I just returned from a really large business to business (B2B) trade show that was focused on technology. The Star Wars Cantina strikes me as an apt metaphor for the area of the show floor where the smaller booths were concentrated.
Like the creatures in the cantina in the first (or fourth) movie, the trade show booths all looked very foreign and unusual. Many spoke languages I did not understand (tech talk), and I wasn't sure if they were something I should approach with caution or not.
I wish I had had a camera with me so that I could visually show you what I'm talking about. Every booth had lots of words that said nothing of value or very few words that had little meaning. And the giveaways - I know there are a lot of specialty advertising logo type items out there - I just wish the exhibitors had saved their money for something worthwhile.
My point in all this is that B2B trade shows are really valuable for small businesses in their marketing mix. The more the show applies to the market you serve, the better it is. But you HAVE to invest in the messaging for your booth or you are wasting your time. Can people read your signage and understand what you do/offer in less than 5 seconds? If not, then you need to say less, say it better, and show it more prominently.
Are you giving something away at your booth? If so, what is the goal of the giveaway? Is it
- to attract people to come to the booth?
- something for them to take home so they remember you?
If the former is the answer, use something valuable and collect cards with useful information for a hourly or daily drawing. You don't want the names of the people that just want the trinkets and trash anyway.
If the latter is the answer, give away something that will stick with the person you gave it to and not become a child or pet toy.
More to come on this topic. As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged.