Reflections on College Days [ExhibitorLive 2016]

Ben Olson | March 31, 2016

The ExhibitorLive Show is MG’s annual opportunity to bring our A-game to the trade show for trade show people. It’s a chance for us to be our own client and to literally practice what we preach – strategic, integrated marketing. 2016’s show was no exception and the MGU campus-inspired experience and exhibit brought show attendees back to one of the great experiences in their lives – the college years!

While the show is now a memory, before those memories fade too far in the distance, I wanted to share a few observations from our ExhibitorLive experience.

Engage Early. Engage Often. For so many reasons, pre-show promotions make great sense. For our participation at ExhibitorLive, we began in January with a tiered series of digital, social media and print touches, all driving to an online presence. These efforts resulted in much better than average open rates and long dwell times on the related web pages as people were introduced to our messaging and the upcoming show experience well in advance of the show itself.

Use Every Available Touch Point. Utilize existing touch points to help support the show effort. A custom email signature can be an easy incremental awareness device, making every email that leaves your company a little billboard for an upcoming show.

A Great Location Isn’t Everything. At ExhibitorLive, MG was literally the first thing you saw as you entered the show hall. We knew going into the show that this was a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that we had greater exposure than any other exhibitor at the show. A curse in that people often are not ready to engage when they first enter the hall. Knowing this, we positioned our staff not only for entering attendees, but exiting ones as well. We knew if we didn’t get them on the way in, we would get them on the way out and prepared for both!

Switch it Up. Since attendees would be walking by our exhibit multiple times over the course of the 3 day show, we wanted to be sure things were fresh each time, creating new interest and engagement and encouraging repeat visits. To do this, we created different themes for each day at MGU and changed out signage, activities, props and even hospitality around the themes. From Freshman Move-In to Homecoming and finally Graduation Day, each day at ExhibitorLive was new and exciting for our guests and our staff.

Don’t Forget the Fun! While our college-inspired theme naturally oozed with fun, even a more serious toned exhibit can benefit from lightening up one or more elements. Consider a fun hospitality food or beverage item at the end of the day, or creating a fun event within your booth at the beginning or end of each show day. Invite your VIPs or throw it open to all attendees. Perhaps add one fun clothing element to a corporate look, like matching sneakers, flair buttons or a brightly colored T-shirt to just peek through the collar of your corporate branded polo shirt. A custom name-tag or lanyard can also provide a lighter touch. Little elements like this can make your exhibit and staff seem more approachable and provide a little spark to get the conversation started.

There are many more thoughts that the MG staff and I have on our experience at ExhibitorLive and on the hundreds of shows we build client experiences for. We’d love to have a face-to-face or phone-to-phone chat with you about helping to empower you to create great experiences of your own.

Ben Olson is the VP of magnify™, MG’s engagement marketing agency.