Your overall trade show objective is to connect and engage with show attendees. You may have additional goals or KPIs to meet, such as generating new leads or growing revenue. The bottom line, however, for trade shows is engagement.
Therefore, your brand experience should be at the heart of your trade show marketing. The brand-to-consumer engagement you create will define all other trade show marketing decisions. All other trade show factors should have the brand experience in the center.
Before concepting your in-booth activity, clinch the relevant messaging that will create the ‘aha’ moment for show attendees.
- First, review core marketing messages. Your trade show presence is a part of the seamless brand image you’re promoting.
- Next, to theme or not to theme? Themes can bring your core message to life within a unique setting. For emerging brands, don’t let a theme divert away from your brand and solutions. For well-known brands, a theme may inject creative energy to your message.
- Finally, relevancy is crucial. Fun and flashy isn’t enough. Don’t miss the boat when it comes to connecting your booth activities to the brand’s value proposition. Brand experiences should deliver the message, not steal away from it.
For example, a data security company’s messaging focused on multi-layer security solutions. That simple, singular message was delivered through a hands-on activity. Black Hat Convention attendees were given a mission to break into a prize chest. Solving three clues, including using a cryptex, a black light and audio for hints, they were able to understand first-hand the layers of security. This memorable interaction deepened the participant’s connection to the marketing message.
Like the data security company above, you want to show off your products and value proposition to trade show attendees. Trade shows allow you to demonstrate and display your products in person. Invite your booth visitors to touch, trial or taste your product for themselves.
However, it’s not just about spotlighting the product’s benefits and features. Your brand experience needs to spotlight your audience. Insert the booth visitor in the story you’re telling; make him the hero. Some products are harder to demo than others. Get creative with brand-in-hand opportunities during your trade show.
Optimum Nutrition not only sampled supplements but also created a virtual reality (VR) experience to use at a series of trade shows.
Booth attendees were whisked into an Optimum Nutrition-branded gym. Inside the virtual gym, there were Optimum Nutrition product displays. Wearing VR glasses, trade show attendees performed bicep curls for 15 seconds, then squats for another 15 seconds. Those who conquered the most reps during their workout were awarded with Optimum Nutrition products and swag.
For the competitive bodybuilders attending the trade shows, this VR experience heightened their understanding of the brand’s ethos and created a fun, memorable experience. It was a strategic use of virtual reality to encourage product trials using a virtual gym environment.
Inside the virtual Optimum Nutrition gym, participants saw gym equipment and heard clinking barbell sounds you’d find in a real gym. Accompanied with the grip of a barbell in their own hands, it was truly immersive.
Experiences that activate multiple physical senses (sight, sound, scent, taste and touch) and engage more of a user’s brain power often have high recall rates. How can you engage someone’s senses inside your booth?
Benefits of incorporating an immersive experience in your trade show marketing plan:
- Memorable interaction – show attendees will remember your booth and your brand during/after the show
- Earned media – people will share their experience socially, and media pick-ups are also likely
- Traffic driver – more trade show attendees will catch wind that your booth is can’t-miss
- Marketing content – the experience itself can generate new forms of marketing content for you to repurpose
- Lead generation – an attractive experience will provide a value exchange for attendees’ contact details
- Long-term salience – a memorable experience will keep your brand top of mind for future recognition and recall
The consumer engagement provides contextually relevant content to leverage in follow-up marketing messages.
Designing the engagement piece is the most important part of booth design. Your trade show display should reflect the booth visitor’s experience. What colors, signage, lighting and furniture you select should support that experience.
In addition to the visual design of the space, consider music, scents and even temperature. Every element of your design will impact an attendee’s impression of your exhibit. Create a space they want to walk into, that resonates and encourages them to participate.
An attractive booth is important, but without a memorable consumer engagement could fall flat. The most productive trade show marketing integrates the in-booth activities with the booth design completely.
Last but not least, your trade show marketing plan isn’t complete until you staff and train your exhibitor team. They are responsible for making personal connections with every booth visitor.
Your trade show team needs to know:
- How the in-booth experience are a strategic part of the marketing plan
- How to engage and inspire participation in the experience
- How to ensure attendee satisfaction
- How to qualify and generate new leads for business development goals
- The brand’s values and identity
- Product features and benefits
- How to build relationships with the specific attending audience
- Accounting, order processing and customer relationship management tools necessary for on-site conversions
- Logistical and specific requirements for each trade show
- How to follow up with the people they met at the show
It’s not a small feat to be an energetic brand ambassador during all exhibition hours. Your feet hurt, your mouth gets dry and you often run on repeat. The right trade show team is important in delivering on the trade show marketing.
Trade shows allow face-to-face relationship-building which is key in today’s digital world. This is an opportunity for your brand to stand out and make an impact.
An immersive brand-to-consumer engagement will propel your trade show marketing further.