Are You Attracting Attention … or Just Clogging the Aisles?

Photo: stockXchng / mzacha
Photo: stockXchng / mzacha

No matter how great your product, if no one is attracted to your booth, you won’t have much success at a show. You’re just one of dozens (or in some cases, hundreds) of exhibits in that show hall. How can you possibly stand out?

Actually, there are numerous ways to gain attention, and many of them are not expensive or complicated. As an added bonus, be sure to promote your attraction ahead of time in all your pre-show promotions and advertising.

Probably the most obvious way to attract visitors is to do a demonstration of your own product. Have a computer set up with a running demo of your software. Show how your new mechanical gadget works. Design a piece of artwork on the spot.

Taking the product demonstration idea one step farther, make it interactive. If the booth visitor actually has a chance to play around with your software or do a “make & take” using your product, they are much more likely to remember your company.

Another option is to host celebrities in your booth, but move forward with caution. First, make sure that the celebrity you choose matches your company’s image and philosophies. Otherwise, you could create a mixed message in the customers’ minds. (More on this technique in a minute …)

Whatever strategy you use to attract attention make sure that once you do, there’s plenty of substance in your booth to back it up. Use your chosen attraction method to pre-qualify those who are most interested. And never forget that the real reason you’re at the show is to gain leads, not win a popularity contest.

At one particular show, I remember booth attractions running completely amuck. Everyone was focused on celebrity guests in the booths, to the point where that became the focus. But let me back up and explain just how many things were wrong with this picture.

Although there were controls in place to keep out non-industry people, I personally knew some who were able to get credentials, with the main purpose to be collecting signed items to sell in online auctions. Regardless of this scenario, there were no controls on the items given away. I’m sure a high percentage of people who swept in to meet the celebrity really weren’t decision-makers or buyers, but rather fans. Huge lines formed, with many of these celebrity events creating nearly impassable aisles. I’m sure neighboring exhibitors didn’t appreciate their booths being blocked by the lines of people waiting to get into someone else’s space.

So how can you avoid this scenario? Make sure you maintain control. If you want to have an extremely high-profile celebrity, find a way to keep it to a VIP list … for example, host a hospitality event in a suite and require people to come to your booth to pick up tickets. At the very least, work the line! Make sure you collect information from everyone who spends time waiting to see the celebrity. Then at least you can follow up later, based on your predetermined qualified lead criteria.

Remember the main focus of creating booth traffic (with an attraction) is to gain qualified leads. If you’re simply becoming a “rabid fan” magnet, you’re wasting your time.

© 2005-2013 Marlys K. Arnold (from the January 2013 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

Want to reprint this article in your blog or ezine?
You may do so as long as it is reprinted exactly as written, and it includes the copyright notice plus the author bio (below).


  1. Michael Ng April 24, 2013
    • Marlys Arnold April 24, 2013
The NEW edition of Build a Better Trade Show Image is here!Click here to learn more