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exhibitor q & a

Illustration: Mark Fisher

Send your tough
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Linda Armstrong, larmstrong@exhibitor

interactive media
I want to ditch our text-heavy graphics and printed brochures for an interactive product catalog. I know that this new technology will help our show-floor image, but what additional benefits can I expect (and expound upon to penny-pinching management) from switching to interactive product catalogs and information kiosks?

Multimedia tools not only add a high-tech feel to your exhibit and brand; they can also increase the amount of information available to attendees, generate attention, increase retention, and even save you a significant amount of money compared to the cost of reprinting graphics and brochures. Here, then, are several additional benefits to switching out printed graphics and brochures for interactive media. Surely, doing so adds a tech-sexy appeal to your booth, but it offers various other benefits to boot.

 Provides More In-Booth Info

Printed brochures and static exhibit graphics offer a limited amount of room for detailed information. After all, to be effective, graphics should contain minimal text, i.e., your company name and its offerings. Plus, when it comes to literature, attendees don't want to haul your hefty product catalog around the show floor. In fact, some people would argue that even one-page brochures almost never offer the specific information each attendee requires, and as such the literature often ends up in show-hall trash bins rather than on attendees' desks back at the home office.

But with interactive product catalogs, attendees can access not only a wealth of information right on the show floor; they can also scroll through and locate the precise information they need. You can include everything from product descriptions and spec sheets to testimonials, expanded/exploded views of intricate items, and even video-taped customer testimonials or installation guides. Clearly, a well-done digital product catalog can answer just about any attendee question right there on the trade show floor.

 Enhances Readability

As mentioned above, interactive product catalogs can help attendees easily locate the specific information they need. However, this same function allows them to explore product categories in a glance and to quickly jump from one topic to another, exposing them to a plethora of information about your products and services with the touch of a finger. What's more, you can organize your information into logical, bite-size, interrelated chunks - such as interactive charts and graphs and demonstrative videos - which are easier to understand, digest, and remember.

This combination of organization and readability aids in attraction. Attendees are drawn to information that can be easily navigated, and nugget-size chunks are far more easily digested - and likely remembered - than reams of unending data.

 Improves Attendee-to-Staffer Ratio

Even though trade shows are all about face-to-face interaction, sometimes you've got more attendee faces than staffers can handle. Well-organized interactive catalogs usually allow attendees to access the information they need without staffer interaction. While staffers finish up a meeting with a customer, for example, a new prospect can independently browse your offerings and answer their own questions. Then, when a staffer becomes available, that prospect has already progressed through the basic info-gathering part of the process and is ready to move on to more in-depth questions, or perhaps even a sale. Bottom line, reducing the attendee-to-staffer ratio means you might be able to leave some staffers at home, ultimately decreasing travel costs.

 Addresses Multiple Learning Styles

Everyone has a preferred learning style. Some people learn best by reading information, others by hearing it, and still others by somehow physically experiencing it. Multimedia tools can relay the same info via multiple methods, thereby increasing the number of learning styles addressed - and thus increasing the chances that attendees will retain the information presented. Compared to static graphics and collateral literature, multimedia catalogs offer more opportunities to reach attendees in a manner that best suits their individual learning style.

 Fosters Flexibility

With printed graphics or brochures, changing a message, adding a new product offering, or simply correcting a typo means redoing the entire thing - and incurring the related charges. With digital technology, changes are a snap, and a pittance. Granted, you may incur some redesign costs, but just about any change you make to an interactive medium will cost far less time and money than if you were to change similar printed material.

Plus, you can rearrange and change digital information on the fly, even on the show floor. Not only can you alter your messaging and product presentations to suit each show's particular audience, but you can also make changes based on how each audience is reacting to your offerings. For example, if an overwhelming amount of attendees are interested in your new Wonder Widget, you can move information about that product out of its logical order and place it on the home screen of the product catalog. Or perhaps attendees are clamoring for customer testimonials about your newest product. After the first day of the show, you could pull up a few testimonials from your website and add them to the front of the presentation before the show opens the next day. The digital nature of interactive catalogs means you can customize every day of your show to meet your attendees' expectations.

 Cuts Costs

Using an interactive product catalog or any form of digital information means you can leave a lot of literature and a ton of heavy products at home. For example, rather than bringing real mining equipment to the show, you could set up a digital demo of the equipment including exploded views, interactive operator instructions, videos of the product in action, etc.

Any time you trade heavy items for lighter ones, you incur significant savings on shipping and drayage. Granted, you'll need some kind of hardware or monitors to display your multimedia, and transporting this hardware to the show can be costly. But oftentimes you can rent these items on site for a fraction of the cost of shipping your products and literature.

 Offers Multiple Uses

Interactive presentations can run on touchscreens, monitors, laptops, iPads, tablets, and even websites. This hard- ware flexibility means that product presentations are well suited to exhibit environments, but they're also easily adapted to other applications. Once you've built an electronic product catalog, for example, you can use this same tool at corporate events, at shareholder meetings, on field-sales calls, etc. Doing so extends the reach of the valuable asset; plus, if you can demonstrate to management that your trade show investment can extend beyond the show floor, you're all the more likely to get their stamp of approval.

Compared to traditional graphics and literature, interactive product catalogs have numerous benefits. They can cut costs, increase readability, and even help limit the number of staffers you send to shows. But of course, as an ancillary benefit, they offer a sexy wow factor to any exhibit - and help label your brand as smart and tech savvy.

- Penn Arthur, CEO, Inhance Digital Corp., Los Angeles

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