24 Mar

Trade fairs: are you attracting your visitors or pushing them away?


After a few months of planning, a few weeks of creation, a few days of development and hours for setting it up, your stand is finally ready to introduce the new products in the trade fair. Everything is perfect, except for a few mishaps that were fixed before the beginning of the event. In the morning of the following day, visitation starts.

However, the moment visitors start going into your stand space, the interactivity you had planned to be the distinguishing piece of the stand stalls and people don’t know how to use it. Soon, the use of the piece gets lost and up to the end of the fair the number of people who interacted with it was so small that it wasn’t worth the investment. After all, everything works on paper, but when it comes to real life it’s all different.

Having followed, set up and participated in trade fairs of several types and segments for some years, I’ve noticed there is a constant will to innovate when it comes to products presentation. This wish to be always different, however, ends up making us forget the basics or the essential aspects.

Some of the interaction examples I’m talking about are the following:
– motion sensors integrated with videos,
– QR-Code,
– ask people to follow the brand in social networks from the stand space,
– touchscreens,
– souvenir photos,
– personalities,
– fragrances,
– demonstrations and tasting sessions,
– DIY,
– singers, jugglers and actors.

I don’t mean it’s wrong to use those kinds of interactions, but the thing is that a lot of precautions should be taken along the process, because when planning the trade fair, everything looks pretty and works on paper, but when they come to life, external events might end up getting in the way and ruining your plan altogether.
A few tips may be useful:

Technology: New tools and technological devices appear all the time in trade fairs. That’s great, because they make interactivity easier and attract the audience to the stand. However, in many cases, we spend more time fixing than actually using them, which requires the presence of a technician who is trained in that technology and is available in case of any eventual failures. Having a technology with the sole aim to look innovative goes against your strategy.
For example, it’s okay to use a touchscreen only to show the digital catalog. Remember though: do not use this feature as your main hit, since it will be empty most of the time. Objective videos that don’t require sound and in which the image speaks for itself can be a good tool.
Another critical point is to harmonize technology and architecture. Many times, the stand space does not help the system to work at its full potential. Maybe the sunshine gets in the way, or the stand is not big enough to allow people to go in and out of the same place.

Internet: If the interaction you’re planning needs Internet connection or requires visitors to have Internet access at the moment, make sure the connectivity hired for the trade fair copes with what you need for the action. And remember: don’t count on cell phone Internet packages, after all, many people will be connected from the same place at the same time.

Social Networks: Don’t forget: If it is happening live, getting people to follow, like, comment or do anything that comes from their own page or account might end up having a negative effect. People don’t easily login their own social network accounts from unknown computers to simply “like” something or get a giveaway – they need an extremely remarkable reason to do so.
The best networks are those that focus on geopositioning, with an aim to bring the visitor to its location. Imagine yourself in your customer’s shoes: what is the real motivation to bring the prospect to your stand? A breakthrough may be the key.

Products integrated to smartphones: If the product introduced in the fair has features that can be worked through apps, great, use the service as much as you can, but take precautions as mentioned previously.

Sales promoters: Have a trained sales promoter ready to use the interactive gadget, and have them stay full time next to it. Don’t expect people to understand how to use the tool easily. If the tool will introduce products, then the promoter has to be somebody who is very familiar with the company.

Personalities: Did you get someone who is reference in your field to show up at the stand or to give a speech while advertising your name? That’s excellent, but do take precautions. Check if the person is really up to interact with the audience and your brand. Check his/her level of friendliness and make sure he/she is good at public speaking.

Don’t forget the basics: Invest in the skills of your team and have an operational meeting prior to the trade fair. Make a list of all the tasks and divide each person’s role well, including shifts. Lean on the communication resources offered by the trade fair itself and try to use them when negotiating your stand space.

Focus on what really matters: Take up a single message and focus on it, so that your investment is more assertive. Sending a message with a particular budget is more impressive than to spend it all in several actions. Remember: people go to trade fairs in search of something new that is being released there and that nobody has seen before. Are your products ready for that?
If everything is aligned regarding the innovation of the interactivity brought by your stand, remember the visitor doesn’t know anything about the action. Therefore, offer as much explanation as possible, starting from printed materials and have someone to help on the spot. Before the trade fair, try to show the interaction to somebody who’s never seen it before and check out their reaction. This test will serve really well as a parameter for eventual failures.

In short, when visitors go in the trade fair, they usually want to see the largest amount of new products in the shortest possible time, so the more practical and assertive you go for, the better long-term results you’ll get. And, finally, bear in mind that your visitors have to bring something from your stand to real life, which could be anything from a remarkable experience to a physical souvenir that is useful for their professional day-to-day.

Posted by: Beto Harger

Beto Harger

Diretor de Integração da Mega