One of the best ways to get noticed at a trade show is to make some noise off the trade show floor—or even outside of the convention center. If the sponsorship opportunities offered by show management aren't creative enough for you to accomplish what you need to accomplish, the solution is to create your own guerrilla marketing campaign.

By definition, guerrilla marking refers to the vast and varied world of unconventional marketing approaches. Think tightrope walkers, unusual means of transportation, people in costume and impromptu skits.

If you're ready to try something new and different at your next trade show, here are 5 tips:

1.  Be Imaginative. Your goal is to create a brand encounter somewhere unexpected. Think hotel lobby, outside the convention center or even in the airport luggage claim as Wizards of the Coast did in the image above.

Surprise and delight are great ways to create warm and fuzzy feelings around your brand, so use them to your advantage. Figure out something that ties into your message that attendees don't expect to see or experience—and then deliver it. It could be an interaction with a brand ambassador or it could be a five-foot tall dragonhead—whatever is best the best vehicle for your brand and message.


2.  Make Noise--literally. Sometimes the best way to get seen is to be heard. Music, sound effects and even amplified voices increase the likelihood that people will notice exponentially. (This is why so many flash mob campaigns include a soundtrack.)

Bringing in sound doesn't have to be expensive. This marching band comprised of local seniors performed for Jacobsen for a modest fee.


3.  Make it participatory. Getting people to see what you're doing is great. But memorability jumps off the charts when you integrate participation. Think in terms of games, photo opps and micro-spa treatments. Rides are always appreciated by tired attendees (such as the pedicabs Jacobsen used to deliver Golf Industry Show attendees back to their hotels).


4.  Include a call to action. You've grabbed attendees' attention, engage them and now what? This is where many marketers fall short.

Like any other marketing effort, your ultimate goal is to drive your attendee to take a next step. You may want them to visit your booth, explore your website or subscribe to a newsletter. Regardless, your guerrilla activity has to clearly communicate what that next step is—and encourage attendees to take it. Communicate this verbally via your staff, through signage or messages on t-shirts or through technology such as a QR code. It also helps to offer a gift or a discount as an incentive.

5.  Be prepared to ask forgiveness. Some show managers appreciate the energy that guerrilla marketing creates on the show floor—and will support your efforts. Other show managers are afraid to try anything new that isn't adding additional sponsorship revenue to their pot. Before you commit to your plan, you need to decide which kind of show manager you are working with and decide whether to ask permission up front—or to just do it and ask forgiveness later. If you go the second route, be prepared to possibly be shut down onsite.

If you do get shutdown, the upside is that this may get talked about too—generating additional buzz for your brand.

What unusual trade show guerrilla marketing approaches have you used? We'd love to hear what's worked for you.