Conventions are all about standing out, so companies are increasingly looking for outside-the-box guerrilla marketing ideas for trade shows that can help them differentiate and be memorable.
To help you accomplish your trade show marketing goals and adopt some buzzworthy crazy marketing tactics, consider using one (or all!) of the following ideas at the next conference you attend:
Create Pre-Show Buzz Before Your Big Event
Savvy exhibitors understand the importance of creating excitement among attendees before the trade show begins. After all, you have a lot of competition!
Distinguish yourself by doing some relationship building prior to the event so you are in the forefront of the minds of attendees. This can be done through traditional methods like social media posts/ads, print ads, email blasts, raffles, and mailers. You can also shake things up a little with these pre-show attention grabbers:
1. Use GoToMeeting or Facebook Live to Host a Virtual Conference, Q&A, or Webinar
Leverage a pre-show virtual event to showcase your expertise and show attendees how your products/services can help them solve their most pressing needs. To sweeten the pot, offer a freebie like an eBook, an industry report, a list of helpful tips, or another free download they will find valuable. This will keep your brand front-and-center when they show up to the trade show looking for solutions.
Be sure to include an irresistible call-to-action during your virtual event so attendees are excited to visit your booth at the show.
2. Use Pre-Show Gamification to Engage Attendees
Many exhibits include gamification during the trade show, but you can gain a competitive edge by engaging attendees via email, social media, or an app ahead of time with an interactive poll, assessment, survey, quiz, or online promotion. Bonus Tip: If you set up a website landing page for this, it will drive visitors to your website and help with lead generation!
Upon completion, prompt your audience to visit your trade show booth to get personalized recommendations based on their assessment responses, to pick up swag, see a live demo, or otherwise engage with you.
3. Let Employees Take Over Your Social Media
Give your social media manager a break and let another employee take over! This can be a fun, humorous way to connect with attendees ahead of time. The chosen (and preferably engaging) employee can offer behind-the-scenes information on your upcoming show, offer new product teasers, and respond to comments.
Attention-Grabbing Marketing Tactics to Use During Your Trade Show
Once you’ve generated some pre-event buzz, keep the momentum going with these creative marketing ideas:
4. Use Props
You don’t have to be Carrot Top to make great use of props during demos and presentations! Use a giant pointer hand instead of a laser or have puppet animals to aid in booth demonstrations.
5. Hand Out a Unique Swag Item
Trade show swag helps companies stay fresh in attendees’ minds, so give them a unique item like a lockpick set they can use later or something genuinely wacky like a cat toy to get people talking.
6. Have an Interactive Station
People cannot resist playing with interactive demonstrations, so build a sturdy exhibit-style device and let people have a go at it.
7. Give People a Selfie Station
People love taking selfies, so give them a Hollywood red carpet style step-and-repeat banner or a fun cutout display to encourage them to snap pictures.
8. Provide a Place to Relax
Free coffee and charging stations are staples of conferences, but how many booths give people a place to play video games or just watch some TV?
9. Make a Game Out of It
Give people scavenger hunts or other interactive games and give out prizes.
10. Offer Snacks
Many people skip breakfast or forget to eat when attending conferences, so offering candy or snacks can be a great way to warm them up to your brand. If it’s in your budget, consider branded packaging.
11. Busk for Your Brand
Street performers, or “buskers,” know how to draw a crowd, so hire a juggler, musician or magician to catch people outside the venue and get their attention.
12. Hire a Celebrity Impersonator for Your Booth
Why have any old person represent your booth when it could be an impersonator of someone everyone knows and loves?
13. Use Pop-Up Banner Stands with Eye-Catching Images
Many booths bring along their own banner stands, but how many have pictures of gross bugs or delicious looking foods gracing their displays?
- Run a contest to see who can get the most shares from a post using your hashtag.
- Create a flash mob event with performances or funny costumes.
- Hire a vendor to give out free popcorn or hot dogs outside the venue with your brand on them.
- Stage mock battles with styrofoam weapons to draw attention.
- Let people print out postcards for friends and family at your booth.
- Hand out keys, but don’t tell people what they are for; have a locked display elsewhere on the premises with a branded promotional diorama inside.
- Hold contests such as karaoke, marshmallow eating or video game challenges.
- Run profiles and interviews on attendees through your social media pages.
- Print a fake newspaper with humorous headlines and mentions of your brand; set these out near normal newsstands.
- Give away wearable accessories, like slap bracelets, tails or animal ears.
- Use Legos or similar toys to construct mock versions of your product or headquarters.
- Sponsor pedicabs and other local service businesses to carry your logo near the venue.
- Purchase a tab at a nearby bar, and hold a contest to see who can discover where it is first.
- Satirize common trade show practices, like holding a horrible product demo that falls apart.
- Use chalk art outside the venue to improve brand recognition.
- Hold surveys to learn more about attendees’ interests and preferences and use the information next year.
- Use mascot performers or people on stilts to break up the monotony of the convention floor.
- Have an eye-catching booth design that mimics something familiar, like a phone booth or ice cream truck.
- Offer valuable tips to other attendees and give them “cheat sheet” business cards or handouts with your brand on them.
- Collaborate with another attending company to tout a humorous combination of your brands, like golf shoes that grow grass on them.
- Create a challenge that raises awareness, like how Charity Water asked attendees to carry 40 lbs of waterlike people in villages do every day.
- Stage an Alternate Reality Game, similar to a mystery dinner or “escape the room” challenge involving actors and subtle clues.
- Take a page from big brands’ best event marketing ideas.
Help Draw Attention with Great Event Banners and Graphics
No matter how innovative your trade show marketing ideas are, you will still need old-fashioned branding tools like banners, pop-up stands, posters, graphics and backdrops to make your booth look professional.
You can work with a custom order banner print house in Phoenix to make this happen and ensure that your presence at the next event or trade show can really make an impact.