Exhibitions are returning to the international schedule. How can B2B marketers use this transition period to deliver the best experience for their visitors on the show floor?
1. Be a part of your client’s story: the end of COVID
There is a good chance that one of the first business trips your visitors will take since COVID is an exhibition. With international travel still constrained, exhibitions offer an exceptionally good opportunity to get out and see people face-to-face with a single travel experience. People are going to remember what they did once COVID receded – a prolonged “where were you when” type of moment if you will. How brands embrace this moment may have an outsized impact on their visitors and clients.
To do this, spend more time with your exhibit house on the experience you’re delivering. If you have new things to offer such as innovations, make sure to combine this development with a sensory experience that is in line with your brand story and creative side. Visitors have been saturated with online media, so a stark contrast with a physical environment and service will be a welcome (and memorable) change.
2. Focus: why is it important to see your clients in person?
Communicate with prospects via email and social media about why it's important to meet them face to face. Ultimately, we only want to see the people most important to us in person – this is more or less a universal truth. Remember, the alternative is that your brand isn’t important enough to be (physically) in front of them. This messaging should flow from your brand's story of how it improves your customer’s life.
Every brand has changed in some regard during COVID: enhanced digitalization, new innovations, personnel changes, mergers and acquisitions, etc. Focus on why these changes are important to your customers, and how they stand to benefit. Remember, trends pre-dating COVID showed that exhibition visitors increasingly plan out their exhibition schedules tightly via apps to maximize the value of their time at the exhibition. This is likely to only accelerate. Highlighting the “what's new” and “why” should increase the chances that they will put you on their tight exhibition schedule.
3. Plan for exhibit house capacity constraints
Many stand builders in the EU have re-focused their businesses towards other lines of work (such as furniture, retail outfitting, interiors, etc.) which has affected capacity. Many tradeshow professionals were forced to exit the industry completely as well. It’s essential to plan ahead and to make sure that your stand builder has the capacity for you. When you’re working with an agency, make sure they have a sub-contractor who will guarantee availability.
As with many other industries, COVID may affect pricing vs. pre-COVID budget expectations. Between higher material costs, fewer industry professionals, and government subsidies, the relative value and security of using an agency + sub-contractor will decrease enormously vs. a single vertically integrated exhibit house that can guarantee every step of the process.
4. Integrating digital and physical is no longer optional. So what?
Since physical attendance of exhibitions may be lower initially, make sure that you have a solid and unique online presence that also generates ROI via your chosen platform. A great way to give potential clients the same feeling they would get by visiting your physical stand is to have your stand replicated with a virtual space. High-end, boutique exhibit houses such as Beire, offer engaging, content-embedded virtual booths and brand space at a very low cost alongside your physical booth. The benefits include the ability to scale your exhibition investment, acquire a high-quality sales tool, and address a wider market of visitors.
Given the complete shift from the physical to the digital in the past year in every field, many companies have significantly increased their investment in digital marketing channels and communication. Remaining consistent across all platforms, both physical and digital, will be an enormous advantage to your brand.
5. Is your brand more tech-oriented now? Make sure your booth reflects it inside and out.
The stand you’ve used prior to COVID might no longer be relevant in terms of your newly evolved, technologically enhanced brand presence. Keep in mind that potential clients and visitors will be more used to your digital footprint, and you’ll want to build off that perception. That’s what your clients have seen develop over the last 18 months.
If your brand has advanced significantly in terms of technological adoption then you may want to revisit the design that’s “worked” in the past. Not only that, but does your stand have built-in analytics to understand traffic flow and determine impression data? If not, find a vendor that includes (GDPR compliant) traffic data collection as a built-in feature of the exhibition stand. Not only customers have different expectations – business and marketing executives are now more used to analytics, and providing detailed impression data with the help of your exhibit house will help your marketing program keep pace.