The biggest and most popular trade shows always generate plenty of publicity, not just around exciting product launches, but also inventive booth designs and creative content. In the virtual trade show sphere, the field of booth design is new, and still developing—so it’s not necessarily easy to know what people will respond to. What kinds of design features and content will attract and engage booth visitors?
Going Virtual Isn’t Second-Best: It’s an Opportunity
The virtual side of the trade show industry is still in its infancy. For some organizations and individuals, it may be difficult to see the benefits of exhibiting at virtual shows. They can still feel a little like a second-best option in comparison to physical events. The truth is, while virtual shows are very different from live ones, they hold their own, with plenty of unique benefits for both exhibitors and attendees.
While some of these benefits are about the digital aspects of the event, others relate to the trade show booth itself. In some ways, a virtual trade show exhibit can represent a huge opportunity for your brand. That means adding a virtual booth to your show toolkit is definitely something to consider.
(Nearly) Anything Goes in the Digital World
One major advantage of the virtual booth is that it actually lets you be more imaginative and more creative. You’re not limited to a certain booth size or footprint. And you’re not limited by the kinds of manufacturing materials that are available or feasible to use for booth construction. Your virtual trade show exhibit doesn’t have to look like a traditional physical display. It can be anything you want it to be and anything that matches your brand environment.
This creative freedom goes hand-in-hand with the possibility inherent in digital design. In the digital world, very little is impossible. Your virtual display can be set on an island in the middle of a lake, if that’s what works for your brand. And thanks to innovations such as augmented reality and virtual reality, you can create realistic and immersive digital experiences that put booth visitors right in the middle of the action, just as if they were at a live event.
Virtual Content Is Cost-Effective
Exhibiting is an essential part of marketing and sales for many businesses. And it means the expenditure of significant amounts of money for trade show exhibits, booth space, and other costs. Everything you purchase for that booth is eventually used up or worn out, and needs to be replaced. The costs are ongoing, and for companies that want to make a big splash at the events they attend, they’re steep.
Adding a virtual trade show booth to your trade show toolkit can be a great way to extend your reach without adding another huge and ongoing expense. Because while you may pay a large sum for the initial design and development work, your virtual booth will never wear out. The components won’t suffer wear and tear damage, and won’t have to be repaired or replaced. You may need to update the content from time to time, but the bones of the booth will always be in great shape.
What Are Attendees Looking For?
You can design virtually any kind of booth for a virtual show, but, of course, it makes sense to focus your design on what your visitors want. What are virtual attendees looking for, and how can you give it to them?
When people attend trade shows, they don’t want to have to spend a big chunk of their time at any one booth, unless they know for certain that booth has something they need. They want to know, as quickly as possible, if you have whatever it is they need, so they can either make an appointment or a purchase or move on to the next booth. So when they visit your booth, the main thing they’re looking for is fast information.
Visitors are also looking to be entertained, or at least engaged, although they may not realize it. But one of the most important aspects of successful virtual design is audience engagement. Before you can show them the information you have for them, you need their attention. That means interesting booth design and engaging content is key.
6 Tips for an Effective Booth
1. Start Marketing Before the Event
Unless you’re exhibiting in a 3D virtual environment, navigating a virtual exhibition space doesn’t offer the same kind of experience as walking the exhibit hall at a physical trade show. At a virtual show, people are often more deliberate about the exhibits they visit. They may be less likely to make a spontaneous decision to visit a booth based on its appearance.
Including a pre-event marketing phase in your event campaign can help increase booth traffic by reminding your existing customer base to visit your booth. It also lets potential customers know that your booth is worth a visit. Email campaigns, social media, and other forms of advertising can all be used to get the word out, increase your visibility, and incentivize booth traffic.
2. Be Inventive, but Consistent, with Visual Branding
Although foot traffic may be reduced at a virtual event, it’s not non-existent. And whether it’s a live show or a virtual one, a creative booth design is always an effective way of helping you stand out from your neighbors and competitors.
Going digital gives you lots of creative freedom, so don’t be afraid to use it. Think of your virtual trade show exhibit like a storefront. If it has a bright, attractive color scheme; interesting, active images; and a welcoming vibe, then you’ll pull in more traffic.
Being inventive with booth design can help pull in traffic, but remember that consistency is always key in branding. While the digital format does give you some freedom to experiment with visuals, it’s still important to retain that consistency. Your virtual booth should still include your logo, colors, and messaging, so your visual branding is clear and recognizable.
3. Streamline the Visitor Experience
Live trade shows are noisy, chaotic, and crowded, and if you’re running a successful booth, that booth may also be crowded and chaotic. But in a digital exhibit, you don’t have to deal with any of that. Everyone who visits your booth can enjoy a streamlined experience that shows them exactly what they need to see, tells them what next steps they can take, and guides them towards making a buying decision or an appointment.
Make sure your virtual booth projects this streamlined image right from the start. When people “walk” past your booth, they should be able to see a visual focal point that clearly shows what you’re about and is complemented by strong branding.
4. Create Content That Supports Your Offerings
Virtual shows are cheaper and easier to attend than live ones. That means they have larger potential audiences. It may be tempting to expand the scope of your content and try to scoop up as many visitors as possible, but that’s rarely an effective use of resources. Your content should always be tailored towards your specific customers and the problems you can help them solve. It’s also important to create content that anticipates how they’ll interact with your booth and supports the kinds of products you’re offering.
For instance, if you offer a product or service that has a high level of complexity, visitors may need personal help when they visit. Including a live text or voice chat function can help them make buying decisions.
Or if your customer base includes groups of people that have different problems and different needs, try creating multiple information tracks. This may be a good way to ensure visitors get the specifics they’re looking for.
5. Don’t Overload Visitors with Content
One major difference between live and virtual trade shows is that at virtual shows, it’s harder to keep people’s attention for long periods of time. And it’s not just that it’s intrinsically more difficult; it’s also that at a virtual show, there’s more competition for your audience’s attention. Sitting at their computer, they have real-world distractions and the entire internet at their fingertips.
In terms of content, this means it’s important to keep it short, sharp, and simple. Don’t go overboard providing large amounts of written information. Virtual exhibit visitors don’t want to have to wade through pages of content in order to find what they’re looking for. If you can’t get your point across quickly, you’ll lose your chance to do it at all.
6. Think Visual and Interactive
Instead of providing reams of written information, you’re better off focusing on different kinds of content. Visual media, especially if it’s interactive, is a great option.
- Video clips, interactive presentations, and virtual reality are more engaging than written material; they let you tell your story more succinctly too.
- Add interactive features such as polls or a chat area, or make interactive informational displays, so visitors have more to do than scroll through content. If it’s interactive, it’s engaging, and that means people stay interested longer.
- Autoplay videos can help engage visitors right from the start, but bear in mind that some people find them intrusive. If your booth features an autoplay video, keep that clip relatively short (around 30 seconds), and make every second count.
- Use active, engaging visuals. Don’t just feature pictures of products: Use images that show people using them.
- Make navigation easy. Whether your booth is a 3D walk-in or an in-browser portal, make sure the most important features are clearly signposted and easy to access.
- Highlight calls-to-action. When your visitors are ready to know what the next steps are, they should be clearly signposted and accessible.
Explore All the Possibilities of Digital Booth Design
At both live trade shows and virtual ones, great booth design is an important part of attracting plenty of visitors. Back up a visually interesting booth design with engaging, informative content, and your virtual trade show presence is sure to succeed.