Exhibitions and trade shows have undergone a drastic makeover in the past few years. A combination of rising technologies, new channels and ever growing consumer expectations has turned the tables.
In the past you could get away with having a speaker, some posters or handing out freebies. Now, it just won’t cut the mustard. Standing out and differentiating yourself from your competitors through engaging experiences should be at the centre of your strategy.
We know that the relationship between customers and brands has changed – it is no longer transactional; it is a two-way engagement where the brands that succeed are those who add value through personalised experiences throughout the customer journey. This is no different with exhibitions and tradeshows, and we believe there are a plethora of opportunities for your brand to create more personalised experiences for your visitors.
As an agency we have a lot of experience building stands, in fact we have built 1,200 of them. From Cannes to Vegas and Korea to Geneva, we’ve put up exhibition live experiences in every place imaginable. This means we know a thing or two about how to make your exhibition stand out from the crowd. Here we share our best practice with you:
OUR TOP TIPS TO MAXIMISE YOUR RESULTS
1. Define your objectives: be specific, think about the reaction you want to create. Define what success would look like and what goals you wish to achieve.
2. Don’t think in channels: It takes three to tango… Brand, digital and experiential – individually, each bring something to the table. But what happens when you combine these channels? Yes, you guessed it right: a match made in heaven!
It takes an integrated approach, a mixture of all the right channels in order to achieve the right results. Marry your social with your experiential, your digital with your creative, make it all one big happy family. In order to maximise results your channels should work together seamlessly.
Same principle applies with the implementation of technology: we now have VR, AR, live-streaming and so many other opportunities to take advantage of. Use an integrated approach, but remember not to use new technology just for the sake of it, make sure it adds value to your experience.
3. Plan ahead: think and plan early on, so you can create a ground swell of activity leading up to the big day. Create engagement early on and always have a contingency plan, in case something goes wrong.
You need to be thinking about your social strategy long before you get to the event so that messaging can be integrated and social is not just an add-on.
Think about how you can extend the dialogue beyond the event, how you will capture data and how you will nurture relationships with visitors. There is no point in having a strategy that only covers until the day after the exhibition or event day, think long-term – how can you use digital to extend the conversation and create post-event momentum?
4. Stand out, be different: Think about what makes you unique. Keep in mind you will be lined up against your competitors and you need to give visitors a reason to visit your stand.
Take inspiration from other sectors. Think about a supermarket environment; think about a travel retail environment. You have all these products lined up next to each other, an average of six and a half minutes dwell time in travel retail, what makes you buy one brand instead of another? What makes you think yes, this is the perfume I want? Apply this to your own brand, think how you can be that perfume that gets picked up from the shelf and apply this to your exhibition stand.
5. Engage influencers: prior to your event, look at implementing third party blogger / influencer outreach campaigns.
Influencers can provide massive uplift to your activity but you have to plan early on. Look for the best influencers and get them on board, build relationships with them early on and make sure they are aligned with your brand.
6. Listen: perhaps the most important of them all is to actually listen to your customers at every opportunity.
Listen to conversations on the web across all social channels, blogs and forums about your brand, your market, your competitors, and most of all your customers. This insight is invaluable when planning your exhibition/event strategy. It should provide a guide on what content can be used to maximise engagement.
Exhibitions, events and tradeshows still provide some of the best opportunities for your target audience to see what you have to offer; they can touch, hear, interact, ask questions and provide immediate feedback. And with 84% of trade show attendees having the power to recommend or make final purchasing decisions, you are sure to be speaking to the right people.
So don’t waste the opportunity; expand your thinking, integrate social and digital and use experiences to drive stand out.
Here is some inspiration to get you thinking.
GOOGLE ANDROID LAUNCH
Sometimes all it takes is giant green robots, a slide and maximising the impact of social.
“The most talked about stand at this year’s MWC belongs to Google. It’s an Android themed playground, complete with giant green robots, on brand sweets and event a slide.” – The Guardian.
Google’s focus on Android at MWC sent social media into a buzz. The stand was experience-led and created an enriched experience that brought business innovation and android to life. A playful and interactive break from tech presentations, the stand was a retreat for visitors and made the perfect backdrop for Android.
So what were the results of this?
79,109 mentions – 3x their closest competition
25,500 visitors referenced Android
20,400 ‘Android Stand’ mentions
HITACHI: INSPIRE LIFE
Taking the interactive experience to the next level was this own brand event – a 65,000 sq.ft., 30 minute walk-through experience, integrating live and pre-recorded actors into a CGI ‘virtual world’. Successfully boosting brand perception among Hitachi ‘warm contacts’, the engaging experience included a 180 (degree) screen live theatre and interactive tables for exploring Hitachi products and technologies.
A silver winner for the ‘brand experience award’ and with 98% of people rating the experience ‘excellent’ this interactive experience helped Hitachi stand out and create an inspiring experience to be remembered.
We integrated the latest NFC tech into old shipping containers to create an engaging experience for consumers to get a taste of ‘a life well travelled’ with Cathay Pacific. Consumers were targeted by push notifications, email and OOH advertising to engage with the exhibit by way of a bespoke mobile app.
3000+ Total data capture
6000 unique hits to campaign microsite over 3 days
4million+ Reach for whole campaign including ATL