Think Outside the Booth, Part Two

Dos and Don’ts of Effective Event Marketing

Last week I discussed a few ideas for planning a goal-driven booth that is anything but typical, and I shared a few examples of successful booths. As promised, here’s more about having a plan in place and executing an event marketing experience beyond the four walls of your booth.

Do … Have a Plan

You’ve considered your audience and have a big idea to create an interactive, unique booth. Now it is time to explore the logistics to make it happen.

With our client, Raze, we created a booth diagram and booth summary well in advance of the event. A diagram helps you determine the flow of traffic and identify positioning “zones” for staff. A booth summary can be very important in helping make sure everyone is on the same page during set-up and while at the event. With Raze’s basketball tournament booth, multiple parties were involved including our client, a secondary non-profit, the venue, the athletic association organizing the event and Fahlgren Mortine. Organizations were responsible for approving specific activities and meeting set-up needs.  Having a single summary allowed everyone to understand the big picture and identify their individual roles for making our client’s booth a success.

This is also the time to make sure staff members are familiar with the booth’s goals and objectives. Determine the possible outcomes of each interaction with your target. Consider questions that may be asked and establish clear answers.

Don’t … Be Unapproachable

You’ve invested time and money to connect with your audience, so don’t ignore them. This may seem obvious, but I have seen this happen too many times. It’s only human nature that long days on their feet lead to tired staff members. A group of sitting staff congregating around the booth can discourage your target from visiting. Activities like playing on phones, reading, or just looking bored do not create an exciting atmosphere.

While at the booth, staff should be ready to fully engage with the target. Encourage booth staff to take breaks away from the booth to recharge. To support this, I recommend removing the majority of the chairs from the booth area. Create small spaces or lounge areas for staff to interact with participants and discourage staff from clustering together.

Do … Listen and Observe

Now that your plan is in place and your booth staff is engaged, it’s time to get to know your audience. Ask open-ended questions that require a response beyond a simple yes/no answer. Listen for pain points and focus on providing solutions.

Also, don’t forget to step back and observe. You may identify a barrier or an opportunity that you had not planned. Be flexible and solution-oriented.

I worked with one company that offered a range of information technology services, from whitepapers to high-end consulting services. During the transition of an entry-level service for CIOs from print to online, we determined that the value of the online platform to both new and renewing subscribers should be highlighted. In one section of the booth, we created a seating area for taped interviews that would be posted online and encouraged the audience to observe. In the other section, we created an area to demonstrate the online platform. Both were a hit and we received several new subscriptions, but we also realized that participants wanted to talk at more length. We found that when the interview area was not in use, it was an excellent space to encourage our target to get comfortable, talk about their problems and discuss additional consulting solutions. This small change resulted in a few leads for new consulting projects.

Don’t … Forget to Recap

Did you meet your goals? No matter how flawless your booth was, the key to improving your success still lies in properly evaluating the results.

I like to look at both quantitative and qualitative data when evaluating a booth. Get input from your booth staff about what worked and what did not work. Determine how many people visited your booth or how many items you gave away. Consider how many leads or converts you came away with from your booth, and determine a conversion rate if possible. Did you see an uptick in website activity or Twitter followers? The ways to evaluate a booth’s success are as diverse as the goals.

Be sure to record all of this data and save to a safe place so you can compare with future event marketing experiences.

Successful booths require thoughtful planning. Many times the costs are far greater than a single exhibitor fee or table charge. Booths are an opportunity for your target audience to interact with your brand. Your brand is more than a tablecloth, a banner and a bottle of hand sanitizer with your logo on it. Setting goals, understanding your audience and building a compelling atmosphere are important to creating a positive impression that drives the results you expect.

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