6 Tips to Effectively Set Up a Booth at an Event
There are over 2,000 people walking around you, buzzing from one of the over 200 startup booths. You’re looking at all these people and thinking “What’s the game plan? What the hell can I do to get the most out of this event?”
People swarm your booth and you’re trying to come up with a plan of attack to address everyone at the same time. Multiple hands reach out to sign up for information but there’s only one clipboard with a pen that has forgone all ink-flowing ability at that moment.
Really though, you weren’t unprepared. You initially had a cool plan for a display on a flat-screen: big letters, bright colors, cool graphics that all added up to be a definite attention-grabber. But then, you found out there was no electric outlet near your booth, and your plan blacked out along with your screen.
You signed up for the booth to get great exposure. You signed up to gain media attention, to build your network, to validate your idea and product, and to meet other strategic startup partners.
Instead, you’ve got a black screen, a broken pen, and a wavering audience. You find yourself asking, “Where’s the reset button?”
Does the situation sound familiar?
Boothing is an art form. The more you booth, the more experience you gain. The more you fail at boothing, the better you get at it. I have had the unique experience of boothing more than the average bear, and as such, I have failed plenty of times to know how to succeed. Through the trials and tribulations, I have learned much about the do’s and don’t of boothing that I am happy to share six top tips:
Know your space – I have heard this one before but didn’t necessarily heed the advice. It is really important to know the space where you’re going to be boothing. Once you get a mental picture of what, where, and how things are going to proceed, you can better plan your strategic imprint on the conference, tradeshow, or event.
Come prepared – Do you have a booth in a box? If you don’t, you need to get both. A good booth means an easy transport, set-up, tear-down, and take-home process. Once you have figured out the elements to your booth, you should figure out how to fit it all in a single box. Once you have all of your things in that box, try to get something with wheels for easy transportation. Your wheels will give you the ability to carry more than just your box of things, such as, banners and special props. More things mean more opportunities to gain attention and more traction at the event where you’ll be boothing.
Overestimate – Have you ever been in a situation where there’s more people in front of you than you have clipboards. You need to be prepared to get their information, and make the process simple. This is easier than it seems. Make sure you have more than enough pens and sign in sheets to take the information if you get a rush. When boothing, it’s best to overestimate, which means bringing extra pens, extra swag, extra paper, extra tape, extra flyers, extra everything.
Be outgoing – “He who booths and stays shy at the same time, makes not a good boother.” – Anonymous. You have to be ready to have a good time at a booth and ready to interact with people to both hear their stories and share yours. And, most importantly, you need to GET OFF YOUR PHONE! If you sit behind the booth, stare at your phone, exert low energy, talk to your co-boother and not the audience, your booth will not do very well. And while it is important to be outgoing, remember the difference between outgoing and annoying. Be respectful of all those who pass by your booth but be excited to share your story. Engage with them to let them know what problem you’re solving, how you’re solving it, and who you’re solving it for. Get to the point because less is always more!
The more help, the better – When you’re dealing with high traffic, it’s a numbers game. The number of people working with your booth is directly proportional to the number of contacts you can make at an event. Having two behind the booth and two out in front of the booth is a nice assurance that the booth can handle a large crowd. If you have extra people, send them around to all the other booths to gather information and give information, in hopes of finding a strategic startup alliances and gathering emails to add to your own mailing list.
Fortune is in the follow up – You may have heard this age-old adage before: “Fortune is in the follow-up.” Therefore, make sure you follow-up with the contacts you make at the places where you booth. This may seem very obvious, but it’s astounding how many people do not follow up after an event. I can’t tell you how many email lists I’ve signed up for but never heard from afterwards. I signed up for a lot of them to get their information, to follow what their doing, and to even possibly have them solve a problem for me. Have people on your team ready to input the names and emails the same day (or as soon as you can) and get your follow up email out as fast as you can. Remember that people sign up for a ton of stuff, and you want to make sure you are in their inbox first. Make a good impression right out the gates, and it will earn you respect. If you get a massive amount of contacts you should allocate most of the entire day after the event organizing follow-up correspondence. Once again, for good measure let me remind you that, “Fortune is in the follow-up.”
I can think of at least 93 more tips, but I don’t want to overload your brain at this moment. Take heed to these first six tips, keep failing and learning, and you’ll soon be on your way to becoming the Boothing Master. Happy Boothing!
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I would love to hear your boothing do’s and do not’s. Please don’t be shy and leave some tips and tricks of your own (or that you have learned) below in the comments!