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Bring Your “A” Game When You Exhibit

26 Jan

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Many companies who exhibit at trade shows spend thousands of dollars—some spend millions—in an effort to attract new customers and show off new and improved products. Even though trade show costs continue to increase, attendance is still one of the main ways to meet new customers, making it a worthwhile investment—when done well. Remember: 67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and a potential customer for exhibiting companies(1) and 81% of these attendees have buying authority.(2)

Here are a few ideas to consider during the show to help raise awareness and create memorable experiences.

  1. Be Social: Leverage your trade show presence by using your social media channels to connect with mobile-enabled attendees who are inseparable from their tablets and smartphones. Most tradeshows now even offer their own mobile apps and encourage attendees to promote their events and connect with one another; take advantage of these opportunities and have an assigned social media team in place to manage the proper social media channels: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, others as necessary. Finally, use the show hashtag on all of your posts (especially Twitter) so people can find you.
  1. Product Launches and Re-launches: The number one reason people attend trade shows (if they are not exhibiting) is to see and learn about new products.(3) But it’s not enough to simply show the features and benefits of your products. Tell a story about your products with graphics and interactive experiences that will keep you in the forefront of their mind.
  1. The “Smell of Cookies:” This is a trick that has always worked in the real estate industry. How many of us have walked into an open house to the smell of chocolate chip cookies? The Lowes exhibit at the 2014 International Builder Show was packed simply because they were giving away freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Booth staffers asked questions as attendees stood in line, using the opportunity to direct attendees to product demos within the booth. This created an opportunity for the sales team to engage in conversation and find the correct prospect to bring further into the exhibit. While this tactic might not be an exact fit for your business, it’s important to think of what your company’s version of the “freshly-baked cookies” tactic is. Come up with a relevant way to make your booth fun, exciting, and interesting to prospects.
  1. Engage With Games: Stop giving away your swag and start getting more attendees to enter their information in order to play a game. One example of an easy and successful booth game is a beanbag toss through five holes, decorated with a graphic of various giveaways. If your attendee gets the bag through the hole, then give away your swag.
  1. Training and Staffing: Staffing your exhibit with the right team is key. This should include trained and knowledgeable salespeople, product managers and engineers. They should be trained to talk to people. This is not the place to bring your new marketing coordinator who doesn’t know the difference between a gusset or grout; likewise, you shouldn’t bring that brilliant engineer who would rather be cooped up in the office than out talking to strangers. Additionally, make sure the booth staff members understand the goals of the trade show, know all the products and how to operate key booth technology like screens and badge scanners.

Exhibiting at trade shows requires a lot of work and a major financial commitment. Done correctly, trade show exhibits can reap rewards that contribute directly to your bottom line. Consider these five tips when putting together your trade show marketing strategy as trade show season approaches.


(1) Source: Exhibit Surveys, Inc.
(2) Source: CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget
(3) Source: CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face

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Is Your Brand Ready for the Big Show?

5 Dec


Although you have invested hours, days, or even weeks (not to mention your money) in planning your trade show booth, you have just seconds to engage potential customers and get them to remember your brand, products, and services.

Ask yourself a few questions, as you get prepare:

  • Are you ready? Have you put together a sales and marketing strategy?
  • Is your team ready? Do they know their roles at the trade show?
  • Does your booth represent your brand? Is it outdated?

Now consider these key points as you implement your plan to showcase your brand at your next trade show or event.

Marketing for trade show success.
Consider these exhibition industry facts*:

  • The average trade show attendee will visit approximately 26 exhibitors.
  • 76% of attendees arrive with an agenda of exhibitors they plan to visit.
  • Less than 20% of exhibitors utilize targeted pre-show marketing campaigns.

Put together a pre-show marketing campaign to reach out to prospects, customers, and journalists. This can include direct mail, email, and updates to your website. At the same time, have your post-show marketing ready. Don’t wait until after the show to finalize post-show messaging and offers.
ER Marketing Tip: Have a plan to help your brand grow from your trade show efforts.

Do you know your 3, 10, 15, 30-second pitch?
Trade shows and events are some of the best places to share your company’s story face to face. Practice your pitch and make sure you have a short version to grab an attendee’s short attention span.
ER Marketing Tip: Practice your pitch on employees before the show.

Be ready for industry journalists.
Industry journalists are key to getting your message out to the masses. Make this message creative and memorable. Summarize key points of your brand story that will make any journalist want to feature your company.
ER Marketing Tip: Have social media quotes in your press kit for journalists to use.

Dress for your brand’s success.
This is one of those exercises that you can practice with your team and see what responses come back. If your brand were to dress up and go to a meeting, what would that brand wear? Would it be in a suit and tie, would it be in branded golf shirts or would everyone be wearing branded fedoras?

ER Marketing Tip: Don’t be sloppy and unprofessional—dress for success.

Update your exhibit
Are your products and services ready for the modern world, but your exhibit is outdated in both appearance and messaging? Does your booth represent your brand? Is it updated?

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to update your exhibit. There are many cost-effective options to make this happen. Take a look at this catalog for ideas to update and add new elements such as iPad stands, new lighting or a new graphic backdrop.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.12.59 PM

ER Marketing Tip: Make your exhibit relevant to your brand.

Consider these key points when exhibiting your brand at a trade show. Having a well-thought-out strategy and an updated exhibit can drive more leads and revenue.


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What Trade Show Marketers Can Learn from Horror Movies (Part 3/3)

31 Oct

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Avoid Falling Victim to Horror Movie Clichés
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When planning your trade show exhibit, it’s easy to fall victim to habits that would make any good horror movie scream queen proud. We’ve discussed in Parts 1 & 2 of this series a few other horror movie clichés that marketers commonly fall victim to when planning a trade show experience.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations – you might just make it out of this alive. But there are still two more trade show marketing survival tips to read before you can guarantee your spot in the sequel (no promises what happens after that).

Do You Think We Got Him?
Characters in horror movies always fall victim to the same mistake: they take one shot and assume the bad guy is dead. Similarly, many companies assume that interaction at the booth is enough to secure a lead, failing to put in place proper follow-up strategies to develop trade show leads into actual customers. Your lead nurturing campaign should be swift, thorough, and tailored to your audience. If your follow-up campaign doesn’t include anything past a single blast email, you didn’t “get him,” and he may just get back up like the walking dead and take his business somewhere else.

  • Utilize the double tap: Companies who send multiple follow-up emails receive double the results for a little extra work and money.
  • A whopping 45% of companies do not track trade show and event leads as they progress through the sales cycle, making it impossible to determine ROI.
  • Opt for variable data wherever and whenever possible, using your marketing automation platform to assign sales reps to specific contacts and create customized email senders.
  • Use lead scoring to assign lead rankings based on specific qualifying behaviors.

Running Upstairs
While it may be comical to watch a character in a horror movie run upstairs to escape a murderous villain, it’s not that funny when you do the same thing with your trade show exhibit. If your booth has fallen victim to most of these horror movie clichés, it might not be in your best interest to continue what isn’t working. Rather than “running upstairs” and getting yourself into even more trouble, it might be time to completely reevaluate your strategy.

  • Sometimes it’s not enough to make small, measured; you may need to throw out your entire booth and start from scratch.
  • For many B2B companies, securing even a couple high-quality trade show leads who become customers pays dividends.
  • Working with a B2B marketing firm that can look at your business differently gives you a greater chance of creating a fun, unique, and memorable experience that will make an impact on potential leads.

With these tips in hand, you have what you need to escape bad trade show marketing—something that kills sales every time. To learn more, download our free e-book: “Killer Booths: The Horror (Trade) Show Survival Guide.”

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What Trade Show Marketers Can Learn from Horror Movies (Part 2/3)

30 Oct

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Avoid Falling Victim to Horror Movie Clichés
Download the E-Book Today!

As introduced in the first post of this series, there are many mistakes made at trade shows comparable to terrifying elements of a horror show. In our last post, we emphasized the importance of communicating with your team and understanding where to place displays for the best visibility. Continuing on in our spooky trilogy, where we only kill off bad trade show habits, here are two more tips that will help your trade show survive and thrive.

No Signal
People are more terrified of being without their smart phones than being abandoned by the side of the road late at night. During trade shows, smart phones and technology can now be used to create a better experience for potential customers. Using technology in a purposeful way will aid in making your booth more unique and memorable.

  • Know how to troubleshoot any technical difficulties.
  • Give the audience content they can take with them on their smart phones or tablets.
  • Have fun with it! Incorporating technology into your booth can range from staging a photo booth that highlights products to holding a hashtag contest to gain more social media followers.

Fooling Around in the Dark
Whether it is a creaky staircase leading to a pitch-black basement, or a dimly lit trade show booth, people will do what they can to avoid dark spaces. Lighting up your trade show booth can prove to be very beneficial. To make them run in your direction, remember these tips:

  • Draw attention to key messages and items you want to have the most impact.
  • While many disregard lighting as an extra expense, using lights to highlight your booth’s elements is an easy way to attract attendees.
  • New lighting technology, such as LED, has helped to eliminate the concern of overheating an event space.
  • Uplighting from the floor or utilizing moving lights are also proven to increase visitors.

This knowledge will help you make it to the next installment of our survival tips, coming tomorrow.

Can’t wait until then? Become the expert today by downloading our free e-book: “Killer Booths: The Horror (Trade) Show Survival Guide”.

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What Trade Show Marketers Can Learn from Horror Movies (Part 1/3)

29 Oct


Avoid Falling Victim to Horror Movie Clichés
Download the E-Book Today!

It seems like characters in horror movies are always making the same mistakes, inevitably getting themselves in worse situations than they were originally. As it turns out, they aren’t the only ones; trade show marketers, too, make the same mistakes when it comes to their booths.

The good news is that these mistakes are easily fixable. This post will kick off our 3-part series, giving you the tips you need to improve your trade show marketing and make sure it doesn’t fall victim to horror movie clichés.

Let’s Split Up
It is not uncommon to hear product teams insist that all product images be shown on the booth; on the other hand, it’s not unusual to hear a salesperson say the appearance of the booth doesn’t matter at all. When sales, marketing, and product teams “split up” like this, remember these tips to prevent your company’s trade show experience from falling victim to splitting into multiple directions:

  • Consider your message, using only the highest quality images and information for clarity.
  • Don’t “split up” from prospects either—ensure that your exhibit’s singular message is one that is conducive to customer interaction.
  • Marketing teams should make sure to communicate proper storage, training, and setup techniques to the sales team in order to avoid creases, folds, and weathering of an expensive investment.

Look Behind You!
Do potential leads have to strain their necks to see your exhibit? Looking back in a horror movie usually doesn’t end well, and it doesn’t work for people visiting your booth, either. Consider the placement and layout of your booth along with text and images—it’s one of the most important and yet often-overlooked aspects of any tradeshow exhibit. Keep these simple guidelines in mind to prevent your prospects from running in the other direction:

  • Text height should be a minimum of 4′ tall. Make your text 1′ high for every 3′ you step back. Too complicated? Just show one large image, visible at 30.’
  • Keep the most important text at eye level—approximately 5′ from the floor.
  • Stick to basic, easy to read fonts (think serif or sans-serif) and only two styles per graphic.
  • Does your booth look like a murder scene with colors splattered everywhere? If so, there’s a good chance it’s time to simplify.

Stay tuned for more horror (trade) show survival tips coming tomorrow!

Can’t wait to read more? Download our e-book “Killer Booths: The Horror (Trade) Show Survival Guide” for more information and immediate insights.

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