The outcome of any Olympics sporting event highly depends on two things: The athlete’s performance and their competition. A trade show is no different: Exhibitors come to give a great presentation, hoping to outshine a similar brand down the aisle and only a custom booth with a forward-thinking marketing plan can land them on the podium. One way to ensure Olympic gold is to stay ahead of the curve. Simone Biles didn't become current top gymnast in the world by replicating an old Nadia Comaneci routine. She trained harder, faster, and created a name (and signature acrobatic move) for herself.
As with the Olympic gymnasts, it takes hard work and homework to stay on top in your industry. Find out where trade shows are going before your next one comes around, starting with the next 5-10 years. As we know, exhibiting is always transitioning and you can expect that to continue with exhibits becoming more like interactive environments rather than static displays. Yes, all components are key to the overall design, but as time goes on, more attention will be given to creating an emotional experience and the feelings generated for attendees during their visit. The graphics, materials, and systems constantly change, but one thing remains the same: People want to be impressed. So, how do you do that? Start by getting ahead.
3 trade show predictions for the future:
The Experience: It’s already become obvious that a nice structure and bold graphics are not enough to distinguish your booth from competitors. Think of your booth space more as a shop or lounge, rather than just a few panels strewn together. The best exhibits will transport people from the show floor, if even for a few minutes, to another destination where your brand lives. This is the desired emotional reaction and if you think about it, evoking that kind of feeling is the main way consumers identify with brands. Just think about how invested "Apple people" are because of their attachment to the iPhone…or how reliant you might be on a certain place for your morning coffee (the famous mermaid, anyone?). This is the kind of connection you should strive to create.
The VIP Treatment: Often times, attendees don't have the resources to send all of their decision makers to an event so it's important to make an impression during what may be your first (and only) interaction. Go above and beyond by hosting a small private party, wine tasting or excursion on the venue's property. This allows you to spend a few hours with clients you are trying to close or reward your most loyal clients – ideally, you can combine the two. So many exhibitors show up to the floor, sit in their booth and wait for the magic to happen. When you put in the extra effort and make people feel a part of something exclusive, you have run laps around those just going through the motions.
A Personal Touch: Using the same game plan and marketing strategy for each event cannot guarantee success. When it comes to trade shows, there is no "one size fits all" strategy so at your next event, take the time to listen to the attendees and create a custom plan that appeals to them on an individual level. What are they looking for? How can your services make a difference? What did your booth visitors like and dislike? Be sure you’re taking notes on everything from product demo reactions to how your staff interacted with visitors in the booth. The little things can mean the most when adjusting trade show plans from one event to the next.
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