If you’re just joining us now, this is Part 2 of a two-part post on WOWs—techniques or tactics used in trade show marketing that slow people in their tracks so your exhibit staff can engage. Read Part 1 Here.

If you’ve already read Part 1, welcome back. We continue with technique #6.

6.Stage a Show (or Demo or Presentation)

Imagine you’re walking the show floor and as you turn the corner, you see a group of people gathered together. They’re watching something; you’re not sure what. But somehow you can’t not slow down to check out what they’re looking at. As you get closer, you hear lively dialog and narration. By the time you see what’s going on, you’re already engaged.

Well-done presentations and demos have immense drawing power. One of our favorites is the Itron Experience, which Itron uses to educate attendees about its technologies for utility companies. Using props and set pieces that represent homes and buildings, Itron is able to deliver a persuasive demonstration of its new technologies in under eight minutes.

Pro-tips for presentations.

  • Seed your presentations and demos to jump start crowd gathering. Use some of your own people (who aren’t wearing your team polo shirt) or invited guests. Or hire a professional crowd gatherer—they’re amazing!
  • Do use amplification to make sure everyone can hear.
  • Use highly skilled presenters to draw and hold attendees’ attention.

7.Create Action and Competition

Imagine you’re jogging in the park when another jogger passes you. That’s when your sense of competition kicks in. You know you shouldn’t care, but something inside of you can’t help it. You’re just naturally competitive.

The desire to win is another intrinsic human trait you can leverage on the trade show floor. A few attendees might be interested in participating in your demo—but transform it into a fun activity and dozens will play. Turn that into a competition and you just might have people lined up all day.

GAF put this to good use at International Roofing Expo (IRE) when it created a dynamic demo and competition that challenged roofers to post the fastest time installing its new Timberline HDZ shingles.

A fabricated display that looked like a shingled roof used a pair of copper strips to replicate HDZ’s wide nailing zone. One at a time, roofers took their turn to see who could post the fastest time, “nailing” the shingles in place without missing the nail zone.

Over 800 roofers lined up to play, many negotiating with the presenter for a “practice round” so they could warm up. The fastest times were displayed on a leaderboard with the top scorers receiving prizes.

8.Draw a Laugh

Have you ever seen something on the show floor that made you laugh? Or at least chuckle? Something funny that was actually brand positive? We’re guessing that most of you haven’t—but that if you have, it’s something that made enough of an impact that you continue to remember it now.

Though we hate to admit it, trade show floors are largely humor-free zones. Attendees may find a bit of gamified education. And even a few putting greens and interactive games. But attendees rarely find anything to laugh about.

This creates a tremendous opportunity for corporate marketers whose brands allow a little lightness. Any image, message, or display that tickles attendees’ funny bones is sure to provoke a double take and slow attendees down enough for you to connect. Even better—the source of the humor becomes a natural jumping off point to start a conversation.

One of our favorite applications of humor in an exhibit is Arm and Hammer’s chicken vs. the scientist display. (credit Arm & Hammer internal) First of all—the image of the chicken in horn rimmed glasses is funny on its own. But then add in the chicken’s uncanny resemblance to the Arm and Hammer scientist. It certainly got our attention.

9.Evoke Surprise or Delight

Imagine you’re sitting in traffic on your way to work. The going is slow and you’re getting bored and starting to zone out. Then, without warning, the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile passes in the breakdown lane.

Instantly, you find yourself both entertained and back at attention—right?

This is how using surprise or delight works on the show floor. By providing an unexpected stimulus, you immediately stand out—and channel attendees’ eyes in your direction.

Polyvision rocked this technique several years ago—by creating a dynamic mobile of upside-down school desks to symbolize the way its products were turning the classroom upside down.

Soda Stream delighted International Home and Housewares Expo attendees by creating a mobile out of empty Soda Stream bottles. (Exhibit design and fabrication Barzilai Exhibition Experts.)

10.Distribute a Strategic Giveaway

Most trade show attendees have become giveaway-resistant. They don’t need any more pens. Or candy. Or stress toys.

But if you search hard enough, there’s always something. An atypical, higher-value giveaway that will actually drive attendees to your exhibit. You just have to think harder (and usually spend more money) to figure out what it is.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s answer is to create a custom tote bag. Every year, Hill’s commissions a cat and dog-centric tote design, typically reversible, that Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX) attendees line up for. The technique works because Hill’s requires that attendees participate in a presentation or activity in order to receive the bag. Thus, the giveaway is a reward for engaging in product education.

What’s next

We hope you’ll use these ten techniques as inspiration-starters—and that they help you create a new and WOW solution for your trade show marketing program. The result will be your trade show exhibit irresistibly capturing attendees’ attention, teasing attendees to engage and enticing attendees to enter.

Looking for help to jump-start the creative process? Try one of our 3D Exhibits Ideation Workshops. Or set up a call with one of our trade show marketing experts by contacting Cole Hauschildt at (chauschildt (at) 3DExhibits (dot) com).