Companies spend tremendous effort ensuring their event strategy, trade show display booth, graphics, staffing, marketing, and giveaways are well planned to maximize sales and lead generation. Like any other marketing method, the marketplace and its receptivity to marketing and sales approaches change over time.
Those responsible for exhibiting need to pay close attention to industry trends that correlate to exhibiting strategy and a company’s ability to be successful with its trade show display booth. According to Incomm Center for Trade Show Research and Sales Planning and BizBash News, here is a summary of some recent trends in exhibiting.
Not surprising, technology is playing an integral role in exhibiting and trade show marketing. From badge scanners for lead tracking to stunning digital booth presentations and LED signage to apps that help attendees and exhibitors pinpoint one another, technology is enabling exhibitors to have greater impact, time efficiency, organization, and quality measurement.
With up-to-the-minute marketing opportunities via social media including Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+, savvy exhibitors can readily engage decision-makers during trade show events to drive booth traffic, promote product presentations, schedule meetings, and communicate with prospects and customers in a multitude of ways.
In addition, using all types of digital media in pre- and post-show marketing initiatives adds "top spin" to mailings, phone calls, announcements, and invitations.
Personalized, Experiential Selling
Experiential exhibiting is another growing trend. Rather than aggressively selling products and their features to attendees, trade show display booth staff now find they are more effective when serving as soft-sell consultants. This involves engaging visitors by asking about needs, demonstrating products, and offering individualizing solutions.
Prospects want to be heard and want helpful, caring advice. Building trust helps build relationships that lead to sales – and that starts with the first point of contact in the exhibit area.
Watching the Clock
Time limitations by attendees drive them to get as much accomplished at the show as possible. As a result, they are doing less browsing and more targeted product evaluation.
The ability to conduct multiple meetings in one day is a great benefit to show attendees. They use their time efficiently to compare products in order to make their purchasing decisions.
At larger events, companies may send buying teams rather than a single company representative. The buying teams are comprised of a number of decision makers from a single organization who strategically visit you and your competition’s tradeshow display booth – often multiple times – to fully evaluate the benefits of one product over another. Then they meet as a group and collectively make follow-up strategies and, ultimately, purchase decisions for the company they represent.
Same Time, Different Place
An increasing number of exhibitors are reserving meeting rooms or hospitality suites during the show at the venue location. Before the event, company representatives invite prospects and customers to come at a designated time to the special meeting area, which is away from the exhibition hall. There they have the opportunity to talk in a relaxed setting, benefit from more individualized (solution-driven) discussion, and enjoy food and drinks.
A separate meeting area benefits the exhibitor by having valuable one-on-one time to build relationships and provide customized sales presentations. It also keeps clients and prospects away from competitors for a period of time.
Inviting Spaces, Pleasing Colors
With recent economic concerns, an increasing number of exhibits are being produced with more cost-effective, straight-line styles versus displays with unusual shapes and/or curves that are more expensive to produce.
Exhibit color palettes are cooler in tone and the use of wood in display design is making a comeback. Small meeting areas and/or comfortable seating are now being incorporated in more exhibit layouts, when booth area permits.
An event’s success is not only measured in new leads or sales generated, but in building current customer relationships. Pre-show marketing and account management help draw booth visits and special meetings with current customers that can yield incremental sales. In addition, trade shows provide a unique opportunity to research competitors, their products, sales strategies and how they communicate with prospects.
Understanding Your Exhibit Competition
Trade Show Planning Information
Trade Show Resources
Tradeshow Participation: A Primer for Success
Selecting Opportunistic Trade Shows
Trade Show Planning Tools
Success Strategies from a Trade Show Veteran
Check List to Evaluate Event Competitors
International Exhibiting Tips
Trade Show Finder Resources