Steal the (Trade) Show: How to Get Attention at a Massive Conference

By June 12, 2017Branding

When we decided to attend the 2017 New York City Small Business Expo, decided we would to go all in and make it truly worth our investment. With thousands of people attending and hundreds exhibiting, how would we stand out? Especially as a branding agency!

Creative Booth Design
Trade shows are often incubators of archaic, uninspiring design. We didn’t want to be just another booth with a logo and list of services, so we went rogue and printed a giant cyan bear (our mascot) that had a stare so real, you simply had to stop and say hello. It was unexpected, unorthodox, and a great conversation starter.

Our tip here isn’t to go off the rails and create something completely out of left field – the bear had meaning. But don’t be afraid to be somewhat ambiguous. Also keep in mind print quality and installation. If the bear hadn’t been so vivid and detailed, the impact would have been diminished. We also brought in some modern furniture and accents to complete the space.

Attention Grabber
Have you ever seen a fuzzy, life-sized, cyan bear walking through a crowded trade show aisle? If you were at the New York Small Business Expo, you can answer “yes” to that question. The bear was our way of truly getting attention in a sea of companies and individuals trying to be seen in their own right. Our bear was a celebrity of sorts and certainly a photo opp for attendees.

Once you sign up to exhibit at a trade show, your first question should be, “How will we get people to stop at our booth?” The second question is “How do we engage them, once they stop?” Let the brainstorming begin from there.

Digital Advertising
Digital advertising can do amazing things, like target attendees at a trade show while they are physically at the event. We geo-fenced the Javits Center so attendees who entered the day of the event would be served our trade show booth ad on their smart phone. This helped us make multiple impressions on people throughout the day. Learn more about digital campaigns in our previous article on the subject.

Quick question: what do you call a bear with no teeth?

Answer: a gummy bear.

Reason for cheesy joke: a lead-in to one of our many giveaways at the Small Business Expo, branded cyan gummy bears.

At trade shows, people have a natural inclination to accumulate things. It’s worth the production cost to give them something more than a business card, because a giveaway serves as a palpable reminder about your business. In addition to gummy bears, we also gave out branded tote bags (very utilitarian as people collect items from booth to booth) and booklets with branding exercises.

The booklets including branding exercises that were part of a workshop that our president, Dave McIndoe, led at the expo. Most trade shows include an option to be a presenter; if you are relatively comfortable speaking in front of people and the price to present is within your budget, do it! Pick an engaging and informative topic, and use the opportunity to show that you are an expert in your field. Dave’s presentation in New York consisted of a branding “crash course” for business owners.

Make Your Next Show Your Best Show
Preparing for a trade show–much less, preparing to rock a trade show–usually creates some anxiety as the event draws closer. It’s part of the game, but don’t let it relegate you to doing the bare minimum. We’re using our positive experience at the New York Small Business Expo as an outlet to help clients take the stress out of trade show prep and make a splash at events in their respective industries. Sound like something you might be interested in? Don’t hesitate to contact us!