Post authored by Todd Belebczuk, Marketing Specialist at Experient
If you’re a tradeshow veteran, you’ll have your routine organized down to a T. All your equipment; your fold-out tables, your trade show banner, and a plentiful stash of branded freebies to give away will be ready, but suddenly there is such a thing as trade show apps! Chances are you’ve probably read countless articles and blog posts telling you what apps you should be using at your tradeshows. You know the routine- the article starts out something like “In these challenging economic times, it is now more important than ever to get the most out of your tradeshows. Here are the top (insert random number here) apps that will help you to be more efficient, capture leads and make your tradeshows more profitable.” Bor-ing! Let’s consider this article the antithesis of the traditional tradeshow app blog post.
Now I’m not going to tell you to download a business card scanner app, checklist app, Bump, Ustream or Dragon Dictation. Loading up an iPad with customer testimonial videos, sales presentations and marketing collateral to share with attendees that visit your booth is a no-brainer. You probably already know that there are tradeshow apps that have everything from event schedules and maps to speaker bios and exhibitor contact information. And don’t even get me started on lead retrieval! This would be a great time to give a shameless plug for Experient’s new SWAP app, but I’m not going to do that either. Instead, I’d like to go with a timeless cliché and encourage you to “Think outside the box.” You already know how to conduct business with apps, but how can you use them to attract attendees and make a personal connection with them at the show? Remember, tradeshows apps don’t have to be boring!
So here’s something else that you probably already know- social media is important and should be used both in and around your events. There are apps for Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and countless other social media outlets available for free on many smartphones. If you’re a tech-savvy exhibitor, you’ve probably already used social media at an event to attract people to your booth with a special offer or limited time promotion. If so, you’re ahead of the curve, but let’s take it up a notch and really create a buzz at the show.
Remember flash mobs? Try this: drop hints on your social media sites a few weeks before your event and encourage attendees to meet at your booth for a special surprise at a time to be determined later. During the tradeshow, send out a tweet or Facebook update with your smartphone and announce the exact time for them to come to your booth. When they arrive and a small crowd forms, put on some kind of show or routine (preferably loud, funny and high-energy) that gets everyone involved. Not only will this directly drive attendance to your booth from your social media followers, but you will most likely bring in others who simply want to see what all of the fuss is about.
Another thing to consider is that often times, attendees have traveled long distances and spent several nights in a hotel room. After feeling jet lagged, walking up and down a long corridor of booths with similar signage and setups can get old quickly. So why not liven things up a bit? Before the show, purchase an iPod Touch or iPad and load it up with games or other entertainment apps. When someone walks by your booth looking tired or bored, introduce yourself and offer to take them on in a game of Air Hockey or Trivia Challenge. You can play a quick round or two, post your results on a leader board for everyone to see, and offer a prize for the overall winner something similar to a fantasy hockey game and leaderboard mechanics, promising the winner a prize. Playing games will help you break the ice and connect with attendees before you decide to get down to business and start your sales pitch. (Hint: iPods and iPads also make a great grand prize giveaway.)
Along these same lines, one of my favorite apps, FatBooth, lets you take a picture of someone and then morph their face to see what they’d look like with a few extra pounds. There are also PirateBooth, AgingBooth, ClownBooth and WigBooth apps, which are pretty self-explanatory and guaranteed to get a few laughs. Why not have some fun and take pictures of yourself and your fellow exhibitors, morph them and share them with attendees? You might even encourage attendees to do the same and post their pictures on Facebook. While this may seem like goofing off (and it definitely is), you’re building a connection and giving people something to remember you by long after the tradeshow is over.
Admittedly, these ideas may not be practical in all situations, but hopefully they’ve gotten you to start thinking about new ways to attract and connect with attendees using apps. Having a little fun can be a welcomed relief to tradeshow road warriors and you might be surprised with the results. And for those of you worried about what the boss might think, after you’ve made a connection with an attendee and had some fun, you can then break out the boring apps all you want and start sharing information, collecting leads and selling.