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Marrying the Old and New: Tech is Great but it Hasn't Cancelled Out Tried and True Trade Show Tricks

These days it feels like if you really want to make an impression on attendees at trade shows, conferences and conventions, you need to be big! And bold! And loud! And technologically advanced! You need to have panel screens to grab attention and fancy electronic gizmos to win over the hearts of potential new fans and customers. 

There is some truth to this. Embracing technology is definitely in your best interest. At the same time, you don’t want to completely give up the tried and true methods of marketing either. What you need to do is find a way to marry them. Here are a few tips to help you do that:

Make it Voluntary

You don’t have to line your booth or exhibit space with screens and play loud videos constantly to get attention. In fact, doing this can be a fantastic way to alienate people. Incorporating videos and sound is a great way to endear yourself to attendees but it will work better if you make it voluntary (and you’ll be less likely to give yourself and your neighboring vendors a migraine). Don’t play sound-based videos automatically. Silent videos are great for background decoration but sound should only be played when someone tells it to. Load a few into a few different tablets that you attach to your booth and let people play them at will, as long as the charge on the tablet holds.  

Make it a Bribe

That voluntary video will work even harder for you if you provide an incentive for watching it. For example, offer a piece of branded merchandise to every person who watches the entire thing. This doesn’t need to be a big or expensive piece of merch. You can give out pens, notepads, buttons, and discount cards.

Try taking it one step further: at the end of the video pop up a quick survey that asks people what they thought of the video and a method of contact. Most people are happy to answer a few simple questions and if you step up your freebie/bribe game to something like a t-shirt or tote-bag, you shouldn’t have any problem getting people to give you at least an email address.

Simple is Sweetest

One of the best ways to marry new tech and old marketing techniques is to give out download cards. You can create these with simple business cards. Instead of creating a professional contact card, though, create a visually appealing graphic with information about the product you’re promoting and a large code that they can use online to download a sample of the product for free. Musicians, for example, will give out download cards for a free song or two. This way you’re giving away a tech goody but you aren’t paying through the nose to produce hundreds of them.

USB Cards and Drives

Obviously you’re going to want to give out business cards with your contact information. A great way to market yourself to attendees in a way that they will remember is to put your contact information on something they will actually use. Preload some promotional information on to USB cards and drives that you’ve branded with your logo and then, if you can afford it, give them away.

If you can’t afford to turn them into freebies that’s okay. Simply load them with a larger amount of awesome (branded) content and sell them. For example, if you are an author, you can load ebook and PDF versions of your most popular books onto the drives. Musicians can load their music. Artists can load printable versions of their pieces.  

Packaging Still Matters

Don’t just toss your company’s freebies or products into cheap bags that you bought at your local office supply or grocery supply store. Instead, print up branded and custom made boxes and bags for them. This extra touch might seem unnecessary, but it is what will set your booth apart from the DIYers next to you. Don’t get us wrong: doing things yourself and staying independent can be an asset, but there are ways to keep that spirit alive and still create a solid and smooth impression.

Even better, if your boxes and bags are good, attendees will be more likely to put other vendors’ goods inside of them, which turns these boxes and bags into walking billboards for your booth.

The key isn’t tossing out all of the tested and approved methods of branding and marketing in favor of the flashy and fancy. The key is finding a way to marry the two together so that you get a good ROI for tabling at the show.

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