In the last few years there have been significant economic and technological changes that have rewritten the exhibition marketing rule book. Here are some of these rules and how you can roll with the changes.


1. More Uncertainty:  For the last few years, economic uncertainty has shown little signs of leaving. This may make your company decision makers unwilling to commit to exhibitions, or buy expensive larger displays. You need to find a way to balance their need for financial flexibility while still finding ways to avoid any extra charges.  


2. Measurement is Essential: Patting yourself on the back and saying “Great show, wasn’t it!” is not enough any more. You need to measure your results to make sure your exhibition marketing dollar measures up to other marketing mediums.  If your boss doesn’t know the return on investment or sales generated by the exhibition, your budget for the next one may be in jeopardy.


3. Display Exhibitions are Performing Well:  When it comes to a great way to spend your marketing budget, it’s good to know that exhibition marketing is still performing well. This is because exhibitions provide face to face time with real buyers in the one place. Be sure to take full advantage of face time at exhibitions because it is much more difficult to reach prospects elsewhere.


4. Buyers are more Savvy:

Before attendees have even stepped across the threshold of an exhibition, they have already looked up potential suppliers and already know about your products. If they visit your exhibition space, it’s because they want to make sure your product can really do what you say it can, how trustworthy your company is and who your people are. You need to provide a great level of hospitality, have space for longer meetings and bring people who can deepen relationships and answer detailed questions.


5. Pre-Show Promotions Are More Difficult: Promoting your exhibition presence before the show isn’t working the way it used to. Direct marketing gets ignored, emails get deleted, calls screened and magazine ads left unread. Buyers are too busy to pay attention to your promotions. To get the attendees to your booth, you need to do more promotion during the show and grab their attention while their focus is on the exhibition.


6. Social Media is Where its At:

People are now spending their time on social media, but fortunately it is not a replacement for industry exhibitions. It can be a great way to reach people who have tuned out other more traditional means of marketing. Use social media as a tool to extend the conversation that began at the exhibition. Your display stand activities are great content to share once the exhibition has ended.


7. Which Promotions Work Now:

It is getting increasingly more difficult to get exhibition attendees off the aisle and into your space. The internet has given the people the power to be in control of the buying process so your promotions have to be offer something better. Give them an exchange of value, such as an experience or learning.


8. Pixels, not Print: Exhibitors used to design their exhibit with a main overall message and just swap out a portion of the display graphics to customise their message for different trade shows. Now that flat screen monitors are much cheaper (and lighter), exhibitors tailor their marketing message with pixels, not print.


9. Exhibits Are Lighter: Portable trade show displays have been the norm for decades, but now exhibitors with large displays are to trying to lighten their load, too. The improved style and flexibility of metal frame displays such as Pop Up Display Stands or Pull Up Banners,  and the vivid, sharp graphics of today are taking over.


10. Poor Quality Leads Will Be Ignored:

Your sales people no longer have the time to work through a pile of business cards. Give them more qualifying information about each lead than just contact information, and only give them leads that are ready to speak with a sales person.


11. Technology Boosts Results:

From using iPads to strengthen one on one conversations and streamline lead management, to flat screens integrated into exhibit designs, to social media to coax visitors, technology is everywhere, including exhibition marketing. That means you need to know the difference between different types of cables, a .txt and a .csv file as well as a wireless or hardwired internet connection. Even in face to face marketing, technology boosts results.


If you have found that your exhibition marketing isn’t as effective as it used to be, try adjusting your usual approach to integrate these new rules, and refresh and boost your exhibition and results.