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The 5 Biggest Trade Show Marketing Trends Right Now

November 8, 2016

The trade show industry is on fire right now. If you don’t believe it, ask the 99% of marketers who said they find unique value in trade shows that other marketing mediums can’t match.

A big part of what’s fueling this fire is the explosion of trends that are helping make expo marketing more accessible, engaging, and cutting-edge. For trade show exhibitors, these trends are often the perfect way to make your own trade show strategy stand out above the rest.

So, are you up-to-date on what’s hot in the trade show world? Let’s find out.

Portable, lightweight materials

In the past, trade show exhibits may have felt out-of-reach for many marketers. Expensive drayage, shipping, and installation costs were too much to absorb, and marketers could not justify the hefty investment.

Recently, portable trade show designs and lightweight materials have increasingly made it easier for marketers to pack, ship, and set up their exhibits. Tensioned fabric, high-quality cardboard structures, and inflatable elements are just a few of these trending materials. But don’t get it twisted: light on weight does not mean light on style. Portable and convenient designs are becoming the norm thanks in part to incredible advances in their look and feel. In fact, if executed correctly, booth attendees would have a hard time figuring out just how inexpensive they were to produce. 

Integrated interactive media

Engagement has always been at or near the core of marketers’ strategies. And predictably, trade show strategies are no exception to this rule.

The hot engagement trend right now in the trade show marketing world is interactive digital media. We’re not just talking about your run-of-the-mill laptop stand, either. Some of the most effective engagement tools hot on the trade show floor include digital games, virtual reality experiences, custom animations, and even giant digital theater displays.

These work best when they are authentic and relevant to your brand. It’s about creating a memorable association, not flooding the trade show floor with off-brand gimmicks.

Phone charging stations

It’s no surprise why phone charging stations are so popular. After all, who hasn’t dealt with the anxiety of carrying around a smart phone that’s in the red and seconds away from dying?

To fight back against this universal experience, many custom trade show exhibits have become an oasis for trade show attendees with phones in need of some juice. It’s a fantastic way to not just bring people to your booth, but to do what brands do best: solve people’s problems.

Personalization (and data to inform it)

Personalization is nothing new, nor is it going anywhere any time soon. But new techniques to capture important attendee information, as well as customized follow-up strategies which use this data, are on the rise.

Lead capture technology, including mobile business card capture, are becoming essential in trade show marketing strategies. Once this information is obtained, marketers are tailoring their outreach to include several touch points with personalized messaging.

For example, did a booth attendee sit through an extensive product demo at your booth? After the show, you should maintain contact through multiple mediums such as social media, email, and one-on-one consultations. The information acquired from this prospect can even help inform your communications.

The “experience”

A buzzword? Sure. But an effective way to frame your trade show strategy? Most definitely.

No longer is it enough to stand out at an expo by simply designing a trade show exhibit that just looks good. It needs to reflect your brand, stay on theme for the show, and consider the attendee’s needs above all else.

Trade show marketers have augmented the “experience” by making sure it’s a priority in their strategies. These techniques include investing more in staff training, offering the VIP treatment to attendees (e.g. offering them private demos, exclusive giveaways, and more), as well as extending the depth of their exhibit by encouraging conversation on social media. Overall, it’s about making sure attendees build a favorable association with your brand.

Ready to make a bigger splash at your next show? Contact us today – let’s tackle your next trade show exhibit challenge together.