Help Clients Draw a Crowd With Trade Show Promotions
Trade shows are paramount in the promotional products industry. It’s not just big events within the industry, where suppliers can show off their latest and most exciting wares to distributors. It’s about the distributor’s clients, too. Every industry has a trade show event in some form. That means that every distributor likely has a client who will set up a trade show booth to show off their own items or services. They need to advertise their businesses, and to do so they’ll need promotional products like signage, tables, giveaways, writing instruments and just about everything else.
We spoke with Tim Holliday, MASI, co-owner of Children’s World Uniform Supply/Business World Promo Supply, Sarasota, Fla.; and Patrick Carrig, vice president of sales for Orbus Exhibit and Display Group, Woodbridge, Ill., about what items distributors should be looking to for their clients’ trade show needs, how they can maximize their impact at these events, and some details about past successes.
When selecting items for a trade show, you have to think about the desired outcome. The first and most important thing you should do is make your booth attractive. After all, it doesn’t matter what promotional items you have on the table if no one comes over to talk to you. Like any business meeting, first impressions count.
Though you can’t judge a book by its cover, trade show attendees are so inundated with audio and visual stimulation that you have to stand out in the crowd.
“Be sure to wow the audience and make a great first impression with an exciting exhibit structure,” Carrig said. “The configuration of the booth space allows businesses to communicate their primary message effectively and boost brand visibility face-to-face. Display products ideal for trade shows, meetings and events can range from portable displays to fabric structures and modular exhibits, to sign solutions and more.”
“It starts with the obvious: an attractive booth, which, at minimum, is a full-color table cover,” Holliday said. “From there, additional signage, roll-up banners and other display items.”
Keep Them Entertained
OK, so you managed to grab someone’s attention with an attractive booth. They’re intrigued, but not sold just yet. What can your client do to make them stay and learn about their business"
“Draw the attendees or audience into the booth with different activities that create memorable engagement, including games [and] contests, and interactive products or technology presentations,” Carrig said. “These are some of the best ways to make connections on the show floor, or at the meeting or event. And they’ll walk away remembering the fun they had in the booth.”
These may be business events, but we all know there’s always a place for games or prizes. Why should we have to stifle our child-like urges for fun and excitement?
“Appropriate giveaway items, rather than a jar of candy or the like, is important to either draw interest to the booth or reward prospects for taking the time to talk with you,” Holliday said. “Games, prize wheels and other such items can work to engage prospects as well.”
Pick the Right Items
Now let’s get to the items. These are the ones with your clients’ names on them that land in attendees’ pockets and hopefully stay with them for a long time to come.
“There is a multitude of promotional items that can be impactful as a trade show or event giveaway, including smartphone accessories, reusable water bottles, tote bags, lip balm and more,” Carrig said. “Promotional items at trade shows and events can help attract and encourage attendees to enter their space. They can help generate leads and support integrated marketing messages that will prompt attendees to tie that message back to the company long after the show has ended.”
For your item selection, you have to think about it as a performance, in a way. Let’s use an analogy of being in a band. If you were touring for years, you wouldn’t play the same songs every single night in every single city, would you? That’d get stale for you and for the audience, and you’d see diminishing returns from your fans (i.e., your customer base). Holliday advised promotional distributors to keep this in mind when supplying their clients with items for trade shows, too.
“While the core items, like table covers and some of the signage, do not need to be replaced often, the giveaways are needed for each event,” he said. “So there is ongoing business to be had.”
This presents a great opportunity for distributors, as it creates a chance for repeat business. If you provide something for your clients, and they come back raving about the success, you’re basically a shoe-in for providing items for their next event.
“If you’re experienced in this industry, you likely have sold and/or at least are aware of a number of items that would be used in trade show booths,” Holliday said. “Take that knowledge, combine it with the knowledge of your customer base, and you should have some good opportunities.”