How to Get (And Keep) People Engaged With Your Booth During a Trade Show

November 19, 2018

Ben Hindman

Ben Hindman is co-founder and CEO of Splash, the fastest-growing end-to-end event marketing technology used by more than half of the Fortune 500. Prior to starting Splash, Ben was the Director of Events at Thrillist, where he produced large-scale events from concerts to mystery fly-aways. He is also a co-founder of the Summit Series, the renowned invite-only destination event for the greatest minds in tech.

The day of a trade show can be hectic but it’s also when all of your pre-event efforts will pay off. The time you spent tracking and managing segmented guest lists will now help you prioritize how you interact with guests at your booth. The clear value proposition you developed and integrated into your pre-show promotions will help increase traffic at your booth. Your Twitter presence has boosted your brand’s visibility and given you insight into attendees’ interests and behaviors. 

But in order for all of this to translate into clear leads and opportunities, you have to make sure your booth provides guests with a memorable experience.

People may not remember all of the information they learned at your booth, but they’ll remember how it made them feel. By strategically tying your booth to human emotion, you can evoke an emotional response from every person who visits, turning their experience into something even more valuable: a personal story that they’ll want to share. 

Creating a“pass-along story” that visitors will want to share with other trade show attendees will help you achieve better – and more – engagement onsite. Here’s a four-step plan that’ll help you develop your own pass-along story.

Step 1: Before the trade show, pinpoint who the “storytellers” will be. Who is most likely to pass along a story about their experience at your booth? Who is your ideal visitor? Try to think about that person, and really envision them: What is their name? Where do they hang out? What is their job title? The more specific you can be, the better. Then, use your segmented lists and the attendee insights from social interactions before the event to surface your storytellers.

Step 2: Think about where their “campfire” will be, for example, are they more likely to tell your story in the exhibition hall, during cocktail hour, or following a session? Imagine the emotions or feelings they will evoke by sharing this story at places in-and-around the trade show floor. 

Step 3: The actual story itself is something we like to call “the tale.”This needs to be irresistible to talk about, so it’s important to put a lot of thought into this one beforehand. A good strategy is to give people a story that they will feel proud to tell someone else about. And like any good story, be sure to develop a strong beginning, middle, and end to the message you want people to pass along. 

Step 4: Decide on the intended message or “emotion” that you want your pass-along story to evoke each time it’s shared. Because really, a visitor will remember how your booth experience made them feel, rather than what you said. If you had to pick one emotion that you want your booth visitors to walk away feeling, what would it be? In my experience, it can actually be most effective to start with this last step and then work backward from there.


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