The visitor passes… fast at first from a couple meters distance, then their pace lulls as their head rubber-necks to, as quickly as possible, absorb and comprehend as much about your conference booth and company as possible before they decide to stop for more information.

Meanwhile you’re just standing there, staring at their darting eyes, waiting for someone to talk to.

This is what I like to call the “Conference Creep.” Anyone who has ever manned a booth at a conference or trade show knows exactly what it is, and anyone who has attended one as a visitor has performed it. We can’t help it. It stems from centuries-old fear of salespeople and the precious time they can steal.

However, there are ways to spark more immediate interest and increase the number of people who approach your booth.

Giveaways / Social Raffle

I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill “grab bag” goodies, like pens or bottle-openers. I’m talking about things of value, things of worth that people actually want. Understanding your market and understanding the target group of each individual conference is important. For less expensive promo materials, be creative and find something that is unique and useful. This will help lead to more word-of-mouth at the conference as attendees chat and ask each other, “Hey, where did you get that?”

For more expensive items, things that you may be giving out to 10 or fewer visitors, don’t just make a simple raffle box with tickets and names. Use social media to increase the exposure of the raffle. For example, invite booth visitors to take a picture with you or one of your products at your booth, and share it on Instagram tagging your company, the event and using a specific hashtag. Then, at the end of the conference, or another specified time, simply search that hashtag and randomly choose a winner from the posted photos. The more valuable the prize, the more excitement you can build, so don’t skimp on the goods.

Games of Chance

Which is better, to give away 2.000 pens, 90% of which will be thrown away, or give away 200 printed bags or t-shirts that will actually be used and worn? If you give away cheap swag, that is exactly how event visitors will remember you. This means that spending a bit more money on the promotional materials at your booth will create a much better lasting impression. That also means, however, that you’ll have fewer items to actually giveaway.

Enter the game of chance! A roulette wheel, or any simple game can help control how many items you are giving away AND help increase booth engagement. It’s a great way to break the ice, have fun and meet people.

Now the question is: what to give away? The items need to be special enough that visitors will want to try their luck to win one, but affordable enough that you can have more than a handful to give away, and at best it needs to be something of lasting value that can be reused by the lucky winner.

Custom textile products are perfect for this type of giveaway. A clever slogan printed on a t-shirt, or a high quality tote bag are excellent options for Tasche Beutel Rucksack made in Freedomnearly any event or trade show. Made In Freedom prints custom, high quality, 100% Organic cotton t-shirts that carry the World Fair Trade Organization label. Our printed textiles are also handsewn by women who have been effected by the sex-trade in Kolkata India. Through our partners, these women are given a job paying well above the minimum wage, health care and on the job training! Get in touch with us here and we can start working with you to create some truly memorable printed textiles for your next event.

Schedule Meetings Ahead of Time

In our digital, fast paced lives it is easy to forget the simplicity of honest, face-to-face conversations. One excellent way to bridge this gap is to use the weeks or months leading up to your next trade show to schedule meetings with visitors during your time at the show. Not only does this help you to prepare, but it also helps break the ice through your communication so when the time comes for your meeting you can focus on a deeper, more meaningful conversation. Who knows, you might even be far enough along with prospects that all they need to do in your meeting is sign on the dotted line.

Do your best to make your initial reachout as personal as possible. Personalized video email is a great way to do just that and can really help grab the attention of your conference attendee contact list.

Give Them a Rest… Literally

A welcoming atmosphere can become an oasis of relaxation. There are a couple things that nearly all trade events have in common; they are LOUD and exhausting. Offering a small area for visitors to take a load off can help attract people to your booth that may not normally have been interested. A simple, comfortable chair or two can be your silent invitation for weary, tired visitors. And it works, especially on the last day or days of an event. Try it, and you may even find people waiting at your booth for a chance to sit and relax.

Don’t be too overzealous with your sitters. They are resting for a reason, and approaching them too soon after their arrival can easily scare them off. Acknowledge their presence with a cheerful “hello” but then let them breathe and rest for a few minutes before you engage them any further.

Try some of these ideas at your next event and let us know how they worked out for you! If you want more ideas on conference/event/trade show promotional or marketing materials, check out this blogpost. For more information on creating some stellar, custom printed textiles for your next event don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you get your idea from concept, to design, to production so you can focus on other important tasks!