Convention Displays Worked for Edison, Pasteur and Carnegie Too!
One of the most interesting things about convention displays, expo’s and other trade show-style exhibiting is just how long a history the practice has. Getting a bunch of people together in one place where everyone can all shout about how great their wares are, at folks mostly looking to see what they can get for free, is a proud tradition that dates back to the Greeks and the Phoenicians!
Even in more recent history: Louis Pasteur pushed his theories of disease transmission at expositions. Andrew Carnegie presented his innovations at trade shows. Thomas Edison was a master of self-promotion. The most prominent feature in Queens, New York are the World’s Fair towers.
Convention displays, trade shows, county fairs and similar events have remained relevant because they can continually reinvent themselves. There isn’t one single formula for creating “perfect” expo displays; approaches to trade shows have changed over time depending on societal attitudes and customer preferences.
Now that we’re in the 21st Century, what “basic” aspects of trade shows are still relevant, and which are ready to be left to history? Let’s take a look at how you might want to steer your convention displays as you head into the years to come!
Basic Trade Show Elements That Still Bring Buzz
Here are some of the features of expositions that are as old as the camel trail, but still important to 21stCentury online marketing!
Face Time! No matter how advanced, wired, or videoconferenced our world gets, it’s never going to entirely replace the feeling of sharing space with a person you may do business with. However, remember that electronic communications can also be effective at bringing people in to meet face-to-face. You just can’t beat a great first impression.
New Product Unveilings: There’s still no better time and place than expo displays for announcing major new products, lines, or shifts in your overall strategies. Get people there to see it firsthand, so they can tell others. The 21st Century twist on this is to especially look at recruiting bloggers and other social media figures to experience your show.
Free Stuff: Trade show visitors still want their free stuff, and don’t think times have changed that much! However, try to look beyond simple toys and games. The standard stuff is better than nothing, but online-focused businesses are looking to create experiences that leave a visitor with something to take home with them. It’s even better if they get something to add to their portfolios, which is an important consideration if you’re chasing Internet personalities.
Basic Trade Show Elements That Need To Buzz Off
Not every marketing trick works forever, or at every show. Here are a few practices that used to be standard with convention displays but now should be deployed cautiously – or avoided altogether – when putting together a modern trade show booth.
Booth Babes: As we’ve discussed in the past, it’s time to move away from “booth babes.” They’re mildly more acceptable if you have roughly equivalent amounts of male eye candy, but the underlying problems generally remain: Pretty models are unlikely to know much about your product, and a large number of guests feel insulted and pandered to when overtly sexual models are included. If you absolutely must include pretty people in your expo display, at least make sure they can carry on a real conversation about your product.
Stuffy Indoor Facilities: If you want a bit of prognostication, we think that indoor shows are going to be changing some. It’s just starting, but the shows themselves have been getting too busy. They’re too big, too bright, too loud, too cramped… Now that we have a lot more options in batteries, wireless connections, Power-over-Ethernet, and all sorts of other fun technologies, look to trade shows to continue to open up, add quiet spaces – and some may possibly move back outdoors. In the meantime, look to find ways to isolate your visitors from the noise and bustle around them. A weary conventioneer will thank you for even few minutes of respite.
Self-Centrism: We are swiftly transitioning from the “me” generation to the “we” generation. By all means, use your expo displays to announce your latest and greatest – but never leave your fans and visitors out. Be inclusive – give people ways to contribute and participate and make something together. If you do nothing but talk about yourself and set up purely self-centered activities, you risk boring your visitors and sending them off to someone a little more open.
Build Bridges With 21st Century Expo Displays
There’s your key message. Trade show booths are about making new connections and getting people talking about you. That’s what gets you leads, and then gets you sales. Put on a great show, using the latest trade show supplies, and include your visitors in that show!