For many industries, trade shows are an essential component of building brand awareness and major partnerships, as well as generating sales. But increasingly, simply having a simple booth and brand representative aren’t enough, and many great businesses have taken the leap to use new technologies to make dramatic impacts at trade shows. Trade show attendees and potential clients of all kinds are becoming better informed and often more reluctant to make commitments to brands.
Sure, most trade shows have now included an aggressive social media marketing regimen for attendees and demonstrators. Paper brochures and flyers are now largely a thing of the past, and even pre-event, many demonstrators of a trade show are allowed to share pertinent business information with the social profiles of attendees hours or day before the floors open. The broad use of event hashtags and other identifying markers, as well as private groups, have helped to facilitate digital discussion of the event both before and after it takes place. But this has decreased the amount of interaction and discussion which can actually happen at booths: what does one demonstrate at a trade show when a visitor knows about a brand before ever walking through the doors?
The emphasis actually at trade shows has shifted from simply informing visitors about a brand or product to experiential marketing. That is, creating experiences for visitors which engage the senses, producing a typical presentations which build memories. This helps build lasting impressions, as well as helps trade show visitors build strong differentiation between similar brands. The difficulty for trade show marketers has absolutely increased, as the fight to stand out at trade shows has become a tech and creativity-heavy battle. Below are a few ways that experiential technologies and ideas are helping brands make the biggest impression.
Build a Tactile Experience
The biggest move on the trade show is to bring items, objects, samples, or other things which attendees can touch. Instead of giving attendees sheets of paper with product specs… trade show marketers have just begun bringing the product, or flush-mounted tablets with 3D product experience apps. In many cases, this means that the space required for a booth has grown significantly, but even those promoting apps and intangible goods have been able to utilize the want of attendees to touch and handle objects to begin building great brand experiences. According to multi-industry research, as much as 48 percent of people are more likely to purchase a product that they have personally tested.
Whatever your product is, bring samples which visitors can handle. And if your brand deals primarily in intangibles, create mobile or tablet apps which help visitors understand the value of what you offer: mini-games about your brand’s service, 3D tours of production facilities, anything which can help get attendees using their hands and thinking critically about your product. These days, creating apps for tablets is relatively cheap, and it’s not uncommon for many booths to have tablets specially set up to be handled by passers-by, either in flush-mounted kiosks or attached to the booth itself. If you’re concerned about participation in your app, offer prizes for individuals who register while using!
Create a Social Experience
Social shares for a business represent not just a broader captive audience, but also a significant SEO value. What many companies are doing here is utilizing specific links or QR codes to drive traffic to a special social sharing microsite, where visitors can capture photos, a quick video, or write a small blurb about their experiences at the booth and then share it on their various social media timelines. To encourage visitors to do so, many businesses offer coupons for those who do, or other high-value prizes, creating a social media contest where shares are rewarded.
Using Data to Shape an Experience
Whenever experiential marketers build an experience, increasingly they’re using hard data to judge, modify, change, and shape those experiences at future trade shows. From utilizing drones to track visitor movements around and through a booth, to using RFID information to gain client details, and more. This data is analyzed after every show to change display layouts, presenter behaviors, and to introduce new elements to trade show exhibits.
Experiential Technologies in the Future
Every year, new technologies are available to build into trade shows, and already there are trends of new technologies such as VR (using the Oculus Rift), 3D printing, and other fantastic tech to create experiential marketing experiences above and beyond the wildest dreams of trade show attendees. What do you think will be some of the tech trends of 2016?
Photo credit: The Conmunity / Flickr