Trade Show Success: It’s All in the Trade Show Game or the Contest
Interaction is the key to acquiring new business. Agree or disagree?
If that first sentence is not followed by the question, the reader may not feel quite so involved. It’s a basic example of why successful trade show marketing uses a contest or game to draw traffic to the booth and engage prospects. An engaged prospect is more likely to become a qualified lead. Create interest with pre-show promotion.
- Start well ahead of the show (three months is recommended) by sending an email to current clients and prospects. Advertise in-booth activities and create some level of anticipation.
- If there are pre-event opportunities to market your activities, such as a show book or an event newsletter, use them.
- In addition to email, use social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) often to draw attention. Use official event hashtags.
To engage show attendees, have one individual act as host or booth emcee. This individual should introduce contestants, make announcements, and keep the audience engaged. Create a game show or contest atmosphere within the larger trade show. Use your product or service as the primary focus with contestants inspecting or using the product or service or answering questions about it.
Of course, it will help if your contest or game is connected to your brand’s image or to the trade show campaign that you’ve selected. Don’t let the fun overwhelm your ultimate goal of turning potential clients into qualified leads. Always keep in mind that a trade show is the place to gather qualified leads. The vast majority of attendees who are visiting displays have decision-making power.
- People attending trade shows can become weary of giving out contact information. If your game is relatively easy to win, you can collect information from winners. Give them a prize.
- It’s essential that you clearly express what your product or service is. This will help eliminate some of the fun-seekers who aren’t going to be qualified leads.
- Be prepared to follow up on the buzz created by your game or contest. The energy and excitement don’t last so you’ll need to contact prospects. Use games that naturally lead to further contact and sales calls.
Contest and Game Ideas
Choose your engaging activity carefully. Of course, this must be something that you can reproduce at the show within the budget and personnel limits that you have. Here are a few ideas.
- Prize Wheel: Make it as big as you can comfortably handle and use a variety of colours to attract attention. Smaller prizes are great for gathering contact information but you should also have a grand prize. Consider a roulette wheel or slot machine as a variation on this concept.
- Trivia. Focus your questions on your brand, your industry, or your product or service. There’s no reason why you can’t have correct and incorrect answers. You can let prospects have fun without winning.
- Counting Contest. This is a classic idea: jellybeans in a jar, marbles in a jar, etc. Have the contestant submit his or her guess on the back of a business card.
Any of these ideas can bring people back to find out if they won or what they won. Other ideas you can try are mini-golf at your booth, a giant chess board, or checkers. Cash is always a great prize as are free trials of your service or free products. Mystery prizes are always a great buzz creator.