Exhibition marketing is becoming more popular all the time, as its effectiveness becomes clear. In fact, a recent study from the Content Marketing Institute showed that 74 percent of marketers in the United Kingdom considered in-person events like exhibitions to be their most effective content marketing strategy.
However, in order to be truly effective, exhibition marketing has to engage visitors and lead to meaningful connections, meaningful conversations and meaningful experiences. To achieve this, many businesses create an engagement plan and here we take a look at how and why you should do so.
The most obvious way in which a business can encourage a customer to engage with their brand at a trade show event is through offering great visual appeal. However, while many exhibitors enlist the help of a specialist event company and focus on the appearance of their exhibition stand, there are a lot of other considerations to weigh up.
Planning aesthetic elements in advance is the best way to guarantee success when it comes to engagement. Moving graphics, high-definition screens and well-designed signs can all add to the visual appeal and draw customers in. Moreover, when drawing up an engagement plan, you may wish to ask yourself the following questions:
- Would the display benefit from staff members wearing uniforms or coordinated outfits?
- Does your chosen colour scheme look attractive, but also convey your brand values?
- Is it more visually appealing for staff members to be standing up or sitting down?
- Can you tell just from looking at your exhibition stand what your business is all about?
“First impressions count. “Every element of your visual presence should be designed to reflect both the quality of your offering and the aesthetic power of your brand,” says Tom Maya from Eventbrite. “Bring nothing with you that isn’t either expertly branded eye candy or irresistible lead-bait.”
Stimulation of the Senses
While the visual side of your exhibition plays a strong role, companies are increasingly aware that looks aren’t everything and in order to truly engage visitors, you need to try to stimulate as many different senses as possible. This is why experiential marketing has become such a popular concept in recent times.
Rather than seeing your exhibition purely as a display, think about it as an experience for the visitors. Give some consideration to the exhibition services you provide and try to engage customers through use of sound, through the use of touch and, in some cases, even by appealing to their senses of taste and smell.
Effective use of music is one way to increase audience engagement, while innovative use of touch-screen technology can help to stimulate the sense of touch. Plan to make your exhibition as dynamic as possible and offer more than just visual appeal, as these exhibits are more likely to result in meaningful engagement and lead generation.
Your engagement plan should also consider ways to build brand engagement before the trade show begins, and the main way to achieve this is through promotion. Roughly 70 percent of trade show attendees plan which stands they want to visit in advance, according to research from Inc. Magazine, which highlights the importance of this step.
Essentially, you could create an excellent engagement plan, which considers visual appeal and creates a sensory experience for customers, but studies show that it could still fail if your promotional efforts are poor. Use social media, advertise in trade show publications and make sure people know your business is going to be at the event!
Pre-event promotion is paramount, of course, although your efforts do not necessarily have to end when the show begins. Some businesses use competitions, prize give-aways and other contests to create hype at the event itself, but these things cannot be spontaneous and must be planned ahead of time,
Regardless of whether you are aiming for lead generation, increased sales or greater brand awareness, a comprehensive engagement plan is needed. The process of formulating the plan will encourage you to think about how visitors will interact with your exhibition and staff, ultimately resulting in more meaningful connections.
Reno Macri is a Director of a leading exhibition and event company Enigma Visual Solutions, specialising in event branding, retail designs, graphic productions, signage systems, exhibition stand designs, conference set design and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. He would love to share his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends.
Featured image: derivative of untitled photo by Till Naujock licensed under CC0 1.0.
In-text images: derivatives of untitled photos by Mediamodifier, Milada Vigerova and TeroVesalainen all licensed under CC0 1.0.