It is almost redundant to say, but digital marketing is as vital to an exhibit program as vinyl wraps and lightboxes. From preshow promotions and live engagement, all the way through to post-event activities, digital components are found at every touch point on the exhibit journey. And thanks to the power of social media, it often takes a brand’s message to more individuals than attended the show in person.

Which begs one, very important question: why haven’t more exhibit houses embraced the inevitable and brought digital marketing in-house?

It’s a good question, isn’t it?

The data is irrefutable.

Back in 2010 – eons ago in the digital world – the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reported that 78 percent of exhibitors believed that digital tactics and activities made their pre and during-show marketing more effective. Fast forward to 2018, and CEIR reports that targeted email marketing is the most widely-used and valued tactic for helping to grow show attendance. And what of the Paris Marketing favorite of microsites and landing pages? At a 76 percent success rate, they were considered equally as effective (if not as widely used) as email.

And then there’s social media.

82 percent of event marketers use social media to market their events (thanks, Bizzabo). And which platform came out on top? According to AdWeek, the answer would be Twitter. Yes, according to this ever-dependable resource, 93 percent of industry professionals rate Twitter as the most useful social media tool for engaging with events. Why? Because of data like this: during ISC West 2018, Tweets containing the hashtag #ISCWest were seen by 435,781 different users.

To put that in context, 30,000 individuals attend the show.

What about the cool stuff?

You can’t move on a show floor without seeing yet another impressive example of seamlessly integrated messaging. Virtual reality is in, and if thoughtfully incorporated within a booth’s design, can really draw the crowds. Video, of some form, is essential, while interactive touchscreen technology is always cool to have. And if you can get your hands on augmented reality, all the better.

So, what’s the answer?

Well… The short answer is because it is not quite as simple as waving a magic wand and suddenly finding a marketing agency has appeared in your facility (unicorns and all). Digital incorporates a wide range of disciplines (VR, website services, video, social media, design… ad nauseum), and you need to have them all in-house in order to remain competitive. It is an all or nothing deal.

One thing is for sure…

The pioneers have already started to blaze the trail; careful you don’t get left behind.

Amadeus Finlay

Amadeus is our off-the-boat Irishman. Like all good sons of the Emerald Isle, Amadeus was born with a pen in his hand and a notebook stuffed under one arm. At Paris, Amadeus spends most of his time making connections and having fun on-screen, but despite that, writing remains his first love.