• December 16, 2022
  • By Rusty Bishop, chief marketing officer, Bigtincan

How Extended Reality Can Reinvent the Trade Show Experience

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With in-person trade shows back in full swing, marketers have turned their attention to the challenge of captivating attendees and standing out on the show floor. More than 90 percent of a typical trade show crowd is looking for new products. As a result, trade shows represent the second largest driver of business to business (B2B) revenue. Creating an interesting and interactive trade show exhibit is a proven opportunity for businesses to strut their stuff. However, only 6 percent of marketers today believe that these shows serve as a key lead converter. Driven by pandemic-driven swings in consumer preferences, buyer expectations are higher than ever. B2B sales and marketing teams are seeing the same evolution that has shaped business to consumer (B2C) interactions with a laser-like focus on the customer journey. And that experience isn’t isolated to the internet. 

Equally comfortable purchasing both online and in person, the new breed of B2B buyers is looking for engaging and personalized experiences that hold their attention and give them intuitive insight into products. Rather than luring people to the booth with boring desktop vacuums or aroma putty, marketers can leverage extended reality (XR) technologies to design immersive experiences for their visitors. By deploying virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) booth displays, presenters can drive traffic, receive better feedback and word-of-mouth endorsements, and offer prospects a deeper understanding of their product. After all, you never get a second chance to make a memorable first impression.

Creating Memorable Experiences

Employing eye catching and immersive product displays is the first step in getting face time with potential buyers. Take this approach from Toyota, for example, where an XR tablet is integrated into a display that allows users to experience a real-life simulation of sitting inside the car. By directing the tablet’s camera at different makes and models, the user is able to use seemingly X-ray vision into all the specs and options that are available. The cars can even be viewed in different colors and backdrops, encouraging attendees to stick around and engage for longer durations of time. Considering the average attendee only spends 13 minutes at each trade show booth, offering some futuristic fun is the best way to maximize value and exceed their expectations.

Bigtincan customer NeoGenomics’ Find it with RaDaR augmented reality (AR) display is a perfect example. Using a cell phone, attendees would aim the camera at target images that would then launch virtual molecules for them to “collect” within their real-word environment. To highlight the 48 tumor-specific variants that their product targets, NeoGenomics gave participants 48 seconds to collect as many of the virtual ctDNA fragments as possible. Ultimately having prospects leave the trade show with that number 48 ingrained in their mind offered an invaluable talking point for engaging them in follow-up calls and emails.

Attracting Digital-Centric Buyers

The opportunity to incorporate digital sales rooms (DSR) is another major benefit afforded by integrating extended reality within the trade show experience. As opposed to physical shelves that are limited in space and size, digital sales rooms enable brands to seamlessly display a greater number of products from a single booth. Optimized for simplicity of use on a handheld tablet, its sleek and intuitive interface is attractive to digital-centric buyers and empowers them to easily learn about a wider variety of products in a quick and engaging fashion.

Digital sales rooms can be leveraged across industries, but they are especially valuable for companies that are selling large or difficult-to-transport items such as manufacturing equipment or medical machines. These large showroom pieces can still be viewed in their real-life form without requiring sales reps to haul bulky physical equipment across the trade show floor that ends up overcrowding their entire booth. The end result is a higher ROI potential for the organization, and a more impactful experience for the attendees viewing the product. 

The New Trade Show Experience

As virtual experiences increasingly become table stakes on the trade show floor, the key question for marketers isn't whether or not to use XR – it’s how can XR be leveraged most effectively? With buyers spending huge chunks of their day wandering from booth to booth, identifying how to creatively apply XR in ways that deliver your messaging loud and clear is imperative. Building a more immersive, interactive, and intuitive conference floor can change the paradigm for trade shows. From AR-assisted floor maps to immersive reality displays, conferences will be defined more by the experiences the attendees have than the traditional pitch and listen format of the past.

Rusty Bishop has been a musician, Ph.D. biochemist, author, patent holder, entrepreneur, and now the CMO of Bigtincan, a publicly traded software company in the sales enablement space. Bishop has built a successful track record in sales and marketing as an SVP, founder, and CMO in tech. He founded FatStax, one of the first sales enablement companies helping to bridge the gap between sales and marketing.

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