How to Encourage Engagement in your Trade Show Booth

When you’re participating at a trade show you want to get as many buyers into your booth as possible. Come across as desperate or appear aloof and chances are, buyers will keep on moving. So, how do you get buyers that are in your booth engaged so they stay longer, get to know you and (hopefully!) place an order? You have to get creative with your engagement strategy. When you add an extra dose of fun along with something that's interactive you’ll add to the buyer's overall experience of working with you!


While a majority of your engagement will take place in person at the show, you can set the tone for what to expect and generate excitement with some strategic your pre show marketing that compliments your show strategy.

Before the Show:

Write a few Blog Posts:

Behind the scenes sneak peeks of what you have in the works or sharing a glimpse of your new catalog or press kit will not only let your followers know you’re attending the show but give them some insight into what you and your biz are all about while piquing curiosity. Start talking about the show, share some of your plans and ask for feedback from your community. They’ll love being part of the process and you can work SEO friendly show related terms into your posts which will help when others seek out information about the show.

Decide on a show specific hashtag:

Start sharing your hashtag now so your fans can follow along on your journey. Similar to blogging, use this platform to share behind the scenes snapshots of what you have in the works and snippets of what they might see at the show. This is a great place to start promoting your GWP if you’re planning to offer one in your booth. (and if you’re curious about what a GWP is and its benefits check out this post)

Get creative with social media:

Create an offering that you’ve only shared on your preferred social media platform (like facebook or Instagram). If they enter your booth and say the magic words they get a special prize (possibly in addition to what you’re offering to everyone else)

During the Show:

Take social media engagement to the next level:

If you’ve posted some teasers now’s your chance to get your fans into the booth by offering a special something that they need to instagram/tweet from your booth (ie- in person!) If you do something on twitter maybe they have to send a tweet from the booth with a specific hashtag to be eligible for the prize.

Have a game or contest peeps can participate in:

Remember how exciting spinning a wheel and win a prize was when you were a kid? Well, the novelty hasn’t worn off too much. Generate excitement by incorporating a game or contest with a prize that your buyers can participate in.


This classic “enter to win” option is a good go to because it costs little to execute. While simply stopping buy is enough to be entered to win you can offer increased chances to win if a store places an order. Something along the lines of

  • Booth visit=1 entry
  • Places an Opening order =2 entries
  • Places an Order over $300 =5 entries
  • You get the gist.  

Text to win:

This type of promotion is great because it allows you to capture additional customer information. Using an app like SimpleTexting, woobox or sweeppea create a special phrase that buyers can only learn by visiting your booth. Leave some signage with instructions, (ie-text LUVSTATIONERY to XXX-XXXX) and details about the big prize.

Text to Vote:

Using the same software you would for the above, you can engage buyers by letting them be part of your design process. Share a few new designs you’re planning to add to your line and let them pick the favorite. The winning design makes it into production and you can choose a lucky winner to receive product. If you’d prefer to omit to have to use a software you can always encourage visitors to fill out a slip of paper or drop their business card into one of two bowls but be careful, the more steps it takes to win a prize will directly impact the number of people who want to participate.  The easier it is to win the better!

Offer a check in special:

Create a location online so your buyer can “check in” at you booth. At the end of the day, choose one checked in buyer at random to win your big prize.  

Rent a Photoboxx:

This is a really cool alternative to trying to dedicate space for photos in your actual booth. Photoboxx is a small printing system that syncs to your specific hashtag. When a buyer snaps a photo and uses your tag the photoboxx will print a physical copy for them to take home. Create a space in your booth to pin up a copy of the buyer’s pic so others can see what it’s all about and join in on the fun! (the technology alone will probably get peeps excited!)

A few things to keep in mind when developing your engagement strategy:

It all starts with a smile:

A genuine smile is sometimes all it takes for a buyer to pause and introduce themselves. Being friendly and sincere will boost your booth’s vibe! Even the best contests and giveaways will fall flat if you appear unenthusiastic. When buyers see you front and center (not hiding in the corner, nose in a newspaper or book) smiling and excited to be there they will be more likely to pause and see what your booth is all about.

Make sure your prize exciting

If you’re going the text to win/raffle/prize route you’re going to want to make sure to offer something that people actually want to win! You don’t have to spend buckets of money, do some research beforehand and see what excites your audience the most. A simple poll shared in a few of your facebook groups is a great starting point to help to gauge what gets people excited.  

Does your strategy work with your target audience?

If your audience is on the younger side you’re probably ok to run contests that are social media, text or hashtag heavy. If your customers tend to be on the older side (ie-maybe not so tech savvy) you may want to go a more conventional route. Take a hard look at who your audience is and who you’re looking to attract to make sure your strategy will connect with them.

Does your strategy work within the trade show’s exhibitor parameters?

Chances are, whatever engagement strategy you decide to go with will totally work within the show's parameters but it doesn’t hurt to double-check just to be sure. Read the exhibitor terms + conditions and don’t hesitate to reach out to the show coordinator with questions.

At the end of the day, people will be drawn to your unique designs, prints + patterns and your products will do the majority of the talking. Enhancing the experience of being in your booth will help to set your booth apart from the rest.