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Lessons in exhibiting: part two

September 11, 2014 |

Following on from the news that 78 per cent of marketers believe that marketing will undergo a fundamental change in the next five years, with a focus on digital and mobile, this week we’re taking a look at how to maximise digital technologies within your overall strategy. Digital encompasses a whole array of mediums including website, blog and social media, all of which are necessary pre and post show. And don’t forget – during show, digital engagement tools really can make the difference between a good and bad visitor experience.

Nimlok Ltd's exhibition stand and on-stand digitl engagement at Marketing Week LiveSubject: Say it in English

Whatever your campaign, make sure your target audience understands you and what you’re trying to say. That means it needs to be relevant and tie in with your exhibiting presence. So whether it’s a Twitter wall, digital game, survey, animation or media centre, ensure the messaging fits and is not just a tokenistic add on. Does your sales team need a visual way to explain your product/service? Would a game or animation make it easier and more fun to convey? Digital engagement is a great method for data capture, whether it’s a survey for collecting valuable insight (which can also be published post show), or even a speaker slot on your stand combined with a powerful prezi or animation.

Integrate the digital element early on in the approach to your exhibition, from messaging and strategy through to how it will work on the stand. Choose the right channel for your messaging, if it’s more about b2b then link to your corporate Linkedin page, if it’s more light hearted you may want to create a Facebook or Twitter account. Research shows that UGC is now trusted 50 per cent more than other media amongst Millennials, so you need to get those peers talking, commenting and reviewing. They say a picture speaks a thousand words so check out sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, plus Vimeo and Vine for video. More and more channels are springing up so check which will have more traction with your message.

Subject: Do the Maths

Not convinced that digital spend is worth it? Let the numbers do the talking, or without it watch visitors walk away – directly to your competitor’s stands. When we surveyed people at Marketing Week Live this year (here’s the full stats for you math gurus), collectively 50 per cent of people visit exhibitions to learn and gain new ideas and 16 per cent mainly attend to engage. Digital is a great way to hit all three of these. And the good news on the numbers’ front is that it’s cheaper than you might think. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a bespoke game, then a ‘re-skin’ (re design of existing game) will still give you a unique branded look that no one will ever know started life as something different – with the data your sales and marketing team crave. Priceless.

Subject: Check out your Geography

Where in the hall are you? That’s one question you’d rather your prospects knew the answer to in advance of the show (or indeed your stand team five minutes before the show opens!). So how can digital help? Social media engagement promoting your exhibiting presence in advance is one simple, effective answer but have you considered making use of iBeacon type technology to send messages within a set radius via smartphones? That nudge to make a detour and pop to your stand is a great opportunity to start a face to face conversation. It’s all about creativity and thinking how the technology can work for you (and your audience). Often what works best is something that takes an old idea and then puts a technology twist on it – check out how one museum has embraced location-based push messaging to drive visitors around its key highlights versus old-style display signs. There’s lots of ways digital can help tell your brand story and where there’s a will there’s a way. Just consider for instance how tweets can be used now to capture the collective power of a nation (or a stand?) and spark a physical reaction – so could you get people to tweet their favourite product/service which then lights up part of your stand. They get instant reaction; you get instant engagement to build on.

Subject: Consider Humanities

Remember who you are trying to reach – people. So even though we’re living in a digital world that’s set to get, well, more digital it doesn’t mean face to face is replaced. In the event sector we see digital as complementary to face to face, a great way to amplify to a bigger audience. But humans engage because they are social creatures. We seek belonging and connections. Think about how you can truly use digital to engage in two-way communication. Digital works best when it’s not just used to tell a story, but is a way to shape it. Surveys, reviews and feedback can be breathed to life through digital, often those that reinforce our views and values. Just consider what you see here from a series of shapes – this simple 1944 experiment is one way of showing how we like to attribute human behaviour and spot engagement where there’s none to be seen! Digital is just another way of exploring those connections and allowing people to take part in a conversation.

Heider & Simmel animation (1944) from translating nature on Vimeo.

Subject: Make your art fun

In everything that must be done, there is an element of fun. Mary Poppins got something right here if not the London accent, so remember that people need to be entertained as well as informed. Why not consider light-based voting systems as a way to brighten your mood and stand? Or how about trigger technology, so something happens such as a noise when somebody walks past or maybe projection floors or walls to change the environment throughout the day. Perhaps you’d like to give visitors the chance to colour-change the stand to express their feelings. It’s all about being playful and interactive. After all, a spoonful of sugar helps the brand messaging go down. Relax, have fun and enjoy the experience.

That’s a good lesson to learn!

Haven’t read our lessons in exhibiting part one yet? Read it here.