With #ISE2014 and #dse2014 both taking place next month I hope (and this applies if you are exhibiting anywhere during 2014) that you haven’t forgotten about your content.
As a business we always get lots of (last minute) pleas for help with content and so I thought it might be interesting to write down some of the Do’s and Don’ts with your exhibition stand.
Content is usually one of the last things thought about at these exhibitions – simply perhaps because the majority of people exhibiting at the majority of industry events are AV folks or from a technology hardware and software background.
I would say that this does now seem to be slowly changing for the better however, some exhibitors still feel that what is MOST important to show off is the display/player/latest piece of software – which in part of course it is BUT what many forget is that any new piece of hardware is only seen to be as good as the content being played out on it or by it!
So here are some simple suggestions for good content delivery at your next exhibition:-
- Be relevant Always think primarily about your target audience. At a show you should, by using the right sort of content, illustrate how your solution works in any particular environment and demonstrate to attendees the vertical sectors that they might be interested in. Bottom line explain to them how your solution is relevant. Note that relevancy today includes more than just your traditional audience viewing needs. You should start thinking about HOW relevant your content might be – you need to stimulate intrigue and curiosity these days – especially as there is already a lot of relevant content out there. The question to ask is how do you make your content more relevant to the audience to differentiate yourselves from competitors at an event
- Engage with the event At far too many shows you see stands which could have been erected anywhere. Don’t be lazy, promote yourselves as a proud exhibitor; use bespoke content to show your stand number, use illustrations from the city that you are in and don’t forget to show you care enough about that particular show to reference it in your content. These days mind, simple stand ‘descriptions’ should be re-thought out – use what you are selling to talk about what you are selling and play to the strengths of what you are trying to describe – innovate to differentiate, but ensure that difference is still relevant to obtain engagement.
- Embrace social media Find out what the event’s twitter hashtag is and use it as part of your content strategy – it helps enormously demonstrating that you have ‘engaged with the event’ (see above). If there is a venue id for foursquare then promote that as well. A great way to promote all of this – but seems to have fallen out of favour recently, Ed, is to have your own twitter wall either somewhere on your stand (or integrated elsewhere into your booth design). Remember to show the status of foursquare check-ins and who’s the (current) mayor. One way in which we recently described this to a client, was to ‘bake your social strategy into the stand‘ – attempt to get your stand (almost) on its own to ‘communicate with your audience’.
- Be Topical Another good way to be relevant to the event and city where you are exhibiting in is by being topical. Is there a big soccer match on next weekend? Is Barry Manilow performing down the strip? Remember that topicality is the twin sister to relevance – be it with current news, affairs, entertainment stories of the hour or simply being location or environmentally sensitive. It’s also a great idea to liaise with the event organisers and see if you can take a feed of what is happening during their show and display these on the hour on your own stand.
- Be Interactive You know of course that you don’t necessarily need touchscreens to be interactive but I am sure that you understand that a touch of interactivity helps people stop and stare? The likes of Monster Social (nee LocaModa)  will often supply free of charge to events (and their exhibitors) cool twitter / foursquare widgets which can easily be incorporated into your content – or take a look at folks like Screach  and see what they can offer you, Ed. Do bear in mind that your audience will likely be overwhelmed with interactive functionality – however, it seems hat people are so used to it now that if the experience isn’t unique and rewarding it can be seen at best a gimmick and at worst, irrelevant.
There are two things that we suggest you avoid completely: –
- Do not play Pixar, Top Gun or James Bond Don’t setup your stand, plug in all your amazing new technology and then play Top Gun on that ultra thin bezel-less LCD screen or that large LED screen. Quite simply it demonstrates to the attendees that you have put no thought into the event at all and shows a distinct lack of manners
- Try not to re-use content from earlier shows If you have followed some of our advice above and tailored your content for a specific event then it is actually harder to re-use content from show to show. One of the worst things that you can do is attempt to recycle content – it will look dated and some eagle eyed attendee will recognise it as being old. At every show, re-evaluate what you want to get out of exhibiting and revisit your content strategy – what worked last year might not work the next!
Remember then, that piece of hardware or software can only be truly showed off well when the content is relevant to that product or service and when it has been designed and thought through to be relevant to its context.