The expression “in the driver seat” originated with car salesmen who discovered the value of putting their customers in control of the vehicle. These salesmen discovered that potential customers were much more likely to close the deal quickly when they were allowed to experience the car to the fullest extent. The experience of being behind the wheel of a car is more powerful for the potential customer than anything a car salesman can say.
If a sense of control is important to creating confidence in a person who is looking to purchase a vehicle, how can we apply this principle to the trade show environment? The answer to this question depends on the type of products and/or services you are selling, but one fact remains consistent: You need your potential customers to experience your product first hand. Simply describing it to them or providing information about your product will not be as effective as putting the product in their hands and under their control.
If you sell software or web-based computer applications, allow your customers to use the full version of your product at demo stations within your booth. By letting them experience the interface of your product first hand, they are much more likely to make a purchasing decision on the spot. Even the most effective brochure or sales pitch will leave the potential client with questions and doubts.
If you sell physical products (such as machines, gadgets, tools, or equipment), allow your potential customers to hold the product in their hand. If possible, allow them to use the product in an application similar to the way they would use the product in the real world. The tactile sensation of handling your product and using it in a practical application will reinforce a purchasing decision in your customer’s mind.
Trade shows are so successful because they afford companies the opportunity to meet their customers and potential customers face to face. If you only provide brochures, sales pitches, and branding material, you are not taking full advantage of the face to face interaction. You can send your customers brochures, sales pitches, and branding material by email, so why do that in person? The best way to take advantage of direct marketing is to put your products in the hands of your potential clients. You will be amazed with the results.
Navigating the complex world of event marketing can be a daunting task. Fortunately there are trained professionals who can be hired to simplify the process. Trade show specialists are trained professionals who understand the nuances of the trade show environment as well as strategies to help you make the most of your exhibiting program. If you are looking to hire a trade show specialist for your next event, here are some things to look for:
1- Depth of experience in the trade show industry. The most valuable lessons in trade show marketing can only be learned with time. If a trade show specialist has a wide range of experience related to trade shows, chances are good that the specialist will be a big help to your program.
2- Positive recommendations from past clients. If previous clients have been pleased with the performance of the trade show specialist, you will know for sure that they have something positive to offer to exhibitors.
3- If possible, the trade show specialist should have experienced working in your industry. If they have spent the majority of their career working in a particular industry that is unrelated to yours, you may find that their success was the result of their industry knowledge and not their knowledge of trade shows.
Trade show specialists can make a huge difference in the success of your exhibiting program, especially if you lack experience in trade show marketing. I highly recommend that you at least consider the possibility of hiring a trade show specialist before your next event.
Successful exhibitors know that it is important to grab the attention of attendees long before the show begins. If you can generate buzz and excitement about your trade show booth before the show even begins, you are much more likely to have a successful event. The internet is a great way to spread the word about your company and encourage attendees to look for your booth when they arrive at the event. Here are a few ways to get your name out:
- Submit press releases that announce your plans to exhibit at the event. If you follow established guidelines for press releases, you may be lucky enough to get your story picked up by media giants like Google and Yahoo (who regularly grab articles from press release websites), and users who are searching for news related to the trade show may find your company’s press release.
- Purchase advertising space on the show’s website. Most modern trade shows use online registration for attendees, and if you can afford to place an advertisement on those web pages, it is likely that many attendees will see your company name when they are signing up to attend the show. This is a great way to reinforce your presence and your branding image.
- Create a web page that describes the highlights of your company’s exhibit, and use search engine marketing to direct traffic to the page. When attendees search for information about the show they plan to attend on Google or Yahoo, you can have them directed to your web page which outlines your plans for the event. Directing users who are searching for information about the event to your page can be a valuable way to increase exposure.
- Be sure to update your friends and business associates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites to let them know that you will be exhibiting at a particular trade show. Websites like Twitter are filled with voyeuristic users (called “lurkers”) who are interested in what you have to say, and information spreads very rapidly when lurkers republish information they find from your posts.
The internet is a powerful way to spread information about your company, and successful trade show marketing professionals always use the internet to get the word out about future events. Be creative and come up with your own marketing ideas for the internet.
In light of the current economic crisis, companies are using cost-saving trade show marketing strategies to reduce their expenses. When marketing departments have less money to work with, creativity soars. Exhibitors are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to make the most of their shrinking budgets, which has led to a number of innovative marketing trends.
Social media marketing for trade shows has skyrocketed in 2008, and the future looks more promising than the past. Websites like Facebook and Twitter allow exhibitors to quickly and easily communicate with thousands of attendees in a matter of seconds, which means the flow of information at conferences is faster now than ever before. Social media will continue to flourish in the trade show landscape in 2009. Learning to use these valuable tools can drastically improve the return on your investment at your next event.
The sale of modular exhibits is on the rise. Companies are finding that they can save a lot of money by purchasing a single trade show booth that can work in a 10′ x 10′, 10′ x 20′, and 20′ x 20′ space. Although these exhibits limit your company’s ability to exhibit at multiple shows on the same day, it drastically reduces cost for exhibitors who register for fewer than 10 shows per year. Small businesses love modular display systems, because with these systems they have the flexibility to add components to their display system as needed.
Multimedia exhibiting is becoming increasingly popular at trade shows. A trade show booth without a monitor or some audio-visual components is an anomoly in today’s trade show climate. Even in 10′ x 10′ spaces, exhibitors are looking to support large monitors on the back wall of their trade show display booths. Supporting large monitors requires a durable, well-engineered structure. There are many display systems that meet this criteria, but not many can be shipped in a single shipping case that can be transported by UPS or FedEx.
Stay on top of current trade show marketing trends by reading our trade show blog daily. We regularly update our content, so stop by often.
Exhibitors and attendees both noticed that CES had a much smaller and more relaxed feeling this year compared to 2008, but many show-stopping products were unveiled this year. According to Engadget’s CES Article, Palm stole the show, but HDTV-related gadgets were also a big draw at CES 2009.
One of the most interesting products I saw was the 50-inch multitouch TV from Samsung. Although I couldn’t think of any practical uses for this device, it was definitely a lot of fun watching people play with images and use the built in chalkboard. Like almost every product at the Consumer Electronics Show, the TV was outlandish and impractical, but isn’t that what defines CES after all?
Although CES was smaller than usual this year, it wasn’t near as small or under-attended as many experts predicted. The trade show industry still appears to be going strong despite the downturn in the American economy. With the prospect of Apple exhibiting at CES in 2010, the biggest of all trade shows should get even bigger next year.
The largest consumer technology trade show in the world kicks off tomorrow in Las Vegas. The Consumer Electronics Association is a massive organization that spends nearly all of its energy planning and preparing for the Consumer Electronics Show, which is widely recognized as the most prominent trade show in the world. With big name exhibitors like Sony, Samsung, Motorola, and many more, CES has drawn massive crowds to Las Vegas year after year for almost four decades.
Each year, many new products and technological innovations are unveiled at CES. With over 2,700 exhibitors planning to show their stuff this year alone, it could take you weeks just to visit every trade show booth spanning across three of Las Vegas’ largest convention centers (including the monstrous Las Vegas Convention Center). There are always a few diamonds in the rough each year (startup companies with brilliant products or technological innovations), and there will be a massive media presence in attendance hoping to be first to spot the next great opportunity.
An industry is a group of companies that operate with the same end-users in mind. For example, the trade show materials industry is comprised of all the companies that are working to sell trade show displays and exhibiting accessories to a group of people who can be collectively referred to as exhibitors. The strongest companies always find themselves in a leadership role within their industry, while weaker companies spend most of their energies imitating the strategies of the stronger companies in an attempt to catch up.
Trade show marketing is no different. If you find yourself planning your trade show exhibit by trying to model your booth after one of your best competitors, you will probably find that your industry-leading competitor will have further distanced itself by the time you’ve adequately mimicked their exhibiting system. In order to take a leadership role in your industry, you need to step away from industry standards and norms and take a long, hard look at what end-users are looking for. Once you understand your client’s profile, you’ll have a clear picture of what marketing steps to take. Instead of merely copying your competitors marketing efforts, you will be able to define your own presence and set the tone for your industry. Your display may take an entirely different shape and style than any of your competitors, but that won’t matter if your look is exactly what clients have been searching for.
One way to spot a dying company is to look for responsive marketing practices. Do you ever wonder why Microsoft doesn’t respond to Apple’s constant jabs about the inferiority of Windows PCs? The reason is simple: Microsoft holds over 80% of the market share, and responding to Apple’s marketing efforts would legitimize them. While marketing campaigns should be flexible enough to respond to changing competitive environments, they shouldn’t be focused entirely on tearing down competitors. A marketing strategy that directly attacks competitors in an unskilled or tactless way only serves to legitimize your competition, and may actually drive customers away who want to find out what it is about your competitor’s business model that has you in such a tiff.
When planning your next event, think carefully about what will interest your potential clients. If possible, try to take your thinking outside of the context of what other players in your industry are doing. If everyone else in your industry is making unnecessarily large profit margins, your company will have a lot of success by offering lower prices. If your industry lacks a recognizable brand name, improve your packaging and placement to put your logo in the minds of your potential clients. If your industry is like most, there is plenty of room for improvement. Can you ever improve as a company if you’re constantly copying ideas and responding to the work of your competitors?
Building brand awareness can take decades, especially if your company operates within a small niche. Consistency and longevity are important for any marketing professional, as they show your customers and competitors that you are dedicated to meeting your long term objectives. Strong, enduring companies pace themselves and only take on the challenges that they can adequately handle, which allows them to keep their brand in front of customers consistently over a long period of time.
How many times have you witnessed a strong company aggressively take on more marketing challenges than they can handle? Inevitably, they run out of motivation, manpower, or money; and their short term approach fades into oblivion. If you know that your advantage over your competitors is your dedication and determination, you can actually force your competitors into this position by making them compete on your terms for market share.
Trade show marketing is no different. Many companies exhibit in large spaces, and wind up spending much more on their trade show booths than they budgeted. Their large exhibit space looks under-staffed and inadequate for the space, and the event winds up being a disaster for the exhibitor. It is always better to pick a small niche where you know you can be the best than to try and keep up with your larger, more capitalized competitors. Reserving a small exhibit space will allow you to outfit and staff your space properly, and may end up driving more traffic to your booth than an underfunded space.
Depending on the type of company you are promoting, cash cube money machines can be an effective way to attract attention to your trade show booth. Everyone loves to watch important business executives grabbing helplessly at dollar bills in a telephone booth, and there is no doubt that a money blowing machine will increase foot traffic. Before investing in renting or purchasing a machine though, you need to consider whether a money machine will attract the kind of attention you’re looking for.
If your company sells consumer goods, cash cubes may be a great investment. Consumers do not require serious courting from marketing companies. However, if your company deals in the business to business marketing environment, you may want to avoid money machines. Many business clients will be turned off by gimmicky promotions, and will require more serious trade show marketing strategies.
Once you’ve decided that a cash cube is right for your company, try to get an important executive in your money machine. If you can enlist a trade show speaker or an important corporate sponsor to stop by your booth and get inside your money machine, you have an excellent promotional opportunity that you can capitalize on. With the right pre-show marketing, you can be absolutely sure that attendees will flock to see the keynote speaker at your event grasping at dollar bills.
Posted by Andy Keeler
on September 08, 2008
Trade Show Marketing
According to Cahners Advertising Research Reports, business to business marketing efforts are primarily focused on trade publications and trade shows. At MODdisplays, we believe that trade shows are a valuable resource for businesses, and the continued growth of the trade show industry is great news for us. Take a quick look at the way B2B marketers spend their money:
• Trade magazines 23%
• Trade Shows 18%
• Direct Mail 10%
• Promotion/Market Support 9%
• Dealer/Distributor Materials 5%
• General magazine advertising 6%
• Internet/electronic media 9%
• Directories 5%
• Telemarketing/Telecommunications 3%
• Publicity/Public Relations 7%
• Market Research 4%
• Other 1%