Why do most people attend exhibitions? To spend their money? To network?
The actual answer is to learn, according to The International Association of Exhibitions and Events. In its second Decision to Attend Study, education was revealed to be the top driver of trade show attendance.
If learning about new trends and products in their respective industry is what drives most attendees to visit trade shows, how does this impact a business’ exhibition strategy?
We answer this question in our blog (which is part two of the 5 E’s of Face-to-Face Engagement). Learn how to take an education-based approach to your exhibition strategy and the benefits this can bring for your business.
Reasons to educate at a trade show
In this Digital Age, research and data is king for buyers. Attendees want to do their homework before committing their hard-earned money rather than buying on impulse.
A lot of businesses fail to recognise this and focus all their efforts on selling. In a way, this is good news for you. By taking an education-based approach, your booth and its team can stand out as an opportunity for learning among a sea of pushy sales pitches.
Creating valuable learning experiences at your booth produces unique benefits:
- Attendees gain a compelling reason to visit your booth because they are there to learn
- It creates non-confrontational instances of face-to-face engagement (as opposed to aggressive selling tactics commonly used by exhibitors to generate leads)
- You are adding value by sharing information that will help prospects solve their problems
- It helps you continue the customer journey after the trade show. For example, you can collect attendees’ emails in exchange for free relevant webinars, whitepapers, etc. that offer further learning opportunities
- You are showcasing your market expertise which creates trust
That last point cannot be stressed enough. Modern consumers do not do business with those they do not trust. Gain the trust edge and you gain the upper hand over your competitors.
Sharing important, honest, and transparent information is how you build trust because it helps customers solve their problems and make more informed buyer decisions. But how exactly do you incorporate such learning experiences into your exhibiting process?
How to focus your trade show strategy on education
There are lots of innovative and creative ways to weave education into your face-to-face engagement strategy. Let us take a closer look at our top five tactics:
1. Gather information before the trade show
Ensure you share information that is relevant to your target audience by asking people what subjects they want to learn about. Do this before the exhibition to create successful educational experiences for attendees. You can collect this information via social media, scorecards, surveys, polls, or studies.
To ask the right questions, you need to be able to empathise with your target audience and their problems. Learn how by reading Empathy – The Key to Understanding Your Target Audience.
2. Deliver fun and memorable presentations
Everyone had that one teacher at school who made a huge impact because their lessons were fun and engaging – you still remember them after all this time. You can have a similar impact on your attendees by making sure your presenters have the skills and expertise to light up a room and hold people’s attention with punchy presentations.
Punchy is the operative word here – we have attended many exhibitions where the presentations are long, overly technical and delivered in monotone. Avoid boring your attendees to death by delivering short presentations focused on solving their problems.
Professional crowd gatherers are vital too to get those all-important bums on seats!
3. Gamify your learning experiences and offer prizes
You can make learning more entertaining using gamification, boosting attendee engagement. For example, you could develop an interactive game show featuring questions about your industry, products, or services. The person who gets the most correct answers gains a valuable prize, helping you attract competitive attendees.
Or you could have attendees earn points by completing mini educational games, visiting booths, listening to presentations, and sharing pictures on social media. Software company YourMembership did this alongside a Harry Potter theme, splitting attendees into teams and displaying their points on a public leaderboard.
The result was a memorable experience that brought people together while boosting engagement for the company. Follow suit to create similar experiences focused on making learning fun.
4. Create unforgettable learning experiences with Augmented and Virtual Reality
AR and VR help you break through the limitations of reality. Using this technology, you can take attendees on a journey beyond the trade show floor, expanding your options for learning opportunities exponentially. For instance, rather than tell attendees how to improve their current situation, you can show them how by placing them in the centre of a vivid, hands-on learning experience using virtual reality headsets or an augmented reality app on your mobile devices.
5. Offer follow-up educational assets after the show
Ensure all the effort you put into attracting and engaging attendees doesn’t go to waste with a powerful follow-up offering. For example, you could create a webinar or free whitepaper that covers the topics discussed during your presentation. Attendees must give their email address in exchange for the content. Gain their opt-in and you can nurture them as prospects with valuable content that leads them towards conversion.
Build connections through education
Connecting with attendees during a trade show is a huge challenge for many businesses. Taking an education-based approach to your exhibition strategy is how you overcome this challenge. Remember, it helps you:
- Give attendees a compelling reason to visit your booth
- Engage attendees without being confrontational
- Add value to your booth experience
- Continue the customer journey after the show
- Build trust by showcasing your marketing expertise
Now that you know the value of education at a trade show, it’s time to move onto the next E of Face-to-Face Engagement. Stay tuned for our blog, The Power of Emotion, as part three of our 5E’s series.