Incorporating a Theme into Your Next Trade Show

No matter what industry you’re in or what product or service your company offers, you likely have one overarching goal for your next event: meet as many new leads and customers as possible. To do that, you’ll have to do more than simply show up with a branded sign. You need a strategically designed brand experience that invites visitors to have a meaningful interaction with your company and staff. A theme can be a great way to do exactly that and ensure you stand out in an attendee’s memory long after an event ends. Read on to learn more about incorporating a theme into your next trade show or event.

Choose Wisely

Any successful event theme requires planning—beginning with a brainstorming session to choose the right theme. First, ensure your theme is a good fit for your brand. Never pick something that will cheapen your company’s image or feel chintzy on the trade show floor. There’s no setlist of “good” or “bad” themes, so you’ll need to think through your options with your company’s unique brand experience in mind.

For example, if you frame your offering as an upscale option, an art museum theme, complete with samples in glass displays, could be a creative and memorable way to present your product. On the other hand, if you sell products for the outdoors, a camping theme or a theme based around a popular hiking destination may be a better choice.

Second, since you’ll want to incorporate your theme throughout your booth design and promotional materials, be sure to stay away from anything that could overwhelm your brand. After all, your product or service should still take center stage. Remember to put your brand (think color and logos) on any themed details throughout the display.

It’s also important to ensure that the theme doesn’t get in the way of your staff interacting with visitors and gathering leads. Don’t let the fun parts of your themed display distract you from reaching your event goals. Instead, make face to face interactions an integral part of the experience you design.

Use Your Theme from Start to Finish

Once you select a theme for your event, it’s time to commit to it fully. Look for ways to incorporate your theme from start to finish. In other words, your pre-show marketing efforts, booth design, and event follow up should all include elements of your theme.

When creating a plan for pre-show marketing, use your theme to build excitement about the upcoming event. If you’re reaching out to people who have never heard of your company before, it will be far easier for them to remember and look for your theme than an unfamiliar brand name. From your landing page and social media to your direct mail campaign and email signatures, there are plenty of opportunities to use your theme to creatively spread the word about your next event.

As you design the booth itself, look for further ways to incorporate your theme. This doesn’t mean you have to buy all new displays, however. Creative lighting or interactive technology provides plenty of avenues to incorporate your theme in a temporary way. Just remember to check with the event organizer for any guidelines on what you can or can’t do when getting creative.

Staff uniforms are another fun and simple place to work your theme into your brand experience.
For example, a Hollywood theme lends itself to fancy tuxes, while a sports theme is a great opportunity to wear team jerseys. Be creative, but don’t overdo it. You want to ensure your staff is comfortable and confident in their new uniform, and you don’t want the look to be so over-the-top that they lose credibility with potential customers.

A fun, creative theme is going to help guests remember their interactions with you even after visiting dozens of other booths at a show. Use that to your advantage by incorporating your theme one more time in event follow up. Choose branded promotional products—in line with your theme, of course—that guests will take back home or to the office. When you follow up with leads shortly after an event ends, use the theme in your emails or thank you notes as a way to remind those you met of the positive experience they had with your brand.

Have Some Fun with It

Although designing a themed display takes planning and hard work, it should also be fun! Brainstorm with your team to see how many unique ideas you can come up with to enhance your visitor’s experience. As you agree on some favorite ideas, look for ways to keep your brand front and center. For example, if you’re hiring character actors to join your staff, take it a step further by creating a photo booth where visitors can take photos with those characters in front of a branded backdrop. Don’t forget to encourage shares on social media to further increase brand awareness. Do you want to serve up snacks out of a mock food truck or a tiki hut? That’s a great idea—just order branded cups, wrappers, napkins, or coffee sleeves to hand out with the refreshments. Going for a game show theme?

Create your own in-booth game and consider how you can use it to promote your product in a unique and memorable way. The best ideas are those that are creative enough to help you stand out from competitors and offer a unique experience, while also ensuring you work towards your greater goals of increasing brand awareness and connecting face to face with potential customers.

Get Some Help from the Experts

Do you need help choosing the right theme and designing an effective trade show marketing strategy around it? We can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our trade show specialists.

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