You’ve got 3 seconds. That’s not much time at all. A precious one, two, three seconds to make an impression—and possibly a sale—with a new customer at a trade show. Three seconds is the estimate given by branding expert Ben Baker for a potential lead to assess and connect (or not!) with your exhibit booth at a trade show or expo. Why three seconds? That’s the amount of time, he says, it takes the average person to walk past a 10 x 10 vendor booth space in a typical exhibit hall.
With trade shows back up and running, bolstered by two years of pent-up demand, business owners have a unique opportunity to hit the trade shows hard this season and get some deals going.
How can HitLights help? Creating an attractive, inviting exhibit is crucial to a successful trade show booth. LED lighting is a critical tool to making your vendor space eye-catching and give it that pop. But that’s not all! Since we know the value trade shows can bring to a business’ marketing and outreach plans, we have some insider tips to share with you that are sure to help you make the most of trade shows this year.
So get your conference exhibitor badges on, get your swag bags packed, and let’s get into some LED lighting tricks and some trade show tips for increasing your business prospects at your next trade show.
1. Emphasize your brand by showcasing your brand colors
Your brand tells a story, first and foremost, and your trade show booth is trying to create an emotional connection with a potential lead (all in that 3 seconds we discussed before!) A trade show booth has the opportunity to be interactive; immersive (in your brand, no less!); and for you to create an experience for the attendees that give you a visit. That’s a tall order, but an easy way to get started is to bring attention-grabbing color to every part of your booth that you can.
You can perfectly match your brand colors with accent LED strip lighting, like what you find in our Premium RGBW 12V Luma10 LED Light Strip Get beautiful, clear colors in a premium, high-density light strip. You’ll love the convenience of controlling the color and brightness right from the easy-to-use controller.
Color conveys a lot to your potential customers and you can use color to tell part of your story to prospects. Color gives people a “quick-read” sense of who you are as a business, and at a trade show, attendees are primed to learn more about you. Start the conversation by promoting the color story of who you are.
If you are worried about being too flash or too garish, don’t worry: you can keep it subtle and classy. We’re talking accent lighting, not flashing brash lights.
2. Pick quality over quantity
Now quality over quantity is hardly a new idea, but there are a couple of trade show-specific situations where you, as a vendor, have to make some important choices in terms of quality over quantity—while facing the pressure of a budget and measuring ROI of your trade show appearance.
Take for example your promotional items. On one hand, you want to have tons and tons to give away to everyone who steps foot even anywhere near your vendor area—quantity. But you don’t want anything cheap, chintzy, or common, or—the worst crime of all at a trade show—boring or basic or what everyone else is handing out. In other words, you don’t want to fail the quality test.
Expo expert Al Mercuro of Genesis Exhibits, speaking on the Trade Show University podcast framed the quality over quantity discussion as a sustainability issue. You’ve probably seen it before: after a trade show is over, vendors are dumping dozens and dozens of cases of printed materials—which cost a pretty penny to print, but are too heavy to ship home. All the money (and time and team attention) that went into creating those materials essentially gets wasted. Crummy pens that don’t impress—dumped. More money wasted. It’s better to invest in better quality and more desirable promotional items than to have a lot of something that nobody wants (sorry) and is destined for the dumpster.
Imagine this: wouldn’t you rather spend to have just the right promo piece that everyone is gaga over, everyone is asking fellow attendees, “Where did you get that?!” (Your name, your booth is the answer. Talk about top of mind and name recognition!)
Consider this question for your business: would you rather have something high-quality and desirable that you run out of OR would you rather have lots of the forgettable that you have to pack up and bring home?
Quality over quantity also applies to things like your actual exhibit. Do you want to replace things like LED strip lights over and over? Or do you want to have premium lights that do exactly what you want them to do, that serve you over the long-term. The answers to questions like these will help you assess where you are in your business mindset.
You can take a look at our line of HitLights premium products here to get started.
3. Invest in equipment, including lighting, for the long-term
If you attend multiple trade shows a year, invest what you can in the best equipment, the best exhibit, and the best lighting—hands down. Most businesses these days have exhibit builds that are modular, or can otherwise be reused over and over. For the most part, the days of “build-n-burn” exhibits are over. Since you are going to use these pieces for years to come, plan on getting the most bang for your budget in this department.
Lighting needs to be a part of your spend for a couple of reasons. First, you don’t know what the lighting conditions are going to be in the hall or gallery of the trade show. Second, at the very best, you can count on the lighting being industrial in nature and not specific to your booth. It’s up to you to make sure your space looks as well-lit as it can. Cliff Couvillon of Nimlok Louisiana counters the hesitation that some have about spending money upfront on LED lighting.
As Couvillon explains, “If you use a less expensive fluorescent light bar or light strip, you might still achieve your desired light effect. But that kind of lighting doesn’t give you the clarity or long product life that LED lighting does.”
4. Make your booth pop
You’ve got the high-quality equipment, you’re sharing your brand, the promotional items you’ve picked are killer—now it’s time to get people to look at your booth and talk to you. It’s time to get those eyeballs and grab attention.
Cliff Couvillon is quick to share that backlit graphics are a trend with a purpose in exhibits. Backlighting is easy to achieve with LED strip lights and can take your graphics from something you picked up from the printer into a gorgeous showpiece.
Arm Lighting is another tip: you can control the lighting in your space with handy LED arm lights. Arm lights not only provide light where you want it, but they can be a sophisticated light fixture that gives that extra message of quality to your booth.
Choose from HitLights’ 12v Arm Light (available in black or silver; sold in a two-pack) or our connectable LED arm lights, 3600 lumens in cool white. Sophisticated lighting that’s a breeze to set up.
If you combine some of these techniques and fixtures with our suggestion above at highlighting brand colors with LED strip lights as accents, your vendor spot is sure to make a splash.
Need some help figuring out what kind of lighting you need for your specific display? We’re about to make your day. One of the HitLights specialties is custom LED lighting for exhibit booths. We can help you select off-the-shelf solutions or custom lighting that is perfect for you and your business. One call to get started with our helpful, solution-oriented Customer Service Team. (Hit us up now—call 1 (855) 768-4135 to get connected.)
5. Get your message right: before, during, and after the trade show
What is the one thing you’d like to say to your prospect? If you could just share one call to action with your ideal client, what would that be? Let’s call that one thing your message. To effectively communicate with your ideal prospect, try to have one key message per trade show.
Why? The confused mind does not buy, so if you want to make things clear for your future clients, one message presented succinctly and in an understandable way is a great way to start moving a prospect onto the path to becoming a customer (and a future raving fan.)
Trade shows put this messaging to the test: each trade show attendee has lots of other sellers vying for their attention plus there are several stages of a trade show where you and your business have to stay consistent with your single message.
Consider this: each trade show has three phases. Before the trade show? That’s the pre-show phase, where hopefully the event planners are hyping the expo and getting everyone excited. There’s the trade show itself (wooo!) followed by the post-show phase (we’re finally back home, tired, but don’t sleep yet: there’s things to do.)
Pre-show: Are you reaching out to some of your ideal customers who might be at the trade show? Marlys Arnold, author of Exhibit Design That Works tells a story where she sent out a special, custom mailer to some dream clients before a big trade show. Over half the prospects she mailed visited her booth at the show! Amazing. Pre-show is when you can intro your message.
Mid-show: Is everyone on your team aware of what message you’re sharing at the trade show? Take a beat: we mean everyone. If the entire team is on the same page as to what your trade show message is and how you’re sharing it, you’re well on your way to consistency and clarity. The show is the main arena for sharing your message.
Post-show: There’s fortune in the follow-up. Have you heard this saying? The trade show might be over, but the deal making doesn’t have to be. If prospects are calling your customer service team, do your CSRs know the message you shared and can they carry it on during the sales process? Do you have top-notch staff that can follow up with all the great people you met at the trade show? This is the chance to bring your message one more time and ride on the experience of your trade show appearance. Set yourself apart from the competition right now and don’t overlook this critical time.
Are you fired up? We are! Let the trade shows begin! Don’t forget: HitLights can help you with all your trade show LED lighting needs—even with custom lighting products. What tip did you like best? What trick are you going to try? We want to hear it all. Call us now at 1 (855) 768-4135 and let’s get your booth ready. Here’s to your trade show business success!