remember that your booth has been given professional attention, and with extra care on your knowledgable staff’s part, you’ll bring in the customers who will be the most valuable to you over the long run.