Coming up with marketing ideas for trade shows can be a source of both fun and stress. That’s why the theme of “guerilla marketing” is such a useful lens through which to view your efforts.

What exactly do we mean by guerilla marketing? Simply put, it’s an umbrella term for non-traditional marketing ideas that are designed for low upfront investment and maximum ROI. And there’s no better environment for guerrilla marketing tactics than a trade show.

All the ideal components are present. You have large numbers of people who are all at least vaguely open to the prospect of being marketed to. And people at trade shows are at least somewhat freer with their time, so it’s an equal opportunity space.

Here are 5 high-impact marketing ideas for trade shows.

1. Host a Raffle

This is without a doubt one of the most reliable marketing ideas for trade shows. It has several factors behind it that make it a low-cost, high-impact option, and it definitely deserves a place in your tool kit.

The efficacy of the raffle as a marketing tool lies in taking advantage of the power of expectation. Everyone has the opportunity to win. You should play on this in a few different ways.

First, select your prizes very carefully. If possible, make your top prize something of lasting value — perhaps one of your higher-end products. You don’t have to give away hundreds of your products, but you are giving hundreds of people the chance to think they might get one.

2. Have a Wireless Charging Station at Your Booth

As guerilla marketing ideas for trade shows go, you could hardly ask for more of a surefire bet than a wireless charging station. It’s a win-win: everyone at the trade show will have a need for what you’re offering, and you’re also providing a genuine service to those around you.

Be careful to remember the primary purpose of guerilla marketing: to draw fellow attendees to your booth and keep them there for as long as possible. Placing a wireless charging station at your booth accomplishes both of those goals beautifully.

Anyone who’s charging their phone at your booth is a captive audience to whom you can pitch your product or ideas. If you wanted to play on the dynamic of positive social pressure, you could even host multiple phone charging stations at your booth. The more visitors others see around your exhibit, the more likely they’ll be to join in themselves.

3. A New Twist On A Childhood Classic

Although a bit less practical than a phone charging station, our next suggestion is one of the more imaginative marketing ideas for trade shows. Pick your flagship product and give away Lego replicas of it to visitors at your exhibit.

This tactic has a few built-in advantages. Everyone has childhood memories of Legos. As with the phone charger idea, you’re using cultural ubiquity to your benefit here.

Beyond that, you’re also giving your visitors something distinctly memorable from their day at the trade show: something that will immediately call your company to mind every time they see it. We’re sure you’ve heard that “multiple impressions” are practically sacred words in the world of marketing. Well, your Lego replica will bring an immediate association with you every time it’s seen: voila, automatic multiple impressions.

4. Set Up a Trade

Acquiring visitors’ email addresses for future contact is one of the most important things you can do at a trade show. But there’s a catch: you must offer something of value in exchange. For one thing, companies who ask for emails without offering any upfront benefits come off as cheap or overly aggressive.

A good rule of thumb with these trades is that you’ll tend to get the exact results you planned for. In other words, you need to look at this tactic as an upfront investment for benefits down the road: a larger customer base, more referrals, better PR for new products, etc. Yes, you will take a revenue hit up front. Accept it as the cost of doing business.

5. Give a “Nudge” Gift

Offering visitors to your exhibit a “nudge” gift is a fantastic way to grab their interest. What exactly do we mean when we say a nudge gift? We’re talking about the product equivalent of a movie preview in some ways.

Let’s say you’re part of a new customized email startup for businesses. Your email service has three tiers, each with distinct benefits: the Entry level, the VP level, and the Executive level. Ordinarily, these three tiers are $10/mo, $20/mo, and $30 monthly to connect a company to the service.

As a nudge gift, however, you decide to offer your visitors a special website code that will give them access to the Entry tier for free for one month. But remember, it’s a gift. Don’t ask anything in return for it. That spoils the intrinsic goodwill in this technique.

People love feeling genuinely helped. It’s built into our very neurology. Use that to your advantage at your next trade show.

Summing Up

Trade shows are among the most effective and impactful environments for guerilla marketing. You have ready and implicit access to large crowds of people, all of whom are there to at least learn about other businesses and companies.

These 5 guerilla tactics will help you not only stand out from the noise, but will assist you in laying the groundwork for a loyal following and a prosperous future. Whether you win your visitors with whimsy and give out Lego replicas, or offer irresistible discounts to build your email list, the main thing to remember with guerilla marketing is to suit your approach to your company and its culture.

Exercise self-awareness, and the sky’s the limit.

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Megan Bell says:

    I really loved the lego idea! Very creative. Such products can lead to effective promotional branding for a company. The charging station is quite tricky though. A brand will have to get their game up in catching the attention of those people who are just interested in charging their phones.

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