Your Trade Show Display Program In Ten Years
Maybe you don’t plan on being your company’s trade show manager ten years down the line. And if that’s the case for you, I can’t say I blame you. This is a business that can age a person—putting out fires at every turn, dealing with last-minute dilemmas at show after show, and coping with your management’s assumption that you’re a magician who can pull off just about anything, based on how well you’ve done your job so far.
But whether you’re still in the job or not, your trade show display program isn’t going to change ten years from now. The change is going to happen incrementally over time, year after year. And I’m suggesting that you start thinking about where you want it to be ten years down the road—now—so that your company is well positioned when the time comes.
Let’s look at some of the ways trade shows will change over the next ten years.
Technology will continue to be an important aspect of trade shows, and we’ll see technological advances we can’t even dream of now. But it will probably be more in service of making connections with people than simply being fascinating in its own right.
There will probably be an increased focus on taking the energy that is created at the show and “bottling” that—audio, video and still photography—for later use, reconstituting that energy in social media, for example.
What will happen to trade show attendance? Will people still want to meet face to face? Probably more than ever. Why? Because we work in an increasingly virtual world, where teams are distributed across geographic distances and time spans. Companies and customers enter into agreements without ever seeing each other.
This may seem counter-intuitive, given how much weight is placed on social media these days, but ten years from now, I think we’ll still enjoy real, human interaction, as opposed to having hundreds of online “friends” we’ve never met. This will make trade shows an ideal place for this person-to-person interaction to take place.
Another aspect of technology that will change trade shows in the next ten years is the Internet itself, which, as we know, is influencing virtually every area of our lives, including life itself. In fact, Google recently announced a division with the mission of extending human life indefinitely! So clearly, the Internet will be completely integrated into our lives. Think of the product demos you’ll be able to offer trade show attendees with a pair of Google glasses!
There were LOTS of Google Glasses wandering CES2014 this year, and within a few years, those glasses will become ubiquitous. In fact, in ten years we’ll be offering apps that give everyone’s Internet-enabled eyewear (or is it eyeware?) the capacity to interact with our products in amazing ways.
Another way the Internet will influence companies and their trade show marketing efforts is that those companies will be forced to think about what news or new content will be unveiled at a show. If you’ve been showing corporate videos on YouTube and other similar services (and you will be doing that), attendees won’t want to see that same content at the show. This will mean that companies are going to have to save exclusive announcements and releases for specific shows.
You’ll also see the disappearance of paper. No one is going to be handing out literature at trade shows ten years down the road (or even much sooner than that!). With everyone having access to the Net, information will be delivered online, or in some completely new way.
Another major influence on the changing role of trade shows is how management views them. More executive level people will be attending shows in the years to come, which will give exhibitors better chances to reach business decision makers.
We all know C-level management types with varying views of trade shows, from those who see them as critical to the success of business to those who consider them an annoyance—maybe a necessary annoyance—but an annoyance, nonetheless.
Two things that will have an impact on how corporate views of trade shows will change include:
(1) Greater scrutiny of all marketing and sales platforms, forcing companies to rethink their budgets to focus on what really works. Invariably, people are finding that traditional channels aren’t performing well, so they have to think about non-traditional ones.
(2) Trade show teams are being asked to be a lot more strategic—and when they apply strategic attention to demonstrating the value of investing in a trade show booth and a specific trade show, it tends to change the points of view among senior level corporate types.
Over the next ten years, the trend will probably be towards smaller, more intimate, regional shows. As business becomes even more global, people really want to connect in smaller environments, and network with people in their communities. As a result, international shows will likely decrease in importance.
Attendees are becoming much more selective about what shows they attend—and relevance of content is the key driver of their decisions. So in addition to shows getting smaller and more regional, they will also become more niche oriented, with shows very focused on distinct areas of concern and interest for attendees.
Having said all that, I see a need for companies to respond to these changes with trade show booths designed to work in these smaller, regional, niche-driven shows. That’s where the breadth of product we offer can be so helpful to you in planning your exhibit purchases. With our modular systems, you can invest in exhibit properties that can be configured in any number of ways for larger shows now, then the components can be split up for use in smaller shows down the road.
As an example, the Twist Banner Display system can be used as a single, stand-alone banner stand, but it can also be connected to multiple Twist stands to turn it into a back wall – or even a trade show conference room with double-sided graphics – simply by using (more of) the same hardware!
Ditto with the Xpressions Connex popup displays – one 1×3 with a single graphic makes a great, very lightweight, banner stand. Grouped together with Connex shelves, multiple Xpressions frames can create back walls – with backlighting if you want – and even towers!
To discuss your needs, call us or email me at [email protected]
For more, check out how to update your trade show strategies or what you might be forgetting with your trade show displays.