In an age of primarily digital marketing, most businesses have a fairly good grip on what the critical basic elements of a website are and what one needs to do. There’s almost always a homepage, an “about” page, a “services” page, and a “contact” page. And the goal is to convert visitors into customers.
But when businesses venture away from digital and into the world of trade shows, the standards can become fuzzier. No two booths ever seem to do things in quite the same way, and the unpredictable nature of live attendees can make understanding or implementing best practices difficult even for larger businesses. Especially if your staff isn’t highly experienced at planning these kinds of events.
Ultimately, though, event booths and websites aren’t so different, and here are a few reasons why …
1) Both need to be easy to find
If you think about it, booths and websites have a similar dilemma. Which is until somebody knows about you, where to find you, then you may as well not exist. For a website, this means making yourself discoverable on search engines or linking to the site from your social media accounts.
For a trade show booth, unless you’ve scored a prime location in a heavily trafficked area, then some extra effort may be required. This could mean letting potential attendees know your booth number or giving them a map ahead of time (through your website or social accounts), or even taking out a print ad in the show guide.
2) Both need to hook people fast
Studies show that for websites, it only takes five seconds for somebody to decide whether they’ll stick around or move on to the next site with a click of their mouse. For trade show booths, depending on how quickly somebody is walking by and which direction they’re facing, it may be even less than this.
So in both cases, it’s important to grab people’s interest quickly. For a website, this can be achieved with a stylish design and a catchy tagline. For a booth, the design certainly may help, but for a live event, nothing is better at attracting the interest of people than other people. This is why staffing your booth either with engaging employees or the kind of professional, experienced talent we provide here at ALI is so important.
3) Both need to tell people about your company
As mentioned before, one critical aspect of a website is the “about” page. It lets people know what your story is, how long you’ve been around, who the founders are, what your mission statement is, and what you stand for.
At a trade show, while it is possible to simply print all of this same information on a flyer and hand it to attendees, odds are most won’t ever read it. That’s because they didn’t come to a live event to read but to engage with people. So be sure that your booth staff, whether it’s employees or professional talent, is well versed in your company’s story and is ready to tell it to anybody who comes along.
4) Both need to teach people about your product or service
Likewise, breaking down the features of your products or services is easily enough done on a website using words, images, or even video. Some sites even dedicate an entire page to each product, and supply everything from spec sheets to FAQs.
At a live event like a trade show, though, you’ve got a rare opportunity to teach people about your product or service face to face. Attendees can not only read about or look at your latest offering, they can actually smell it, taste it, or even hold it in their hands, greatly increasing the odds that they’ll want to walk home with or place an order for whatever it is you’ve put in front of them.
5) Both need to provide a clear call to action
The key to effective web marketing is not just to inform visitors but give them something to actually do before they leave your site. The possible “calls to action” could range from buying something to downloading more information to signing up for a newsletter.
A trade show booth is essentially no different. Before an attendee walks away from your site, you should make sure they do something that creates the possibility of a connection in the future. This could mean leaving behind their business card, signing up for a prize drawing, or at the very least taking home with them a piece of swag (like a pen, magnet, or flash drive) that will remind them of you days later.
Unlike a website, though, which can explain calls to action with descriptive text, at a live event, any call to action will require engaged and experienced booth workers–whether employees or professional talent–to make it happen. Somebody to ask for the business card, explain how the drawing works, or hand out the swag.
While digital and experiential marketing may seem to live in different worlds, the basic principles they embody aren’t so far apart. Ultimately, it’s about effectively connecting with potential customers in a way that the medium is best at. For trade shows, this means face to face engagement, live interaction, and taking advantage of all five senses–things that a website simply can’t offer.
Does your business need help planning for or developing your presence at a live trade show or event? Do you need experienced professional talent at your booth to act as brand ambassadors? Are you ready to take your marketing ROI to the next level?