How to Win at Tradeshows:
The Next Big Thing? Or a Combination of Tried and true?

It’s only natural that tradeshow event planners want to showcase the next big thing to attract a crowd to their booth or base of operation at a major league show. But, as we all know, caged tigers, sawing someone in half, or pulling cute little rabbits from a hat just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Still, it’s only natural to want to be the first, the best and the most successful at almost anything, but especially at tradeshows – there’s just so much competition out there. 

But is there one, one big thing anymore? Have you noticed that, lately, it’s getting harder to identify what is that might be to help you, as an event planner, stay one step ahead of everyone else. And, perhaps, it not just one big new thing anymore but, maybe a combination thereof. A mix of the familiar and old? 

Well, here’s what the fabulous Freeman exhibit research group advises: “What and how you communicate should be relatable, engaging, and tied to your event objectives.” Simple enough. And so, Freeman recommends the following seven steps to create meaningful and memorable messaging that just about guarantees results.

1/Go for the Goals: Determine the key takeaways you want your attendees to take home and then strategize effective ways to convey those concepts.

2/Dare to Theme: Choose a theme that aligns with your goals, your brand, and your industry. And make sure it’s relatable to your attendees. Make a lasting impression by weaving it through key touch points — from open to close.

3/Deliver in Style: Work with your design team to develop a branding style guide that’s unique to the event. Think impactful and fun with purpose. Convey a cohesive look and feel audiences remember.

4/Captivate with Content: Think like your audience (again). What will engage them? What do they want to see? Bullet points are so yesterday. Instead, captivate with imagery and video that surrounds, immerses, and transports attendees. Bonus points for moments of vulnerability, levity, and humor.

5/Speak Easy: Hire presentation coaches to groom your presenters. Work with this team to develop guidelines and best practices with pre-event coaching and practice sessions.  Then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

6/Take a Remote View: Engage off-site audiences with unique insight into the experience — mobile cameras can provide unique perspectives and bring viewers closer to presenters. Include special views and cutaways that help them connect with the content from afar. Use an online chat platform, or Q&As, and have your moderator answer remote audience questions first.

7/Add the Unexpected: Create moments that keep your attendees on their toes: sizzle videos in unforeseen moments, personalized messages, surprise guests, skits to transition between sessions, or even video capture of live audience reactions (think sporting event “kiss cams” minus the kiss). Have secondary stages featuring live music, a DJ station, or other entertainment can also add an energizing and fun element of surprise.

Most importantly, step outside your event comfort zone. Try something that’s a departure for your brand or industry: Slam poetry at a high tech event, improv comedy to lighten up a research-heavy presentation, or live artists (or actors) recreating challenging scenarios your industry is trying to solve. So, be sure to brainstorm with yourself and your staff because, here’s one last idea, many times, success is a joint effort.

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