Success Strategies for Small Exhibits

Don’t let a small booth space limit your potential to produce big results at your next show. Take time to implement even a few of these strategies and you might be amazed at how exponential your success can be!

By Marlys Arnold, Exhibit Marketing Strategist; Speaker, Author, Consultant; Trade Show Insights Blog/Podcast Host

It’s a challenge I hear from exhibitors all the time: How can we possibly stand out with only a 10-by-10-foot booth in a sea of (much larger) exhibits?

And while that scenario may feel impossible to overcome, it really isn’t.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, how well known you are, or how much money you’ve spent to be there. Sometimes the ‘little guys’ can actually draw a bigger audience than a household name. (I know because I’ve been that ‘little guy’!) What really matters is the strategy you use before and during the show that sets you up for success.

There are so many ways to make the most of a small space. Here are a few keys to small-booth success (most of which apply to a booth of any size):

  • Tell a story and create an environment – Stories and emotional connections sell far better than statistics and data. That’s why creating a theme is so helpful for making your exhibit more relatable and memorable.
  • Make it inviting and comfortable – No matter the size of your booth, does it make people want to spend time there and learn more about what you have to offer?
  • Focus on interaction and personal attention – Create a multisensory experience and use interactive elements such as hands-on demos or various types of technology to get attendees engaged. (Be sure to check out this podcast interview about How Five Print Guys Took Over a Trade Show.)
  • Design with your audience in mind – Use marketing messages and themes that will draw them in and make them feel like you’re reading their mind. Take some time to understand your audience better.
  • Ramp up the pre-show promotions – Don’t just hope attendees will find you on the show floor… create a sense of excitement and anticipation for your exhibit. (Here’s a post with a few promotions mistakes to avoid.)
  • Take advantage of sponsor opportunities – Most shows offer a variety of options and price points for sponsorship. If you don’t find something on the list that suits you, ask them if you can create a custom sponsor package. (For more tips on maximizing sponsorships, check out this post.)
  • Make booth staff training a priority – Be sure they know how to maximize every conversation, from the moment of engagement through qualifying and overcoming objections. (Read more about the importance of educating your booth staff in the Exhibitor Education Manifesto.)

So don’t let a small booth space limit your potential to produce big results at your next show. Take time to implement even a few of these strategies and you might be amazed at how exponential your success can be!

(Portions excerpted with permission from Exhibit Design That Works ©2017 by Marlys K. Arnold)

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success SystemExhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community. Opinions are her own.

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