Trade Show Apps That Move Your Pop Up Displays Into People’s Pockets!
There’s been a growing threat to trade shows lately, a competitor for people’s eyeballs that’s keeping them from actually looking at your pop up displays. And as much as we’d like to get rid of them, we can’t, since they’re in our customers’ pockets. I’m talking, of course, about cell phones and other mobile devices.
Doesn’t it seem like people are continually glued to them, even as they wander around trade shows? Shows are supposed to be an opportunity to take in new things, but it seems like everyone still ends up with their nose in their iPhone half the time.
Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Trade show apps are becoming hot, and it’s not simply because cell phones are trendy. It’s because we need to find some way to get our messages out to exposition attendees, and if visitors are looking at their phones, then we need to place some messages where they’re looking!
This brings a new set of challenges, but currently, it’s a great way of getting people thinking about your products, as well as creating new reasons to notice your trade show booth design and visit your expo displays. (Even if they are texting while they visit!)
Trade Show Apps – Putting Your Expo Displays Onto A 4” Screen
Now, when it comes to making an app, most companies are likely to opt to outsource the work, unless they happen to have a programmer on staff. Prices can vary wildly, from a few hundred, up to however much you want to pour into it.
However, even a basic trade show app is better than none, and there are a number of companies that can produce apps with a standard feature set. These usually include:
- Maps to the trade show grounds and surrounding attractions
- Maps of the show itself, with the trade show booths and exhibitors labeled
- Schedule of events (especially the ones you’re in!)
- Directory of speakers (again, especially any you’re speaking at!)
- Social media integration, direct linking to your accounts
- QR or Barcode-based scavenger hunts
- Libraries of your materials to look through
There’s nothing earthshaking there, but if you’re the only firm at your trade show offering an app, that can quickly translate to a lot of new traffic and interest.
So, if you’re making a low-cost, general-purpose app like this, you want to make sure it’s broadly useful to trade show attendees. You want it to become the app that they rely on for making their way around the trade show, so you get the most impressions per install.
It’s something like giving out useful promotional items, like maps and calendars, just more interactive.
Custom-Made Apps Have Near-Infinite Potential
Now, that’s just the low end. If you’ve got money to invest in a more custom-designed piece of software, you can have virtually any accompaniment to your trade show booth design and pop up displays that you’d want. Here are a few ideas, based on good apps and software we’ve seen from major names:
- Interactive catalogs, with embedded videos for most or all products, along with music and animations.
- Augmented Reality-based home decoration apps that allow the user to place virtual items “inside” their room, or see how “smart” home appliances would work in action. IKEA has a good one.
- Three-dimensional models of your products that can be rotated, potentially with cutaway or schematic views if applicable.
- Fashion apps that allow people to “try on” clothes or accessories using pictures of themselves, like paper dolls, using items from the brand’s collection.
- Vehicle brands producing simulations of their products. Volkswagen has a few particularly nice ones at the moment, but brands from Ford to John Deere have distributed demos like this in the past.
- Variations on the old “head through a cardboard stand” trick, which allow visitors to take pictures of themselves in front of wacky backgrounds.
- Virtual 3D first-person environments to be explored, such as a recreation of your location and collections, or some fantasy land you dream up that fits your product. Even the Louvre Musuem has a (rather pricey) 3D virtual guide app now.
- Complete documentation libraries, which is useful in tech-heavy or other niche fields.
- Interactive movies or stories. These are also really great for children’s books, if you’ve got young people in your audience. (Or want to distract them while you talk to their parents.)
- Tie-in promotional games that may or may not directly relate to your products, but push your messaging.
The sky is the limit here. Pretty much any way you can imagine to repackage and present yourself to an audience, there’s an app that can do it.
Even better, along with being put up for download, these killer apps can also be easily loaded onto full-sized tablets and ipads conveniently placed on trade show kiosks within your convention displays, so those few without a smart gadget won’t be left out. This also appeals to those who even apply “try before you buy” to free apps.
Remember That Apps Are Products Too
For one thing, quality does matter, especially if you’re in a field where trade show promotional apps are already becoming common. Consider the level of competition already in place when deciding whether to go with an app, and who to target it.
Make sure to promote it specifically, alongside your other pre-show materials, at least on social media and through your email list. Get people interested in it ahead of time.
Now, as to whether you withhold it until the show, or release it early, there are arguments to be made for both. That decision depends more on the specific app and your intentions for its messaging.
Also, think location! If you’re wanting to make sure your app is the first one any visitor sees, consider having a small tent display set up in the parking lot or outside the doors (depending on your trade show’s guidelines) to get people downloading before they get distracted by the show, or their next email.
Or, if your exposition allows for small displays outside the main hall, look for common meeting areas and set up a download stand.
Finally, remember that as product, your apps will need support as well. Make sure there are always a couple staff members nearby to help people find and install your app, as well as dealing with any problems that might come up.
Trade Show Apps Create A Lot Of Outreach
In the battle for people’s eyeballs, putting an app on their phones and tablets makes a lot of sense. Apps can include virtually any form of messaging, in any medium you might want to use to present it. When put together in a visually appealing and hopefully fun manner, you’ve got a powerful brand-building tool that can keep you on visitors’ minds throughout the entire trade show.
Plus, it gives them a great virtual souvenir of the show, and you can continue using the app for promotional purposes for the rest of the year as well!
And, for more advice on integrating digital marketing and software into your trade show booth design, just let us know a bit about your requirements and goals, and we’ll provide a free trade show booth design consultation.