Attending trade shows is vital for retailers. They’re the opportunity to win more sales, network with other vendors, and boost your brand loyalty.

However, trade show marketing can also be a significant investment in time and money. So you must find the right strategy to boost ROI and get the most out of them.

On top of that, the COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on trade shows. Many of them are canceled this year or moved online. In these difficult times, businesses need to find ways to still thrive in the face of challenges.

Companies need to look for effective ways to improve their trade show marketing and keep their show visitors engaged — whether it’d be offline or online. That’s where 3D technology and Augmented Reality comes into play.

Why 3D and Augmented Reality Are Essential For Your Trade Show Marketing

Virtual trade shows were already trending before COVID-19 hit due to their reduced costs and the possibility to reach a bigger audience. But now, it’s become indispensable to adapt to the current situation.

AR helps bridge the gap between humans and machines. Even if trade shows aren’t going on for a while, it can help recreate the engaging product experience that customers seek: they’ll be able to look through and examine your product, just like if it were in their hands.

Also, optimizing the customer experience is the key to getting their attention and standing out from the crowd. 3D and VR help drive your business more engagement by offering customers an unforgettable experience during a trade show.

How to Use 3D and AR for Your Trade Show Marketing

There are many things to take into consideration when setting up a trade show marketing strategy.

It’s going to require plenty of preparation to drive the most interest to your booth. Here’s how you can leverage 3D and AR for an upcoming trade show:

Pre-Expo Marketing

The earlier you begin preparing for the upcoming event, the better results you may expect to accomplish. Pre-expo marketing includes both preparation for the event and pre-expo communication through emails, social media to the expo visitors. You must start as soon as possible before the big event to drive the most interest and excitement from your target audience. Here’s how you can do it:

#1. Create Your Product Images in a Cost-Effective and Scalable Way

To prepare for a trade show event, you must have the fantastic pictures that go along with it during your promotion campaign. However, getting all of your product images ready can be a time-consuming and expensive process.

Traditional photography eats away plenty of time, is costly, since it involves product logistics and it’s limited in terms of location. Especially when the COVID-19 hit, the photoshoots’ organization became very complicated. Products get damaged, thus lose commercial value.

The best way to save yourself money (and time) is to invest in 3D visualization instead. 3D rendering will allow you to have multiple product shots created at scale. You will be able to use them as silo images, displaying your products from different angles or create compelling product placements in lifestyle scenes.

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3D rendering will allow you to have multiple product shots created at scale, faster. (Source: CGTrader)

#2. Let Your Audience Interact With Your 3D Products Through Pre-Event Social Posts and Emails

Social media and email marketing are great mediums to start inviting visitors to your booth.

You can leverage them to create excitement around your brand by giving your audience a sneak peek of AR-powered 3D models of products that will be presented at the trade show. It’s a great way to build customer excitement, spark their interest and increase the likelihood of them coming to visit your booth.

#3. Create Promotional Promo Videos Around Your Products

Next, an excellent way to spread the word about an upcoming trade show is through a promotional video showcasing your products in 3D through a virtual environment. You don’t even have to think about finding an actual location for filming!

Here’s a great example of excellent video production of one of CGTrader’s customers, Adorno, who used 3D technology in their promo video for their virtual design destination called “The New Reality”:

3D models being used in a video promotion (Source: Adorno collaboration with CGTrader)

Trade show Marketing for online events

So you’ve done the hard work of promoting your booth at the trade show before the big day. It’s now time to set up your online booth in a way that’s going to drive engagement from your customers. The steps you’ll need to follow to achieve this include:

#4. Create 3D Virtual showrooms

3D is becoming the only option to bridge the gap and increase ROI for online events. You can leverage 3D to recreate a real-life experience via a 3D virtual tour of your products to engage customers.

What’s great about virtual tours is that they come with no overhead or booth set-up costs. Another benefit is that they can last year-round. You can embed the tour on your website so customers can explore it at any time.

#5. Let Them Engage With Your Products

The problem with virtual trade shows is that it’s hard to showcase your products online. Customers have no way of examining your items themselves in their own hands the same way they can in real life.

Using a 3D viewer, visitors can interact with the product the way they want: zoom it in and out and understand its features well. It’s going to recreate a real-life experience for your audience while still respecting social distancing measures.

Trade show Marketing for physical events

The traditional trade shows are often about location, location, location. The better spot you got for your booth, the more visitors you may expect. Leveraging 3D and augmented reality can surely help you get the most out of it and delight visitors. Things you can do during the expo include:

#6. Allow Customers to Virtually See Your Products in Their Space

Another creative way to engage customers during expos is to make it possible to explore your products in their own space.

To do this, you can include QR codes onto print media, such as brochures or business cards. If a visitor is not too sure at the time or too busy, they can explore the product later in their own homes with the QR code.

#7. Create Engaging Experience For Expo Visitors

Getting the most out of trade shows is all about delivering a unique experience to customers. Implementing 3D and VR at your booth is one of the best ways to engage visitors and stand out from the crowd.

For example, you can use VR at your booth to transport customers to a whole different location. Let's say that you’re selling surgery equipment; with VR, you can take customers to a surgery environment where they’ll be putting your products to use.

#8. Display Your Bulky Items in 3D

You may have large items that you wanted to expose but were logistically challenging to bring to trade shows. Renting enough space to host them may have also been expensive.

The good news is that with AR visualization, what you can do instead is display large, bulky items in 3D for your audience.

Post-Expo Engagement

Your marketing strategy doesn’t stop when the event ends. You must also reach back to leads once the trade show is over and continue to nurture your relationship with them:

#9. Let Customers Interact With Your Products in the Comfort of Their Home

To nurture leads once the event ends, you can follow up with product info and let them examine the products in Augmented Reality in the comfort of their home. By giving leads more time to review your products, they’ll be more likely to convert eventually.

Increase your trade show marketing ROI With 3D Visualization

To succeed, your business must learn to always adapt to changes in the industry — no matter how difficult circumstances might get.

3D and AR technology can significantly improve trade show marketing, both online and offline. Not only can it help you thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also helps create a more memorable and interactive experience.

If you’re looking to invest in 3D and AR to better engage customers at trade shows, we can help. At CGTrader, we’ve helped countless companies leverage the power of AR to create unforgettable trade show experiences. Contact us today and learn more about our services.

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This Is Why 3D and Virtual Reality Are the Key to Successful Trade Show Marketing

Haidi Kelly is the CMO at Modelry. Formerly at WeWork, Haidi loves the challenges the B2B space brings. Excited about the transformative power of digital assets and content in eCommerce, Haidi helps individuals, teams, and companies reach their full potential. In her downtime, she is also a foodie, world traveler, and enjoys live music.

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