4 Contemporary Trade Show Trends That Offer Big Marketing Value

Jill Anonson
Jill Anonson

trade show expo unique booth idea

If your company hasn’t tried its hand at trade show marketing, it’s time to get on board. From strengthening brand awareness and inspiring brand loyalty to massive product exposure, trade shows offer ways to build emotional connections with potential customers that other forms of marketing can’t. With the right event marketing strategy, trade show exhibition can be an advantageous channel to connect to the right customers at the right time in their buying cycle. Here are just a few ways trade shows bring value to today’s marketer.

  • There’s no better networking platform than a tradeshow. You are among kindred spirits and can therefore make new contacts. You don’t have to search for customers, they show up neatly under one roof at the same time.
  • 81% оf trаdе ѕhоw attendees hаvе buуіng аuthоrіtу. Whісh mеаnѕ more thаn 4-оut-оf-5 реорlе wаlkіng the aisles аrе potential сuѕtоmеrѕ.
  • Trade shows provide high visibility for your company and products.
  • Pre-show promotion on social media and networking platforms allows you to maximize marketing dollars with your trade show investment.
  • Your competitors are likely attending the same trade shows you are, so take advantage of the time to scope out how they’re positioning competitive products in the marketplace.
  • The kind of brand exposure trade shows provide lends the opportunity to create brand advocates. Once potential customers get to actually experience your product or brand in person, they’re more likely to tell their networks about it and spread your message for you.

No doubt there is value in trade shows, but how do you stand out from the competition? Here are a few trends to help you differentiate your next trade show experience.

1. Create An Un-Booth

Think of your booth space more as a shop or hang out, rather than a boring old booth with graphics on panels. For example, some of the best un-booths have food or a bar to provide a fun hangout area for attendees to chill and mingle with booth staff. Create a fun, laid-back atmosphere for attendees to feel like they are at home.

In one unique example, IPME uses freight containers to create pop-up booths that can easily be transported from location to location. Or, try interactive walls and screens to give attendees the chance to experience your product or get a demo in an exciting, engaging way. Create an immersive experience by rethinking your booth format to allow attendees to interact with your brand and each other.

T-Mobile event attendee using a virtual reality headset

2. Add a Road Show to Your Trade Show

Road shows have evolved into a popular, effective and flexible means of promotion and direct client approach. The value of doing both a road show and a trade show is an increase in brand or product exposure and the opportunity to build FOMO within your target audience.

Take what you did at your trade show and bring it on the road. Or, prior to the trade show, build up excitement for the event by promoting it in different locations along the way to lead up to the trade show.

A road show:

  • Is a fast and cost effective marketing tool
  • Can have a direct effect on your sales
  • Allows you to meet the exact target group you need
  • Gives you the opportunity to develop direct marketing contacts

3. Incorporate Artificial Intelligence

What could Siri or Alexa do for you and your staff at a trade show or event? Artificial intelligence devices are becoming commonplace in consumers' lives and offer exhibitors a way to increase efficiency while maximizing their wow-factor on the show floor. 

Artificial intelligence tools can process, analyze and present data far faster than humans, making them a potential gold mine for exhibitors. Imagine being able to pull detailed company, product or client statistics instantly on the show floor. You can instantly tailor your conversation to match booth visitors' company size, industry or product interest. Additionally, you can use artificial intelligence to better qualify the a visitor's potential by querying the visitor's profile with your database of buyer personas and sales history. 

While artificial intelligence likely will not replace booth staff in 2018, there is a potential for the technology to make your staff more efficient on the show floor. Consider your industry, target audience and staff needs when evaluating if artificial intelligence is the right investment for your trade show program.

4. Weave Your Marketing Campaign Theme Throughout

When coming up with the theme for your trade show booth, consider ways to execute creative, brand embodying exhibit designs that can better translate an overlying campaign theme. Tie your trade show marketing with other marketing initiatives you’re implementing. Intentionally hitting your audience with the same message through multiple channels is the key to resonating with them.  

In this example, we helped T-Mobile weave a marketing campaign theme throughout their off-site event to take advantage of the audience present at the 2017 Mobile World Congress Americas Conference. Don’t be afraid to create an experience off the trade show floor or host an event within an event to take advantage of the relevant audience already gathered together at a popular industry conference and/or expo.

Make Sure Your Booth Is Solid

A solid trade show booth represents an investment. If you decide to attend, go bold with your exhibit so you drive traffic to your booth. This isn’t the time to try your hand at an exhibit or booth design DIY. Enlist help from an expert engagement team to create a buzzworthy booth. Check out this example of how ITA Group partnered with one leading automotive aftermarket parts distributor to position its expo event for unprecedented success.

Jill Anonson

Jill Anonson

Jill Anonson has over 20 years of diverse experience in event management, incentive travel and sales strategy, and serves as the Events Strategy Advisor at ITA Group. Focused on continuous improvement and challenging standards, she consults clients and team members with impactful strategies and innovative ideas that deliver successful business outcomes. She is a Certified Engagement Practitioner, and certified through Pragmatic Marketing.