Trade show booth ideas: before, during & after the show
Trade shows are always huge events, attracting not just countless visitors but also lots of exhibitors.
But it can be hard to stand out at such events, especially if you’re a small company and can’t afford to pour thousands and thousands into their trade show booth at each and every trade show relevant to their industry.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money but can still help make your booth really special. Check out our ideas for trade show booths and get some inspiration for your next event:
- What to do before the trade show
- How to make your booth stand out during the trade show
- How to keep people engaged after the trade show
Things to do before the trade show
Good planning is half the battle. To get your booth at a trade show off to a good start, we recommend laying the right groundwork long before the event even starts.
Gather your team and figure out what you’ll need ahead of time instead of scrambling for solutions during the event. Last-minute changes often can’t be avoided anyway, so you might as well make sure you’ll get as few surprises as possible to deal with on the day.
Do all the logistics work on time
Consider that it takes some time to design and ship your booth, as well as set it up on location. A dry run for the booth setup can help your team feel confident that they will be able to assemble the booth quickly and without any unforeseen issues at the event itself. If you already have a booth from past events, check that everything is still in working order and correctly branded.
Ample prep time for an event will also give you an opportunity to design and print t-shirts for your booth attendants, order swag and make sure it’s shipped to the location of the event. You should also organise a display screen for your trade show booth and check whether buying or renting one is the better option for you.
Last but not least, distribute event jobs among your team. Make sure you have people to take over the various important jobs during the event:
- Pick a rotation of people to attend to your booth and provide them with training
- Choose or hire someone to take photos of the booth, as well as the whole event
- Designate someone to attend to your social media accounts during the event
If the event is a long, arduous one, it’s better to set up a rotation for all jobs so people get to take proper breaks. And always, always have backups in case somebody gets sick on the day.
Send an email to your subscribers
People who are already subscribed to your newsletter are an excellent target group. They’re already interested in your brand and will be open to learning more. Send out a newsletter well ahead of the trade show, telling your subscribers about the event and that you’ll be there. Tell them when and where the event is taking place and how they can get access to it.
Closer to the event, you should send out another email to let them know where your booth will be. You want people to be able to easily find you! Also inform them about your concrete plans at the event, telling them about the time and place of planned contests, demos, raffles, Q&As, etc.
Do the same for your followers on social media as well!
Schedule social media posts
Setting up social media posts that will automatically go out during the trade show will severely take pressure off of you during the event itself. Of course, you should still make time to write current and up-to-date tweets and posts during the show, but there’s plenty of stuff you can schedule in advance and then forget about.
Use a social media management tool like Swat.io to set up and authorise posts in advance. Good candidates for scheduled posts are, for example, reminders for presentations, demos or contests taking place during the show.
You can also schedule posts that tease the swag you’ll give away by posting pictures of it.
How to spice up your trade show booth during the event
There are a few easy ways you can make your booth more attractive to visitors.
Organise contests and giveaways
If you have a physical product a trade show is a perfect opportunity to create some buzz around it by giving a few pieces away. Set up a raffle and make a big show of drawing the winner out of a hat at a certain time during the event.
The great side-effect of contests and raffles is that they provide an opportunity to collect contact details. Ask people to throw their name into the hat by filling out a piece of paper with their name and email addresses, consenting to receive your newsletters. Later on, you can use those email addresses for your marketing campaigns!
Use your mascot to attract visitors
Not every brand has a mascot, of course. But if you do, why not use it during trade shows to attract people to your booth? People absolutely love having their photo taken with a mascot. And the more people take selfies with your mascot and post the pics to social media, the better for you and your brand!
Add a social wall display at your trade show booth
Set up a social wall for your event booth. Simply come up with a good hashtag, that represents your company and perhaps also the event you’re taking part in. Then create your social media wall using Walls.io. It’s really easy to set up and style your wall with your brand’s logo and colours!
Then, all you have to do is to show your social media wall on a display at your booth. You can use a projector or a TV screen to do that, or even just any kind of internet-ready device, from a laptop to an iPad. A social media wall display is always a wonderfully interactive thing at events, bringing people together and starting conversations.
If you’re looking for advice on how to come up with a hashtag and set up a social media wall, check out our hashtag campaign ebook.
Set up a photo booth
Make a photo booth part of your trade show presence. People love taking selfies, and photo booths are just an extension of that. They’re interactive and people will have a lot of fun taking pics together.
A photo booth also combines well with a social media wall. With many photo booths, you can set it up so that photos taken with it automatically post to social media with a hashtag. Or you can give users the option to post the hashtagged photos to social media with their own accounts.
Thanks to the hashtag, the posts will then pretty much immediately show up on the social media wall, which makes it even more interactive and draws more people to the photo booth and, thus, your show booth.
It sounds so utterly simple but offerings some snacks, tea and coffee at your booth will go a long way towards attracting everyone in the vicinity. Everyone gets peckish at some point and trade shows can be really exhausting. That said, a few comfortable places where people can sit down and rest for a moment will also make your really popular with visitors.
Keeping things going after an event
Out of sight, out of mind, they say. Make sure that your company really stays in people’s memories by doing a few small things after each event.
Write a recap
Write up a recap of the event and post it on your blog. Make it interesting instead of just a dry retelling of your day at the event and include some photos from the event itself to spice things up.
Embed your social media wall on your blog post to share it with the world and add another dimension to your recap. You could also embed videos taken at the event to really give readers a feel for what it was like to be there.
Keep using your social wall
A social wall is a great way for people to catch up on the event, even if they haven’t been there. They get to find out what you presented at the show, check out what you and others posted about it, and they can look through the photos taken in your photo booth — looking for pics of themselves if they were present.
Tag those who matter
Mention influential speakers and attendees you met, link to them and mention them on social media when you share your post.
Use social media to your advantage at events
An important part of trade shows is really being visible and catching people’s attention and many things go into that, just like the things we mentioned in this post. Of course, social media and hashtags are just one part of the big picture but they can really work for you if you put in the effort.
Improve your trade show presence by displaying a social media wall at your booth!
Featured image credits: OECD Week (©OECD)