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Trade show apps

If you thought smart phones were just another technology trend likely to taper with time, think again: It’s predicted that 330 million smart phones and 42 million media tablets, like the iPad, will be sold worldwide throughout 2011 alone.

So, chances are that every tradeshow attendee will be hitting the tradeshow floor equipped with a mobile device capable of connecting to the internet or downloading applications on the go from here on out. As an exhibitor, this is the perfect time to leverage fun, cost-effective mobile technology to engage trade show attendees and follow up on leads after the show ends if you’re not already doing so.

Whether new to mobile apps or early adopters in the tradeshow space, we’ve scoured the Internet to find the top five apps for your next big show and tips for using them effectively.

Trade show companions

There are numerous apps out there for the BlackBerry®, Android™ and iPhone® operating systems that enhance the overall trade show experience for booth exhibitors and trade show attendees alike. Apps like SwiftMobile™, EventMobi™ and ChirpE™ offer users interactive maps of the trade show venue and allow for quick searches of vendors and exhibitors and their booth location. SwiftMobile takes things a step further by offering a full guide of what to do in the area, a calendar with Twitter(sm) event hashtag links and transit information, while EventMobi offers a means for polling attendees and providing analytics for mobile and in-person engagement.

Many companions also allow exhibitors to send users coupons and special deals to entice visitors to stop by booths for more information. Try offering in-demand but affordable giveaways to these mobile users, like a Convertible Duffle Cooler or an Aztec Spooner Mug.

Also, consider teaming up with trade show organizers to “sponsor” these apps in order to be included with promotions and see brand visibility spike.

Business card readers
Want to make a connection with a booth visitor or fellow exhibitor? Don’t take any chances of them misplacing your business card—use a business card reader app instead.

For instance CamCard™ and CardMunch™ both let you take a photo of any business card with a mobile phone and it automatically pulls the contact information from the card to store to your phone’s address book.

Other apps, like bCardsPro™, offer the same kind of concept but instead allow users to quickly e-mail all business contact information to another phone. Some like Bump™ let you share business card information, but also allows users to instantaneously connect on social networks and share calendars and media files, too, with a literal ‘bump’ of one phone to another.

Encourage booth visitors to share their business cards or contact information with you for follow-up by holding a business card raffle, offering prizes like the Slap on Sound MP3 Player or Sofisticate Notebook Day Planner.

Lead retrieval
Besides business cards apps, there are many other emerging ways to track leads at your next trade show. Gone are the days of barcoded trade show badges that require scanning technology—more and more trade show organizers are opting instead for simply designating unique numbers to each visitor. Then, apps like iLeads™ or NewLeads™ simply require that you enter this number to download contact information, make note of conversation points, and quickly designate the type of follow-up needed. These apps also let you keep track of the number of leads and set goals.

Plus, if a staff member is back at the office with access to the online side of the app, they can send brochures and sales kits to the booth visitor before he or she even makes it back to the office. Want brownie points? Send a handwritten note referencing specific conversations and thanking the visitor for their time with one last branded gift, like a knit scarf or a zipper pull.

Mobile apps are fun, cost-effective ways to engage visitors and track leads. And, they’re here to stay. Try them out today and see their benefits well into tomorrow and beyond.

Lohr, Steve. “Smartphones and Tablets Will Take Over in 2011, Researchers Say – NYTimes.com.” Technology – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com. 02 Dec. 2010. Web. 03 Dec. 2010.

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