Most, if not all, companies that exhibit at trade shows and conferences will tell you that engaging visitors to their booth is their #1 goal. The longer a prospective customer stays with the professional selling the product or service, the more memorable the encounter and the more likely that visitor is to buy.
One innovative technique being used more frequently in trade shows is a QR (Quick Response) code as part of the booth design. The code can also be used on exhibitor t-shirts, print collateral, hotel door hang-tags and other marketing elements to tie a cohesive theme and drive traffic to the booth.
QR codes have become much more mainstream in the past couple of years, particularly with the proliferation of smart phones. The square graphic design, either black and white or in color, can, when scanned by the phones, be designed to perform multiple tasks. Use the coding to direct a visitor to a video about your company’s product or service, to a webcast or website specific to the product being promoted during the show, or to a platform of general information about the company. The options are limited only by the imagination of the marketing team and the success of integrating the QR code into the overall marketing strategy.
Vision Exhibits, a Lincoln, NE-based expo booth design and rental company, recently completed a trade show display for Xcelience Pharmaceuticals, based in Tampa, FL. Xcelience is a small privately-owned business that needed an exhibit design that could outshine multi-national companies with sizable budgets. The challenge was to make Xcelience stand out in an enormous trade show environment while staying within budget. Vision crafted a plan that maximized their location and incorporated graphics from an existing, smaller exhibit with rental components for a beautiful 20×20 island exhibit. The result? The company beat their goal for new leads by 35 percent.
The design team avoided a common error when using the codes, by mounting the enlarged QR symbol on a stand-alone display sign rather than wasting valuable display space within the booth design itself. Visitors to the Xcelience booth with smart phones could easily scan the code and download the content for review at a later time, thus extending the encounter and providing information that reinforced the one-on-one dialog within the booth, as well as providing a resource for later purchasing decisions.
It’s important to remember that not all attendees at the trade show will know what a QR code is. Be sure your booth staff is well-versed on the content of the code and can explain it to those who are curious but uninitiated in smart phone scanning. Tell people what to expect when they scan your code. As with any promotional outreach, talk in language your customers understand and will respond to. Different codes can be used on different elements of the marketing package: the booth itself, print collateral, flooring, hats or other give-aways, staff name tags and more.
A caveat: Do not let the QR code replace human contact. While the visitor is scanning, be sure your booth staff is creating a relationship that can ultimately become a lead.
Consider off-site advertising, too, where a QR code could provide a quick way for your audience to learn more about your company and/or product when the expo floor is closed. For example, it might be worth the time and expense to have the hotel place in-room flyers with your QR code for scanning during off-hours.
You also might want to tie in a scan-for-prize-entry contest; for example, Scan this QR code to enter to win a free Widgit. This is a good call to action to get potential customers to scan your QR code and register for a drawing. Again, this means more time at your booth for personal interaction.
Your QR codes should support your overall event marketing strategy while enhancing the trade show attendee experience. Don’t create a QR code for yourself. Create it for your customers.