Attending conventions is a staple for business owners, regardless of industry. There are tech conventions, marketing conventions, tradeshow conventions, and even conventions that teach vital skills like communication and reading body language.
Whether you’re a regular vendor looking to improve your results, or a new vendor just getting started, these tips will help you set up your booth for success:
1. Use mobile marketing methods you can display prominently
Using a fishbowl to collect business cards for leads doesn’t work, and it creates too much work for you on the back end. Can you imagine having to manually enter 1,000 new contacts into your marketing database at the end of an exhausting 12-hour convention? How will you know those leads even gave you legitimate contact information?
With mobile marketing methods, like text message marketing, you can provide a solid offer to convention attendees in exchange for using their real phone number to text you with a designated keyword.
You’ve seen the ads: “text ILUVTRAFFIK to 77208 to be automatically entered into a drawing for a free month of our paid traffic services.” Display your custom marketing message on a banner as well as several tabletop signs where people can see your offer. If they want your offer, they’ll send you the text immediately, and you’ll capture their true contact information. With the right software, that data will be automatically entered into your customer database.
2. Be intentional with your booth setup
The way you set up your booth matters. The perception of your brand begins with the style of canopy or tent you use. Bargain canopies can be purchased for under $100, but you really do get what you pay for. Before rushing out to buy the cheapest canopy you can find, consider what style will support your intentions for being at the convention.
Research what canopy options are out there before making any decisions. Styles range from inflatable tents to canopies held up by collapsible poles and aluminum frames. Some have canvas side walls, while others are completely open.
If you’ll be hosting your booth outdoors, or you need to keep a stock of inventory, it’s best to get a canopy with three walls. Walls will keep unauthorized people from walking away with your stuff, and will prevent people from being distracted by activities taking place beyond your booth. Walls will also shield you from the rain and wind. A folding table in the front will keep you separated from attendees.
Use an open tent or a tent with only two walls if your objective is to get people to sit down with you. If you won’t have help setting up, get a canopy that pops up easily. If you have a smaller vehicle, get one that folds down as small as possible.
Blend in with the crowd
Your goal is to present your business as professionally as possible, which requires being in rapport with your fellow vendors. Some conventions require all vendors to bring a certain style canopy, with specific size requirements for fire and safety reasons. Check the convention’s requirements first, and then try to find a canopy that closely matches the majority of other canopies.
You want to stand out, but in a professional environment, it’s smarter to use bold, eye-catching décor to make your brand stand out.
3. Give people a reason to linger
The longer a person spends in your presence, the more likely you are to land a sale, capture a lead, or have a sales conversation with them. Give people a reason to linger, even if that reason isn’t exactly related to your product or service.
For example, if you’re selling handmade beaded necklaces and other jewelry, decorate your booth with interesting pieces of art. The pieces of art don’t need to be for sale; they just need to capture attention and serve as conversation pieces.
It’s easy to capture attention. For instance, say you’re Native American and you’re selling traditional jewelry. Place a large, wooden, carved statue of a Native American wearing an authentic headdress in the front of your booth. Use this statue to display some of your jewelry, as it would be worn by a real person. Hang a sign around the carved statue with interesting historical facts related to the type of jewelry you make. People will be drawn to the statue, learn something cool, and be more likely to buy.
Make your booth a marketing tool
Make your booth interesting, informative, and entertaining. Maximize your influence on attendees by turning your booth into a powerful marketing tool.