Experiential marketing is the key to creating lasting impressions on the trade show floor. The 2018 EventTrack Report from Event Marketer found that 85% of consumers are likely to purchase after participating in events and experiences. Brands need to offer interaction and experiences on the trade show floor to cut through the noise.
Although there are many forms of experiential marketing, technology-based engagement has the highest ‘cool’ factor in most exhibits. Most technology-based experiential marketing has the added – and perhaps more important – benefit of tracking lead information and behavior.
The best technology activation is one that aligns with your messaging and demographic, reaching attendees in a way that is meaningful to them. There are a lot of technology tools to choose from, and they are often overlapped. Here is an overview of some of the most common technology experiences happening on trade show floors today.
Gamification is the newest buzz word in experiential tech. Turning anything into a game gets attention…. and anything can be turned into a game!
Common to trade shows is a scavenger hunt type game, where players must find certain items in the exhibit – or even the exhibit hall – and check in to win prizes, earn a discount, or whatever consumer behavior is desired. Scavenger hunts can be set up with multiple layers of technology, including text prompts with clues, tracking via digital beacons, and auto-posting to social media.
Other games of chance can be used via mobile to heighten interaction while gathering lead information. To get an entry, show attendees text a code to a specific number. Via return text, they get a randomized game card. This could take the form of a slot machine, a scratch-off game or virtual dice for example. The user is instructed what action is required to win, and then how to claim any resulting prize.
Social Media Integration
Social media strategy is a vital part of any successful exhibit program. Technology offers numerous ways to incorporate social media directly into the exhibit. Social Media Aggregation monitors track the streams of all social media posts using a particular hashtag, and broadcast them to a large screen within the exhibit. This type of program is eye-catches, invokes the innate sense of competition, and encourages show attendees to grow your audience socially, and provides the chance for real-time reward as their actions appear live on the screen.
Another way to amplify social media presence at an event is to offer a photo booth. Technology can bring this tool beyond the basic silly props and backdrop with green screens, branded image addition and direct-to-social posting. Digital transfer of the image file also ensures data capture, as the subject must provide email address or phone number for image delivery.
Gamified apps can be combined with social media aggregators, where a leaderboard displays the standings alongside the aggregated social media postings.
One of the fastest-developing technology applications used in face-to-face marketing is augmented reality (AR). Augmented reality superimposes images over real time scenery with an app that incorporates the camera on any device. It is becoming more common, and there are many strategies for its use within the trade show exhibit.
The best use of augmented reality for trade shows is where a product can not be easily demonstrated on the show floor. Medical applications are a prime example of the value of augmented reality. An actual surgery cannot be performed at a trade show, but AR can be used to demonstrate how a medical product might be used in a surgery, complete with pop-up text , zoom and 360o views.
Manufacturing equipment is often heavy, cumbersome and very expensive to transport to the trade show floor, yet producers of this equipment rely heavily on show leads for their sales pipelines. Augmented reality can be used to demonstrate the function, structure and use of equipment without actually bringing the physical equipment to the show.
Virtual reality (VR) is similar to augmented reality in that it provides digital imagery but instead of being superimposed over reality, VR offers a fully immersive environment. Special goggles are required to block external vision, allowing the wearer to see nothing but the 360o environment presented within the goggles. Hand controls can be added so that the user can uniquely interact with the virtual environment. This video provides the closest 2D representation of what it is like in a completely immersive 3D virtual reality environment.
Many of the same applications for AR are excellent candidates for VR. Firefighter training is one more example where VR is used quite effectively. While firefighters can experience actual conditions of a fire, there is no risk to them using the VR platform. This type of immersion can be used on the trade show floor to generate a huge “wow” factor. However, limited equipment quantities may cause lines and back-ups within the exhibit. VR allows for a deeper, more real level of demonstration, though, which can create intense brand loyalty.
Smartglass and Touchscreeens
Touchscreen and smart glass installations take information transfer to the next level, and they are able to serve in various functions during the course of the event. This video shows Smartglass in use as a welcome or eye-catching tool during the Cvent Connect installation Acer recently handled. Later in the same event, the same Smartglass was used to reflect crowd action as shown here. Smartglass applications may be used to personalize informational dynamic content presented automatically as a user with the corresponding app approaches the glass. The Smartglass could have been configured as an interactive map of events, or an on-demand product catalog in the Cvent example.
These examples provide just some of the amazing experiences you can integrate with your custom exhibit to foster truly unique, completely branded interaction with show attendees. As technology constantly evolves, so do the possibilities.