Trade Show Exhibits

Trade Show Trends: Our Top Takeaways from CES and ExhibitorLive

Live presentations draw crowds at Trade Shows

When you spend your days crafting concepts that inspire and engage others, you need a little inspiration yourself. That’s why MPG makes CES and ExhibitorLive must-sees at the start of every new year. We go to the consumer technology megashow and the exhibiting industry’s premier expo to experience new technologies and get a feel for the trends and themes that have the potential to resonate with our audiences.

We saw a lot that excited us this year. We also saw things that underwhelmed. And much of it confirmed our core beliefs about what works in the unique face-to-face marketing environment known as a trade show.

Here are our top takeaways:

Booths Are Going Next Level

Everywhere we looked we saw multi-story booths. Two and even three levels are almost commonplace, providing intimate places for conversation above the hubbub, or even a bird’s eye view of the show floor. This approach definitely helps solve space challenges, but accessibility can be an issue.

People Don’t Always Think With Their Stomachs

Food and beverage themes have been big for several years, with booths featuring bartenders, chefs and other delectables. But at this year’s Exhibitor show, most of these were sparsely attended unless they provided something active and visually appealing, such as an “artist” rolling toppings into slab ice cream. To stand out, today’s F&B-themed experiences need to be extra-clever and eye-catching.

Live Presentations Draw Crowds

We see it every year. Big booths with lots of touchscreens stand empty, while 10X20s with magicians and other performers are crowded with people. Call them cheesy or hucksterish, but they’re getting something right. Using a professional to deliver messages in an engaging way is a surefire strategy to get people to stop, listen and interact.

Timing Is Everything

For maximum crowd-draw, presentations should happen back to back. We saw one exhibitor with a cool fashion week theme, models in amazing outfits, and an empty red carpet. They were only doing their presentation a few times an hour, which meant… you guessed it, no one in the booth. If you’re going live, then double cast so that your booth is always full.

Immersive trade show booth at CES

Technology Is Still Scaling Up

Virtual reality, touchscreen games, and many other new technologies are still either one-person activities or able to engage just a handful of attendees at once. Balance these out with demos and experiences that engage bigger audiences. You’ll vastly increase the number of people who walk away with your full message.

Immersion Works

Some booths almost made us forget we were at a tradeshow. They plunged us into stories and environments that reminded us how powerful a good theme can be. In sessions at Exhibitor, we heard about how younger audiences want experiences that take them outside of themselves. More and more, we think they’ll be demanding exhibits that are truly unique.

Face to Face is Still Best

People attend trade shows so they can connect with real people and experience brand benefits for themselves. So make sure you’re providing something they can’t get online. One quote from an Exhibitor session stood out: “If what you’re considering can be done better with a website, then come up with something else.”

At MPG, we believe meaningful interaction with real people is the key to trade show success. If you want to ensure your booth is packed and your visitors are fully engaged, then drop us a line. We’d love to chat.

Exhibitors: Avoid These 5 Common Trade Show Mistakes

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A new trade show exhibit can be a huge investment. The last thing you want is an oversight that could create a less-than-WOW experience for your guests, or stand in the way of ROI.

We’ve seen a lot of successes when it comes to trade show experience design. We’ve also navigated our share of challenges. If you’re considering a new trade show exhibit, then plan to avoid these 5 common mistakes.

1. Not reserving enough space — Sometimes you need to lock in booth space before you have a firm exhibit design and strategy. And space can be a tempting area for cost-cutting. But we have worked too many shows where the booth felt cramped and our clients weren’t able to execute new activities as well as they’d like, simply due to lack of space. And trade shows often have strict rules about experiences spilling into the aisles. When in doubt, go bigger. That extra 10 feet will pay you back in flexibility and a better guest experience.

2. Unclear agency brief — The brief is our Bible, so give it extra attention. Provide clear objectives and criteria for success. Lay out messaging musts. Clearly delineate the roles of any partner agencies. Let us know what assets exist and who’s responsible for providing them. Don’t be afraid to ask your agency for help with the brief. A good brief is vital to creating an outstanding, on-equity experience with maximum efficiency.

3. Not staffing with your A-team — A beautiful trade show booth is just a hollow shell if the people inside it stand like lumps, waiting for attendees to come to them. Even if you’ve hired a company like Moening Presentation Group to craft an amazing experience using professional talent, it all falls flat if your company reps aren’t ready to step up, engage, and close the deal. Trade shows require a special kind of personality and stamina, so be choosy with your internal staff. Or follow the lead of some of our biggest clients and hire professional sales hosts.

4. Not following up on leads — We see this too often: An outstanding experience brings tons of qualified leads to the booth, then those leads languish on a spreadsheet, in someone’s email, or—worse—in a booth crate. Building and creating new relationships is a trade show exhibit’s raison d’etre, so keep up the momentum and reach out to visitors who’ve shown they’re open to hearing from you. Good lead-management programs can help. Or simply assign someone to filter and distribute leads after each show. Then, make sure your team is committed to the all-important follow-through!

5. Not documenting the experience — A video recap is a must-have in your measurement arsenal. It’s all about capturing the excitement for leadership and other stakeholders who couldn’t attend the trade show. Showcase all major aspects of the booth experience, and be sure to interview attendees for raves. Weave in the results you’ve measured to demonstrate ROI, and you’ve got a powerful sales tool that can help ensure your trade show marketing program continues.

MPG followers, what are some common trade show mistakes you’ve encountered?

Successful Trade Show Tips – Be Your Company’s Convention Superstar

Whether you’re just starting to exhibit at trade shows or you’re looking to reinvigorate your existing program, we’ve identified some “must haves” for trade show success. Check out these trade show tips, and let us know if you have any to add!

Let people connect with people at your trade show booth

This interactive presentation for IAMS allowed attendees to connect with a personable and professional brand representative in a booth that provided a welcoming “wow.”

Bring in the experts. It can be tempting to DIY, especially for a smaller trade show exhibit (and you’re probably thinking, “of course, a company that specializes in trade show marketing is going to encourage me to buy their services”). But professional designers and producers will bring the level of quality you need to be competitive—in fact, they could save you money by doing things right the first time. They’ll troubleshoot areas you probably haven’t considered, help with hidden costs and free you up to focus on your attendees.

Let people connect with people. The point of a trade show is bringing people together.  Technology can be powerful, but don’t overdo it at your booth; attendees can interact with touchscreens at the supermarket on any given weekday. Instead, take advantage of the face-to-face nature of tradeshows and create opportunities for them to engage with human beings.

Staff strategically. Make sure everyone represents  your brand with excellence. Choose only your best, most personable sales reps and thought leaders. Then back them up with professional hosts and presenters who can draw people to the booth and make them feel like VIPs.

See tradeshows as part of the conversation. These days, trade show exhibits aren’t on-off, once-a-year things. They’re a chance to start and continue conversations and relationships. Reach out to attendees before the show and invite them to visit you. Collect their data and track their interests while they’re at your booth. Then follow up and keep them engaged until the next time you meet. MPG is using event digital marketing to help clients do just that.

Be a spy. Make sure to get away from your booth for a little reconnaissance. Check out what your competitors are doing. Look for inspiration from other exhibitors: How are they engaging attendees? Is there anything you could take and make your own? Include your agency and designer in this exercise; it’s never too early to start planning for the next show!

Track ROI. With budgets getting leaner, it’s vital to demonstrate how marketing at trade shows benefits your company’s bottom line. Decide what trade show success means for you—is it number of visitors? Actual sales? Qualified leads? Whatever the benchmarks, track them and follow up. Also, consider investing in a good “sizzle” video to communicate the excitement to higher-ups who couldn’t attend.