How to Make Digital and Print Signage Work Together at Your Next Trade Show

We recently discussed ways to make your trade show exhibit more appealing to attendees. One method we touched on was using electronic screens as a means of catching some eyes and differentiating yourself from your fellow exhibitors.

Today we’re going to take a closer look at how you can use digital technology, in conjuction with traditional print collateral, to make your trade show exhibit unforgettable. 

Attendees First

Before we get started, let’s go over a little disclaimer.

When planning a trade show, always put yourself in an attendee’s shoes. They’re likely attending for one of two key reasons: either they are there to network or they are searching for information or solutions for a problem they have.

Digital touches are a great way to draw people into your booth, but obtaining information – which you should share on print pieces –  and personal interactions with exhibitors is why they’re there. If you are lacking in either category, you’ll come off as slight and less serious than your competitors. Having printed packets, handouts and a firm sales pitch you believe in will give attendees something tangible to hold on to and show that you are prepared and committed to what you do.

Alright, with that said, let’s move on to how you should best position digital touches around your booth area. 

Video Displays and Digital Signage

Digital displays, like flat screen televisions or monitors, allow you to project a variety of eye grabbing content developed to draw attendees in – but not provide too much information. The main goal here is to pique people’s interest enough to want to talk to you, not just stand there watching your content. 

This is a great opportunity to play a video on rotation introducing your business to help capture the interest of those passing by. Should you choose to play a video, it should last no longer than three minutes and play on a loop. This is brief enough to attract attention, but not so brief as to be seen as repetitive and with a lack of substance. 

In addition to using your screens for videos, you can also use your screens as a form of dynamic, digital signage. To successfully accomplish the this, have a looping graphic designed that features your business’s logo, while also using these screens to impart information regularly delegated to print banners. This includes the name of your business, your slogan and contact information including URL and email address.

You can also set up tablets around your station with an interactive, digital handout on the screen. This will allow visitors to stop at your booth for long enough that stepping in to engage with them will feel natural and seamless. 

Of course, digital materials are most often accents to the printed materials you’ll  share with attendees. These printed items, such as brochures or catalogs, should contain the bulk of information regarding services and benefits of working with your business. Hand these out to everyone you speak with. Having valuable takeaways is essential to convert them from attendees to customers.

Social Feeds and Contests

A display that serves as a scrolling social media or industry news feed can create a more interactive environment for attendees. Your event likely has a specific hashtag; search for this on Twitter and project the results onto your live feed. People love seeing their tweets appear on these screens, and with a little encouragement you can nudge them into including your business’s name or Twitter handle in their messages.

To accomplish this, create print messaging around your monitor asking visitors to @ you in their tweets. If they do, mention they’ll receive a prize, such as free consultation and entry into a drawing to win a gift card to a popular retail business like Amazon or Starbucks. A separate monitor can be used to share these tweets that mention your business. Position this monitor to face a high traffic location by your booth, encouraging more people to participate.

To add an extra special touch, design a direct mail piece like a post card and send it to these contacts to thank them for participating in the contest and briefly remind them of your key service offerings. You’ll need the address of each contact’s business to make this work; you can obtain this information in two ways:

  • Most trade shows collect data from attendees when they register to sign up which can obtain their business address; even if yours didn’t collect this information, you’ll have their business name and a simple Google search can give you an address.
  • Another way to obtain addresses is by making it necessary for entrants in the raffle to stop by and fill out a simple sign up sheet which includes their address.

A Fun Touch

To make your exhibit a place people will flock to, consider implementing some digital touches that may not directly convey your businesses message, but will bring a level of entertainment.

A popular way to do this is by setting up a photo booth in your location. Ever been to a wedding or company retreat with a photo booth? When are these things never not hits?

You can work with the company you hire to run the photo booth to have your business’s name, contact info and logo (following your branding guidelines). This serves two purposes: 1) it provides a fun keepsake for attendees to take home with them which 2) contains all your valuable business information and serves as a longtime reminder of your business.  

Don’t Go Overboard 

While these are all effective ways to improve your presentation at trade shows, keep in mind that it’s easy to over do digital touches to the point where you could fail to have enough substance to turn attendees into customers.

While having endless options for how you can incorporate digital technologies into your trade show exhibit is exciting, remember that you don’t want to be so focused on trying to made your booth as “modern” as possible that you disregard what your attendees want from you – information.

The core of any successful trade show exhibit remains your interactions with clients and the effectiveness of the printed materials they walk away with. Your message may be quickly buried on their Twitter feed, but print sticks around. If you don’t have the proper materials to hand out (as we previously detailed), your trade show is likely to end with a less than ideal return on investment.

Use digital media and technology to enhance your message, but make sure you’re still providing valuable, substantial information and printed materials that attendees can take away from the show. 


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