Make the booth team part of your communications team
It is conference & trade show season, which means many of you have been planning for months every detail that goes into making sure the event is successful. You’ve developed the theme, worked on your messaging, posted on company social media platforms, sent out the press releases and invited the media.
You’ve even come up with some great ideas and interactive experiences to make your booth stand out from the rest of those exhibiting. It’s going to be awesome.
But wait….did you remember to train the team who will be at the booth on what they need to do to support your ideas? In many cases, those working the booth are not part of the communications team who developed the strategy around what’s going on in the booth. And unless the time is taken to educate those attending on what they will see in the booth, your amazing ideas are going to fall flat.
Convey the theme and the message
After months of working on the project, you might be tired of seeing the booth. However, those working the booth might be seeing it for the first time when they show up at the exhibit.
Many of them have no idea there is a theme or what message they should be weaving into conversations. They may know a few of the products, but if your theme is sustainability and you’ve been promoting that the booth is full of sustainable products on your social media channels and in your pre-show press releases, the team needs to be aware so they stay on message. The last thing you want is a customer or someone in the media showing up with a question about something they saw on your LinkedIn page, and the team has no idea what they are talking about.
Explain the booth design and flow
A lot of thought goes into the design of the booth and the flow. Hold a meeting before the show to show the team attending what the booth looks like and why it looks like that. Getting them on board with the strategy of the booth design will help them describe to customers and prospects where the booth will be. It will also familiarize them on what is going to be in the booth, the focus areas, where they can go if they have customer meetings and what the customer can expect.
If press conferences or special events are planned to take place at the booth, let them know this as well so they can pre-plan their meetings. They may even want to invite customers to the booth at that time. Even things like free coffee or ice cream at 3 p.m. could be incentives for them to get their customers there.
Have fun with video, selfie-walls and social media
Video is also a common multimedia element at booths, and in some cases the videos shown are new. Hold a meeting before the show to play the videos for the team so that they are familiar with the content and the messages being promoted. This way if they see a customer intently watching one, they can start their conversation based on the video content, or if someone comes to the booth with a question, they may be able to direct them to the video.
Selfie-walls are another popular attraction with conference attendees and many exhibitors are including them in their booth design. But a selfie-wall is only popular if photos are taken and shared – and sometimes, just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean people will be comfortable using it. Train your attending team on what they need to do to engage attendees to take photos. Better yet, assign someone attending to be the “selfie monitor.” This person can lead people to the wall, help them take photos, take photos of them on their phone or even take photos of them to share on your social accounts. If the booth visitor is there with a sales person, have the two of them take a photo together. The selfie monitor should make it fun and easy for any wanting to take a photo. Also, under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it’s best to inform those photographed that the photo might appear on your social media account.
Variety is key to driving interest to your booth, so take photos of more than the selfie-wall. This same “selfie monitor” could take candid shots of the people chatting with the team at the booth, watching the videos or interacting with the products. These photos could be shared on social media with a call to action of “Don’t miss out! Drop by our booth.”
In addition to the "selfie monitor", make sure some of the other attending members are trained on social media to help support the efforts of your corporate social media team. The more voices talking about your booth and the message on their personal social media channels, the greater the chance people will learn what you have at the booth and pay it a visit. The designated social media people could have pre-written and approved tweets and LinkedIn posts ready for them to use at certain times, or if they are comfortable with creating their own posts, provide them a few guidelines so they can do it themselves. They also should be informed of the show hashtag and how they can connect with potential leads while they are still at the show.
Get interactive with your interactive
Selfie-walls are only the beginning of the interactive elements that are popular at exhibits. Augmented reality (AR) or setting up a virtual reality area is also growing in popularity, and just like the selfie-wall, it’s only successful if someone is there to help the customer experience it. Assigning someone to take care of visitors in this area, as well as training them on how the programme and goggles work and how to trouble shoot common issues (for example, it won’t turn on or an error is showing up on the screen), will help keep it running smoothly and be an enjoyable experience for those attending.
The same concept of having a point person at the selfie wall or in the AR area can be used for video interviews being shot at the booth. Let the team know that these are happening and where. If the interviews are pre-scheduled, have a list prepared for the team so that if someone comes to booth asking about their interview, they can be directed to the person managing it. Plus, because those interviewed are usually experts or executives, it could be a reason to ask a customer to come to the booth at that specific time to have a chat.
Ask and you shall receive
Finally, let the team know what you need from them. Ask them to pay attention to new initiatives and provide feedback on what worked and what didn’t.
Also, instruct them on what photos they should be taking and who they can email them to in the communications team – or if the entire team is on a WhatsApp group, they can be posted there. This way your team will have all the content they need to create posts throughout the show. Don’t assume that they will be taking photos on their own (or sharing them if they do). They may assume they aren’t necessary or that someone else on the team is doing it.
Shows are a big expense and a lot of time goes into making them memorable. Even if you can attend, making it a success will take more than one person if the booth area is large or if you have multiple components. The secret to having everything work the way you planned is to ensure everyone is working together. Having all those in the booth understand the strategy, message and media mix will help maximize attendee participation, drive visitors to the booth and make all the time put into planning pay off.
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