Meaningful Engagements at Trade Show Activations

Make your trade show activations into Meaningful Engagements!

In the past two and a half weeks we worked a total of 5 trade show events. They were in Houston, New York City, Arlington, Las Vegas, then back to Houston. These Trade Shows ranged from very small, to huge, where our clients spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to be there, and in one case, well over a million dollars to exhibit at a trade show. Spending all that money without making your activation something that is a meaningful engagement with the attendee, is throwing money down the drain.

In that time we saw all ranges of stunts, attractions and give-aways. We saw some using their opportunities to maximum effect, and others, wasting an opportunity. We had clients using us to maximum effect, and others, giving guests a great experience, but leaving money on the table, by not maximizing their interactions between guests and their sales staff.

So here are some tips to create what I call “Meaningful Engagements”, and how we here at To Go Events can help you at your next trade show to create those “meaningful engagements”.

There’s only one chance to make a good first impression.

Make it with style. Your booth should be attractive, and it should be clear what it is that you are offering, even if guests have never heard of your product. It needs to look like you know what you’re doing.

Grab their attention!

Grab their attention

Make attendees stop in their tracks to see what’s going on!

Something in the booth should be grabbing the attention of those walking by. You are heavily competing for eyeballs at a trade show. Make sure they look your direction. We make it a point to say hello to everyone passing our booth. Even if the, and perhaps, especially if, their faces are in their phones. Most of all… make sure that you and your staff are facing the aisles, looking people in the eye as they walk by and not standing at the back of the booth talking to one another. Remember, your coworkers are not your targets at a trade show, if you’re talking to one another, the most important person in the room might walk right past your booth. You MUST ENGAGE.


Make them WANT to stop AND spend time with you.

Staff engaging those waiting in line to qualify and inform them about Prudential.

It’s an old adage in the marketing business that people listen to one radio station all the time… WII FM (What’s In It For Me). If you are providing something fun, interesting or valuable that they can experience or take with them, they’re more likely to stop.

In the past we have provided customized giveaways such as license plates, custom cell phone cases, street signs, luggage tags, key chains, and photo mugs. Each of them personalized with a photograph or with the guests name and made on the spot. The personalized nature of the giveaway stands out from the people who have a tub full of pens, lip balm, USB chargers etc. that have a company logo on them. We live in a time where people want customization around THEM. This is evidenced by the fact that people STOP and SPEND TIME at the booths we work, giving your staff a chance to interact with them, capture data, give your selling points and discover their needs all while their waiting the couple of minutes that it takes to complete their customized gift.

Capture information!

If you’re giving away something of value, in exchange for that, collect something of value – information. Example: We made custom license plates at an event in New York City. All people had to do was wait in line for their license plate. They did just that. Some of them for over an hour! In exchange, on the backs of the order forms we asked for their name and e-mail, and provided boxes to see when they’d be in the market for a new car. Signage at the booth also let them know that their new souvenir license plate was also a $500 coupon on their next car purchase.

Another show was a show dedicated to hiring women in the tech field. While guests stood in line to get a custom phone case made (which became a trending topic within the groups social media) staff members conducted mini interviews and scheduled longer interviews with those who seemed initially interested. They constructively used that wait time to capture info and schedule interviews. If the show you’re working has scannable badges – use them and be certain to take copious notes on anyone who shows interest so you can follow up with them first as a “hot lead”.

Give them information!

teaching about a clients services at a trade show activation

Guests stop for a fun games show and learn about YOUR BUSINESS while they’re there.

One of the most popular attractions we provide for trade shows is a live game show based on our “Fast Action Trivia” format. It’s a quick game show (3 minutes long – and who doesn’t have three minutes to get to be on a game show) that is a combination of standard trivia, and carefully curated questions about the sponsored company. These questions are carefully written to provide key features of your products and services and to give the attendees the feeling that they already know a lot about your company.

The Game Show delivers KEY INFORMATION to those playing and those watching in an awesomely entertaining form. On top of that, we work with you to make sure that we understand your product and your goals so that if contestants, or bystanders express a need or an interest, our hosts hand deliver and introduce that prospect to one of your sales staff and let that staff member know what they’re interested in.

Pick your own photo cell phone case for trade show

Send them home with a memory.

Our branded giveaways are a great way to send guests home with a long-lasting memory of meeting you at your trade show.

We made hundreds of cell phone cases with a guests favorite photo on them at one show. Located in an unobtrusive way on each of those hundreds of cases we made was the very recognizable logo of the company we were representing.

The first trade shows I (C.J. Johnson) ever worked were as a magician, which I still do. I incorporate your brand and sales messages into custom written or created routines and then send guests home with custom branded magic tricks that they can use to fool their coworkers, friends and families with. It’s super memorable. The magic is visual, fast paced and truly baffling.

Have clearly defined goals for your trade show.

Know your goals and share those goals for the event with each person working your booth. Why are you at an event? Is it to take orders? Brand recognition? Connecting with new prospective clients? Meeting with existing clients and showing them new products/offers?

How will you quantify success at your booth? Through an increase in contracts or orders? High numbers of badge scans? More presence on social media platforms? The most noise? The most buzz? A certain dollar amount of business booked? It’s amazing how many companies spend tens of thousands of dollars at a show with now set outcome to determine if the event was successful or not.

Popular trade show activations and attractions

All of our novelties can be custom branded for your product and the specific event. We can even offer up to dozens of options so everyone gets something unique to them.

Novelties that can be customized with names and sayings are:

The backgrounds on these can be easily branded using your artwork, or artwork that we create for you with your logo and theme.

Novelties that can be customized with EITHER photos taken at your booth, or favorite photo sent from the guests phone.

Photos are delivered quickly as prints, and can also be uploaded to your own company facebook page (or ours) so they can get a digital copy as well, and drive traffic to your site.

Live entertainment with highly experience presenters include Close Up/Strolling/Bar Magic, and Game Shows.

We can help train your staff for the booth.

When you contact us about Activations at your trade show event we can partner with you and help train your staff on what’s expected at the booth, how to maximize your presence at the show, how to use our Activations the best and how to make sure that your booth staff has FUN and leaves the show feeling like it was a success. It’s one of the reasons why we get invited back year after year to so many shows.

A few success stories from past trade show events.

FIRST ADVANTAGE – Game Show Testimonial at Trade Show – Used us 6 times

KIKKOMAN USA – Game Show Testimonial at Trade Show – Used us 4 times.

PRUDENTIAL – Custom Cell Phone Cases – Used for first time in 2018.