Creative Promotions & Booth Attractions from EXHIBITOR 2012

It takes a lot to wow a crowd of trade show industry veterans like those who attend the EXHIBITOR Show. But a few companies always manage to stand out beyond the basic bells and whistles.

This year, one of the most buzzed booth attractions was a 21st century upgrade of an old stand-by: the in-booth caricature artist. PRMconnect, a lead management solution provider, had an artist from DigitalCaricatureArtists.com sketching photos of visitors. But the twist was that he sketched them on a digital tablet, which allowed for not only printing it out in the booth, but also the ability for visitors to download and share the sketch on their social media profiles — which several people have, some even using it as their profile photo. (Want to see all the sketches? Check out the album on Digital Caricature Artists’ page on Facebook.)

But the smartest part of this promotion? Instead of the old days when the sketch was rolled up and placed into a cardboard tube (likely never to be seen again), these were printed out on 4×6″ cards with both companies’ logos and inserted into a lanyard. I can’t tell you how many people commented on my sketch and asked where I got it! I sent a ton of people to the PRMconnect booth, as I’m sure all the participants did.

Part of why this promotion worked so well is that it involved a picture of the booth visitor, which means they’re more likely to keep it. Another booth offering photos was Champion Logistics Group, only theirs featured attendees seated in a 1932 Ford Highboy. The car itself served as a booth attraction, drawing in car lovers who wanted to cautiously touch it and then were invited to hop inside. After taking the photo, the Champion staff person invited the attendee to just sit in the car and relax for a few minutes, which allowed time for a conversation. The backwall displayed a Vegas scene, adding to the ambience in the photo. The fact that Champion is a transportation company and was featuring a car was a clever tie-in too.

Oh, and one other detail … the male booth staffers were wearing tattoo “sleeves” to add to the rebel Vegas theme. But a word of caution that the team shared? Most visitors loved the look, but some were a bit intimidated, thinking they were real tattoos. So be careful with the image you choose to portray in the booth.

Sometimes booth attraction can start at the airport. Global Experience Specialists (GES) set the tone for their “Change Your Perspective” theme by offering a free shuttle service for those who arrived at the airport on Sunday. (Sadly, my plane arrived too late to take advantage of it, but I hear it was well received.) In the booth, they featured a blank backwall for people to write their own perspectives and quotes, as well as an interactive iPad game where attendees matched inspirational quotes to their authors to win a free t-shirt (featuring the authors & quotes). While typically t-shirts are not the most effective giveaway item, these were a hit because they were more about the quotes than simply promoting the exhibitor’s company.

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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community. To request an “Extra Shot of Exhibit Success” go to www.ExhibitMarketersCafe.com.