Optimizing Your Booth’s Walk-by Experience

September 17, 2019

Zach Handa

Zach Handa is an in-house digital marketing specialist responsible for SEO at AnyPromo, a promotional products distributor. 

Have you optimized your booth’s walk-by experience? When trade show attendees walk by your booth or display, it only takes them an instant to decide if your booth is interesting. This instant impression, sometimes called a thin slice, can make or break the success of your exhibition.

In order to have a good instant impression, you need two things:

  1. To get people’s attention
  2. To communicate value

Getting Attention

You may notice that the lion’s share of foot traffic at trade shows typically goes to those who can command attention. If you’re not naturally gifted with magnetism though, don’t worry. Getting attention is a learnable skill.

You can get others to notice you by engaging the senses:

  • Sight: Visually attractive exhibitions and exhibitors are time-tested ways to get people to look.
  • Sound: Having an activity that involves laughter and cheering can actually get you even more attention than just playing music.
  • Smell/Taste: Fragrant treats like hot chocolate will get passersby to physically stop to investigate the source of the scent.
  • Touch/Feel: We don’t recommend touching people. We do, however, recommend having cooling towels if it’s hot out and lip balm all year round.

Getting event attendees to look at you is a victory but it’s just the first step. They have to decide that you have something they want and come over.

Communicating Value

Once you’ve grabbed the consciousness of passersby, you have split seconds to show that your booth is worth more than just a glance. This is where your thin slice comes into play.

Thin slicing, popularized in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, refers to the process of making inferences about an individual or situation from just a first impression. Everything that’s observed during this first impression is a thin slice.

In the context of presenting at a convention or trade show, there are two things you want to control people’s first impression of:

  1. The exhibitor and booth
  2. What you do

Optimizing first impressions of your exhibitor and booth is pretty straightforward – be friendly and keep your booth clean. This primarily leaves communicating what you do. While folks can just ask, it saves you a lot of time if everyone knows what you’re offering before they come to talk to you.

Here are some suggestions to help you ensure nobody has to ask what you’re offering:

  • Put it in your name. Everyone knows what Joe’s Plumbing does as a business because it’s in the name.
  • Put your exhibit staff in a uniform. A uniform or signature colors can often be just as powerful as a business name.
  • Put it on a sign. A sign expands your possibilities, you can also put attractive promotions that increase perceived value.
  • Shout it out. If you have an attractive offer you can shout out in one or two words, you should just shout it out like the peanut guy at baseball games.

The Optimized Walk-By Experience

With something to grab attention and clearly communicated value, your company can have a great walk-by experience and benefit from greater success at trade shows.

Once your audience not only notices you but knows what you do, you’ll have a much easier time at trade shows. You’ll not only get an opportunity to talk to more people, but you’ll also find these they are more likely to pre-qualify themselves for what you have to offer.


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