Creating an Unforgettable Conference Presence

Managing your conference presence doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or expensive job. Even if you come up with budget for giveaways and signs, your booth can often appear the same as all other small booths, leaving your company fading into the background.

Now that you have done the research and prep work for your first trade show, part two of this four-part series will give you creative ways to tackle the visuals. Here are some unconventional ideas for small businesses to stand out at your next trade show.

Mix Digital and Analog

While technology can be the name of the game at trade shows, people still enjoy analog (aka: the old-fashioned way to do things). If a printed photo is digital, then a hand-drawn photo is analog. Combining digital and analog at conferences can provide the unexpected twist that draws people into your booth. For example:

  • Hire a caricature artist to draw digital photos of your conference booth visitors, then print out the digital version.
  • Hire a calligrapher to hand-write prospects’ Tweets, photograph them and tag the prospect on your brand account.
  • Employ technology like Prisma to transform your booth visitors’ photos with a treatment that mimics fine art.

Create a Party Atmosphere

Using unexpected costumes or themes in your booth can catch attendees’ attention in a positive way. Visitors who want to have fun, or are suffering from conference fatigue, will appreciate this lighthearted idea. A well thought out theme can lead to traffic for your booth. It can also help your overall brand come across as approachable. Consider the following to give your conference booth a themed treatment:

  • Choose a theme that ties into your conference, attendees and business message.
  • Bring booth swag and marketing materials that tie into your theme.
  • Rent computer monitors or TV monitors to play music or videos (or both!).
  • Hire a photo booth and feature themed costume elements for your booth attendees to take photos — you can even put your logo in the corner of the photos.
  • Feature themed food or drink at your booth and tables that allow your visitors to stand around and chat, charge their devices and ultimately be open to hearing about your brand.

Give Swag in Exchange for Content

Smart brands use their conference booths to kill two birds with one stone: attract prospects and create content. Doing this successfully means creating swag that visitors really want, and then asking them to provide a quote, be interviewed or answer a question in order to receive the swag. For example, in exchange for visitors answering a content question on video, they might receive a King/Queen of Content t-shirt.

Think about the type of content you need for your website or from your target audience and tie that need into your content ask. Then choose a platform that you’ll ask them to contribute content to. This can be a video or even written Post-It notes you can photograph and Tweet. The question will depend on your conference and brand, but some great ideas to add content to your website could be:

  • “What’s the best way you marketed your restaurant this year?”
  • “How do you go above and beyond for your guests?”
  • “What do you think is next big trend for our industry?”


To give away something people will want to share content to get, you may need to spend more than usual on your premium items. However, since they won’t just be sitting open on a table for people to grab, you will most likely need fewer items than usual.

Make Your Booth Fun with Games

Some of the best booths small brands host feature games. It’s a welcome break for conference goers tired of hearing sales pitches. Similar to the themed booths, games can create a lighthearted brand presence that feels more approachable. Just be sure to look into any legal implications associated with games or contests for your area. Consider the following game ideas:

  • Hire a company that can perform hermit crab races at your booth. Hermit crabs come custom painted and attendees get to pick their crab, adding a quirky dose of competition to a booth.
  • Create scratch tickets for your booth, with custom prizes to pick up at your booth when the ticket is scratched. You can usually pay organizers to put these in conference attendees’ welcome bags.
  • To offer a “big” prize, look into third party vendors who specialize in sweepstakes or contest administration and fulfillment.


With these unique, modern ideas for conference and trade show booths, your brand can stand above boring booths and the same trade show ideas everyone sees year after year.

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