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Five Trends That Will Revolutionize Trade Show Marketing in 2019

©2018 - Guest Post by  Ryan Gould, Elevation Marketing

If you’re a business owner or marketer who’s serious about maximizing ROI, then you need to have a presence at industry trade shows. It’s all in the statistics—when it comes to efficiency, 85% of B2B marketers and salespeople say that trade shows e. This is because they bring a host of vendors together under one roof. Moreover, 91% of attendees say that being at a trade show impacts their buying decisions. That’s what happens when your target audience shops in real time.

But there are more fundamental reasons that trade shows are an effective marketing strategy. It’s because exhibiting is a great way to engage an audience, and advancing technology means the landscape of trade shows changes with each passing year. Marketers have more tools at their disposal to engage their targets. Here are some emerging trends that are revolutionizing trade shows that marketers need to be aware of.

Customer-centric design

Starting with the aforementioned fundamentals, first impressions are everything. You want your booth or display to make an impact on attendees instantly. But today that’s not just about having a flashy design—you want it to appeal to the potential customer’s emotions and imagination.

Everything about the booth design should be intuitive. Every element should work together to facilitate a common goal: making it clear to the potential customer how your product or service will benefit their business. In 2018 we’re seeing not only flashy colors that grab attention but using unique signage, new fabrics, and textures that create an aesthetically pleasing booth design. You can even incorporate 3D mapping technology and texturized graphic displays utilizing materials such as metal and wood. The sky's the limit!

Ultimately, the trend is moving towards a “human-centric” booth experience. So you should cease thinking in terms of square footage and the numbers of demo stations. Instead ask yourself if the experience is comfortable to visitors. Are there engagement interactives that speak to the visitors and enhance the overall experience?

For specific inspiration, check out these examples of booths the excel at experiential design.

Multi-sensory experiences

Playing off the first trend, business owners and marketers are realizing that they aren’t limited to engaging visitors merely by sights and sounds. There are five senses in total, and it’s time that trade-show marketers appealed to all of them. The goal is to get people connecting with your brand, and according to the Harvard Business Review, amplifying the sensory qualities of your exhibit is the perfect way to do so.

So it’s smart for trade show marketers to avoid monotonous presentations in favor of unique lighting design, touch-panel interfaces, gamification, interactive displays, etc. And don’t ignore the power of scent marketing , as the human nose has hundreds more receptors than the eye and ear, so to ignore the power of scent is to turn your back on a crucial tool. To this end, consider embedding and dispensing attractive scents to capture the attention of visitors passing by your booth.

Focus on comfort

For too long marketers have focused almost exclusively on how to wow trade-show visitors that they’ve forgotten the one thing that appeals to everyone regardless of demographic: comfort. Consider that it can be exhausting spending all day at a trade-show, and most folks want a brief respite from all that walking. Exhibitors who implement lounge areas are finding success at getting people into their booth and having them stay there for extended periods of time. This is a perfect opportunity for the floor staff to give the visitors their sales pitch.

Even savvier is that lately marketers have been adding charging stations along with comfy lounge chairs. Think about it: every public space, be it an airport or shopping mall, with a charging station that is always full. Adding public USB ports to your booth plays off this convenience and will surely bring in many eager visitors.

Virtual reality

In regards to technology trends, there are few bigger buzzwords right now than “VR.” Interestingly enough, it’s generating quite the buzz in the trade-show world as well. That’s because it’s adept at drawing a person in and fully engaging their senses with a presentation. 2018 is all about virtual reality, due in large part to the fact this multi-sensory gem is more accessible than ever before. It’s no longer a niche bit of tech shown off at CES—now anyone can use it.

More to the point: studies show that 53% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that uses VR than one that doesn’t. This is because, to the typical prospect, you’re showing that your brand is at the forefront of technology in a rapidly changing world. The best thing is that there are a number of VR platforms out there to suit any budget, so cost shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, you can have VR app Google Cardboard for as little as 10 dollars.

This gives your booth visitors a chance to interact with your brand far beyond just a casual conversation with a sales rep at a tradeshow. Check out how Intel set up their booth to give their trade show visitors an experience that would surely stand out from the rest.

VR 1

The science of light

10 years ago the notion of utilizing flat-screen TVs in your trade-show booth to enhance presentations was considered cutting edge. But as technology advances no longer is it sufficient to restrict your message to a single screen. Nowadays you can transform the entire space using a targeted focus of light. There is indeed a science to light and shadow, and marketers who understand this stand the best chance of presenting their product effectively.

Utilizing unique lighting elements can also be a powerful tool to direct visitors to specific displays or products. For example, dimming lights is not a new technique. However, Samsung wowed audiences at CES 2018 with an effective use of black color scheme enhanced by downlights and various monitors throughout. Then there’s 3D projection mapping, which allows you to transform a space using light and projectors.


Want to turn a wall of your booth into a 3D video image? Done. Want to project a personalized image on a prop, statue, or another surface? No problem. The possibilities are endless—you just need to be creative.


All of the trends mentioned above portend exciting advances and changes in the trade show space. But never forget the fundamentals, those simple rules upon which we build our success as exhibitors. Make sure your sales staff is communicating your message clearly and effectively. Most importantly, have a follow-up plan in place so the second a potential customer exits your booth, you’re already nurturing that lead via post-show follow-ups.


Ryan Gould

Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services

Elevation Marketing

A strategic marketing and branding expert, Ryan helps Elevation’s clients solve their problems and achieve their business goals through integrated marketing solutions distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands and having worked with a variety of Fortune 500 companies, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem-solving.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rygould Twitter: @ryanscottgould

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