Technology and data continue to power pretty much every innovation in trade show and exhibit marketing—especially those that drive results. This includes innovations in trade show exhibit design, experience, attract mechanisms, messaging, and of course, measurement. We're seeing everything from digital signage and video walls to next-level lead gen technology that seamlessly documents who has visited your exhibit—and what they want.

Here are seven trends you can apply to improve your trade show marketing results:

1Pair Motion and Light to Create Powerful Booth Attract. Motion catches attendees' attention and so does light. Add LED technology, which makes it possible to illuminate pretty much any object or surface in your exhibit, and you'll create a power draw that will    have attendees stopping in their tracks to see what you've got to offer.

Our own 3D Exhibits clients have applied this approach in a variety of ways. IBM Watson Health (photo above) drew attendees to its booth at RSNA with a choreographed medley of kinetic light bars that danced over its exhibit. These fifty LED tubes rose, dropped, and changed color in sequence—serving as a metaphor for the movement of data in cognitive computing. The dramatic overhead display was visible from the entrance to the show and, like a beacon, ensured that all attendees noticed IBM Watson's position on the show floor.



The good news is that light and motion aren't just for larger exhibits. Our 3D Exhibits team created a more budget-conscious approach for HMS's 40' x 40' footprint at Rockwell Automation Fair. HMS employed a structure of chaser LEDs that pulsed light and energy through the booth. This simple application of LED technology set the HMS exhibit apart and reinforced the company's position as a leader in technology and innovation.

2. Deliver Brand Immersion with an LED Video Wall. Marketers want their prospects and customers to experience their    brands at trade shows—and one of the most powerful ways to create an effective and powerful brand immersion is with an LED wall. As the technology  continues to drop in price, we expect to see even more of this technology on the show floor.

Marketers like our client, Refinitiv, are raising the bar on their LED video walls by implementing multiple best practices    including selecting content that is image-heavy, copy-light, and easy to digest in small bits. Refinitiv also dual-purposed a portion of its LED wall at Sibos by periodically using the far-left portion of the wall to support its live presentation.

3. Increase Impact with Internally Illuminated Fabric Surfaces. Another place we're seeing a lot of LED technology is inside of fabric wall and ceiling panels. LED lighting placed inside of exhibit components transforms these surfaces from flat to glowing. The effect    is very similar to that of a lightbox with a plexiglass front—only softer and more sophisticated.

Internal LED lighting also transformed the walls inside the IBM exhibit into elegant billboards.    

The LED lights inside MIM's ceiling panels cast a soft glow that illuminates the interior of the exhibit in a very controlled way.    

4.Superpower your Engagement Strategy with Custom Lead Gen. Technology has also elevated the way companies collect leads—and    we're seeing this reflected in the number of companies adopting custom lead gen systems. Custom lead gen systems give exhibitors the opportunity to tailor their lead collection to their own needs—and their own style of working their exhibit. Popular capabilities include: providing each rep with a mobile scanner so they don't have to stop the flow of a conversation to capture data (or make visitors wait for scanner to become available); using custom qualifying questions to identify visitors' interests; the ability to automatically add to an existing record if an attendee comes back for a second visit; and compatibility with your company's CRM system.

Huber Engineered Woods doubled its lead count with the custom lead gen system our 3D Exhibits technology team developed for them. Huber uses the system    at both trade shows and events and integrates its promotions into the system. A favorite system capability is that when an attendee visits the booth a second or third time, the system brings up the existing capture and notes. This way, the rep can see what the previous conversation was and jump back in.

5. Engage Prospects with Technology Interactives. We expect to see lots more interactive games, quizzes, and challenges    on the show floor this year. A big reason for this is the availability of easy-to-deploy solutions where interactive technology providers (including our 3D Exhibits technology department) offer cost-effective game templates that are ready to be customized to fit your brand story. Many options even collect attendee data.


Varonis used this approach to create a crowd-gathering custom driving game for its exhibit at RSA. Customizations included brand colors and logos, vehicles named for Varonis' products, and a journey that outlined the ways the company protects its clients' data.

6. Communicate Boldly with Expertly Deployed Digital Signage. Early applications of digital signage tended to be awkward and overdone as marketers loaded their displays with too many messages and too much copy. But finally, we're starting to see digital signage used to its full potential—in the form of bright colors, clear messages, brief copy, and vibrant animation to make it interesting.



An excellent example is what our client, Hitachi, used in its booth at RSNA. The images and video were dynamic enough to draw attention—yet consistent enough to convey a strong brand image.

Another client, RX Bar, demonstrated how digital signage can be deployed on a much smaller scale—even in an inline exhibit.


At ProMat, our client, Toyota Material Handling demonstrated how digital signage can identify both a corporate parent/umbrella brand—without diminishing the identities of the component brands.         

7. Quantify Your Exhibit's Effectiveness with Data. Exhibitors have been talking about measurement for quite some time and last year, we saw a record number of clients get serious about capturing data and creating metrics. Hill's, Merck Animal Health, Mitsubishi, and Eden Foods were just a few of the companies we worked with to deliver exhibit audits, assessments, and exit surveys.

This year, we expect to see many more companies create their own measurement program—or use our proprietary Exhibit Effectiveness Score (EES) methodology to quantify the success of their exhibits and compare their efforts against those of their competitors.

Are you planning to integrate technology, light, or data collection into yourtrade show marketing program? If you'd like some help, we'd be happy to set up a free 30-minute consultation. Email Stephanie Coupland (scoupland (at) 3DExhibits (dot) com), let her know what you'd like help with, and she'll connect you with one of our experts.    

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