Today’s successful displays at trade shows are the ones that make the most significant impact on attendees. If you are looking for a way to make a stronger impact at your next trade show, you’ll want to learn more about and try implementing some experiential marketing.
Trade show attendees of today expect more than business cards or giveaway promotional items. They want an experience. Experience holds power for consumers and draws them in. Limiting yourself to trendy giveaways will cause attendees to overlook your booth. Create a memorable experience at your next trade show, and you will see the conversions come pouring in, while building some long-term, long-lasting client relationships.
So, What Exactly is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing, also known as event marketing, is marketing through experiences that engage a customer with your brand. Involvement in the experience should create an emotional attachment between the consumer and your brand. It’s really getting the consumer involved in actual experiences with your brand, and is sometimes also referred to as engagement marketing or participation marketing.
Why Should You Consider Using Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing should be considered when you need to create an experience that is unlike traditional marketing, that entices consumers and gains their loyalty through an experience that you provide. This experience should always invoke some type of emotion and create a connection between the consumer and your brand, and all of this can be done at a pretty low cost.
Experiential marketing doesn’t have to be expensive; it can be reasonably cost-effective, depending on what type of experience you choose to provide. It can be easily implemented into your trade show budget. Any audience-engagement game, such as a prize wheel or live product demo, can be easily implemented and done on the cheaper-side.
If you do have a large trade show budget, you might want to look into some experiential marketing that will make a big splash and draw media attention. Increased media coverage of an exciting experiential marketing tactic at a popular trade show can increase your brand awareness and drive new business.
Active Participation Creates Loyalty
When you create experiences at trade shows, you create an environment that actively engages and immerses consumers in your brand. It’s that active participation that leaves them with a positive memory that surrounds their overall perception of your business. Attendees that have been able to actively participate in your trade show experience will leave your booth with a happy, memorable, and testimonial-worthy experience. They’ll tell their friends and likely be inclined to remember your brand as one they want to do business with because they had a great experience at your trade show display.
Brand Awareness and Exposure
Exhibitors with big, visual, experiential marketing experiences often see increased attendee traffic over exhibitors with the more traditional trade show marketing. Because experiential marketing is a highly engaging experience, and highly visible on the trade show floor, it is a great way to increase your brand awareness and exposure.
The big experiences that utilize the latest and greatest technology trends tend to see increased media coverage and PR over the traditional exhibitor experiences. The increase in media coverage ranging from social media coverage to major media coverage has the potential to reach a massive audience. These larger experiences may add to your budget, but will help your company get the media exposure necessary to reach a larger audience and see a more significant return on your trade show investment.
Experiential Marketing in Trade Shows
How do you incorporate experiential marketing into your trade show exhibit?
Your trade show exhibit experiential marketing does not need to make a big giant splash to be engaging and effective. You do not need to limit yourself to your exhibitor space or booth. There are a lot of cost-effective, engaging options to consider that be better suited for your budget. We’ve seen great success with these cost-effective options:
- Speaking engagements: Send company ambassadors and subject matter experts to speak at sponsored events hosted by the trade show.
- iPad/tablet display: Create an area with iPads or tablets for users to interact with. You can include information about your product on these tablets, so users can be engaged in learning about your offerings.
Think outside of the box to incorporate experiential marketing in your trade shows. Do not limit yourself to what has been done; instead, try to do something different. Consider ideas like having attendees interact with your brand in a way that doesn’t necessarily involve using your products. What are some ways your products can evoke emotion and make people want to engage with your brand?
Here’s what a booth looks like when your booth has the right amount of branding:
What Are Some Examples of Experiential Marketing at a Trade Show?
Now that we have told you all about what experiential marketing is, we bet you’d like us to share some ideas that have worked for us. Here are a few that won’t break your budget and can help get you going on some experiential marketing ideas to integrate into your trade show experience.
Photo booths are a quick and easy way to give attendees a fun trade show experience. You can easily create one yourself or hire a team of professionals to provide this for you. We always vote for hiring professionals if your budget allows. We suggest including fun props and your products if it makes sense. Encourage photo booth participants to share their images on social media with your brand’s hashtag; this is a great way to help increase your brand’s exposure, and is just a lot of fun. Attendees will leave with a fun and happy experience that they will associate with your brand, and this is the first step to developing long-term customer loyalty.
Here’s what a photo booth looks like in action:
If appropriate for the type of show and exhibitor space you have, product demos are a great experiential marketing technique. Especially if you have a unique or exciting product, product demos are a great way to engage attendees and help them to understand your product through engagement. Follow these three tips, and you’ll have a successful and engaging product demo at your exhibit space.
- Hands-On – Whenever possible, make sure your product or service demos are a hands-on experience. One in which the audience always participates.
- Stay Away from Boring Products – Don’t waste attendees’ time with product demos if you have an ordinary or basic product. Your product should be something different and unique that will benefit from a live demo experience.
- Make Sure it is an Experience – Lots of booths at trade shows will have a demo station, so it’s important to realize that a demo is only experiential if it’s actually an experience. Make sure your experience has something for attendees to engage in, not just an example of someone just using your product. Always involve the audience.
One of the most popular ways to engage trade show attendees through experiential marketing today is with multimedia presentations. We are not talking about some boring PowerPoint presentation; instead, we are talking about a high-tech multimedia experience that will wow attendees.
Videos, virtual reality, or large digital displays are perfect for experiential marketing experiences and the biggest trend in shows today. Many products and services are incorporating virtual reality experiences into their trade show marketing, creating virtual worlds where the show attendees can experience your brand.
The possibilities are endless with multimedia presentations. Create incredibly unique trade show experiences and stand out above your competition.
Contests and Games
We’re big fans of incorporating contests or games into your trade show experience. They’ve proven to be some of the best examples to get attendees to participate in your booth experience. That participation is key to making contests and games experiential, because if users don’t participate, it’s just not an experience.
A fun, highly engaging game or contest will draw the attention of attendees passing by and can even attract more attendees to your booth to see what all the excitement is. Carry that excitement and experience through long after the attendees leave your exhibitor space by providing branded items as prizes; this will leave your attendees with something to remember your brand. Good experiences with your brand will lead to a higher conversion rate, making for a more successful show.
Professional Speakers or Brand Ambassadors
Many trade shows provide speaking engagement opportunities to their exhibitors. It’s a great way to get your brand more exposure and one of the most cost-effective, if your brand is selected. Many trade shows have a call for speaking proposals before each trade show and will often provide topics they are seeking speakers to cover. If selected, you send a representative of your company to speak on behalf of your brand or a pain point your brand solves.
Many companies will have brand ambassadors, subject matter experts, and product experts that can often represent at trade show speaking engagements. It is, however, also important to recognize that not all members of your staff will be able to represent your brand accurately. In some cases, you might want to consider a professional speaker to convey your brand concept to attendees in a creative way that will lead to better engagement with your brand. We suggest being cautious should you use this approach. You’ll need to ensure that the professional speaker can adequately represent your brand and be knowledgeable in answering all attendee questions.
A good speech or discussion can be a memorable experience in itself, be sure to search for unique and interesting topics to keep it a uniquely engaging experience for listeners.
Why Should You Use Experiential Marketing at Your Next Trade Show?
If you want to provide a trade show experience to top all others, then you’ll want to incorporate experiential marketing into your next show. A unique experiential marketing display will showcase how awesome your trade show booth is, and you will stand out above the other more traditional exhibitors.
The attention alone is the main reason to do experiential marketing. If executed well, a good high-tech, highly-engaging experiential marketing experience can draw media coverage to the trade show that would not have otherwise been there, providing extended awareness of your brand that would in many other cases be difficult to obtain through traditional marketing. Attendees will always leave your exhibit space with a memorable experience and positive perception of your company and brand when you go that extra mile with your trade show exhibit.
Conclusion: Experience is Key to Trade Show Success
Experience is key to the success of your trade show. Experiential marketing is a great way to take your trade show experience to the next level of attendee engagement, putting you far ahead of your competition. Create that big impact by incorporating experiential marketing at your next trade show, and be sure to consider these tips:
- Lasting Impressions – Create a lasting impression in attendees’ minds with a great trade show experience. Leave them with something to talk about long after the show ends.
- Earn Loyalty – Earn consumer loyalty by creating engaging experiential marketing exhibits that will build long-lasting-loyal-client relationships. Well worth your efforts in the long-run.
- Consider Your Exhibitor Space – Whatever experiential method you use, be sure you have the booth space to do it! Don’t cram too much in a small space, make sure attendees are comfortable in your booth experience, and have an enjoyable experience that leaves them talking about your brand for months to come.