If you’re like most exhibitors, you probably devote a large part of your budget to printed product information and static graphics and signage to promote products at trade shows. Well, a new report by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) indicates your money is better spent elsewhere. Their 2017 Attendee Floor Engagement Study, Part I* found that a whopping 87% of exhibitors are still spending a significant portion of their resources on costly printed product collateral, while only 62% of attendees cited this tactic as useful. The study also found that 69% of exhibitors invest in static graphics and signage to promote products, despite the fact that they are often overlooked, and only 49% of attendees deem them to be a useful form of engagement.

These statistics are a clear indication that organizations should shift at least part of their budget to other, more modern forms of engagement. But which tactics will give you the best ROI? The study revealed that exhibitors with the highest in-booth engagement tend to rely more heavily on technology to engage attendees and generate leads. Here’s a roundup of the tactics attendees consider to be most effective.

  • Interactive Product Displays

Not surprisingly, trade show attendees appreciate the opportunity to get up close and personal with products. Displays that allow them to see, touch, and maybe even taste whatever it is you’re promoting proved useful to 78% of attendees – the highest percentage of any tactic measured in this study. Although it isn’t exactly a groundbreaking tactic, for whatever reason only 46% of exhibitors polled are currently offering this type of product interaction.

  • Badge Scanning to Capture Leads

The engagement opportunity that was revealed to be the second-most highly valued but under-utilized is giving exhibit staff badge scanners or badge scan software so they can capture the information of attendees who express interest in your product. Perhaps due to its convenient nature, 76% of attendees found this tactic to be useful, while only 43% of exhibitors are equipped with technology that enables them to gather leads in this way.

  • Interactive Screens and Tablets

We discovered earlier that static graphics and signage proved to be less valuable than previously believed. Instead, organizations should invest in interactive screens or tablets to promote products to trade show attendees. Touch-screen monitors are one way to offer unlimited interactive demonstration opportunities, and touch-screen kiosks or tablets can also feature company offerings. Fifty percent of study respondents indicated their usefulness – even though only 24% of exhibitors employ them.

  • Digital Collateral

Rather than spending such a significant part of their exhibit budget on printed product materials, organizations should develop digital product information such as PDFs and electronic brochures. Nearly half (46%) of attendees consider these to be useful ways to engage with your product, but only 29% of marketers present information to attendees in this fashion. Considering that producing digital collateral generally costs a fraction of printed materials, it certainly seems wise to cut back on printing. Tablets can be passed around like brochures or spec sheets, and can also be used to present visitors with informative videos, animations, and calculators. And if the prospect wants something to take home, digital collateral can be emailed to them directly from the tablet.

  • Self-Serve Product Info

While booth presenters and staff certainly have their place at shows, many attendees prefer to independently explore products further. Although it was favored by 40% of those surveyed, a mere 12% of exhibitors permit attendees to self-navigate an interactive display, request more information by scanning their own badges, or enter their own contact information via a digital kiosk.

  • On-Site Purchasing

The largest deployment/utilization discrepancy uncovered in the study was giving attendees the ability to purchase products on-premises, which 57% of attendees take advantage of, but only 19% of exhibitors offer. The good news is that it is relatively easy to allow booth attendees to make on-the-spot purchases by having tablets or kiosks backed by dedicated and reliable Wi-Fi that can be used to access secure online shopping carts.

For advice on how you can incorporate the technology attendees value most at your next trade show exhibit, contact the experts at SmartSource Computer & Audio Visual Rentals. Our inventory of displays, audio visual, computers, laptops, mobile devices, kiosks and touch screens, combined with our professionally-integrated hardware and software solutions, will make your event one to remember.

*Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) 2017 Attendee Floor Engagement Study, Part One: Exhibitor In-Booth Tactics – People, Product, Emotion, and Other Tactics. Information for this article was derived from the Product Engagement Tactics and Level of Attendee Use bar graph on page 11.