June 2, 2015 | Clare Farthing
It’s probably a while before we’re all clocking Apple watches in the exhibition hall, but there’s no doubt that digital innovation is now an integral part of a stand presence and visitor engagement. But if the most sophisticated equipment on your current exhibition stand is the thermos keeping the coffee warm, then how do you go about moving from lukewarm low-tech to digitally deft?
We grabbed five minutes with Rob Newell, creative director at Creative Bridge, our sister engagement and marketing agency, to find out just how.
Question: Put simply. Why bother at all?
Rob: If you are getting all the leads you want, converting those leads, gathering important contact details and feel your brand messages are coming across loud and clear, then I’d say don’t bother. If you aren’t, then digital might be the missing link. Like stand strategy from years of old, the key to a successful exhibition in 2015 is commanding attention, drawing people to you, offering a way to start a conversation and being clear about how you can follow up the contacts and impression you’ve made. Digital is a way of achieving all those things, whether it’s proximity messaging, gamification or a better way of showcasing your products and documents.
Question: Woah there. Gamification? What’s that, other than a long word that’s not in the dictionary?
Rob: Game plus information – gamification. So it’s about an element of fun/competition gameplay, but with a core objective of getting across key messages. Perhaps it’s a racing game, but you collect icons linked to your products to reinforce your offer, and it’s about the most accurate lap not the fastest, to showcase your safety record. And maybe to play you have to enter your contact email, and have the option of sharing your score via Twitter….gamification is the ideal tool to get someone engaged and primed for your on-stand team to follow up.
Question: Any other trends we should consider?
Rob: One emerging trend is the use of Oculus to provide a virtual reality headset and experience to the user. This in turn is leading to a 4D experience where the user is taken into a predefined environment, meaning that by using digital and physical elements, you can create an experience that they not only see but also feel.
Augmented reality is also moving forwards at a pace. It’s now more than just scanning an image with a smart device and seeing a video, it’s about providing content that you can interact with. So it might be a series of cut out cards in the shape of different cars, all of which the user can place under a device and get a 3D model of that vehicle.
And lastly, another trend is proximity. This sees the use of smart technology that can pin point your accurate location and deliver content relating to the image or object that you are stood next to. This allows events experts to trigger content specifically for the stand visitor – so as they approach a large screen, a welcome message plays just for them.
You should start to see all of these ideas on a stand near you soon.
Question: And any pitfalls to avoid?
Rob: Digital for the sake of it, and a digital innovation tacked on to a stand at the end of the process will never have the same return on investment as a tool which has been considered from the outset. So when you know your message, your objectives and your audience, that’s the time to consider how digital might work with your stand architecture and overall marketing plan.
You should also consider the space and ensure you select a digital tool to match. There’s no point having a Wii game if there’s going to be crowds of people walking in the game play space!
Question: Good point. Any final words of wisdom?
Rob: Digital is for life, not just for Christmas. So once you’ve developed a game or an iBeacon system, then it’s got longevity beyond the first exhibition and also outside the exhibition hall. Once the development work is done, you can perhaps add new graphics to keep your game fresh and relevant. For example, a pac man game becomes a cat eating mice for your next campaign theme. Alternatively you can use it internally to drive colleague awareness of your company benefits and have the person snapping up icons around pay, healthcare and company cars.
So old dogs can learn new tricks!