The concept of the traditional trade show is changing. Although the pandemic has accelerated the movement away from large in-person gatherings – or at least events that are restricted only to that format – companies continue to grow more creative in building their digital presence and enhancing their engagement with prospects at trade shows.
Trade shows are a powerful place to show your company mission, messaging and branding to an oftentimes eager audience. According to CEIR: The Changing Environment of Exhibitions, 99% of marketers ѕаіd thеу found unique value from trаdе show еxhіbіtѕ that they didn’t gеt from оthеr mаrkеtіng mеdіumѕ. And with most companies moving toward a remote format (or a hybrid approach with a remote option), technologies have now entered into the equation as an integral piece to powering a successful trade show. Many are turning to flexible technologies to power their booth experience, whether that be an on-screen virtual tour, in person and accompanied by an iPad or other devices, or some combination of the two.
“I look at it truly as an opportunity to modernize event marketing,” Mary Fehrnstrom, senior director of event marketing at Workday, told Freeman. “I mean, this really is a moment in time for us that I think we should all embrace and not be afraid of.”
Embracing technology, however, is just the first step. Landing on the right tech to tell your company’s story and convey its value to customers is critical. Trade shows play an essential role in many company’s business models, and technology’s functionality must make it easy to regularly spark new interest within a digital environment.
Urban Armor Gear is an example of a company that had to quickly pivot and become much more reliant on digital technology as a result of the pandemic. The company sells military-grade, leading-edge cases and protective equipment for electronics and relied heavily upon the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in the past to book meetings with potential buyers. They typically set some 200 meetings each year at CES.
After the event went virtual this year due to the pandemic, the Urban Armor Gear team needed to shift strategies. We teamed up with Urban Armor Gear empowering them to connect with clients and share products in a virtual, but immersive manner on any device, at any time.
A digital investment strategy for trade shows should be considered a “must-have” in this new era of business. In much the same way certain companies were slow to embrace the internet as a branding platform and marketing tool 20 years ago, the failure to develop a robust digital component for industry events today may lead to lost opportunities now and in the future.
A digital platform builds in an ease for registration and attendance that simply can’t be matched. Additionally, less paper, greater venue flexibility and fewer ancillary costs (printing, lanyards, signage) mean savings for the hosts. And because digital events require no travel or lodging and less time committed to the event overall, their reach is virtually infinite. It’s no wonder that attendance rates to trade shows are exploding.
New tech has also empowered companies to stay connected with customers and prospects through these events. Digital platforms that power trade shows harness data that would otherwise be missed. Tools that capture valuable analytics for trade events, including the contact information of viewers, the content and features from your virtual booth that resonated most with your audience, and more will be paramount in building a trade show presence that will outshine your peers.
Technology is reinventing the trade show – how they’re attended, what modern customer engagement looks like, and the measure of value to be gained by hosting or taking part in an event. Companies should not be discouraged by this trend and its implications. Instead, they should be thrilled it’s here and the robust opportunity it presents.
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