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Trade Show Best Practices for Delivering What Exhibitors Want

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Katherine Zimoulis
Katherine Zimoulis

VP, Content Marketing

Four insights for show organizers from the latest brand experience research

A version of this article originally appeared on TSNN.com

Every audience touchpoint gives show organizers an opportunity to engage, educate, and build lasting, meaningful relationships between brands and consumers. But what was considered “meaningful” yesterday has been forever altered, thanks to intense competition, evolving demographics, and emerging technology.

To better understand the ways in which event marketers are responding to these change drivers, Freeman commissioned research firm SSI to conduct an independent, global study of more than 1,000 marketers in a range of roles across North America, Asia, and Western Europe.

This research yielded numerous insights into the decisions event marketers are making given this shifting environment. For show organizers and associations seeking to attract event marketers as exhibitors and sponsors for their trade show, this information could be worth its weight in gold. Here’s what we found: 

New Data on Brand Experience

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New Data on Brand Experience

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They use brand experience to achieve key goals

More than nine out of ten marketers agreed: Brand experience delivers stronger face-to-face interaction and more compelling brand engagement. And more than half agreed brand experience is an effective way to reach these key goals:

  • Build relationships
  • Generate leads
  • Grow brand advocacy
  • Make customers feel valued
  • Increase sales

Show organizers can help marketers and exhibitors amp up these results by providing opportunities to treat their audiences to experiences they couldn’t find anywhere else — whether that is through the trade show floor, sponsorships, education, or beyond. 

They are spending more on brand experience

Marketers are shifting their spending: Over the next three to five years, marketers will allocate up to half of their budgets on brand experience.

Interestingly, B-to-B marketers are more likely than B-to-C marketers to grow their budgets. And although marketers in Asia currently maintain the lowest average budgets (as compared to marketers in Europe and North America), they’re ready to start closing that gap and spending more.

Show organizers can help marketers spend their budgets wisely by providing advance access to audience insights to enable more strategic exhibit booth planning; and post-show access to event data to enable ROI analysis. 

Event Personalization and How Technology Can Help

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They leverage technology to personalize experiences

Harnessing all the senses helps brands form stronger connections and boost both loyalty and sales.

Surprisingly, only 25 percent of marketers embrace multi-sensory experiences.

However, some organizations are truly crushing it. These marketers that are involved in 20-plus events per year typically leverage multiple tools to create “wow” moments for their audiences:

  • 29 percent use interactive touch screen technology
  • 21 percent take advantage of location mapping and beacons
  • 16 percent use virtual reality
  • 15 percent add gamification elements to their events

Show organizers — particularly those that operate in Asian markets — may want to tap into this technology-fueled approach by providing a wider array of digital enhancement options for exhibitors.

Marketers value different aspects of brand experience

The survey was unanimous in one aspect: Brand experience adds a high degree of value. But respondents differed in their perception of where that value comes from.

Increase advocacy:

  • Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs): 58 percent
  • Brand Managers: 45 percent
  • Even Planners: 40 percent

Showcase thought leadership:

  • CMOs: 48 percent
  • Brand Managers: 33 percent
  • Event Planners: 28 percent

Generate content:

  • CMOs: 21 percent
  • Brand Managers: 33 percent
  • Event planners: 33 percent

This suggests show organizers may want to adapt their messaging to fit each of these roles — stressing brand advocacy and thought leadership when talking to CMOs, for instance, and the ability to create content that can be shared with key stakeholders when talking to brand managers and event planners.

Ultimately, the best way for any brand to be remembered is to be memorable. The more show organizers can help marketers create opportunities to engage in new and meaningful ways, the more their events will capitalize on the power and the promise of brand experience.

Learn how to create more strategic trade shows and brand experiences. Download our guide.

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