If you participate in the trade show event cycle for your business – either as a booth or as a guest – you may be excited to know the industry is changing under your feet….. literally.
For many of us, the rush of the trade show circuit is one with which we have a love-hate relationship. It involves a great deal of travel, tremendous preparation and the work often begins after the networking has finished and potential negotiations can commence. It is also where the pulse of your industry connect, thrive, share and plan for the rest of the year.
I could write several volumes on the history of this particular model of marketing, but needless to say that technology’s influence – in particular, the introduction to (and warm reception of) virtual reality may have a very positive impact on our ability to engage, interact and introduce our businesses in an entirely new way.
At Visiting Media, we believe strongly in nurturing traditional marketing strategies that work. We aren’t throwing away the baby with the bath water here! But, we also want to embrace change and encourage being open to new more efficient tools and strategies that make our lives easier, faster, better.
With that in mind, here are four tips to elevate your trade show experience in 2018:
Tip One: Go Paperless!
Old School: Bring a fish bowl and a million business cards. Try to force your business card into as many hands during the trade show with the goal of “running out,” and try to collect as many new business cards into the fishbowl as possible with the goal of shoving them into your suitcase without losing any, and having “new leads” to process when you get back to the office.
New School of 2018: Leave the fishbowl at home. With smartphone technology, SMS texting, and sales tools like TrueTour® (yep, that’s us), you can FINALLY focus on the quality of engagement and trust that you are collecting and processing leads.
How it works: Set up your TrueTour (or whatever sharing tools you use) on a series of tablets or smart phones on display. Instead of saying, “Can we swap business cards?,” pull up the share screen on your TrueTour and hand it to them, saying, “Here, send yourself our TrueTour and we can follow up with you next week!” If you’re used to throwing the traditional raffle give-away (incentivizing the business card collection process), you can keep this element alive with virtual data transfer (“Send yourself a TrueTour and enter our grand prize giveaway! We’ll send you an email with the details!”)
Our members who use paperless data collection celebrate and sing its praises! Impress guests with your technical advancement, save them adding paper to their load, and capture all of their data to your Visiting Media dashboard – already processed onto a convenient Google Sheets spreadsheet for you.
Tip Two: Embrace the Millennial Mind
Old School: Rehearse a “speech” which you repeat several times throughout the day so that it is hard to stop saying it, even the next day.
New School of 2018: The “Millennial Influence” has indicated that consumers want to be respected, listened to, and educated. They do NOT want to be “pitched,” lectured, or sold. The distinction can be challenging to navigate, but ultimately, we are being called to be “real” and present, to meet customers where they are at and actually get to know them. Have them participate in their own buying experience. Let them drive the bus, navigate their own process, meander through their own chosen user experiences.
How it works: Plan your booth differently than ever before. Think of it as a place to explore and hang out in… not just walk by. Dare to NOT be rehearsed, but rather to know your product well enough that you can trust that the answers will come. Are there new ways you could engage or play with your visitors? Are there games they can play, experiences you can recreate, memories they can make right then and there? DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. TrueTour nails this with presenting 360˚ photography and video, 3D Models to navigate and play with, PDF galleries to get questions answered proactively. Not sure what to do? Find a millennial and ASK THEIR OPINION. Make them a part of the planning, and you may be surprised by their imaginative contribution.
Tip Three: Explore Virtual Reality!
Old School: Play videos on a large screen, computer or monitor.
New School of 2018: Virtual Reality is MADE for the trade show environment! In addition to a large monitor or screen, bring a slew of tablets, VR viewers (cardboard viewers make for fun give-aways), and…. DRUMROLL, check out our Visiting Media Virtual Reality Dome!
How it works: If your business needs to be seen to be experienced (a venue, hospitality space, spa, hotel, store front, restaurant, etc.), bring the experience to the trade show! VR can transport a person into your magnificent space. And, frankly, it’s just really cool and fun. Our VR dome is huge – which draws a crowd. Members can rent or buy our dome, and we even manage the transport and running of it at your event! Imagine the impact of bringing a viewer to the vineyard where your grapes are picked for the season, or where the salmon are caught for dinner, or where the artist sat in the garden to capture their latest masterpiece. VR can be a stunningly effective storyteller, adding an immersive and emotional component to an otherwise uneventful shopping experience.
Tip Four: Create A Multi-Channel Experience
Old School: “What happens at a trade show stays at a trade show.”
New School of 2018: Attend the trade show, but convert it into a multi-channel experience where the entire world can attend (or at least your fans).
How it works: Have a live video feed. Play it on Facebook Live and Instagram. Tweet throughout the event – almost like a “play by play” (this works phenomenally if there are keynote speakers or celebrities to tweet about). Do a live podcast from the show where you interview influencers and colleagues. Take the time to capture great photography and video of the event that you can blog about on your website later. Point is, bring the trade show event to life by using technology to report and share beyond the four walls of your booth!
Like I said, I could go on and on about the intersection of technology and tradeshows, but we hope you found these first four tips useful. Perhaps you will find a way to integrate them into your next event, or perhaps they will merely spark a mindful conversation amongst your team. Either way, times they are a changing around here, and Visiting Media is excited to take you along for the journey.
Have questions? We’ve got answers (even if it’s, “I don’t know, but we’ll find out for you!”). Drop us a line, or add a comment below. We adore our members and guests, and we thank you for your readership!