Exhibiting in 2020 is not for the faint of heart. Telling your brand story now more than ever requires strategy, creativity and resourcefulness. Moving Forward Together demands a new way of thinking.
Public Health Advisor Lauren Sauer recommends running through all the operational pieces of trade shows and exhibits to determine risk and making plans to mitigate that risk. Analyze both your goals and your physical onsite execution to determine what’s a go, what may need altering, and what may need to halt altogether.
For the tactical execution, here are four ideas gleaned from how we produced our exhibit in July at Together Again Expo, the industry’s first — and successful — foray into getting trade shows back into convention centers in America.
Creating space for physical distancing in an exhibit booth may require the mindset of a decorator. The trick is to edit the offerings without diminishing the experience for participants. Think of an attendee moving through your space with a 6-foot bubble around them. How can you interact? If your furniture and equipment are contributing to physical distancing rather than eating up space where people can move freely, it will help you decide how much space you need for what’s required to tell your story onsite. Industry guidelines have been 28 square feet of space per person so start to think about whether you want to reduce the number of staff to make more room for attendees or create a space for a line in larger activations. Losing furniture to limit the number of people in discussion around a cocktail table or in a conference room is smart. Keep in mind that reducing equipment or display materials can lessen the impact of your message so be careful not to trim too far.
Safe with Science
Prioritize adherence to event and local guidelines to support public health measures being taken in the community. Make personal protective equipment a must for your staff and support any guidelines in place by the local officials, venue managers and event organizers. Throughout your booth space, regardless of size, pathways marked with floor stickers and directional signage put attendees at ease. Adding see-through plexi barriers at reception counters or where any deep one-on-one discussions will take place help further assure attendees you are looking out for them. Remind staff members to maintain distance. Participants have many levels of tolerance for interaction on a normal day, let alone in a COVID-ravaged country. Remember feeling comfortable makes them confident, and that helps you build trust.
QR codes came and went. They looked weird and were hard to explain. But now, they’re back. And since everyone has a smart phone that makes it easy to capture the image and go directly to your desired URL rather than downloading special apps. Use QR codes to deliver participants into an online experience that augments their real-life experience. We used this technology at the Together Again Expo on July 24 in Orlando with QR codes embedded into graphics that led to website materials. The QR codes also were collocated onto one main graphic at the back of the booth on an aisle so attendees feeling less inclined to come in and engage were able to do it their own way. Video can really shine as well, and not just at the QR code location but also in the booth. Live streaming video can make it even more exciting by supplementing the onsite knowledge with live videos from Subject Matter Experts (SME) back in their home offices.
Quality over Quantity
Lead quantity may have been the top measurement used to help compute your exhibit marketing ROI, but today the numbers now must push beyond that. Key Performance Indicators can include Connections Made, Length of Conversations, Title and Purchasing Power of Visitors. Go even further to track KPIs for years to gain insight. Have interactions shortened sales cycles? Have you closed leads three years later? The data is all there, it must be harmonized together to tell the story of event success. It has taken the loss of face-to-face for many high-level executives to realize the channel’s importance in the marketing mix. In a summer an Exhibitor Magazine study, 37% of exhibitors said cancellations have made upper management more attuned to the value of exhibiting. Use that to your advantage by retooling your objectives and how they are measured and optimized.
Next month… Measuring Success in Virtual, Hybrid and Live Environments