3 ways to make your event booth a buzzing, interactive crowd magnet
So there you are, running your trade show booth. You’re scanning badges, striking up conversations, generating a few leads, and … holy smokes, what’s going on over there?
It’s that other booth again.
They’ve always got a crowd. It’s noisy. There’s this constant buzz. Sometimes you’re even tempted to sneak away from your own booth just to see what the heck is going on.
How does that booth get to be that booth?
I’ve been planning and supervising event booths for more than a decade, and I can point out lots of ways to make your event booth a crowd magnet. Here are three of them.
1. BUST YOUR BOOTH’S BOUNDARIES WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Your booth might be a couple of folding tables, or a 50x50-foot brand showcase. But you can connect the whole trade show—heck, the whole industry—to your booth experience by building a social media community around your event.
Notice I said “around your event,” not “around your booth.”
The best trade show social campaigns make their event the star. They combine insight with humor to share experiences familiar to their industry, not just their own brand. And they do it all with a campaign-branded look and feel, so everything they share develops affinity for their brand and sparks curiosity about their booth.
You can do this. But be forewarned—for bigger events, your three-day event booth may require a five-month social campaign. Establishing KPIs, creating your content, engaging industry influencers and executing across multiple channels takes time and teamwork.
And when everyone at the show is buzzing about your booth, you’ll see why it’s worth it.
2. GET YOUR VISITORS IN THE GAME
Did you fill out an NCAA tournament bracket? Wasn’t it fun to chat with your coworkers about the upsets, the crazy finishes, and whose brackets would win the office pool?
If you want to get people interacting, get them playing a game.
Nothing draws a crowd to your booth or gets them buzzing like a game. When you do it right, you can leverage the fun and excitement to showcase your brand and your capabilities while your team works the crowd to capture leads and start conversations.
Your games can be low-tech or ultra-sophisticated, depending on your style and your budget. Here are a few tips for making your games rock:
- Appeal to different personalities. Create games different people can win. For instance, one might be more visual, one more verbal, and one more trivia-based.
- Showcase you (mostly). Build your clues and answers around your business, but throw in some fun material about the event and the host city, too.
- Make everything hands-on. Put markers, cards or interactive tablets in gamers’ hands to keep them 100% engaged.
- Go big and go loud. Tech budget permitting, splash the action on big overhead screens where everyone can see it.
- Give prizes. What do people love more than winning? Winning stuff. The stuff doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be unusual—and branded.
Games create buzz and draw visitors, but they should also serve a higher purpose, like educating visitors about your capabilities, for instance, or facilitating networking. Make sure they add value and not distraction to your visitors’ experience.
3. CREATE A CHILDREN’S MUSEUM FOR GROWN-UPS
That booth that draws the crowds? It’s like a children’s museum. Visitors are touching things. Doing things. Laughing. It’s full of surprise and delight, with lots of stuff people really enjoy doing.
Doing, not seeing. A successful booth has to be interactive. But how can you make sure your interactive components connect with your audience?
Lots of visitors are attracted to flashy displays, over-the-top activities and rambunctious games. But some are drawn in by a subtler approach. They need to interact on a more personal level. Some examples:
- One recent booth invited people to write their hopes and ambitions on sticky notes and add them to a wall. That was it—no video, no audio, no technology at all. And yet the wall was layered with notes and the booth buzzed with people taking pictures of their favorites.
- Another team, inspired by the current popularity of adult coloring books, had a big hit with a color-by-numbers booth. Visitors had a blast!
- One final, sure-fire attraction: Set up a photo booth where visitors can express their silly sides. You get a double payoff. Visitors walk away with a branded event souvenir they’ll actually keep, and you get great content to share on social media.
Get visitors interacting, and you’re sure to attract more of them.
Want to transform your next trade show? Learn more secrets of the most successful booths in our FREE E-BOOK: The 7 Secrets of Awe-Inspiring Events
As Event Director for StudioNorth, Debbie puts her heart and soul into every event she works on—from planning, to training, to ensuring everything onsite is working together and running smoothly. When she’s not in “event mode” she enjoys shopping, going to plays and taking road trips with her husband on their Harley.