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2012’s Biggest Trends In Trade Show Marketing

Tradeshow Exhibiting Trends For 2012

Trade show exhibiting is an ever-changing, ever-evolving world.  To explore the new developments in the industry, we polled Skyline dealers throughout North America asking them one question: “What do you think the biggest trend in trade show marketing will be for 2012?”

Increased Use Of Social Media

From Facebook to interactive webinars, the growth of social media is the top trend for 2012.  Pre-show promotions using Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin and at-show promotions rewarding those who “check-in” at the show are already growing in popularity.  Exhibitors want prospects to be able to access data at events and have giveaways associated with their social media plans.  Drawing traffic to your trade show booth and brand through social media is certainly a trend that will continue throughout the year and beyond.  Rick Bengermino, from Skyline Maryland says, “I think clients want to have more interactive elements to engage prospects.”

Greater Integration Of Technology Into Exhibits

The tablet and iPad craze will be built into more trade show exhibits for an exciting visual aspect in 2012.  Incorporation of these devices will allow exhibit staff to demonstrate new products, one-on-one with attendees, anywhere in the booth.  Shipping and storage costs will begin to decline due to the ability to now display products without actually bringing them to the show.  All of these benefits will allow staffers to reach more attendees and capture more leads.  Most recently, trade show exhibitors have seen integration of the tablet with CRM programs.  The major benefit being it gives quick access to the best leads and the ability to create a customized fulfillment plan.  Jodi Maitlen of Skyline Oklahoma agrees, “An overall greater inclusion of technology on the show floor” will be the ticket to success.

Exhibit Design Continues To Evolve Towards Modular

Booth size will start to change and continue throughout the year.  More exhibitors are venturing beyond the standard 10×10 booth into 10x20s. A turn to modular booths is becoming popular due to the need for customization and versatility.  “We are going to see exhibits change into more of a set of elements as opposed to one big structure,” according to Erik Streight, from Skyline Houston.  Jim Cummings, from Skyline Ottawa adds, “2012 may see a move towards differentiation, customization and unique designs.” Comfortable seating and lounge spaces will also be a key aspect in booth design.  Lightweight displays that are easily set up and mobile will be a must-have item for many exhibitors.  Added to that will be the use of lightweight stretch fabric, LED and backwall lighting, video monitors and interactive elements to engage prospects.

Exhibitors Seeking Best Value

Purchases in general are on the rise and the size of the clients’ booths continue to go up.  Pricing is becoming very competitive as exhibitors are looking to get the most bang for their buck.  The economy is getting better but in the past few years people have gotten good at spending as little as possible for the most value.  They will continue to look for the best deals along with low asset management costs.  “Clients are still stretching their dollars and want more flexibility for each penny,” according to Jody Myers from Skyline Exhibitor Source in Knoxville.

Justify Return On Investment

Of course, all of these trends would mean nothing if there was no way to justify the spending.  Focusing on ROI and measurement are at the top of the list for many exhibitors this year.  “You’ve got to set objectives and measure against them,” says Scott Price from Skyline New Jersey.  “You must focus on ROI to justify investments made in trade show marketing,” agrees Alex Litynsky from Skyline British Columbia.  If all of these new and revisited methods are generating traffic and gathering great leads you will know you’re going in the right direction.  If you’re not seeing the results, it may be time to incorporate some of these trends and build a new plan.

These trends look awfully similar to trends you’ve seen over the last few years!  That’s because they’re trends, not fads.  These trends will continue to shift how exhibitors use trade shows for years to come.

WWEAs you prepare for your future event and trade show planning, learn from your peers in the What’s Working in Exhibiting Benchmarks and Best Practices white paper. Learn how exhibitors have improved results, stretched their budgets, and reduced risk. Click here to request you free copy and learn more.

About the Author

Bryna Kelly was a Marketing Assistant at Skyline Exhibits, located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

4 responses to “2012’s Biggest Trends In Trade Show Marketing

  1. Bryna, great post! Regarding “Greater Integration Of Technology Into Exhibits – Shipping and storage costs will begin to decline due to the ability to now display products without actually bringing them to the show.”

    Have you ever heard of KAON INTERACTIVE (

    KAON can assist with “… Incorporation of these devices will allow exhibit staff to demonstrate new products, one-on-one with attendees, anywhere in the booth.”

    Have a contact there if you want to learn more

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