If you’ve ever sponsored an event, you know one of the biggest challenge that all vendors face:
In the sea of all of the other booths, how do I help the attendees see ME?
It’s a very real challenge. You’ve paid all the money to sponsor the event and claim a spot where you can be available to interact with the attendees.
But in the end, THEY have to come to YOU.
You really have two goals:
- To help them notice you so they don’t just walk on by.
- To encourage them to step into your booth and ask a question or two.
So how do you do that?
We’ve attended many, many events ourselves, and we work closely with many of our clients who attend live events that they are sponsoring.
Drawing from all of that experience, here are the ways that we’ve found work best to gather attention and help you draw people into your booth.
Help them notice you so they don’t walk on by.
Go vertical – Especially if you’re in a sea of other booths, being visible is about standing out. All of the tables are horizontal and the curtains behind booths create horizontal lines as well. Take advantage of this: Go vertical with tall retractable signs that announce who you are and who you serve. Brand them with your colors and logo, and they’ll definitely help people see you.
Create the space – Eliminate the “blah” of the curtain at the back of your booth by hanging a backdrop on it. Add a branded tablecloth with your logo on it, and now you’ve decorated both high and low. Both of these are cloth, so they’re easy to transport and you can use them over and over.
Tables talk – When you place the table in the middle of your booth or at the front edge by the walkway, it establishes a wall between you and the event attendees. Instead, place the table along the back curtain, or even along the side. It helps define the outer “walls” of the pace and creates an inviting middle area for mingling. It tells passers-by that there is room for them to come in and look around.
Encourage them to step into your booth and ask a question or two.
Offer branded promotional items – The challenge with promotional items is to identify giveaways that people will actually find useful. We’ve found that our best branded bets are:
- Pens: Honestly, this is your best long-term promo item. Even if they don’t use the pen at the show, it will make its way home and they’ll see it every now and then and be reminded of YOU!
- Reusable bags: Especially if the event doesn’t give their attendees bags (and even if they do), reusable bags are wonderful specifically because as people use them, they are advertising your brand. With plastic bags in grocery stores going the way of the Dodo, the need for reusable bags is increasing – which makes this a valuable item that people will want.
- Cell phone pockets: These are little pockets that people can put on the back of their cell phone to hold business cards and credit cards. (This is actually one of my favorite items because then I don’t have to carry my whole entire purse everywhere I go!)
- Koozies: These can insulators have a dual purpose: Keep your drink cold and keep your hand warm. Add your logo to them and people are walking around with your brand in their hand. #Brilliant
Be present – How you present yourself in a booth can make all the difference in whether or not someone steps in to look around. If you’re playing on your phone or chatting it up with your neighbor, people have to interrupt you to talk to you and that will push a lot of people away. We’ve found the sweet spot is to be friendly, inviting, and approachable, without being pushy.
Sweeten them up – Almost every booth offers candy these days, so I don’t recommend skipping it. This is actually a great opportunity to add to your booth’s design. Use a bowl that is in your brand colors and choose candy in wrappers that are bright and eye-catching. Anything in gold or silver wrapping is always a good choice. If I have space, I sometimes lay some of the candy out directly on the table. It brightens things up a bit and puts the sweets within easy reach.
[Hint: Place the trash can that came with your booth out someplace inconspicuous but usable – like the outer edge of your table. The people who take your candy will appreciate it and it’ll be a draw for people who took candy from another table and need someplace to put the wrapper.]
Ready, set, DRAW! – If your intention is to collect email addresses so that you can continue to communicate with people after the event, a free drawing is your best bet. Offer a valuable product or service to one lucky winner and get a large collection of contact information in return. It’s a great plan! Kick it up a notch by using a collection bowl that is in your brand color, and let them use your branded pens to fill out a brief form.
Fun and games – We’ve seen mixed results with this one so use it with caution. A fun, quick game can work really well to draw people in… but emphasize the “quick” part of it, or you’ll end up with a line. A line can be good because it’s noticeable and announces that there’s something interesting going on! But it can also send people away because they don’t want to stand in line to talk to you.
If you decide to do this, we recommend having at least two people in the booth: One to run the game, and one to talk to people after they’ve played. If you have a third person, they can engage with the people waiting in line. Really, it’s a great way to draw people into the booth and talk to them, but it can be a bit hairy to manage.
So those are our best suggestions. Did we miss something? If you do something at events that help you get attendees’ attention and draw them into your booth, please add it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear about it!