Stepping up your meetings and exhibits
Most successful marketing plans of growing brands are built around a key component of effectively establishing new connections with potential customers and partners through meetings, events, and exhibits. As Omni Fight Club’s partner for managing the brand and its growth nationally, we created an innovative, tech-driven exhibit experience that stands out for its interactivity and its return on investment.
Who doesn’t enjoy a high-energy trade show full of industry leaders? A one-stop shop to roam the aisles and discover that groundbreaking product or idea that can push your business to the next level or foster customer loyalty. Trade shows are an opportunity to showcase your brand to a crowd full of buyers. It’s the once-a-year moment to reach that show’s audience and for many brands the difference between a slow sales year and a record breaking one.
We aren’t the only ones who believe in the power of trade shows. Overall confidence in the value of trade shows has continued to grow into 2019.(1)
(1) Exhibitor Online
Confidence in trade shows isn’t the only thing increasing. Exhibit costs are too. Look at the average company’s marketing budget. More than 30% is allocated to exhibits. That adds up to more than $24 billion spent each year by US exhibitors alone on their trade show displays.(2)
With confidence high and billions of dollars being invested to showcase brands, it’s clear that brands believe their exhibits are a key aspect of attracting new buyers and creating value for the business.
With a big outlook and bigger marketing budgets, trade show exhibits are becoming bigger, flashier, and more expensive than ever. That might be business as usual for the large players in an industry, but what about the little guy? How can a startup strapped for cash, or a mid-sized brand with limited funding, still make a statement?
The costs of exhibiting are a real challenge, acting as a barrier to entry for smaller brands. When your business is growing quickly and there are constant demands on free cash flow, investing in an exhibit for the first time is quickly deprioritized. But should it be?
Omni Fight Club (OFC), a fitness franchise startup in the San Francisco bay area, recognized the opportunity that trade shows provide, as well as the budgetary challenges. OFC launched the brand at IDEA world in 2018, unveiling its unique franchise offerings to an event attended by thousands of fitness professionals. With an expansive booth featuring a full boxing ring and an entire array of equipment, potential franchisees and partners were able to get the full OFC experience right on the trade show floor. The exhibit was a hit! Such a tangible and engaging exhibit generated mass appeal and interest in OFC’s franchise opportunity.
The exhibit was unique, eye catching, interactive, and memorable. It must have been an overall success, right? Unfortunately, not entirely. While the show itself was a success, the OFC team realized the exhibit was not a sustainable solution long term. Building out a full fitness studio for an exhibit requires a lot of heavy equipment and logistics, which put a heavy strain on the budget for the show.
In fact, over the last 20 years, the cost of handling these ever-growing exhibit setups has increased almost 500%.(2) The increasing costs of drayage—the shipping and logistics of an exhibit—has put a squeeze on exhibit budgets, forcing many brands to make sacrifices in their exhibit’s overall design. That’s a problem because, unlike exhibit design, drayage doesn’t deliver ROI. Drayage doesn’t connect with potential buyers in creative ways or make a memorable first impression that drives ROI.
OFC had a clear goal for future trade shows—a lighter, more sustainable exhibit experience that could still generate awareness and leads.
To address this need, we challenged the standard conventions of what an exhibit is. The initial exhibit succeeded because people were able to experience the brand firsthand. They stepped out of the trade show into a theoretical OFC studio, seeing and hearing what cardio kickboxing is really like for members. With this in mind, we arrived at the critical question: how can we provide an immersive experience for trade show attendees without requiring hundreds of pounds of equipment to be shipped, setup, broken down, and shipped again?
The answer? A virtual reality (VR) 360º video experience that immerses you into the experience of an Omni Fight Club class. Check it out for yourself.
Put on a headset, click play, and be transported into an eight minute walkthrough of an OFC class. The best part is you’re in control of the experience. Throughout the video, you’re free to look around a 360º view of what’s happening, and with ambisonic audio, the sounds come at you from every angle as you move your head. After a minute or two, you might even forget that you’re standing in the middle of a busy trade show floor.
We no longer needed thousands of pounds of materials and hundreds of hours of labor to setup the next exhibit. A simple backdrop and a set of VR headsets is all it takes to give someone an unrivaled brand experience. After each VR show, prospective buyers would remove the headset with a smile on their face and an eagerness to learn more.
Trade shows can make or break a business. As exhibition costs continue to climb, businesses need to leverage outside-the-box thinking and cutting-edge tech to generate leads at lower costs. These innovative experiences will differentiate brands through better returns on major marketing investments.