Let’s Talk Trade Show Booths

Startup Stock PhotosThe last two conferences I attended were directed at marketers. You would expect the bar to be a little higher for the trade show floor booths, but one thing really struck me (pardon my bluntness)…they mostly sucked.

People are going through the trade show floor for mostly the following reasons:

1)     To get your swag. These people will mostly likely never convert to buyers.

2)     They are already your customers and want to spend some time with you.

3)     They are killing time between sessions.

4)     They are new to this conference and are looking for vendors who can legitimately help them.

During the last two shows, I fell into the last category. I wasn’t looking for swag (okay, maybe if your stuff was really, really good). I was looking for information (note: not a sales pitch). I wanted to quickly learn what each company did, could I afford it and was it worth pursuing.

Now, we all know that when you walk a show floor, you have a finite amount of time before you’re being accosted by someone at the booth, armed with a scanner. Job one is to try to avoid the unnecessary scan – because we all know the expensive consequence we’ll pay in our inbox when we get back into the office.

How do you get the attention of someone like me as I’m trying to bob and weave between scans? It’s simple.

Be clear on your trade booth. Say what you do and maybe include a unique value proposition or two.

Instead, what is often see is a booth trying to be cute. They build a theme around the show with their swag and booth design – which is great if you’re Google or a company everyone knows.

The second thing I see is marketing-speak.

The unprecedented leader in synergistic, multichannel keyword optimization!

Five bazillion brownie points if you can tell me what that mess even means.

When you’re designing your next booth, my recommendation would be to run it by some folks who have no idea what you do and ask them if they can figure it out from your design. Stop thinking of your space as a branding tool or a place to showcase great design. It is a mean, lean, lead-generation tool.