Companies are allocating bigger marketing budgets on trade show exhibitions. Trade shows offer companies an enormous opportunity to meet a segmented and specialized industry audience. This means that there is an increased chance to reel in customers and close more deals.
Often, the trade show booth is the first ever interaction with your brand and company. Moreover, customers take about three to five seconds to approach a booth while on the exhibitor’s floor. Therefore, to effectively get the most out of these events, your booth exhibit has to be designed to grab and hold the attendee’s attention. Apart from sticking close to brand identity and market strategy, there are many aspects that need to be considered while planning to exhibit at an event.
In this blog, we discuss how sales advancement and booth design go hand in hand. We also explore some of the best practices in booth design for sales advancement at events.
Attendee trends and booth design implications
The first step in understanding the importance of booth design is to looking at the implications of attendee characteristics on the event industry. As event marketers, it is important that you keep these trends in mind while designing your booth.
- Attendees have had receding interest levels and attention spans. They are easily distracted and tend to walk past things that do not grab their attention. For this reason, the booth entrance needs to display the most attention worthy content in addition to being manned and designed well.
- Attendees are constantly online at events. They are heavily dependent on their smartphones and prefer a mix of online and offline conversations. Booths need to be equipped with a steady WiFi connection, charging stations, and interactive touch and AR/VR experiences.
- Attendees prefer fewer meaningful conversations over numerous superficial ones. Booths need concierges that know who to get walk-ins in touch with. They need to have access to executive calendars to direct attendees to the right people.
- Attendees prefer personalized content. They look for products that specifically tend to their needs. The content at the booth needs to be more interactive and booth staff need to be proactive to collect attendee feedback. Moreover, sales reps need to prepared for 1:1 meetings with prospects.
Booth design and sales advancement
Modern booths are lavish. They contain everything from a fully equipped bar to multiple meeting rooms, coffee stations and lounges. But they need to be more than just hangout zones. They need to double up in functionality.
Within the right setting, sit-down meetings tend to be more productive and action-oriented. When customers walk in, they expect a smooth and engrossing experience that goes beyond just a badge scan. The idea is to make prospects feel welcome and keep them engaged within the booth while sales reps create the context for selling opportunities.
Here are some best practices for the ideal booth design:
- Registration desks: The registration process needs to be short and flawless. Customers do not want to spend time waiting in queues just to pass out their information. Space them out and make sure they are manned sufficiently to streamline the process.
- Executive lounge: A majority of the attendees that come to large scale events are CXOs and VPs. Executive lounges in the exhibit space need to be dedicated for senior executives to meet prospects/customers and before a sales meeting or demos.
- Meeting rooms: In the exhibit space, meeting rooms are mostly used for walk-in meetings. Companies usually rent meeting space directly with the convention center and/or hotel for pre-scheduled customer meetings. The booth needs to be equipped with meeting rooms that can handle different capacities.
- Hangout zones: Not all conversations follow the same pattern. Sometimes, customers are reluctant to sit through a demo. So sales reps need to create an informal setting before easing them into a sales conversation. This is where the hangout zones come in. They need to be equipped with couches, coffee bars, mobile and laptop charging stations and WiFi connectivity.
- Demo stations: Demo stations are vital components of any experiential sale pitch. A sales meeting is seldom enough to convince customers to invest in your product. Demo stations need to be spaced out evenly to ensure that they do not disrupt other demo experiences. They also need to have calendars and staff schedules.
- Experience stations: There is only so much a demo station can do. Experience stations go one step above demo stations. They give customers a more hands-on experience of the product. Demo staff can help customers understand the specifics and intricacies of the product. But the placement of these experience stations needs to be planned carefully to avoid interruptions.
- Post-meeting feedback: Gathering feedback is an important part of exhibiting at an event. But customers are very busy trying to squeeze in as many meaningful conversations through the course of the event. So customers do not want to go out of their way. It is, therefore, the job of an event planner to find ways to get attendees to fill out the feedback form without too much trouble. Place tablets outside meeting rooms so customers can fill up the survey soon after meetings end. This will help you record accurate feedback.
- Extra space: Your booth is bound to be crowded throughout the course of the event and at times, there are going to be more meetings than meeting rooms. So using the extra space in a smart way is the need of the hour. Pick a quiet corner of the booth and place couches so that walk-ins can be directed to them once there are no more available meeting rooms. You can also use this space for ad hoc activities.
Event planners often feel that events is the best way to reel in prospective business opportunities through memorable experiences. But establishing event ROI is one of the biggest challenges that event planners often face. And one of the ways to maximize event ROI is to reel in as many relevant leads as possible at trade shows. For this reason, it is important to take a sales pipeline approach and elevate the booth to drive home the results.