Tips for Choosing the Best Digital Event Displays

February 13th, 2015

digital-event-displaysFebruary is “Technology Month” here at ExhibitDEAL and we wanted to share an excellent breakdown of different digital display styles. Head over to our Tech Displays catalog to check out what’s on sale this month!

This week’s featured article by Alex Ross lends insight to the many, many different displays that utilize today’s latest technology. Read more…


The best events are ones whose exciting environment make a lasting impression on attendees. Increasingly, event coordinators are using digital displays as strategic focal points to craft engaging events. . Whether for a trade show, an individual event booth, or an exhibit, going digital boosts the energy at your event and can transform your event from average to awesome.

It isn’t easy to have a smooth event display setup experience though. After being involved in events at various scales, I’ve identified key areas for event coordinators to focus their efforts on.

To make it easier, we created a breakdown of the types of event displays available, when to use them, the software available for running content, and guidance on coordinating logistics come showtime. I included a bonus Pro Tips section at the end with 3 key areas to pay attention to as you create your event display plan.

  1. Types of Digital Event Displays
    1. TVs, Projectors, Jumbotrons, Tablets, Kiosks
    2. TV Stands and Mounting
    3. Indoor v.s. Outdoor Event Displays
  2. Event Display Content & Design
  3. Other Hardware
    1. Media Players
    2. Internet – Ethernet, WiFi, 3G/4G hotspots
  4. Event Display Logistics – where to find help?
  5. Pro Tips

 

1. Types of Digital Displays for Events

Let’s run through the types of event displays, their cost, and ways to set them up.

TVs
TVs range from 24” to 80” and are well-suited as event displays for booths or exhibits. Many events also put screens on stands in key locations around their event floor. You can arrange multiple screens into a single cohesive display wall for big impact in a focal point of your event space. 4k screens are becoming more affordable and are a great way to grab attention as well, although it can be difficult to find engaging content compatible with 4k displays. While a single screen is easy to work with, large quantities of TVs (>5) can quickly become expensive and difficult to transport and store.

Projectors
With projectors, you can create extremely large event displays viewable by thousands of attendees at once. These are best used when you have a large surface (10ft x 6ft or larger) to project upon. If your event will be in a brightly lit area, you’ll need to purchase a high brightness projector for your content to be visible. If you’re placing a projector in a dark area, you can purchase a standard model. Projectors are logistically easier than any of the other display options because they’re light and portable.

Jumbotrons
Jumbotrons require professional event technician setup and are one of the priciest options for event displays. They’re meant for outdoor venues and have a huge impact.

Tablets
Tablets offer a personal, touch-based experience for attendees. You can use them as miniature kiosks at your booth or at key locations throughout your event to gather or convey information. Keep in mind that unlike the other event display options, tablets can only be used by a single person at a time and may form bottlenecks around busy areas of your event. They also offer the lowest ratio between potential viewers and cost because of their small form-factor.

Kiosks
Kiosks can be display-only or touch-screen. Logistically, kiosks are more difficult and expensive to ship than TVs or projectors. It takes at least two people and a dolly to move a single kiosk, and you’ll need freight elevator access to your event in order to move up and down floors. A 42–55”, standing display kiosk will cost around $2,500. Most kiosks come with Windows-based software you can use to load images and video in a loop onto. If you want touch-screen software, it will be much more expensive and you’ll need to employ a kiosk manufacturer or software developer.

Event Displays – TV Stands & Mounting

TVs are a popular choice for event displays and to draw attention to your booth at a trade show. If you’re going to use TVs, you’ll need to know how you’ll set up your screens. You have several options:

Stands
Stands are a versatile option for setting up your TVs. While cheap stands on wheels will cost around $150, if aesthetics matter, you’ll typically spend between $350 and $600 for a good TV stand which can hold a 42–60” display. Stands can be placed anywhere in your booth or event space, but you should typically place them near power and/or internet outlets so that you don’t need to run wire too far.

social media display for events

Mounting
You can mount your TVs on a permanent or facade wall. If you take this route, make sure to hire a professional technician with the correct certifications and with adequate insurance in the event the TV falls off and injures somebody. You can use services likeFieldNation, OnForce, WorkMarket, or HomeAdvisor to source professionals.

Transportation
If you’ll be transporting your screens yourself, consider using monitor cases.

Indoor v.s. Outdoor Event Displays

Jumbotrons are the only typical outdoor display listed above. All of the others (projectors, TVs, tablets) are meant for indoor use. If you plan to use them as outdoor event displays, here are a few considerations:

Brightness
If your event will be in the daylight, your screens won’t be visible unless you purchase special high-lumen displays meant for outdoor use. These typically cost $1,000+ more than their standard TV equivalents. If your event will be at nighttime and won’t be too brightly lit, a standard brightness display may suffice.

Weatherproofing
Electronics are extremely vulnerable to the elements. Make sure your displays will be kept dry. Weatherproofing a display costs several hundred dollars and involves placing your television in a special case. You should make sure you purchase a case with dimensions suited for your television. Installation is generally easy, but you may need to familiarize yourself with the case specifications if you plan to use it in conjunction with any stand or mounting hardware. The easiest option is to purchase out-of-the-box weatherproof displays from a manufacturers like SkyVue. Note that such displays will command a price premium over typical LCD televisions.

2. Event Display Content & Design

A display is only as engaging as the content running on it. It’s easy to waste the work you put into setting up your event displays by skimping on the design or strategy of your content. Well-designed content leaves a lasting “Wow!” factor with your attendees, and sets the tone for your event’s atmosphere.

The content you choose impacts how many displays you’ll need, the type of software you’ll need, the computing hardware you’ll need (media player), and whether you’ll require internet connection.

Static Images
If you’re only using your screens to display static images, you might want to consider printing banners instead. Logistically much easier, more reliable. You can have it printed and ready to go weeks in advance of your event, and it won’t be a concern on game day. Remember to budget for a graphic designer to design your images if you don’t have one on-staff.

Images and Video
If you want to show a loop of images and video, you need a simple event display content management system (CMS). You’ll also need to design the images and video, or hire a graphic designer to do so. Custom video is much more expensive to create and will require a more powerful computer to display, so think carefully about whether it’s necessary for the effect you want to achieve.

Most digital signage software vendors offer software capable of running images and video, so pick the one that you enjoy using the most. Enplug offers a simple, easy-to-use interface for uploading and scheduling digital assets via our Graphics app.

Social Media Walls
It has become increasingly popular to use event displays as social media walls, streaming the conversation taking place at the event on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. We’ve written about the benefits of using a social media at events and how to incorporate it into your sponsorship strategy.

If you want to integrate live social media with your display, you’ll need to choose a software that supports this, and you’ll need an internet connection to your display. We discuss internet connections below. Finding a software that supports both social media, images, and video is difficult. Often-times, instant social media is also extremely pricey. Enplug supports all three and offers instant social media posts through our Twitter wall,Instagram Wall, and other social apps.

Touch-screen
If you want interactive touch-screen way-finding kiosks, you’ll need a custom solution. You can create an app for tablets (iOS or Android), or create custom software for a touch-screen kiosk. In most cases, tablets are the most cost-effective way to create a touch-screen experience for your attendees. You’ll need to employ a mobile app development company to create a custom app, which can become expensive quickly. In most cases, I think the extra money you spend on this custom experience is not worth the added value to your attendees, and you should use an out-of-the-box non-touch solution instead.

3. Other Event Hardware to Consider

Depending on the content you choose to run on your event displays, you may need more than just a TV, power cable, and stand/mount.

Media Players

If you choose a software that doesn’t come with your display, you’ll need a media player (computer) to run the software. Below are your options:

Laptop
You can connect any laptop to a display via a shared input/output between your laptop and the display: HDMI, VGA, DVI, or Display Port. This works for quick-and-dirty event display setups, and may be enough if you’re using a display at your booth. Before doing this, make sure to turn off notifications on your laptop and turn off all applications except your display CMS, so that attendees don’t see embarrassing personal messages.

Dedicated PC
Similar to your laptop, if you have a spare desktop computer laying around you can connect it to your event display. The upside to this compared to your laptop is that you can still use your laptop during the event.

Media Player
Media players are small form-factor computers built specifically for running content on digital screens. Because they’re smaller they’re often more convenient than a full desktop computer, or your own laptop. Most media players use a common operating system like Windows or Android, and you can use any event display CMS compatible with that operating system. If your software needs to connect to the internet, make sure you choose a media player which supports the internet connection you’ll have available – either WiFi or ethernet.

Media players will run from $50 for a simple USB stick to plug into your TV, to $500 for high-end digital signage computers.

At Enplug, we offer a Plug & Play media player for $200 which can be connected to WiFi or ethernet and is managed entirely from web or mobile.

Matrix
If your event is being held at an event center, chances are high that there is already a network of screens powered by a single computer. I mention this because if your event is taking place in one of these locations, you’ll need to work with your location host to make sure your content and event display CMS will work with their matrix software and/or hardware.

Internet Connection

If your content requires an internet connection (such as a social media wall), you’ll need to plan out how you’ll get internet to your displays. You have several options with different pros and cons:

Ethernet Connection
The most stable option is to run an ethernet cable directly from the nearest internet router to your displays. The downside to this is that it’s a labor-intensive setup and cleanup exercise, and depending on the positioning of your displays it may be impossible to hide the ethernet cables, resulting in a less aesthetically-pleasing end result.

WiFi
If your event space has a WiFi connection, you can connect your event displays to this network. Make sure to test the strength of the WiFi connection at each of your display locations. The upside to this approach is you won’t need to deal with any messy wires. The downside is WiFi can be weak in certain locations of a building, and WiFi is less stable than ethernet.

3G/4G Hotspot
Companies like Verizon and AT&T offer a variety of hardware for creating internet hotspots from their 3G/4G networks. You can treat this hotspot as an internet router, and either plug it into your media player via ethernet or create a WiFi network to connect to.

The benefit of this approach is that it’s often the most convenient and flexible. Your hotspot can be located directly behind your screen/projector. If you have a wide area to cover, you may want to consider purchasing multiple hotspots.

The biggest problem with hotspots is that you’ll need to verify that your event space will have a strong 3G/4G connection. Oftentimes, convention centers fall outside of core coverage spots. If your event is indoors, the cellular connection may be weakened. Furthermore, if there are tens of thousands of attendees at your events the nearest cell towers may be overwhelmed by the digital traffic, paralyzing your displays.

Another downside to this approach is that it’s often the most expensive. Hotspots charge according to the data you use and typically come with annual contracts. Check out FreedomPop for easy hotspots, although their coverage is not as wide as Verizon’s or AT&T’s.

4. Event display logistics – where to find help?

Setting up event displays can be a real distraction from getting your event off the ground, and sometimes you’ll want to hire help. Who should you hire and what can you rely on them for?

Contractors
You can use marketplaces like FieldNation to find individual contractors who have experience transporting, mounting, and troubleshooting event displays. Post your job online with your budget, and let vetted contractors reply to your posting and bid on the opportunity. An individual contractor will require you to provide clear instructions, and is unlikely to provide additional expertise on choosing screens or software. If you have a large number of event displays to set up, you’ll also likely need more man-power. You should be able to hire a single contractor for around $300 for a simple setup and teardown event.

AV Companies / Systems Integrators
If you have a complicated network of screens to set up (more than 10 event displays with internet requirements), you may want to consider hiring a professional company that manages complex installations. The right company should be able to advise you on the software and screens you should choose, if you don’t have them already. They should also be able to troubleshoot common software and internet issues, and will have more man-power available to help with setting up your displays. This approach will be much more expensive than a single contractor.

Systems Contractor News (SCN) publishes an annual list of the top 50 AV companies/systems integrators.

Event coordinator
If you need assistance not only with setting up screens and software, but also with designing your overall digital event marketing strategy, you should consider hiring an event coordinator. You can hire a project-based individual, or an entire event coordinator company. This will be the priciest option as this individual will likely need to sub-contract an AV company or contractor to help with the screen setup.

Pro Tips

1. Test your TVs, computers, display software & content management software (CMS), and internet connection thoroughly and well in advance (1 week) of the event. If one of these components fails on the day-of, you won’t have much flexibility available to solve the problem on a moment’s notice. Make sure to test the internet connection at each of the locations of your displays if you’ll be dependent on a strong connection.

2. Leave as much time as possible for setting up your displays. This is the most difficult part. Once they’re up and running, you’ll usually be in the clear.

3. Make sure you have one person responsible for keeping an eye on your displays. If something goes wrong with the TV, software, or internet connection, your team will need to respond quickly to avoid affecting the event attendee experience.

 


Have questions on Tech Displays are the best match for your tradeshow booth? We specialize in creating custom screen, tablet device, and charging station inclusive displays that will wow your event participants and overshadow the competition.

The ExhibitDEAL team can be reached at Sales@ExhibitDeal.com or call 866-577-DEAL, we’d love to put our experience to work for you.

5 Tips for Effective Emotional Branding

December 5th, 2014

emotional-branding

The importance of ‘emotional branding’ cannot be understated. While it may seem like a newer trend, the psychological foundation has been taught and practiced for decades.

Ask yourself who you would rather buy from – a friend or a random stranger? Right there you have experienced an emotional connection that adds gravity to a claim about a product. In the same way, the basis of a good emotional branding is about helping your audience visualize the importance and ways that a product influences their lives and relationships. Whether or not this is an actual property of that product is less important than the experiences and warm, fuzzy perception that product brings to mind in the consumer.

This week we feature an article by Jeannette de Beauvoir on 5 tips for effective emotional branding. Read more below..


In case you’re inclined to sneer at the self-help philosophy, consider that this stuff works. And sells. How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold over 30 million copies since its first printing in 1936.

happy-woman-sunset-lgWhat we’re now calling emotional branding isn’t new. Dale Carnegie developed famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.

And what is it that worked so well? Carnegie advised businesspeople to appeal to their customers’ emotions.

Yet, even with the explosion of inbound marketing, the typical salesperson is still armed with facts and figures and stock responses to questions and objections. Salespeople are generally well prepared to sell a product or service. But the truth is, products and services aren’t what you’re selling anymore. You’re selling a way to improve people’s lives; and to do that effectively you have to make them feel—not just think—that you’re the right answer to their problem.

Feeling is what emotional branding is about. And the feeling doesn’t even need to be directly connected to the brand. In this Coca-Cola commercial and this longer, even more heart-touching mobile telephone commercial, you see the product only at the very end of the video. The marketing makes a connection that isn’t actually there, with the hope that the emotional connection stays in the audience’s collective mind.

Manipulative? Sure it is. It’s also brilliant. Because it works.

So what do you need to do to launch an emotional branding campaign for your company or product? Here are five tips to get you started.

Tip No. 1: Shift your focus

Think about people, rather than consumers. Think about experience, rather than products. Think about dialogue, rather than information delivery.

Emotional branding works best when you’re approaching your audience as individual people who live and work and think and dream—and when you engage them with all of that in mind.

If you really know your customers, then this is easy. Studying who they are and what they want will help you with your emotional branding.

Tip No. 2: Create material so emotionally compelling that it’s eminently shareable

Sharing is the best advertising out there, because it’s both heartfelt and free. You couldn’t pay for the kind of sharing that happens when a video or meme goes viral. So examine what is working in the media you select—videos, ads, even memes—and tailor your message to that tone and approach.

Tip No. 3: Learn about the emotional hot buttons that get people to purchase

Veteran marketer Barry Feig has carved out 16 hot buttons in Hot Button Marketing: Push the Emotional Buttons That Get People to Buy: desire for control, I’m better than you, excitement of discovery, revaluing, family values, desire to belong, fun is its own reward, poverty of time, desire to get the best, self-achievement, sex/love/romance, nurturing response, reinventing oneself, make me smarter, power/dominance/influence, and wish fulfillment.

It’s a great list. But not everything on it will work for you. Think about your ideal customers (remember, we’re talking people here, not products), pick out three or four of those hot buttons that will appeal to those people, and focus your branding efforts around them.

Tip No. 4: Tell a story

It really is all about the story. Storytelling is how we have for centuries—even millennia—made emotional connections. Who didn’t cry at Bambi? Stories aren’t about facts. Everyone knows that the best stories are the ones that stay with us long after the book is closed or we’ve left the theater. The same goes for business storytelling: You want your customer to keep thinking of you, so make sure you use your story to make them feel what you want them to feel.

Tip No. 5: Leave them with a strong feeling, happy or sad

It’s not about what information about your brand you want to leave your audience with. It’s what feeling you want to leave them with.

As William McEwen in the Gallup Management Journal notes, “Emotional connections are not merely warm and fuzzy, nor are they simply interesting to contemplate and debate. They have powerful financial consequences, ranging from share-of-wallet to frequency and amount of repeat business. ‘Fully engaged’ retail customers spend more and return more frequently than those who are disengaged.”

You don’t have to make a direct link between your product and the feeling you want associated with it. You only have to link them in your prospects’ and customers’ minds. This is the best way for you to stand out from your competition: by going in a completely different direction, seizing a new demographic, and making people smile or cry.

It doesn’t really even matter which.


Do you have an upcoming event? ExhibitDEAL offers full service production, including free consultation and 2 hours of complimentary graphic design to get your booth presence started off right. Give us a call at 866-577-DEAL or Email today. Our team of exhibit experts are on hand to answer any questions you have and guide you to the best DEAL.

Top 10 Trade Show Perks to be Thankful for

November 25th, 2014

Thanksgiving is a time where everyone should take a moment to stop and appreciate the things they are most thankful for. In the case of trade show exhibiting you may encounter many unforeseen headaches that cause you to become quickly flustered and caught up in the small things.

Well this week we take a look at the top 10 trade show perks that can be a life saver!


10) Free Drayage – Moving your trade show display from storage to convention venue can be as easy as unrolling a banner stand or as involved as shipping a stack of crates. Not having to pay someone to handle this for you? Thank goodness!

drayage

9) Roadies/Grips Included – Not everyone has a helping hand lugging their exhibit cases around. Having some help on hand – thank you!

movers

8) Better Flooring Options – Standing for hours in your tradeshow booth isn’t always the most thrilling. If your trade show design team ordered you plush comfort flooring to stand on, be sure to give thanks.

comfort-tile

7) Direct to Show Shipping – This can be a last minute life saver to get your exhibit on the show floor in time. Why thank you!

services-banner

6) Free Electricity – Hope you charged your batteries! With technology so prevalent at trade shows you can quickly drain your devices and electricity can be an expensive commodity. Getting plugged in for free, now that’s something that makes us thankful.

lights-hands

5) Exhibition Advertising – It can be enough of a challenge to generate pre-show interest with your existing contacts. What if the event venue didn’t do any advertising to get people in the door? Without booth visitors nobody has a trade show. Be thankful for all those attendees!

promotion-with-airplane-banner

4) Free WiFi – With mobile devices and live demonstrations being so important, having internet on hand can make or break your booth’s sales strategy. Every so often a trade show venue includes internet access with your booth space. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

wifi-at-trade-shows-2

3) On-task Booth Staffers – Ever pick your prized booth staff only to catch them sitting idly or texting as visitors pass by your booth. If you’ve got a team that’s ready to get out there and generate some leads, be thankful!

offtask-boothstaff

2) Bigger Budgets – A dream on every marketer’s horizon, having a bigger trade show budget is sure to generate a big thank you!

trade-show-freight-charges

1) Ready on Time – Finishing all the moving pieces of an exhibition in time can be a hectic or deal. Having your display designed and ready for the show 1 month before convention day – that’s worth being thankful for!

Relaxed-Man


That’s our favorite perks to be thankful for when exhibiting. Let us know something you’ve been able to appreciate having at your company’s trade show. We look forward to helping all of you with your exhibition needs when the ExhibitDEAL team returns from the holiday, December 1st!