Have you seen the movie, Pitch Perfect? I watched it 10 times before I even bought the movie. Can you say obsessed? Absolutely!

So how does this relate to trade show engagement and booth traffic? It’s all about the fun that brings you back for more! The more energy you have in your trade show booth, the more engagement you’ll get. No one wants to talk to boring people, and even worse, boring sales people. Awkward!

I know sometimes trade shows can feel chaotic like this:

But use the trade show ideas below to pump up the fun, and you’ll gain tons of traffic at your booth from both current and potential customers

Let’s get started with trade show contest ideas:

  • Have visitors drop their business cards into a fishbowl to win a prize (make the prize something people will desire, or something quirky). Then have people come back at a certain time(s) for the drawing.
  • Have visitors tag your business or booth in a picture or post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram as entry for a contest. Have them use a specific hashtag relating to your business and the tradeshow. ex: #VRSXSW
  • Have an interactive game at your booth like a beanbag toss or a video game; Whoever gets the  highest score wins. People will continue to check back throughout the day to see who has the highest score.
  • Have a prize wheel in which visitors take a turn spinning to see what they win. We use one at every trade show, and people love it – It gets a lot of attention and draws a crowd.

Now that you’ve got some trade show ideas for a contest, what about the prize?

  • Technology – headphones, a Kindle, camera, or of course an iPad
  • Something pertaining to your business, like a free trial of your service, or actual products. This will get people to visit your website or place of business.
  • Clothing or apparel
  • Cash (who doesn’t love cash?)
  • Mystery prize box – Create a box of goodies with your product or service include.
  • Tickets to a local professional sports game
  • Gift card to a local restaurant (everyone appreciates free food)
  • Books about your business – People love getting a freebie, especially when it’ll help them learn something new.

Ideas to get the word out before the trade show:

  • Before the event, promote the trade show and the contest you’ll have at said trade show.
  • Send a few emails, and post to your social networks about trade shows and events your business will be attending. Include the date, time, location, booth number, and what contest or goodies you’ll be giving out.
  • Add an event section to your website and on Facebook.

Ideas to get people to your booth at the trade show:

  • Make sure your booth is clean and presentable. A big trade show faux pas is to eat while working in a booth. No one wants to talk to someone with a mouth full of food.
  • Make sure your staff is engaged with the crowd and not just with each other.
  • Have banners and even a custom tablecloth that says what your business does.
  • Besides the contest prize, have lots of free giveaways like pens, notepads, or key chains with your logo on each item.
  • Have signs at your booth about the contest. Make sure they’re readable from at least 10 feet away.
  • Display what you’re giving away for the contest.
  • Have handouts for people who want more information about your business.
  • Make some noise (not too much, as you don’t want to annoy your fellow booth neighbors) – but enough to get people looking your way.

Lastly, make sure to smile and look approachable:

Other Trade Show aspects to consider:

  • The more people who engage with your booth, the more others will want to see what all the excitement is about.
  • Have a contest for your own staff. Incentivize those who collect the most business cards or signups.
  • Use the time in which people approach your booth for free swag or a contest, to talk to them about their needs and how your business could help.
  • Write notes on all business cards to remind yourself of the conversation, and needs of that potential customer.
  • Follow up with all business card prospects with either with a personal call or an email. Re-introduce yourself and your business and let them know where you met them. Ask if you can add them to your email marketing list.
  • Take a picture of your contest winner and post it to your website and social media pages with a caption like, “Susie just won an ipad by playing bean bag toss at the XYZ trade show with Your Company Name.”

Lastly, make sure to walk around to check out’s working at other booths. Use this knowledge to adjust what you’re doing, or use it for the next trade show. Different shows have different crowds, so consider your audience.

Whatever trade show ideas you use, make sure that you and your team are into it!

Also, grab our easy breezy trade show planning checklist here and you’ll be on your way to Pitch Perfect engagement.

© 2013 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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