Technology + Trade Shows: What You’ll Need

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Back in the early days of trade shows, in order for a company to gather information from potential customers, the customer had to fill out a long, drawn out information card. As you can imagine, handling loads of customer information cards can be a hassle at a trade show. Companies suffered from messy display tables, incorrect information and illegible customer handwriting. There was also the added labor of filing and manual data entry once the trade show was over.  If your company frequently traveled from show to show, you were also stuck lugging around tons of paper product, and nobody wants to do that.

Lucky for us, technology is playing more of a vital role in trade show data gathering. Being able to gather information from potential customers  on computers and tablets is quickly becoming the norm. There are lots of options you can choose from when gathering information from customers. If you are transitioning over to a technology based data system for your trade shows, try these super user friendly approaches.

The Computer Set Up

These days nearly, everyone knows how to use a computer, so asking your customers to fill out some basic information on a laptop or desktop is usually well received. Make sure to keep your survey or data form short and to the point. This will ensure that the customer will fill out all areas of your form and not feel like their time is being monopolized at your booth.

Setting up a kiosk that is eye level to your customer is also a good idea. No one likes to hunch over a low table while trying to fill out information. If you have room in your budget, commission a  kiosk design company to outfit your email or data entry station for your booth. An attractive kiosk is eye catching and enticing to consumers, which will increase the chances of people signing up at your booth.

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Once you have decided on a set up, you can begin to research which data capture services are right for your business. There are some great programs that you can use to capture basic customer information. If you are a newbie to data capture, try Surveymonkey.com. All you have to do is create an account and the site allows you to conduct short surveys with a variety of parameters for free. If you want more intricate analysis, there is also a paid subscription available. Zoho.com is also a great customer relationship management system with many features such as tasks, sales tracking and data capture which can be synced with mobile devices. That leads us to…

Tablets and Smart Phones

Tablets and smart phones are leading the way for trade show data capture. There are tons of different applications to choose from on the mobile front. Tablets are great because they are lightweight, travel easily and allow you to move freely among your audience. Most desktop applications are available for mobile such as Survey Monkey and Zoho.  You can also try iCapture, which is a great survey design service complete with offline functionality and analytics.

If you choose to go with a tablet or smartphone for data capture, there are a few things to consider in terms of presentation. You can either mount or man your tablet. Confused? We’ll explain.

Mounting your tablet

Deciding to mount your tablet involves coordinating with a display company that specializes in this kind of trade show set up. Tablets are secured in protective cases and then fastened to the display table. The benefits of this set up is that your sales associates do not have to be concerned about being responsible for the safety of the tablets and are free to roam the footprint to assist consumers. This also makes crowd management easier to handle. Consumers can form lines at the tablet station if they are interested in giving their information. Associates are then free to move on to engage other consumers. The drawbacks are that there is little interpersonal engagement throughout the survey completion process. This often results in incomplete forms or survey abandonment. Despite the drawbacks, mounting helps to create a more streamlined customer engagement process and is great for mid to large companies.

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Manning your tablet

If you desire a more interpersonal touch to collecting data, then manning your tablet is another option. This involves delegating a sales associate to, well, man a tablet! The benefits of this is that sales associates can ensure accurate completion of the survey. Consumers are also more inclined to participate in a survey when there is another person engaging them in the process. There are also a few drawbacks. If you are a larger or popular company, you may find your associates can easily become overwhelmed and your resources monopolized by the data process. You also run the risk of loss or theft of devices, because they are not as secure. No matter which method you choose, being liberated from tons of little paper cards is priceless.

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Accessories

Computers and tablets are great additions to your workflow but at a busy trade show, you want to make sure that you have everything you need to get things done and secure your items. Here are some great accessories that will make your life a whole lot easier

The Griffin AirStrap for iPad is a great solution for sales associates who are tasked with being responsible for a tablet. The protective outer cover can be branded with your company logo while the hand strap ensures comfortable handling.  Using a tablet case that has a hand strap can significantly reduce the instance of loss or theft. When the associate has increased maneuverability, they are less likely to plop their tablet down on a table,  leaving an opportunity for mistakes. You can also provide a Neoprene Zippered Tablet Sleeve so that traveling tablets don’t suffer broken screens. For customers who aren’t comfortable with touch screens, or if you are looking for a wireless solution for a desktop, you can try a Bluetooth Folding Keyboard. It’s compact and travels super easy.

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No matter the size of your business, everyone can benefit from streamlining their data. Having all of the information you need available in the palm of your hand is a priceless advantage.  All it takes is a little bit of a learning curve and some snazzy tech  goodies to get you on your way to never having to lug around those dreaded paper cards ever again!