10 unmissable tips for digital signage at trade shows

When exhibiting at trade shows digital signage can really help draw customers in. But what is the best way to do it?

Oct 2015

10 unmissable tips for digital signage at trade shows

Exhibiting at a trade show is exhilirating, exhausting, and extremely expensive - but completely worth it if you leave with a letter of intent in your back pocket. The question is: How do you stand out from the other 9,999 exhibitors in the space?

Assuming your product is awesome, your staff are witty and welcoming, and your booth looks pretty decent, you're half-way there. But then the stand manager asks you; So, do you want to rent a screen? That's the point where a lot of people panic. "Yes", you stammer. "We do want a screen?" you half-question, half-state. Fabulous. That's just added one huge to-do item to your already lengthy list: What to do with the screen?

Without further ado - 10 great tips for getting your digital signage up to snuff at a trade show.

1. It's all about storytelling

This should be the #1 tip for pretty much every business article, we think, but it's especially valid in digital signage.

Think about your trade show booth as a whole - The people who are there, the activities at your stand, the products or services you are showing off, and the intended outcome. Are you trying to get someone to buy? Are you trying to inform people of something? Every part of your 'story' should be pointing towards the final outcome - so start with your goal, and work backwards from there.

Your signage will be one of the first things that people notice, so that's where your story should start!

2. Plan and prepare your content

Goes without saying, perhaps, but you'd be amazed how many people don't think ahead far enough. Think about your content in terms of the context: Why are people looking at your signage? There are two reasons: 1) They are curious what you're about, but don't necessarily want to commit to a conversation or 2) Everyone at the stand is busy talking to other people.

Make sure that your content is good for both audiences: Both as a placeholder until someone's free to talk to them, and to help explain why people should come over and talk to you.

Of course, if you have different events running at your stand throughout the day, it's a very good idea to have different types of content ready to go for different parts of the day - it means that your stand tells a coherent story!

3. Don't rely on audio

Remember that trade shows are loud, and you'll be at your stand for 8 hours straight, probably several days in a row. Chances are that you are next to someone who is louder than you, having a TV blaring in your ears is tiring, and listening to the same audio on a loop will drive you, well, loopy.

The best, most eye-catching show signage uses sound sparingly - so see if you can come up with content that doesn't rely on audio.

4. Vary your schedule throughout the day

You'll probably have a lot of different things happening throughout the day: Before the show opens, your fellow exhibitors will do a quick lap of the show, so leverage that: Have some content that is targeted specifically at them!

If you have special events at your stand, remember to promote them on the signs, and ensure that the signage amplifies the events, rather than competes with them.

We've seen exhibitors use the lunch period - and the end-of-day-time-for-beers-period - to great effect to draw different kinds of crowds to the booth. Design your schedule around those times for maximum impact. ScreenCloud Signage's powerful scheduling solutions make that easy, so you can focus on manning the stands, rather than changing playlists throughout the day.

5. Test, test, and test again

Trade shows are stressful enough as they are, and you don't want to worry about anything - so set up a mock booth for a few days, and make sure that everything works as planned. Think about the flow of people through your booth - where do they sign up for newsletters, where do you make sales, where do you demo the product, etc?

For the signage, make sure that the scheduling works (and don't get tripped up by time-zones, if you're travelling further afield! ScreenCloud Signage will automatically adjust to your local timezone, but not all solutions are quite that smart).

6. Remember to bring everything you need

Trade shows are notorious for fleecing you at every corner, so it's a great idea to bring spares of everything. You usually just get one power socket, so a power splitter is a good plan.

It's also a very good idea to bring a backup internet solution with you - tethering to a phone, or a MiFi type solution; especially if you'll be processing payments or taking e-mail addresses at the trade show. The trade show may offer you Wi-Fi, but in our experience, it's guaranteed to go down at the worst possible time...

7. Don't over-do it

Consider this: How long are people actually going to be standing there, looking at your signage? Yes, you'll probably be watching it for 30 hours and get sick of it, but what about the average trade-show punter?

Hard truth: If they stand around for more than 5-6 minutes, they've stood there for a long time - so keep a tight loop: You want them to see your key points as quickly as possible.

8. Call to action!

Digtal signage's biggest super-power is that the black square is a magnet for eyes - use that to your advantage! If you can, get your content to include a call to action. "Come talk to us", or "Feel free to interrupt - we'd love to talk to everyone!" can work wonders.

Failing that, encourage your viewers to grab a flyer, to drop their business card into a fish bowl, or to get scanned, if you're at one of those fancy trade shows where you can scan participants to get their contact details.

9. Make it relevant

There's always a temptation to re-use content you created for a previous trade show. That works some times, but it doesn't take a lot of customisation to catch people's attention just that little bit better.

If you have a trade-show discount code, make it relevant to the show: "Enter THISCOOLSHOW at check-out for a 15% discount" makes it clear you've made the effort. Sounds silly for sure, but it really works!

10. From screen-contact to eye-contact

It's awesome if they are watching your screen, of course, but in our experience, a conversation goes far further. We found that by scanning the crowd, picking out people looking at your signage is easy. Sidle up to them, and kick off the conversation with a "Hi! Got any questions?" or a "Cool, eh? Got any questions?" goes really far in order to kick off a conversation.

For more guidance on setting up a digital signage solution for your event, read our guide.

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