iPad Trade Show Tips – To Display or Not Display

Trade Show

iPad Trade Show Techniques are generating a lot of interest since the device is such a great attention grabber for bleary-eyed attendees after a long day of walking the booths. We attend a lot of trade shows and conventions and can attest that iPad use on the rise and promises to be a winner for companies that adopt it.

iPad Trade Show – To Display

If you’re like most over-worked marketers and trade show managers, the iPad has been given some serious thought and budget at your company in the last few months. The dream is the ability to attract customers into the booth, keep their attention, send them home with some product/service info, and gasp! maybe sell them something on the spot.

To rephrase: Attract > Engage > Capture > Sell

The iPad can be used for all four. Here’s how.

Mounted iPad Display – The BestBuy Effect

I love looking at the wall of TVs display at BestBuy. All those shiny screens just suck me right to the back wall like the smell of coffee on a cold morning.

ipad standThe mounted iPad can accomplish the same effect at trade shows. While your competitors still tout the same boring displays, yours has videos and surveys and FatStax (sorry had to do it).

Seriously though, we’ve seen some great uses of iPads on stands and embedded in parts of the display with product videos, photo decks, and surveys.

When used correctly these formats can really stop a show browser in their tracks.

Photos – Oddly enough, a great photo deck can really grab my attention. Keep in mind the deck doesn’t have to be all product shots. I stopped in a booth at Society for Neuroscience Show (SFN 2010) because the iPad was displaying weird-looking insects! Did it sell me a product? No, but it ATTRACTED ME. At trade shows, getting them in booth can be the hardest part as we all know.

Product Videos – One use of videos I really loved was at Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Expo 2011 this year, where a company had about 25 iPads on tall pedestals placed near various machines. The iPads were all playing different videos that gave the browser an overview of the machine it sat near. Each video was about 1-2 min long. People were flooding the booth and it gave the booth reps time to catch up with them if things were too busy, because the customers would stop to watch the videos for a bit.

Don’t forget the ENGAGE part of the above equation!

If you take this route, be sure to read my 5 tips for iPad’s a trade shows, so you don’t make the critical mistake these guys made.

Surveys – Survey apps can also be used in displays especially if they have a “prize” or “schwag” associated with filling it out. Marketing loves surveys and visitors love giveaways, so it’s a great way to CAPTURE people’s info. But be careful not to give up the opportunity to make a sale for a potentially less valuable email address.

Although I like the survey approach, you will need at least 2 iPads (4 for larger booths) depending on how long the survey takes to complete. Once, again people’s attention spans are short, so keep in mind the critical questions that you won’t answered and don’t fall into the “asking too many questions because you can” trap.

Selling – Yes, you can sell products from your iPads in your display. Catalog search apps like our own Fatstax can be effective at getting down to the exact product a customer needs. The addition of product chooser and configurator modules can make these apps even more effective.

If you could make an actual sale, why wouldn’t you?

App Tips – Be sure to choose apps that can loop displays like Photo or the aptly named LoopVideo App. Those that don’t loop will require the constant attention of your staff to re-run them.  That won’t work- trust me.

Caution – Keynote on the iPad does not support looping presentations as of this writing, so don’t plan on using it for displaying a continuous powerpoint presentations. – Come on Apple, you’re better than that.

A few notes of caution about displaying the iPad on stands:

  1. Attention spans are short and your staff should be prepared for people to start tapping the screen and driving around to other apps. This will only increase as more and more of us buy tablet computers.
  2. Keep surveys short and relevant. Make sure your staff knows what the survey is about so they can help those that are confused.
  3. If you are planning on using the iPad as a web viewer be prepared for people to surf the web away from what you want them to view.
  4. Prepare for very slow wi-fi as conference servers are typically overloaded. We recommend bringing your own Wi-fi router for a wired broadband connection if you available. Be aware that sometimes that even doesn’t get it done inside convention centers.
  5. Finally, before mounting the iPads make sure people can stand comfortably at all the iPads at once! You don’t want to make the classic bumping people in the aisles mistake that sends consumers packing.

In summary, iPads as part of the booth display can be a powerful tool in the trade show manager’s toolbox allowing you to Attract, Engage, Capture, and Sell conference attendees with a variety of apps, videos, and presentation techniques.

In Part 2 will tackle iPad in the Staff’s Hands

About J. Rusty Bishop, PhD

I've spent the last 5 years helping great brands create amazing experiences for their sales teams during one on one sales interactions. Helping sales people do their job is my passion. When I'm not working, I am on the ocean fishing in San Diego, Ca.