Today’s trade show attendees expect more than a pile of business cards and brochures on a table. Experiential marketing transforms a lead’s encounter with your exhibit into a branded, interactive, memorable engagement. Here’s the scoop:


What is Experiential marketing?

According to HubSpot, experiential marketing is “a marketing strategy that invites an audience to interact with a business in a real-world situation. Using participatory, hands-on, and tangible branding material, the business can show its customers not just what the company offers, but what it stands for.”


Why is experientIal marketing effective?

Like everything else in marketing, what is great for your leads is great for YOU. Here are some key benefits to experiential trade show marketing: 

  • It shows customers how your brand is relevant to them:

    An experiential engagement gives leads an active understanding of how your product or service fits into their lives

  • It forms a lasting impression:

    Experiential marketing increases the chance that leads will remember your brand. While we only retain 20% of audio-visual information, we can retain about 75% when we actually DO something.

  • It sets you apart from you competitors:

    An exhibit without interaction is essentially a’s pretty easy to pass right by. Experiential marketing at trade shows draws attendees who are ready for a change of pace.

  • It gets people talking:

    If you build it, they will tweet. Word-of-mouth, both among trade show visitors and online, maximizes your trade show marketing presence. If you create an immersive, branded trade show experience, people are likely to tell a friend.


What does experiential marketing encompass?

The trade show experience begins long before the hall opens, and continues after the attendees head back home.

  • Pre-show:

    The content you deliver before the trade show can build anticipation and begin to ease leads into the experience. Emails, direct mail, social media announcements, and other pre-show marketing initiatives engage your audience early. Video is especially effective for experiential marketing, allowing you to use sound and visuals to impact your contacts on an emotional level. 
  • During the show:

    While a trade show is a memorable experience of its own, you have a chance to create a unique escape within the event. Your three goals are to show attendees exactly who you are, make sure they understand what challenges you solve for them, and give them a reason to choose you over a competitor. What experience can you provide that meets these goals?
  • Post-show:

    You worked hard to create an impactful trade show experience. You can reap the rewards after the event by reminding visitors about the encounter. For example, a follow-up email with footage from your booth will help your leads to recall the excitement, fun, fascination or sentimentality that they felt when they visited your exhibit.


How can you create an experiential trade show exhibit?

This is the fun part! Your imagination is the limit when it comes to creating experiential trade show booths, but there are a few trade show tips to keep in mind:

  1. The experience should be brand-aligned:

    To be effective, your experience should match with your brand personality. Consider how disorienting it would be to enter a booth for an organic snack company and find a laser show with techno music, for example. When the environment, mood, and activity of your exhibit matches your brand’s vibe, you’ll make a stronger impact.
  2. The experience should have a recognizable theme:

    You want your visitors to experience a range of emotions, but confusion is not one of them. To avoid discord, ensure that your theme is strong and consistent throughout your exhibit. Tell your brand’s story, start to finish, without distractions.
  3. The experience should be interactive:

    Sitting back and watching a performance, demonstration or display is enjoyable, but it’s not really experiential. You want your visitors DOING something that engages them with your brand. An experiential exhibit thrives on participation.
  4. The experience should demonstrate the challenges you solve:

    One of the trickier aspects of creating an experiential booth is demonstrating solutions. How can you sneak this essential bit of marketing into your visitors’ awesome experience?

    Here’s an example: a sports drink company might set up an experience that involves vigorous physical activity, and serve samples of their refreshing beverage alongside it.
  5. Your staff should be all in:

    The participation of your booth staff is essential to the success of your experiential marketing endeavor. Make sure your team understands their role within the immersive experience and is able to contribute in a positive way.

Could you use some assistance in implementing experiential marketing at your next trade show? The booth gurus at Exhibit Options are ready! Don’t hesitate to drop a line.