One of our sponsors at Atlassian Summit emailed me today to ask for tips to staff a booth in the sponsor pavilion. Having never staffed a booth, they needed some pointers. Herewith are my top 5 suggestions for bringing traffic into your booth:
sandwichboardzi8.jpgIdea 1: Sandwich board
You need a sign at your booth, something to advertise who you are and what you do, more than just a logo and slogan:

  • Include the product name & logo
  • 3-5 bullet points, ideally none of which wrap around to the next line
  • Big font that can be seen from 10 or 20 feet away
  • A screenshot or graphic
  • URLs are optional; they’re nice for design (I think) but not necessary because people will Google your company or product name. Better yet, they’ll take a brochure.

Unless you’re a PhotoShop maven, do not attempt this at home. Instead, hire a graphic designer to work on it so it’s produced for print-ready production (300dpi or greater, unaliased, and in color). For self-standing signs, I have them printed on foam core, which is light and rigid and easy to transport. However, because foam core can easily crack, you might wait to have it printed locally at a Kinkos close to the convention center so you can pick it up before the conference. Extra tip: If you need to ship it to the conference, use a flattened cardboard box to ship it.
Idea 2: Prizes!
Run a prize drawing in the booth. Give one free copy of your software, a free iPod, a hot date with the CEO over a candlelit meal at a fine restaurant (ok, I’m reaching now), or something in exchange for their business card. If they don’t have business cards, you should have a pad of paper and pen at your booth to record their name and email address.
bruce-lee.jpgIdea 3: Max Headroomish
Always have something showing on your computer. When you’re not demoing the application to someone, you should leave the demo running in a loop so people stop to watch. Don’t have a product demo? Make a video of customers giving testimonials. Or, hire an animator to create a Flash-based demo or cartoon that you could also leverage on your website. If all else fails, put the Enter the Dragon trailer on loop.
t_RedMonk.pngIdea 4: Fa-fa-fa-fa Fashion
More expensive idea… print up tshirts with a funny graphic or slogan and give them to anyone that gets a demo. If they sit through a 4 or 5 minute demo, they get a shirt. Make it something they would want to wear at the conference. And hopefully other people around them would see the tshirt and want one too. If you can afford it, print more shirts that you think you’ll need. You could always give the tshirts away to employees or at other conferences. The two major drawbacks of tshirts are the cost to print and the cost to ship. They’re very expensive to ship in bulk. Alternatively, you could print baseball caps or pens. Personally, I much prefer something I can actually use, like a tshirt or baseball cap, versus random merchandise like toys.
Idea 5: Promotion
Offer a 10 or 20% discount coupon for conference attendees only that expires 3 or 6 months after the conference. Bonus idea: So you only have to bring one piece of collateral to the conference, print the promo code on your product brochure.
Oh, and remember to bring collateral to the booth… a product brochure, datasheet, business card, or case study… you should have something that people can walk away with. Don’t forget to include your URL and an email address.

Tradeshow tips and tricks