When it comes to marketing via conference and exhibition stands, technology is the driver behind the industry's development according to Louise Walters, CEO for Priority Exhibitions, who offers five best practices for integrating technologies into exhibition marketing efforts. This article is copyright 2011 The Best Customer Guide.

Embracing new technologies offers marketers - whether in the B2B or B2C space - a way to attract new clients and opportunities, and more importantly it provides the ability to capture important and measure an exhibition's marketing return on investment (ROI) - all of which can then be used to guide future marketing strategy.

An exhibition stand needs to do more than just tell people what your company or brand does; it must excite and attract visitors, stand out from the crowd, and tell a story. A profitable exhibition stand should make the best use of new technologies not only to increase visitor numbers but also to increase 'dwell time' (the amount of time each visitor spends at the stand).

"Why do we encourage our clients to incorporate new technologies into their exhibition stands?" asks Walters. "Well, mainly because it works. It makes showcasing their product consistently better and once initiated, the benefits keep going after the exhibition."

Walters offers the following five best practices for integrating technologies into exhibition stands:

  1. Augmented reality
    Using augmented reality within exhibition stands is becoming increasingly popular. This is an immersive tool which means visitors can virtually see and explore a product, without it physically being there. This is ideal for companies who sell large machinery that cannot be easily brought into the exhibition hall. And using a new innovative technology helps as a sales tool because it sticks in customers' minds, and is often not easy to forget.

    For example, Priority Exhibitions and Hidden Creative recently produced a stand for Nederman which integrated augmented reality. Not only did this demonstrate products that could be quite large and noisy to bring into the exhibition hall, but it added excitement and engagement - much more than if they just showed visitors photos or diagrams.

  2. Twitter streaming
    Using Twitter for business has all kinds of benefits for brand awareness, connecting with new customers and suppliers and sharing links to help your website or blog's search ratings. In an exhibition setting, you can integrate a screen into your stand, to stream a hashtag feed and encourage visitors to interact with your stand via Twitter.

    A 'hashtag' (e.g. #loyaltymarketing) is a kind of filing tag in the text of your Twitter posts (or 'tweets'), which allows followers to simply click to follow every tweet in the world that mentions the same hashtag. By encouraging visitors to your stand to tweet about it, you can encourage even more visitors.

    This is also a clever way to expand your exhibition presence outside of the exhibition hall, because there will be hundreds, maybe thousands of people following the hashtag from their computers.

    On the other hand, however, you cannot control how people use that hashtag and you may risk even seeing inappropriate or irrelevant tweets on the screen in your exhibition stand.

  3. Demonstrating a smart phone app or mobile website
    Has your business thought about creating a smart phone app? An exhibition is a good way to showcase a new app, mobile marketing strategy or mobile website. The bonus is that you can let consumers download it for free, so the benefits extend long beyond when the exhibition has finished.

    You can also use this opportunity to collect marketing data about everyone who visits your exhibition stand to downloads your mobile app, or views your mobile marketing strategy.

    Marketing this could involve sending SMS messages to delegates at key moments, such as when the company's director was speaking at the conference.

    By giving delegates an extra incentive to visit your exhibition stand, you raise footfall and potential sales leads. It is also easy to monitor how many visits and downloads your new mobile site saw during the duration of the event.

  4. Digital signage
    Including digital signage into your exhibition stand is a great attention grabber. You can use this to play advertising, short presentations or any other related media.

    Many brands integrate digital signage into exhibition stands because it is so versatile and flexible. They can edit and control the media content from a PC or laptop, as well as having remote control for easy access when talking to delegates.

    For example, you could have a number of presentations or adverts on your laptop and change the display to suit the delegates you are talking to. At the same time you could Tweet out links to this media on your website or blog for people following the exhibition on Twitter.

    Video is instantly engaging and can demonstrate products that are not feasible to bring into the exhibition hall and can also demonstrate your products in action. Digital signage is portable and can be easily taken along to your next exhibition or conference, or installed into your reception in between events.

  5. Video content
    A creative way to attract visitors is to use a film crew to undertake interviews or 'vox pops' with your team or of delegates. This film could be broadcast live from the stand, or pre-recorded and edited before the exhibition.

    Most trade and business to business shows have discussions and debates which prove popular with other delegates wanting to learn more. For example, why not create a mini-conference on your stand and become an industry thought leader? This, in turn, can be filmed and then used as promotional content later on.

    Using edited video content from the conference can later be uploaded to your website, and then added to your Twitter stream, Facebook page and any other content sharing platforms.

Established in 1989, Priority Exhibitions provides exhibition stand designs, creation, installation and graphic design, with global clients including Siemens, Saint Gobain, Jacuzzi, the Israeli government and DeWalt.