by Reagan Cook, Sr. Marketing Analyst, Global Experience Specialist (GES)
David Saef, Executive Vice President of Strategy & Marketing, Global Experience Specialist (GES)
Ever since the dawn of the digital age, the exhibition world has been abuzz about eliminating printed materials. A recent study by CEIR shows a paradox of printed versus digital – and while industry practice will vary, the simple solution is to provide access and exposure to print, and deliver with digital.
CEIR’s report, Exhibitor Product Information Sharing Practices, points out that the top method attendees prefer to access exhibitor information is via printed materials distributed at the exhibition (58 percent) followed by information sent via email after the exhibition (70 percent). A third alternative, exhibitors sending printed information after the exhibition, was ranked third by 34 percent of the respondents. Exhibitors expressed interest in the same rank order, albeit at higher percentage levels (85 percent, 70 percent and 52 percent, respectively).
Note that some of the differences in preference can be seen between industries; for example, Medical and Healthcare attendees prefer printed materials versus IT & Communications attendees who prefer digital delivery.
However, attendee respondents indicated that digital delivery (in this case information downloadable to a USB, post-exhibition email and a USB) rated higher in effectiveness. A partial explanation can be seen in generational attitudes. In this study, all attendees preferred a USB drive – or for older attendees, CD-ROM or disk for receiving information. In another CEIR report, Attracting Attendees, Gen X-ers are more likely to use smart phones to access exhibition programs, and Millennials prefer social media. Hence a generational focus on digital information.
At a time when exhibitors are pursuing more effective and relevant engagement, the shift towards more engaging digital content represents the new marketplace. As Gen X and Millennial generations move into decision-maker roles, more digital content will be expected along with some entertainment value.
We see more exhibition organizers and more exhibitors offering real-time electronic distribution through tools like mobile apps, digital way finding, and e-literature on tablets or at stations within booths. Sometimes these tools involve gamification to increase interactive engagement and to collect critical information on prospect interests. Trends like “bring your own device” (content sent to attendee Smartphones or tablets) and “anywhere transactions” driven by digital communications, peer input, and mobile purchases also accelerate the change. (Read GES’s TrendTracker report) Moving towards digital information (not abandoning print media) increases effectiveness and relevance, increases sustainability, and reduces costs for printings, shipment, and waste.
As more exhibition organizers provide these essential capabilities to exhibitors, satisfaction among exhibitors will increase for their exhibitions. As more attendees tap into the information they need easily with the technology they have available, their satisfaction will also increase. Both attendance and booth sales can increase.
So when devising your product delivery consider the following:
- Do my attendees / does my target audience prefer printed or digital solutions?
- Do I need to provide a printed piece for all attendees or can I feature certain pieces and deliver personally through a digital solution?
- Is my organization/company seeking to collect information/feedback on my product? If so, the digital solutions or requiring a card swipe will allow you to collect relevant feedback on your audience.
Click Exhibitor Product Information Sharing Practices for more information on the CEIR study.