5 Key Principles for Effective VR/AR Trade Show Marketing

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Thinking about incorporating  virtual (VR) or augmented reality (AR) at your next industry conference? We’ve seen VR/AR installations produce powerful results on the trade show floor - like 3.5x lead generation and millions in new sales opportunities - but we’ve also seen plenty of experiences fall flat.  Successful VR/AR activation requires careful planning and a deep understanding of the right and wrong ways to use the technology. 

To help you maximize the return on your time, effort, and budget, we’ve put together five key principles for ensuring your next VR/AR trade show installation moves the metrics that matter most to you. 


1. Share the Magic 

One of the simplest but most important steps you can take toward drawing more people into your booth is to “live mirror” your visitors’ in-headset experiences to a big screen or - better yet - to multiple displays! This causes walkerby’s to pause and take interest instead of seeing someone in a headset and having no idea what they’re doing. Additionally, because some booth visitors who are new to VR/AR may be hesitant to pick up a headset or tablet, this provides a way for them to preview before committing to a demo. Remember that every person who stops to observe is a new potential prospect your booth staff should be ready to engage in conversation.  As you design your booth, decide how you want to mirror - Where will the display be placed? How can we maximize visibility from the aisles? Should we cycle between multiple participants views? If our experience is gamified, should we include a centralized scoreboard? Rightly done, your VR/AR experience should be just as interesting to the people on the outside as it is to those inside the headset.  


2. Showcase the Goods

Few things hurt us more than seeing headsets tossed in the corner in a tangled pile of wires between demos. Imagine if retailers stored running shoes this way, instead of prominently displaying them on racks! Would you ever try anything on? When your VR/AR equipment is not in use, keep it prominently displayed to intrigue and entice visitors to say, “Hey, what’s that?” After-market clings and covers can be used to add visual pop and match headsets and iPads to your brand colors. We also recommend investing in headset display stands - better yet, try backlighting them with LEDs. If you are using wireless headsets or tablets, think about your charging station strategy so it doesn’t look like an afterthought. 


3. Plan For Noise

Trade show floors will almost always louder than you anticipate, especially during high-traffic expo hours between speaker sessions. If your experience has sound (which we recommend), make sure your software developers properly EQ the experience to deal with trade show noise.  Nothing is more frustrating than investing in an experience nobody can hear on opening day. Consider branded earbuds as giveaways rather than reusable headphones! This will simplify hygiene protocols (more on this below) and allows users to leave your booth with something that reminds them of your VR/AR experience.


4. Run A Clean Operation

It baffles us how often this one gets overlooked, so, to set the record straight: NOBODY wants to put on a headset that has someone else’s sweat or makeup on it. We consider the following basic hygiene precautions non-negotiable best practices: disposable facemasks for all VR headsets, lense wipes for all screens or lenses, disinfectant wipes for everything that is plastic, and liquid hand sanitizer readily available for anyone who wants it! Equipment should be sanitized on regular cycles with a basic regimen after every user, and a “deep clean” after every 5-10. It only takes thirty seconds and seeing that you take hygiene seriously makes guests much more willing to try your experience. Believe us, people want to leave your booth with free gifts - not germs. 


5. Be Exclusive

Nobody likes long lines, but we believe short lines at your booth can be a good thing. This indicates that your VR/AR experience is good enough for demand to exceed supply, which creates a sense of scarcity and exclusivity, driving further demand. To balance this against the need to get important prospects through fast, we also recommend creating a “VIP” line or area. You can do this a variety of ways, like building in a secluded section with clear plexiglass giving a modern feel to your booth with the intention of creating privacy for higher profile clients but also “FOMO” (fear of missing out) from visitors passing by. You can also send out email campaigns encouraging VIPs to pre-reserve time slots to view your VR/VR experience during the show. We’ve found this vastly increases the rate at which they come by the booth. 


To learn more about how to utilize VR/AR at your next trade show or Industry conference, contact us for an initial consultation.

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