Increasing booth traffic is no longer about branded pens and t-shirts. In the age of experiential marketing and digital media, expectations run high, while attention spans tend to run low. So how do you increase foot traffic to your booth? That takes wise pre-planning, creative thinking, and a direct approach.

Increasing Trade Show Booth Traffic: Pre-Show Tactics

Roughly 70 percent of trade show attendees pre-plan which booths they intend to visit prior to the event. Having a pre-show strategy in place is imperative to increasing booth traffic and your overall success.

1. Direct Mail

Reaching out to pre-existing customers often gets overlooked. Despite the fact that direct mail may seem old-fashioned, you can still use mailers in a creative way to draw an audience to your online content, and eventually to the show.

If you are going to budget for direct mail, try including a QR code that links to some unique online content. Don’t just spin what the customer already has in the mailer. Video testimonials, followed by a call to action (such as filling out a form), have proven to be great methods for engaging potential customers.

2. E-mail Blasts

This is the most common and cost effective means of marketing your appearance at the event and increasing booth traffic. These types of e-mails should generally be written in the second person (i.e. “you” and “your”) and should be as creative as possible. Embedding videos and infographics is one way to catch a prospect’s eye.

3. Appointments

Setting an appointment is the most interactive way of pre-show marketing there is. Having your sales team meet with prospects is highly effective. A link to make an appointment with a salesperson can be sent out in an e-mail blast as well.

4. Social Media

This type of pre-show marketing is essential, as trade shows tend to advertise heavily on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Most events will have a Twitter hashtag specifically created for the show that you can attach any message to about your booth. Tweet and post about your product, demo schedules, and freebies, or simply use it to do a little pre-event networking.

Increasing Trade Show Booth Traffic: During the Event

Once you are established at the show, there are several ways to increase the traffic to your booth.

1. Presentation

As booths get more and more creative, the standard type of presentation must be tossed aside. The following are a few key concepts to jazz up your booth and increase traffic.

  • Attire: Wear bright colors or a funky shirt to stand out. Step outside the box a little, and you’ll be sure to stand out.
  • Experiential Marketing: Customers want an experience these days, and creating one in your booth is the best way to get your brand out there. People are more inclined to remember an experience over a dry sales pitch. This can include concepts like a photo booth, virtual reality experience, or interactive kiosk.
  • Be positive: Pay attention to everyone, whether it is a prospect, pre-existing customer, or an industry leader. If you look like you are having fun with the crowd, people will be attracted to your energy.
  • Planned Demonstration: This goes along with the concept of experiential marketing. Don’t “tell” but rather “show” what your product and business model is all about. Keep it short, and have a posted presentation schedule so people can attend throughout the event.
  • Set-up: Don’t box in your booth with a table right out front. The trend at trade shows right now is an open and comfortable floor plan. Some companies will even offer seating areas that encourage people to stay a little longer.

2. Signage

Good booth signage does not have to be fancy, but it has to be descriptive. Prospects should be able to look at your booth and know exactly what you do without having to ask. Use them to qualify attendees as well––ensuring that only interested parties approach your team.

The sign should not only display your company name, but it should also give people a sense of what you do. Although many people think subtlety draws attendees in, it could end up attracting the wrong crowd and wasting your time.

3. Incentives

Incentives are perhaps one of the most important aspects to creating booth traffic. You should be blasting social media with any incentives you plan to offer at your booth. Don’t just tweet, “come visit us at booth 123.” Tell people why they should.

Incentives can range from giveaways to free wi-fi in your booth. Food has always been a big hit as well. Here are some ideas:

  • Swag: Consider thinking outside of the box when it comes to company branded freebies. T-shirts are always popular, but they can actually do better when they are made in child and pet sizes. People will often take promotional merchandise with the excuse it is for someone else. Rather than the normal key chain or pen, USB charging adapters or flash drives have been known to be very popular and heavily utilized during trade shows.
  • Charging Station: This is one of the most popular concepts at trade shows right now, and is sure to increase booth traffic. Take advantage of people charging their mobile devices by offering seating, videos, and signage they can experience while they wait.
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi: This is yet another attractive booth feature that people are considering. A MiFi is a device that can be connected to a mobile phone carrier and provide internet access for up to 10 separate devices. You can also require people to register on a landing page prior to signing in.

Limited-time offers, special show pricing, contests, and giveaways can also be big booth draws.

Overall, increasing your booth traffic not only takes focused pre-planning but thinking outside of the box. Whichever approach you choose, just remember that if you stand out, stay positive, and practice forward-thinking, your booth will be the hit of the show!