Bringing Products to Life – Unique Value of Face-to-Face Marketing at Exhibitions

by Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Research Director

In What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions, CEIR found that one of the biggest categories of needs attendees bring to an exhibition is a variety of shopping needs. Two top-ranked shopping objectives include the perennial desire to see and experience what is new and to interact with products. And isn’t this what face-to-face marketing should be all about, giving target and existing customers a chance to EXPERIENCE the products? The face-to-face marketing channel is unique in that it offers an in-person setting that cannot be fully replicated by two dimensional alternatives such as online, print media or via a phone call.

Last week at EXHIBITOR FastTrack in Boston, I conducted a session with a fantastic group of event marketers from a wide range of industry sectors – consumer, medical, software, finance, among others. Professionals in the room included a mix of individuals by job function, from marketing communications specialists to trade show managers with responsibilities in North America or globally. As a group, we brainstormed ways to maximize this opportunity, to align with what attendees are craving to experience.

It was exciting to learn about examples of best practices already happening. One of my favorites relates to a company in the medical space. This company’s approach integrates many powerful aspects of what an exhibitor can deliver to its audience, this example illustrates an approach fulfilling both important shopping and learning needs. Here is a summary of their approach as well as a description of another example from an organizer perspective:

  • At events that enable live streaming of content from a booth or the event’s conference sessions, the company streams surgeries in progress, that are being performed. In tandem with this activity, they offer video animation in their booth detailing how their stent graft delivery system and product works and how it is inserted into a patient. The booth includes a loaded delivery system, where a physician can go through the deployment steps applied to a human model. The physician can walk away with in-service training and certification that he or she is authorized to use the FDA approved product. And at minimum, the physician has been able to ‘test drive’ the product to consider for future purchase. Think about the discussions that can take place with exhibit staff and how technical questions can be answered as they give the product a try. And, imagine the interactions that take place with other attendees/surgeons, peers. Kudos to this exhibiting company’s approach!
  • Another example relates to a story I shared with the group about a product demonstration opportunity the World of Concrete offers to exhibiting companies. This is an event that takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center where the entire parking lot is transformed into a demonstration area. In one area attendees are able to ‘test drive’ product, jack hammers to see how well they do in breaking up concrete. What can be better than that? If the product does the job, don’t you think companies selling the products will convert interest to sales when the purchase process kicks in?

 If  you are an exhibitor, have these examples triggered ideas to consider on how to bring your product to life, that give attendees a chance to experience your product in an immersive, powerful way that can help them to understand how  your product can meet their needs, where they can experience how it can do so? For exhibition organizers reading this blog, do you offer your exhibitors opportunities to showcase their products in demonstration areas, for the prime product categories that drive attendance to your events?

Please feel free to share examples of how your exhibit program or exhibition brings products to life, delivering to attendees the product interaction opportunities they are craving to experience.

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