Location, Location, Location

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It happens leading up to nearly every trade show — exhibitors get all stressed out over the location of their booth. Many believe that your location on the floor is a make-or-break situation and that there are only so many ‘perfect’ spots available.

But in reality there is no perfect spot. Even the long-held strategy of snatching those ‘prime spots’ right in front of the entrance isn’t really ideal. If you were to stand off to the side and watch the behavior of attendees, you’d realize that very few people enter and head straight to those front booths (unless of course there’s some other compelling reason to do so). In fact, those who study the world of retail stores say that people are on stimulus overload when they first enter a store (or a show floor) and are basically blind to what’s right in front of them.

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Most attendees will instead veer to the right, and some will go left. A few really savvy ones will head for the back of the hall where traffic is likely to be lighter at the beginning, so that they can more easily see things without fighting their way through the crowds.

The truth is that virtually any spot can work to your advantage if you understand how to make the most of it. Additionally, the criteria for what makes the best spot varies depending on each exhibiting company’s objectives, strategies, and willingness to make it work.

I’ve seen household names in prime locations that didn’t get much traffic. I’ve also seen (or been) an exhibitor in a less-than-prime location that had people lining up to get into the booth. I’ve even had the misfortune of having my booth moved to an out-of-the-way spot with only two other exhibits around me. Yet that was one of the busiest exhibits I can remember.

What makes the difference? It’s a combination of factors, really. Instead of relying solely on location, the most successful exhibitors also focus on designing a display that attracts attention and gets attendees to stop. They’ve also put time and energy into pre-show marketing or other types of promotion at the show (such as sponsorships) in order to stand out in a sea of exhibits. And of course they’ve also done a good job of educating their booth staff on how to engage those attendees who do approach the booth.

So are there any strategies to choosing a location? Of course. Understand the major traffic factors such as entrances and exits, location of food stations and restrooms around the show floor, and where your competitors will be. If you can upgrade to a corner booth on a major intersection, that can help by providing multiple access points.

And of course if you do find a spot that works for you, it’s not a bad idea to rebook that same space each year so that your loyal fans will know where to find you at next year’s show.

So how have you made the most of a less-than-desirable show floor location? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

© 2017 Marlys K. Arnold  (from the May 2017 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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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. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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