Posted by Pamela Swift in Sales & Marketing
Article Contributed by Lee Bierton
Creating a Trade Show Stand Which Works in Harmony with Digital Marketing
Exhibitions and trade shows were once considered to be the pinnacle of face-to-face marketing. Product launches, meetings and most importantly selling were confined to a select few dates on the calendar. Before the digital era, the only way of establishing contacts and creating partnerships without setting up exhibition stands and meeting face-to-face, was by pulling out the phone book and picking up the phone. Now, with the advent of social media and video calls, we hardly have to leave the office to forge new relationships and nurture existing ones. Predictably, marketers have begun to question the legitimacy of such interactions when cheaper and more efficient options exist.
However, major trade shows are continuing to grow and networking in person is still as popular as it has ever been. Why? The reason is simple; there is still great value from conversing face-to-face. Confining interactions to 140 characters or a tightly structured e-mail hardly provide the breathing room for natural relationships to develop. Therefore, rather than competing with digital media; instead, trade show exhibitors are adapting to integrate these tools into comprehensive brand strategies. The exhibition is no longer just about, ‘sell, sell, sell’, instead they provide the foundations for mutually beneficial relationships to develop.
Social Exhibitions for the Always-Connected Era
The advent of the internet has meant that we can keep in touch with people for decades, whereas in the past, they could simply drop out of memory in a week. In order to survive, exhibitions have had to adapt to attendees who can search and buy online. Event marketers will be increasingly aware when attending a trade show, they are more likely to strike up a conversation with fellow attendees, rather than be targeted by scripted sales pitches throughout the weekend. While social media channels are effective for continuing relations, they can become incredibly tiresome when forging new ones.
The ability to create a positive first impression at exhibitions is one of its core strengths. Social media can be utilised before as well as after the event to build awareness of the brand and any special promotions which are taking place on the day. Furthermore, it can be used to organise meetings throughout the weekend where you get the opportunity to truly interact with the potential client. It’s these face-to-face interactions where long-lasting partnerships can begin to be established. Free from the confines of a keyboard and monitor, the conversations are far more natural, and signals such as body language can reveal more opportunities than you might expect.
Integrating Digital Media to Enhance the Effectiveness of Branding
While exhibitions and trade shows provide the front door for creating and nurturing contacts, it is now necessary to embrace digital tools to build upon these. Depending on the nature of the product or service, sometimes it can be tough to create a lifelike representation of the work being done. The advent of augmented and virtual reality is drastically changing this. Marketers can now provide digital recreations of products and services in action, which immerses the user and provides an interactive experience, rather than reeling off the same generic sales pitch. Previously, videos were effective online and have also been implemented into exhibits, however, virtual reality creates a unique experience, one which currently cannot be conveyed through a computer monitor.
Exhibitions and trade shows have long been associated with high costs which can lead to a poor return on investment. This can certainly be the case when a lack of planning and understanding results in a disappointing performance. However, exhibitors and attendees who have been able to innovate, often with digital tools or competitions, have found great value in what trade shows and exhibitions can offer. We understand that exhibition stands must be unique to stand out against the competition. Over the years, one of the best ways in which this has been achieved is through activities and demonstrations which engage with the user without being obvious that it is a sales pitch at heart.
How to Harness Digital Exhibition Stands to Convert Post-Exhibition
Printed literature and tacky branded products were once the staple for every exhibitor. Although, outlaying a large chunk of the budget on goods which most likely head straight into the bin after the exhibition hardly seems practical nowadays. While a promising connection may be made when speaking at an event, it is important to have the means to follow up on that potential. Despite making a breakthrough in the 5-10 minutes spent speaking to the potential client, it remains crucial to have a way to follow up. Business cards are still a handy tool to have on hand, however there are a variety of digital integration options available to solidify these relationships.
To be precise, tablet computers equip the marketing arsenal with a variety of tools to introduce, illustrate and ultimately convert potential clients. They can be used to obtain contact information, sign individuals to a mailing list, illustrate the product in question or even discover unique information through interesting apps. While a business card may provide you with an e-mail address and a phone number, an interactive app may inform you of other information, such as what they are looking for which can be used to convert following the event.
Tying These Together into an Effective Branding Strategy
One of the hardest parts of exhibiting is creating exhibition stands which engage with the audience. All too often, we see exhibitors with cheap gimmicks or generic competitions which have nothing to do with the product or service they are trying to sell. Those who succeed integrate unique ideas attached to quick and simple activities. Attendees may only have five minutes to hang around, so it is important to get the point across in that window.
Where exhibitions and trade shows continue to have the advantage over the digital world is in access. The number of new users online grows every hour, but there are still many important figures who prefer to conduct business in person. Innovative exhibition stands appeal to these kinds of personalities, thereby creating opportunities which would not have been possible online.
Go Displays are a leading UK manufacturer of bespoke exhibition stands and banner stands. With over 40 years in the industry, we have extensive experience creating innovative stands for businesses both big and small. You can find out more about the service we provide by visiting us online, calling 01733 232000 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.