The purpose of having a trade show booth at a conference is to have your audience deeply engage with your team and with your products or message. Therefore, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for attendees to know where to find you in a large conference center so they can learn more about your product or service. Conferences also represent one of the few times a year when your audience, which is normally spread out across hundreds of markets, are all in one place.

Trade shows can sometimes have tens of thousands of attendees. There’s a lot happening in a short amount of time at these conferences. In addition to the main hall booths, there may be offsite meetings, accreditations or classes, and other offsite opportunities. Attendees often have specific goals when going to a trade show, whether it’s to see certain people or exhibitors or to attend certain sessions, especially if they need accreditation. If you can reach attendees at multiple points during their stay, that can help drive traffic to your trade show booth.

What is OOH?

The definition of OOH is broad and encompasses any visual media that can be seen outside the home, including billboards, airport media, taxis and rideshares, transit advertising like buses or trains, mall kiosks, and point-of-purchase displays.

As a medium, OOH is incredibly versatile and can be used in any campaign strategy to reach your audience at multiple points in a given market. Its high visibility and highly targetable nature make it the perfect partner to drive interest to an upcoming trade show or conference.

Unlike online ads, OOH campaigns can’t be avoided by ad blockers or drowned out in the sea of information consumers face on their phones. This unique position makes it easy to capture the attention of your audience and build awareness.

With a wide variety of OOH formats to choose from, it’s important to tailor the strategy to drive high levels of foot traffic to your trade show booth. For this article we’ll go over how brands plan their out of home campaigns and how OOH can be leveraged to maximize trade show success.

How to Plan Out of Home Advertising to Drive Traffic to Your Trade Show Booth

When it comes to timing for planning out of home media for your conference, the sweet spot to begin is about six to nine months ahead of the conference. Twelve months prior is even better. The media that effectively targets a conference center in any given market is limited, and for major conferences it will be in high demand. Larger exhibitors will begin securing media well in advance of the show to make sure they have what they want. To plan OOH well, you need to ask specific questions about your own goals for the conference, such as: 

  • Where do attendees go in the market? How do they travel there and move around? Are there tourist attractions they will visit?
  • What do you hope to walk away with from this conference, in terms of contacts, conversions, messaging, and other KPIs? 
  • Are you promoting a specific product? Is it going to be branded? 
  • What, if any, corporate messaging will you be promoting? 
  • What are creative ways you can present your messaging to consumers? 

How OOH Advertising Can Drive Traffic to Your Trade Show Booth

Proper OOH advertising starts with a list of touchpoints where you can target attendees. Where are attendees going to be—from the moment they arrive in the conference city until they leave—and which of those touchpoints can intersect with out-of-home media? Each touchpoint may contain slightly different messaging. 

For example, many attendees will arrive via plane, so airports are a primary touchpoint for reaching attendees and creating a top-of-mind presence specifically for your product or service. This also allows exhibitors to make the first impression as attendees arrive, and being first always provides an advantage.

After the airport, some useful touchpoints may be billboards, street furniture, wallscapes—fixed media locations that are on the route from the airport to downtown areas will reinforce the initial message, and can start to provide more direction to attendees like booth numbers, etc. Once in the downtown area around hotels and the convention center, more localized media—like posters, transit shelters, etc.—can blanket the area and contribute to frequency of messaging during their stay. 

Mobile media—like mobile billboards, wrapped ride-shares, bike displays, street teams, and projection media—can take the messaging to any location in the market. A strong presence in the downtown area is key, particularly routes from the convention center to hotels, restaurants, or other events associated with the conference. By establishing multiple touchpoints with attendees throughout the conference, exhibitors can gain a much higher share of voice than their competitors.

How Working with an OOH Advertiser Makes Planning Easier for You

When it comes to planning out of home advertising for conference advertising, exhibitors  have the option to try to go it alone or work with an OOH agency. Planning and buying out of home media can be a complicated project under normal circumstances, planning for a conference only magnifies those. 

First, there is market knowledge. It may seem simple to say “just buy a billboard near the convention center.” But, is it on a route commonly used by attendees? Is it facing the right direction? Will they see it on their way to the convention center or back to their hotels? What are the sight lines like from the convention center? Will it be seen by pedestrian traffic? What other media is around it? And the media landscape is different in every market—San Diego is not Chicago is not New Orleans. Without up-to-date, detailed market knowledge, it’s hard to know where to start. 

Then consider the timing. Attendees are only in the market for a few days—media has to be ready when they arrive, not in the “5-day posting window” that is standard for most OOH. If the media goes up 5 days late, the audience may be home already. 

Then there are contracting considerations. Normally OOH media is sold in 4-week increments. Do you have to take all 4 weeks, or is there room to negotiate? These are just a few of the many important questions that need to be answered when planning OOH for a trade show or conference.

Working with an OOH agency can help with these challenges. They know the out of home media landscape, and specifically, the conference landscape. They have spent years with boots on the ground, in-market, watching attendees and how they move through the area. Using an agency that knows the ropes of OOH media for trade show marketing can be a huge weight off your shoulders. With their expertise and knowledge of the industry, they can help companies plan and execute successful campaigns that comply with regulations and stand out from the competition.

Contact EMC Outdoor

EMC Outdoor has 30+ years of experience building efficient, targeted media plans to help brands reach their customers. 

Want to learn more about out-of-home advertising for your trade show booth marketing campaign? Contact us.