Hold up, did you just say entertainment isn’t important to your trade booth? *music screeches to a halt* Are you trying to wallflower your own booth and end up not getting noticed?
Trade shows are an incredible tool for your business or product, and they can help put you on the map so to speak. That can be a little hard when there is a national park size maze of other booths surrounding yours. Will anyone find you? When they do, will they just glance and walk on by? Will they even know how awesome what you have to offer is?
Small businesses need to make a big impression; you’re well aware of the old ‘one chance to make a good first impression’ jazz. Whether it’s a one (and only) time deal, your first time but your hoping to make it a regular thing, or you’re a pro trade booth-er, it doesn’t matter. Each event needs its own big first impression. And if you’ve done this before, you might recognize that you have a limited amount of time in which to do this in. So, you want to use the time you have to maximum effect (after all, trade shows cost considerable time, money, and effort.
Likely your biggest goal is to build traffic to your booth, with means you have to draw visitors. In order to do that, you have to do some carefully planned marketing to get your message out there where people can see it (if you market it, they will come? Or something like that).
Is a big impression that important? Well the stats overwhelmingly yell “yes!” Skyline E-tips’ article regarding trade shows posts some powerful stats, including the fact that “78% of trade shows attendees travel over 400 miles just to attend” and “81% of trade shows attendees have real buying power and authority”. That means that the majority of people that make the effort to go to a trade show aren’t there to just putter around and window shop–they have a purpose, they have money, and they are looking to use it. Will they be looking your way?
Trade show pros know this stuff. They know that the competition for traffic and attention can be fierce. When you’re in a vast sea of similar businesses, a lame-o display isn’t going to cut it, especially if your competition has gotten smart and strategic in their attention-grabbing booth marketing. Out of necessity, many have been forced to get creative in how they present their booth and draw attendees.
Having specialized entertainment at your trade booth can help you accomplish 2 key objectives. The first, it’s going to grab plenty of attention, turn heads, and have everyone wondering why a crowd is drawing at your booth. The bright flash, the big noise, the high-tech display—they are a going to make people want to find out what is going on. It’s a good way to accomplish objective one, bringing traffic your way.
But that entertainment shouldn’t be all about flash and no substance; after all, you’re not the cast of Hamilton and your booth isn’t there to become the next hot big hit (or you’ll have to start charging $500 for tickets to get in—probably not the best marketing strategy).
Once people are at your booth, this is where your second objective comes into play. Basically, you want to accomplish 2 major things—you want to hold the attention of attendees in order to get your message out and you want them to remember it. Entertainment offers you the way to do both—give people the information they need and make it memorable, so they don’t walk away from your booth and immediately forget you exist.
Can entertainment really make it more memorable? You can’t remember your ATM pin, but you know all the words to “Hot in Herre” don’t you (just admit it, we all do). That’s because something that entertains the brain or gives it something catchy to grab onto makes a lasting impression (you’re still singing Hot in Herre in your mind, aren’t you). Not only that, but entertainment stimulates the brain, increasing focus and keeping up a higher level of energy, increasing the chances of making a customer.
As the modern tech/digital age rolls on and things get more sophisticated and well, tech-y, it’s true that many booth owners turn to videos, interactive displays, and similar attention-grabbing digital tools to draw people in. These things have their value no doubt, but don’t underestimate the value of one of the classics—live entertainment.
The very experienced research crew at Exhibit Survey, Inc (now Freeman) has found that live entertainment was a proven way to increase tradeshow booth traffic. One of the reasons is that a key element to converting a booth browser into a customer or lead in interaction. You can get that to an extent with high tech equipment, but no AI/computer/super cool tech display is as flexible and adaptable as a real human who can read an audience and respond appropriately.
So, there are some things to consider before you bring in your teenage neighbor’s garage band to regale attendees with their original hits. Though you want to entertain, you want to still maintain an atmosphere of professionalism befitting your business. Choose your live entertainment wisely as they will be seen as representing or a reflection on your company.
It’s also important to pick experienced entertainers, preferably ones who have tradeshow experience, who can work with you (or your sales/marketing team) who can incorporate your brand or product into their act, conveying a message that will hopefully help draw brand loyalty.
When looking for entertainers, find out how or if they can interact with attendees to engage them and get them to participate in something fun (you’re far less likely to forget something you did than something you only saw or heard). Through their interactive show, an entertainer can help represent your business as you want to be seen—caring, fun, modern, friendly, good-humored, down to earth, magical—whatever it may be.
Some expert tradeshow booth-ers have hired comedians, magicians, emcees, speakers, or our personal favorite, live bands. Which type of entertainer you choose may depend heavily on your business, the particular atmosphere of the tradeshow, and/or the message you are trying to convey. Live musicians get our vote for their versatility (a great bandleader knows how to read and engage and audience). They can not only draw attention from a broader range (who doesn’t love listening to live music) better than an entertainer who is simply speaking or performing something that can only be seen from a short distance away, but they have the have the ability to garner audience participation from a large group (dance party!). Meanwhile, like other entertainers, they have the ability to relay your message (but perhaps they can do it through a fun, catchy in song).
Bottom line is you want people to come to your booth, see what awesomeness you have to offer and convert to being a loyal customer (or at the very least a lead or prospect). Every other business owner at the tradeshow wants the same thing. In the forest of booths out there, adaption and creativity are increasingly important, it’s an entertain or be eaten type of world. Live entertainment can help you set yourself up as king or queen of that trade show jungle, get memorable brand awareness into people’s minds, and gain yourself a fan base (loyal customers).