Tradeshow Do’s and Don’ts: Technology, From Low-Tech to High-Tech

Tradeshow Do’s and Don’ts: Technology, From Low-Tech to High-Tech

Welcome back everyone and happy 2016! I hope you all had a relaxing and refreshing break. Or, if you’re like me and had an extremely busy and hectic holiday season, I hope that the coffee is extra strong this week! Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue the blog series on Tradeshow Do’s and Don’ts. Last entry, we looked into leveraging food as a tool to attract people to your booth. We explored how a properly placed cookie can be either a disaster or the beginning of a fruitful conversation.

This week’s article is based on technology. In the digital era, we are constantly connected, surrounded and integrated with high tech gadgets. But at what point does technology become a hindrance to our business practices? I love technology and I think we should leverage it in the right way, but let’s make it work for us and leverage it to provide deeper insights.

So what technology is actually useful at tradeshows? What will benefit my experience? Before we do anything we need to remember why we are attending this tradeshow (or as I like to call them, “Brand Showcases”) and who is in attendance. Will the investments I make here help promote my brand in a positive light and in the long run benefit the business? As Bill Lumbergh from the movie Office Space so eloquently put it, “So you should ask yourself, with every decision that you make, is this good for the company?”

Technology is another one of those tools that can enhance an experience or completely distract people from your core message. We need to make sure we are using the proper technology and that we are using it in the proper application. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

1) A pen: Yes, a pen is considered technology. Granted, it is very low-tech by today’s standards, but technology never the less. Giveaways can be an awesome tool. Pens, flashlights and sunglasses are popular choices. With that said, be mindful of the purpose of the item (to attract people and start a business conversation, or even remind them of your brand every time they got a quick note.
I was at a show where sunglasses covered in LED blinking lights were the hot giveaway. I was stationed directly across from the booth and noticed that the staff spent more time talking about the sunglasses and restocking the buckets than actually chatting about their business (which had nothing to do with sunglasses or LED lights).

Don’t: be so cool that you lose focus on the core conversation. Yes, a giveaway that is too awesome can actually be more of a detriment. Do: bring cool giveaways that will attract people and even might be related to your business in some way.

2) A touch screen: More of a high-tech item. This is an excellent way to pull people in. In fact, customedialabs is a huge fan of the interactive display. We’ve implemented different versions of interactive displays for our client’s event experiences as well as some of our own brand showcases. Before investing a pretty penny for one, ask yourself how? How can we use this in the best way possible? In many cases, gamification can be great. But what is the game doing? Is it educating consumers on your products or tracking activity? Maybe it collects data? Or is it merely an excuse for people to come over and mess around with a cool oversized TV?

Don’t: just put a tablet on a stand asking people to enter their information, or have a distracting purposeless game. Do: leverage interactive technology that serves a purpose, tracks some data and educates.

3) Lead retrieval: In my opinion the most important form of technology you can leverage at the show. You’ve attracted the lead in, they took a pen and now it’s time to chat. “Do you mind if I scan your badge?” It rolls off the tongue perfectly for any seasoned tradeshow exhibitor. After all, you say it probably 150+ times a day at any given show (depending on the size of the show of course). I believe that at the exact moment of lead capture (scan) is when the most important conversation occurs. If we are already using a piece of technology to capture data, why aren’t we using it to continue the conversation, present, follow up and interact in the moment? A scanner that captures a name, number and email address is a waste of time and money in my opinion. It doesn’t provide you with any substantial information, it’s just useless data.

Don’t: waste hundreds of dollars for a useless piece of junk (lead retrieval systems). You could get the exact same data from a stack of business cards. Do: come away with tangible ROI through a platform that will still scan attendees but additionally: facilitate a meaningful conversation, track your presentation, instantly follow up with clients and even track website visits…all without leaving your booth.

So let’s tally our technology expenditures: pens, touchscreen, lead scanner. What do we have to show for it? A spreadsheet of data from people who stopped by. An event ROI can be one of the hardest things for an event team to calculate. Especially since sales won’t (usually) close until quite a while after the show. What if, instead of a list of numbers and emails, you could come away equipped with a portrait of substantial information about conversations, insights and interests? Don’t: subscribe to the notion that technology solutions provided at the show need to be used. Do: come to the show prepared and talk to Chris about how momencio can take your brand showcase to the next level.