The best way to attract and mobilize more customers to attend your trade show is to bring a "show biz" mentality to all your marketing and at-show strategies. After all, you are in show business. In today's marketplace, consumers are drawn by glitter and excitement but turned off by humdrum events. If you put on a dull show you will generate little interest. Following are seven ways to put more show biz into your exposition.
Think like Disney.
There was never a greater promoter than Walt Disney. Everything he touched turned exciting, colorful, and was bursting with energy. The Disney legacy continues as the Disney Corporation dazzles and entertains millions with its products, parks, and superb customer service.
What does Disney do that every trade show organizer should emulate? Disney injects a show business mentality into everything it does by creating an image that makes people smile and lets them know they're in for a first-class experience. Disney employees undergo rigorous customer service training and are famous for their courtesy, cheerfulness, and problem-solving skills.
So when planning your pre-show marketing strategies, remember to think like Disney. Everything you do to promote and implement your show must be first-class, creative, and professional. Train your show employees to provide enthusiastic and helpful customer service. Unpleasant experiences with trade show employees can ruin the show biz experience you've worked hard to create.
Make your trade shows interactive.
When people manipulate objects they often form an attachment to them. They get an idea of how the products work and are more excited about the possibility of buying them. Thus, advise your exhibitors to set up audio-visual displays that attendees can easily operate -- they will feel like they are part of the show experience as they connect with your products.
Put the Internet to work for you.
You can interact with potential exhibitors and attendees through the Internet, both in your pre-show marketing and during the show. Experts believe that virtually all trade shows will incorporate the Internet into their marketing strategies in the near future.
At the very least, you should have a professionally designed Web site that provides information about your show, allowing consumers to easily find out as much about your event as possible. Today's techno-savvy consumers are instantly turned off by Web sites that aren't interesting, easy to access, and informative.
Make your shows unforgettable experiences.
"If meetings are really going to change our lives, meeting professionals need to begin to shape memorable events," said Jim Gilmour, author of The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre & Every Business is a Stage. "Successful meetings must create emotionally based experiences for attendees," Gilmour said. How do you generate such an experience? Again, think Disney. Capture the imaginations of attendees by providing a wealth of sights, sounds, aromas, and entertainment, along with a high degree of interactivity.
Make your trade shows fun.
Live entertainment, educational seminars, clowns, puppeteers, and magicians are just a few of the tools you can use to make your show fun and informative. Advise your exhibitors not to rely on their products alone to sell the show biz experience. Booths filled with inanimate objects are boring and won't capture the attention of your audience. However, if you support your exhibitors by injecting a little excitement into the show, you'll have attendees in the palm of your hand.
Provide lots of comfortable space.
Make sure you have enough space at your show, both on the exhibition floor and in the booths, to comfortably accommodate your guests. Don't try to cram as many booths as possible into the space allotted. A cramped show environment does not allow attendees free rein to wander comfortably, and harried, crowded consumers don't make good customers.
Help your exhibitors design their booths so they don't sacrifice comfort for hardware. Booths that are crowded with display items make it difficult for consumers to focus their attention on each item. Advise your exhibitors to set up their booths so that attendees can see everything clearly in an uncluttered space. Booths should provide good lighting, easy-to-read signage, and attention-grabbing graphics. Consider publishing a brief pamphlet of booth design tips and distribute it to exhibitors.
Inject show biz excitement into your advertising and public relations.
Without resorting to hyperbole, your advertising should reflect the excitement, creativity, and flavor of your event. Observe how the producers of movies and Broadway musicals advertise their shows and incorporate as many of those elements as are feasible in your own advertising. Every ad you place should showcase the opportunities that your show offers.
Train your most trusted show employees to lead the media to the most engaging exhibits. Have a staff member on hand at all times who can articulately tell reporters about your event and what makes it unique.
Remember you are in show biz, and you must create and promote an event that is as exciting and dramatic as a great movie or play. Your exhibition space is your stage. In order to generate interest, you must put on a performance that will keep attendees riveted to your exhibits and eager to come back for the sequel!
Written by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author: "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies," working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. Go to http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com to sign up for a free copy of ExhibitSmart Tips of the Week.