Trade shows and live events are significant points for building brand awareness, creating sales, lead generation, and more… and they have been for decades. For many businesses, they’re also a strong exhibition platform, and no small amount of start ups and small business have gotten their strongest starts at live events.
But thanks to technology and ever more informed consumers, live events and trade shows represent a fast-changing landscape, challenging the creativity of businesses and presenters.
How does one create a great and lasting brand image at a corporate event production? How are attendees changing, and how can businesses use creativity and technology in events most effectively? Here’s a list of current industry trends, and information on how businesses can use them to their best advantage.
Attendees are More Prepared and More Informed
When you host a live event or go to a trade show, you can expect that those who are coming are more informed – and prepared – than ever. The numbers of attendees who are browsing, window shopping, and attendees who just want to see what’s going on in the field are steadily decreasing.
If it’s a trade show, people can easily research the list of vendors and presenters and do basic information-gathering from their smartphones before ever hitting the floor. For events, thanks to newsletter blasts and other hard-hitting informational outlets.
Information is cheaper and more accessible; in three minutes, an attendee can google the name of a presenter, visit their website, find out what they need to know, research customer reviews, and make a decision… long before ever approaching a table. Brand representatives are no longer the primary source of product information.
Technology Can Make or Break
From tablets displaying custom informational apps and brochures, SEG technology, backlit fabrics, LCD interfaces, technology can make or break.
Not only does it help a booth or area make a powerful visual statement, drawing more people, but it can dramatically influence the success of the event, allowing individuals to become leads even if they don’t interact with an individual.
Digital marketing collateral can be given over to visitors easily, allowing them to keep all the information they might need without ever needing to carry a brochure or business card. As technology improves, disseminating this information gets easier and easier, both reducing costs and hassle.
VR technology is making a big splash as well, allowing live events to provide interactive and engaging experiences for all event attendees. Oculus Rift is one of the best examples of this: marketers can send visitors on missions to experience company branding at the event superimposed over what is actually perceived, and do anything from send people on tours of model homes or manufacturing plants to creating engaging mini-games for prizes.
Drones have also been used creatively at events, not just to capture amazing video or to analyze crowd movements, but even to deliver products. Pepto-Bismol had an brilliantly creative drone experience for visitors to Six Flags, delivering samples of their product who tweeted their account in a “Tweet for Relief” campaign.
Mobile ordering technology, from credit and debit card tablet swiping technology to other initiatives, can help individuals actually make sales at live events. The days of paper receipts and complicated forms are soundly dead.
Social media engagement has been on the head of the list of live event success indicators for years, but the ways in which presenters gain that engagement are growing ever more creative.
According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, approximately 81% of those who engage socially at an event have purchasing power for a brand. Everything from encouraging social media sharing for prizes to awarding coupon codes for sharing activity.
Special social media services identify likely social media influencers, or to begin targeting attendees even before the event. In fact, pre-show social interaction is becoming key in many events, and can provide a significant advantage for many.
And these are all just a few ways that creativity and technology have dramatically influenced the playing field. Trade shows and live events are likely to continue being major aspects of business generation, continuing to test the creativity of organizers… especially as technology improves in the future.
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