Engage First, Then Inform: Trade Show Booth Planning

August 13, 2016

Todd Millett

Todd Millett is a web marketer and content developer at TradeShowJoe.com. He graduated from University of Louisville in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. 

When you are at your trade show booth, the first priority is to engage your audience. Informing them about your company is the next step, but only after they are engaged does it become equally important.

Why? Because a person needs to take interest before they will make any effort to find value in the things YOU want them to know. Instead, let them decide what they want to know and ask you.

When on the trade show floor, the concept of engaging people becomes obvious. You simply want people to check out your booth and learn more about your company. However, when planning before the show, a very common mistake is to plan the booth display based on information and not engagement. 

It falls down to a simple question: When sitting in your office dreaming up your next trade show booth, is your first question, “What do we want our booth to tell people?” or “How can our booth better engage people?”

Both engaging and informing are important, but your booth staff will be there to inform. Your graphics and booth presentation will be more effective if designed to engage. If well planned, the cycle becomes more organic, rather than you having to try to force leads.

Your display generates interest and attendees gravitate toward your display. Then, you need a well-trained and honest booth staff to do the job of informing and answering questions. This process creates real and natural born relationships with far more longstanding value than chasing down leads.

The starting point of planning an engaging display is at the first glance. Imagine you are at a show. It’s a bit chaotic, like always, with thousands of voices, hundreds of display booths, product demos everywhere, and endless opportunities to people-watch.

As you walk down an isle on your way to the bathroom, you glance to your left at a random display. (BOOM! This is the moment you want to plan your own display around.) What is going to grab your interest amidst everything else happening? You are literally glancing at a display you know nothing about on your way to the bathroom.

What is going to keep you from continuing to walk to the restroom while looking around the room? How quickly will this engagement have to happen before it is too late? At the minimum, the display better be attractive, and not overwhelming.

If it can also present a short message or generate a question in just a couple seconds, even better! Normally, creative graphics themselves are the only way to accomplish this quickly enough in this scenario. 

If text and words make sense, use them subtly when appropriate to compliment what your booth staff can explain. They are not likely to be the initial attention grabber, but in some instances a few bullets or sentences can serve as fuel for conversation.

Are you ready to rethink how you plan your booth? Perhaps it is time to make it part of a whole new strategy. Ultimately, you must figure out what it is about your company that should be incorporated into your display and strategy.

What is it that makes you unique and how can this be presented in a quick and effective way?

In summary, design your display to grab attention and engage at a glance. Then, make sure your booth staff is equipped to inform, answer questions, and generate lasting relationships.

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