Digital Media: The New Face of Your Exhibit


From cathode ray monitors to flat screens, from interactive games to virtual reality glasses, from looping tape to digital media, creative exhibitors have come to embrace technology. Why? First, because attendees love an unexpected experience. The attendee who has no agenda and simply walks the floor will more than likely walk into an exhibit that has something cool going on. Second, when used as part of an overall face-to-face marketing strategy, media applications provide the opportunity to learn in a way that resonates with adults.

Adults learn differently from young people. Unfortunately, the most frequently adopted model for learning is based on how children learn, and even that tends to be old school. Consider the over-abundance of talking heads clicking through PowerPoint slides in a breakout session set up in “classroom” configuration. There is a strong movement within the meeting and convention industry to change this practice, to make education more compelling and accessible to adult learners, but the changes are coming very slowly.

Digital media in an exhibit allows adults to learn in an integrated environment. The message is in context when presented as a tactic within a goal-oriented strategy. Media provides the possibility of delivering a consistent message to trade show attendees who have different experiences, agendas, and backgrounds. With the right amount of attention and guidance from a well-informed staff member, the media experience becomes collaborative, offering the right balance of self-direction with human interaction. Let’s face it: adults tune out after a certain, usually short, period of time. You need to keep the media experience brief. Blending conversation with the media experience not only keeps their attention but also allows them to make connections with their existing knowledge and understanding of your product or service.

What are some of the pitfalls of using media in your exhibit?

Probably the worst that can happen, other than your technology failing, is having a media experience that has nothing to do with the goals of your exhibit program. The product or brand manager who sees something in another exhibit and thinks it will “work” in yours can be a challenge when you are planning a cohesive strategy. Also, you need to prepare your staff, so they understand what the media is about, how it works, and are on board with using it correctly. Everyone should be aware that the investment you are making in media is significant and needs to deliver a good ROI.

On the other hand

One of the great advantages of using technology is that it helps attendees become engaged in learning something new. Contrary to some schools of thought, a well-designed media experience in an exhibit can feel extremely personal. Another advantage is that media, if constructed correctly, provokes questions. An engaged attendee will be curious about the experience. A media piece is scalable, so whether you have large installations or tablets, you can deliver a consistent message in a  50′ x 50′ footprint or a 10′ x 10.’  When you are working with a media developer, ask how you can build a backend that allows you to collect metrics. The more possibilities you explore with media, the more you can justify the cost.

Digital media is not going away. Attendees now expect a learning experience that is engaging and memorable, not simply a stop at an exhibit to grab a few brochures. They are used to being engaged by media. Don’t disappoint them!

Plan the optimal experience for every visitor to your exhibit. Download your free workbook, “Creative Bravery for Your Face-to-Face Marketing Program.” Healthcare exhibitors? We have a version just for you– Creative Bravery: Face-to-Face Marketing Strategies for the Healthcare Industry“.

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