Embracing Phones in Your Trade Show Strategy

Derse | February 17, 2023

Like it or not, everybody has their phone on the trade show floor.

Phones will buzz, ring, and light up, doing everything they can to distract your attendees from fully entering into the immersive experience waiting for them in your booth.

When thinking about the role a phone plays in someone’s attention span, it can be tempting to see it as the enemy. But what if we took a more strategic approach?

Let’s take a look at the three different ways you can approach phones on the trade show floor.

trade show exhibit phone engagement


Maybe you’re tired of the constant notifications and have surrendered yourself to the notion that you are powerless to your attendees’ phones. It can be easy to think that nothing can be done to limit the screen addiction.

But here’s what you’re missing by not creating a phone strategy: people will either not pay attention to the important parts of your exhibit, or they will not take their phones out to share about your brand online. It’s a lose-lose.

Instead of haphazardly putting up with phone usage in your trade show booth, think about what your end goal is for your attendees and make a plan to encourage or discourage phone usage through your exhibit’s engagement strategy.

derse customer experience exhibit engagement


A common misconception among trade show exhibitors is that technology-driven experiences are the only way to capture your audience’s attention.

Here’s what we know: anything that exceeds the expectations of an individual can be attention-grabbing. And it doesn’t have to be tech. We live with our phones by our side 24/7 – the one thing that might be unexpected is an experience when your audience feels prompted to put their phone away.

Sometimes all you need is a strong aisle engagement question, eye-catching architecture, or a unique presentation on must-know information.

If you’re looking to connect with your attendees on a deeper level and educate them further on your brand, products, and services, focus on creating a phone strategy that captivates your attendees so much that they are inclined to put their phones away. If you succeed, you’ll have their full attention and the opportunity to make a lasting impression.

product launch event customer engagement


We know what you’re thinking: captivating your audience to the point that they put their phone away sounds so effective, why would someone even want their attendees to use their phones?

The answer lies in who might be on the other side of the phone, connecting with your brand as a result of an attendee sharing on their phone.

Whether you use a smart graphic, an incentive, or some other motivator to prompt your audience to snap a photo and share about your brand online, encouraging them to use their phones can play a key role in increasing brand awareness or spreading the word about a recent product launch.

This strategy shouldn’t be used without intention. It’s important to know what specifically you want attendees to share and how to share it, whether that’s by using a hashtag, answering a question, or sharing content you’ve already posted.

What does this mean for you?

Phone usage among attendees can be the ultimate litmus test of how successfully you’re engaging your attendees. The next time you’re exhibiting, pay attention to how attendees are using their phones. Are they taking photos and sharing tweets with your hashtag? Congrats! They are spreading the word. Are they putting their phones in their pockets to play your game, have a conversation, or interact with your product demos? Great work. You’ve captured their attention.

By aligning your phone strategy with your overall trade show marketing goals, you have a key data point to further indicate the success of your program.

Ready to create an impactful strategy for your trade show program? Let’s connect.

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