With lots of brands vying for attention at trade shows, how can you ensure people make a point of visiting your stand?

While marketers have countless platforms through which to promote their brand, often there is no better alternative to pressing the flesh and meeting people face to face. As a result, many companies are investing heavily in taking part in events to generate new leads and boost brand awareness.

In fact, the latest IPA Bellwether Report shows that while concerns over Brexit are weighing down on marketing budgets in the UK, investment in events marketing is actually going up.

But in order to get the best possible return on this investment, what can brands do in order to attract attention and get people visiting their stand?

Eye-catching banners

This is a must if you want to draw people in your direction, as display banners effectively serve as a billboard in a trade show environment. This means you must apply similar design principles, keeping it simple, concise and uncluttered, with your brand logo and tagline clearly visible.

Also, remember that it needs to be clearly legible and understandable from a distance, as you’re trying to attract people who aren’t necessarily looking your way or even close by. With that in mind, use bright, bold and contrasting colours to draw attention.

Choose the right people to represent your brand

Once you’ve tempted people over to your stand, the aim is then to get talking to them, get them interested in what you’re offering and ideally make a positive and lasting first impression.

According to research by OnePoll for 4imprint, it only takes a few moments for a person to make a judgement about somebody new. Indeed, more than one in ten survey respondents said it takes as little as two to five seconds to get a strong first impression, while more than one in five made their minds up in between six and ten seconds.

That means picking the right personnel to represent your organisation at trade shows is absolutely crucial. You need personable, outgoing and engaging people, with their soft skills underpinned by genuine industry knowledge and experience.

While the ability to speak confidently and make eye contact is vital at a customer or client-facing event, the people on your stand must also display a thorough understanding of what you’re about and the services you offer.

Kit your team out in distinctive clothing

If you want the people representing your brand to stand out at a trade show, equipping them with branded corporate uniforms, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts and fleeces, could be another option well worth looking at.

Nearly three-quarters of people surveyed on behalf of 4imprint said branded corporate uniforms can be an effective marketing tool. After all, a distinctive outfit can make your team instantly identifiable, particularly if your uniforms feature the colour scheme you apply across your wider marketing materials.

Furthermore, it’s worth remembering that many trade show attendees are likely to base their first impressions of a person on what they are wearing.

The 4imprint survey revealed nearly one in three people initially notice a person’s face upon meeting them for the first time. However, a person’s clothes came second in the list – with more than one in ten saying this is something they pick up on straight away, far more than other factors, such as somebody’s hair, teeth, posture and voice.

Free giveaways

Distinctive banners and corporate clothing aren’t the only way to get noticed at trade shows, as giving out free promotional merchandise, such as pens, keyrings and notebooks, can also tempt people over and make a lasting impression on them.

Indeed, many attendees who pick up freebies bearing your name and logo might keep hold of them and use them day after day. Even on a subconscious level, this might cement your brand in a person’s memory and make you more recognisable to them in the future.

Speak up

Trade shows offer brands opportunities to deliver keynote speeches and present a unique perspective of the latest developments in their sector. Taking advantage of these chances to be vocal can be a great way to get noticed at an event and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

Even if you don’t manage to get a slot as a speaker, you can still get your voice heard, perhaps by airing your views in seminars and workshops, or raising your hand if a speaker is taking questions.

If you say or ask something genuinely probing and insightful, you might turn heads in the room and get people wanting to talk to you further.

Live blogs and videos

In the digital age, people can engage with trade shows without physically having to be there. That means that if brands want to get noticed while all eyes are on big industry events, they should harness platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to make their participation widely known.

Twitter is ideal for giving regular updates on what your team is seeing and hearing at an event, while Instagram is the perfect platform for sharing images of your trade show experiences. At the same time, why not take advantage of the live streaming facility on sites like Facebook? This could be especially valuable if you are delivering a speech at the event, or have fixed up a meeting with a key influencer in your industry.

This approach means those individuals who can’t attend a particular occasion can still get involved, and it opens opportunities to interact with your online audience and garner their views on key issues.

All of this written and video content can then be archived on your website and provide a permanent record of your participation, which means the event can leave a lasting impression well beyond the day itself.



Independent research commissioned by 4imprint and conducted by One Poll in April 2018.

Marketing budget growth loses further momentum during first quarter of 2018 IPA Bellweather.