Do You Dare Go All Digital at Your Next Trade Show? No!

Do You Dare Go All Digital at Your Next Trade Show? No!

How to use print marketing and digital together at trade shows so you don’t come off as lacking compared to your competition.

There is a lot of misinformation about how best to communicate your business’ message to your target audience, especially since everywhere you turn, people are nose down in their smartphones and digital dominance seems inevitable.  Many entrepreneurs will fall for this digital marketing trap and exclude our most preferred and oldest form of communication – print.

It’s helpful to be in tune with the primary reasons why people attend trade shows.  Most are there to network and hunt down new, more effective solutions to the challenges that plague them.  It would be shortsighted to suggest that using tablets to encourage digital interaction in real time or larger screens to loop short videos won’t help draw people into your booth because they can be a nice attraction, but they also fade to black where print goes home with everyone.  The truth is that digital and print can and should be used in conjunction with one another as you prepare to charm the attendees with intriguing exposure to your brand that will result in sweet conversions and make the effort all worthwhile.

Putting your vital information into the hands of your visitors is most effectively done with professional designed and printed pieces and doing so while wearing show-stopping branded apparel will put an extra shot of pizazz into your personal interactions with the many individuals that will be gathering to speak with you.

At a trade show, the name of the game is getting the most attention, stealing the show from your many competitors; so, in the name of balance, integrating both will make you stand out and win.

Let’s entertain technology’s addition to your trade show tool chest with 2 key ways to capture attention with screens:

Light up LinkedIn with pre-trade show excitement: Long before the show date comes up on your calendar, your social media accounts should be buzzing with pre-show excitement.  LinkedIn is a great place to start looping social media advertisements. It is the ideal platform for targeting those who will be there to peruse your industry’s booths and you can use it to differentiate your business from your competitors.  You can sponsor posts specific to particular interest groups and put your company on the minds of those who matter.  To go back to business school for a second, the theory of effective frequency can be at work for you with early and repeat exposure to your brand, encouraging conversions.  In the months preceding your trade show, go ahead and take advantage of that theory and put LinkedIn to work for you with posts and videos that tease at what your booth will look like and a little rundown of your business, complete with a brief story of your brand with design touches that will complement your printed marketing collateral on the big day.

At the show, use digital signage and tablets:  Working with a design professional versed in integrated marketing, you can come up with graphics that can represent your brand on a loop, featuring your business logo and displaying information that will complement your printed banners such as your slogan, contact information and digital contact information.  You only want to use digital to provide a draw, just enough information to pique interest.  You will have your team and plenty of printed materials to provide more in-depth connections with your attendees.

Create a short video:  Let it pack a little punch, but let it be no longer than 2.5 or 3 minutes because you do not need length, you need “Wow”, just enough to capture wandering eyes.  Keep it informative and fun and consistent with your brand representation across all channels.

The addition of tablets around your station is another idea as a way to provide an interactive experience and help draw some initial attention.  It is likely that your trade show will have a hashtag that you can put to use by projecting the Twitter results for that tag on your live feed.  People can use the tablets to have some fun tweeting and seeing their results come up on your screens and if you are wise, you can encourage them to go ahead and use your business name along with their own in their tweets.   To do this really well, when you are with your designer, ideally at a digital print, design and marketing specialty franchise, ask them to help you create printed collateral around your booth asking attendees to tag you in their tweets.  Use prizes such as entries into raffles to win gift cards so that they are more likely to participate.  Put this live feed monitor towards a high-traffic area near your booth.

  • Hint on augmenting the digital experience with print: Ask your marketing professional to help you come up with a unique little direct mail piece and use it to thank those who participated in your tweeting contest with highlights of the products and services that they want and need.  You could get their addresses by setting up your raffle in a way that they are provided with a neat sign-up sheet that asks for it.

Using digital media in these small ways lures people to your booth and allows you to approach them and start talking in a natural way. Remember that these digital options are really just little touches that will support the printed marketing collateral that you will have on hand (a plenty) for everyone.

Speaking of printed materials that will be placed into the hands of trade show attendees…

Print packs a trade show punch:  Brochures, catalogs, banners, business cards added to pre and post show direct mail campaigns will be your trade show saviors. They will proclaim the motherlode of information about your products, services and the reasons working with your business above competitors is what smart folks do.  Give all of these out to absolutely everyone who crosses your path.  People want takeaway items of value and they are absolutely essential in order to convert passersby at a trade show into new customers.

Printed Infographics:  Always a hit for its ability to be visually appealing, yet chock full of complex ideas made simple, infographics are another neat, welcome addition to your print marketing collateral that can complement whatever is being displayed on your video monitors at the booth AND they can be taken home by all attendees.  If you mention the desire to produce a printed infographic to your marketing specialist that creates a focused picture of the ways in which your business can be a major problem solver for potential clients, the product will be a spectacular, professionally printed addition to your booth, and your trade show attendees will snatch them up.

If you want to make a real impact with attendees and beat out the competition, don’t you dare go all digital at your next trade show!

Doug HarlanMinuteman Press International Regional Vice President located in Chicago, sees how the Minuteman Press franchise owners in his region serve well the needs of clients within the business to business services industry as they prepare to take on the trade show competition.  Doug explains, “It all comes down to people wanting something tangible and that means using printed materials and promotional products.  Every vendor should have something in hand to distribute because digital media will get lost.  It can be used as a nice draw, but it provides moments on a screen that pass by, ultimately.  Your brand, your name and your logo represented through the multitude of ways print can serve you will get used and endure. The people you are giving it to will be taking it with them after they spend time talking to you about your business.  Self-branded items such as pens, notepads, lanyards and promotional products that you can give away are all tangible things that will outlast the digital presence at the show.  And do not forget to outfit your entire team in top-notch branded apparel for that extra professional edge.”

Doug continues, “I am a huge proponent of using print not only at trade shows, but at business club and other networking events.   They are applicable to everyday business to get your name out there and have people remember who you are and what you do.  For a couple of quick ideas of the many available (as per BIC), top promotional items these days include, for men, USB drives, while women prefer drinkware.  Anything you could possibly need can be produced at your local Minuteman Press.”

If you want to do justice to your business at a trade show, you need to meet the challenge that your competitors are working on also, that of bringing your best foot forward as the saying goes.  It can be a challenge to compact your company’s great accomplishments into simple presentations within a single booth, however there are a lot of tools across digital and printed channels that can help you do this, but never fall into the trap that going all digital in any area of promotions will be enough.  You must address both digital and printed marketing channels in balance or you will come off as a tad less prepared than your competitors.  As for the trade show itself, extending your message towards the far reaches of the trade show floor is best done through consulting with a marketing specialist for sharp design, video, social media and printed packages customized for this particular event’s success.  Digital print, design and marketing franchises such as Minuteman Press is the trade show salvation only the modern printing industry can provide for you.