In the past, trade show displays looked a lot like 9th grade science fair dioramas. Today, if you waltz through an exhibit hall at a major conference, you’ll find audio, visuals, impressive graphics, and interactive environments that are tailored to the wants and needs of visitors. A major shift is occurring and businesses everywhere are clamoring to remain on the cutting edge.
The Trade Show Opportunity
In a world of online marketing and digital interactions, it’s easy for people to assume that trade shows are an investment of the past. But all it takes is one glance at the numbers and you’ll see that trade shows, conferences, and other large exhibits still provide a generous ROI. As data gathered by SpinGo shows:
- While the cost of a face-to-face meeting at a prospects office is roughly $259, the cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a tradeshow is just $142.
- 51 percent of trade show attendees request that a sales representative visit their company after the conclusion of a show.
- 81 percent of trade show attendees have buying authority.
But despite these data points, just 6 percent of marketers believe their companies convert trade show leads extremely well. In other words, there’s a disconnect between the opportunity and the value these opportunities yield.
Practical Uses for Technology in Trade Show Booths
Progressive businesses are finding that the best way to close the gap and deliver more value is to enhance the quality of the interactions that occur within the trade show booth. In particular, they’re using technology to take things to the next level. Here are a few of the practical uses:
- Touchscreen Interfaces
In the past, the typical trade show booth consisted of a canvas backdrop with a printed logo, a couple of tables with tablecloths, and perhaps a branded tent or covering over the top. Today, cutting edge trade show booths consist of modular displays that look more like permanent exhibits than temporary setups. Integrated into many of these displays, you’ll discover touchscreen interfaces and screens that connect the visitor with the brand.
The beauty of touchscreen interfaces is that they allow the booth to serve multiple prospects in a variety of ways. It’s the visitor who gets to determine the types of interactions he has. As a result, he’s more likely to gather the information and insights he needs to make an informed decision.
- Video Walls
One of the major goals of trade show marketing is to disseminate as much high-quality, on-brand content as possible through mediums that maximize engagement and keep the brand on the minds of your prospects well after they leave the event. Leading brands are going beyond basic flyers and brochures and are using things like video walls to wow prospects.
“Video walls are undeniably eye-catching and allow you to display one seamless image or multiple images across different panels,” marketing guru Jesse Johnson explains. “The sheer size and brilliance of video walls makes them much more impressive than standard monitors, and your content options are greater too.”
- Charging Stations
One of the keys to trade show success is to get people into the booth. If you can get people to choose your booth out of all the other booths, you have a chance to interact with them and nurture them from cold to warm to hot. In light of this, businesses are getting creative with how they magnetize prospects.
One of the most creative uses of technology is a charging station, which is essentially a big display – often with surrounding seating – that features a bunch of different outlets and cords for people to charge their phones. When people are low on a charge, they’re apt to stop by for five, 10, or 15 minutes (and maybe even longer). This gives you a chance to interact and get to know prospects.
Everyone wants to talk about virtual reality (VR), but it’s augmented reality (AR) that’s getting the most use in trade show settings.
With AR, businesses can engage with prospects in an entirely new way – helping bridge the gap between the real world and the digital world. AR is especially useful at construction and design trade shows where software can be used to help prospects visualize certain projects ahead of time.
What’s Coming Next?
Trade shows offer an incredible opportunity for businesses to interact with prospects in a cost-effective, face-to-face manner that simply isn’t possible or practical in most other environments these days. And while there’s more to trade show exhibiting than technology, the reality is that innovative solutions, like the ones mentioned in this article, play a significant role in fostering meaningful engagement.
The more aware you are of innovative trends in technology, the easier it’ll be for you to adapt as the industry shifts.