One of the key performance indicators (KPI) of marketing personnel in any organization is to build brand awareness. It is brand awareness that makes people know that a certain company exists and it is offering several products and services to the market. One of the ways of building the brand is using trade shows. Exhibitors at these trade shows will ensure that the brand is built at different levels.
No organization wants to play second fiddle to others. Everybody wants to be the leader in their respective industry. Leaders who set the bar so high that any new or existing player would want to make reference to. During trade shows, exhibitors always want to position their brands as high-end, top-dollar and leading in innovation.
How do you then achieve all these brand prepositions at trade shows?
There are several ways through which these can be achieved:
Starting planning in advance
In the days leading up to the trade show, have events that psyche the attendees. Engage the potential attendees by trying to capture their minds on what they are expecting. In this age of social media, create hash tags and tweets. Have raffles where people can win prizes if they participate in a simple survey. Prices to be won include T-shirts, pencils, maces, laptops among others. The potential attendees will then have a mental picture of what they are expecting and as the exhibitor, you will have known in advance what attendees expect.
Do also research on how your competitors are running their shows. It should not be about personnel deployed at the trade shows but the visuals and other goodies that will pull customers to the exhibition stand. The question should always be what are they doing different that make attendees flock to their stand and run from ours? If you are able to answer that question then you are fighting competition well.
Extend invitations in advance
When organizing trade shows, take time and scan through the list of expected visitors. The main organizers of the event can provide this list. The key players in the industry such as suppliers, clients, regulatory authorities, etc could be attending the trade shows and they may have confirmed their attendance to their organizers. Send them emails asking them to spare time and stop by your booth. By inviting them, you are able to meet key people within a short period of time. The second advantage of using this strategy is that you are able to prepare in advance the discussion notes and action points. No fumbling when a senior executive of a top-notch oil company stops by your booth.
Employees are the best brand ambassadors. However, trade show models are also becoming useful in exemplifying the brand. These two groups of people should be given the chance to talk at the event. They are the best people to be asked questions about the company, the products and services, and other pertinent issues about the markets that the company is in.
The brand ambassadors should also use the trade show to meet the press. The purpose of meeting the press is for a face-to-face meeting with the influencers who are likely to carry the message after the show is over. Key influencers include bloggers, members of the press, social media personality, etc.
Big booths mean better
One of the important factor to consider when setting up an exhibition booth is the size. It should be spacious enough to allow attendees to walk around freely. The second step is to ensure that the booth is filled with exhibits that are not bigger but also taller to capture the attention of the attendees. However, there are instances where it may be necessary to have smaller booths littered over the place to accommodate a larger number of attendees at the same time.
Secondly, the design for the booth should be three dimensions. The exhibits should be viewed from four sides. When placing the exhibits, the brand should have the biggest impact on the side that is facing the aisle since this is where the traffic is the biggest.
Lastly, the exhibits, including the company logo, should have and use shapes that express the brand personality.
Improve the graphics
Human beings are visual creatures. There is always a tendency to be attracted to the best design. You should use the same ideal at trade shows. Blend everything together to give that much needed visual appeal. This should be the main differentiator from your competitors. The exhibition booth and other features should stand out.
The colors used should be bright and bold. The illustrations and photos used should be big and easy to read. If the corporate colors of the organization are not bright, then strike a balance between the two. You can use corporate colors with some shades of bright colors to attract and retain the attendees. The messages should not be cramped together since they might not be easy to read. The elements used should be fewer and larger for maximum impact. In case the exhibits being used are large and tall, then branding is recommended at two to three heights. The main reason being that when visitors are approaching, they are able to read comfortably at three heights. When walking down the aisle or when in the booth, they can read at two heights.
The marketing budget should be big enough to cater for all the flashy and well-looking designs for both furniture and any pieces of equipment that may be needed. You can take time and invest in publicizing the trade show but fail miserably on the choice of tables and chairs. Where possible, anything that is printed can be carted away for use in the next exhibition.
Create the buzz
Create a conversation with attendees. Create opportunities that will enable conversations to start. Avoid messages that will fall flat. Instead, be positive in your messages. Messages that are humorous. Attendees should be talking about them way after the exhibition is over.
Create message levels
During trade shows, it is highly recommended that you create several levels of messages. At the highest level, you can have who you are, then go to what you do and finish with what you are doing for the people.
For large corporate, the various levels can be filled with information on the various divisions, products and services, Regardless of how you create your message levels, the primary line should be the overall brand while the secondary lines should be the various brands.
Branding experts recommend that what is normally seen on the company website should be the same thing that should be focused on during trade shows. Ensure that the exhibition booths amplify the message and features on websites. Attendees in your booth should feel as if they are walking on the company websites.
Consistency with other marketing strategies
The exhibitions being done at the trade show should not contradict other sales and marketing promotions that are running on the company website, advertisements, etc. The trade show, in essence, reinforces what the company is currently doing. Studies have shown that trade shows can at times weaken rather than build the existing brand.
The brand goes beyond the logo
The brand goes beyond the graphic shape and the colors used. A brand, by definition, is the position that the organization has taken in the market over a period of time. It includes the value that the clients are getting and the personality that the company has when interacting with the world. These are the items that you should bear in mind when creating the design of your exhibit. These factors will also determine the experience that the visitors will get from the trade show.
Trade shows normally take place over a number of days if not weeks. Use this time carefully to create an experience that will forever remain etched in the minds of visitors trooping to your booth. The attendees should be able to have a deeper understanding of the brand.
It would disastrous to position your organization as the leader in quality and innovation yet when people visit your exhibit booth, they cannot see a shred of what you purport to stand for. Always demonstrate at the booth what you stand for.
Hold more trade shows
The market is so huge that you have barely scratched it. This, therefore, calls for the need to hold more shows so that you reach more audience. This is very important if the brand is being built in a market that is new. Secondly, the company could be introducing a new product or service that customers are not aware of.
A lot of trade shows are becoming boring by the day. Same stuff year in year out. Be the new kid on the block and change the narrative. Bring something new on the table. Give the attendees something different from what they are used to. Give them a reason to visit and frequent your exhibition stand.
Make the exhibition stand exciting and throw an evening party. Create a platform where people can talk about your brand. After all, isn’t this what the millennials want? And while at it, organize a dancing competition where the winners walk away with something valuable. Encourage the winners to talk about the prizes they won. Promise them additional prizes if they continue creating a buzz about your brand. You can stretch your imagination and engage them as your influencers.
Rather than talk about the company and the products endlessly, you can create a video about your brand. The advantage of using a video is that it is well thought out, unlike the company employees who can miss out on key information about the company is allowed to talk endlessly. The video can run continuously with interruptions once in a while to stress a point or make a clarification.
Being creative does not necessarily require a very big budget. Use unique displays to catch the attention of the attendees. In the recent past, exhibitors have been trying to outdo each other in pulling all kinds of stunts that will make people visit their stands. From the use of eagles to fireworks, people are yet to see the end of these stunts.
An increase in the number of human traffic to the exhibition stand will likely result in sales. The traffic can also be a potential word of mouth advertising to the company. It is, therefore, important that whatever is being done, it should end at a better rate of return on investment.
As mentioned earlier, hold shows before and after the trade exhibitions to give your product and services the much-needed lift. The budget for giveaways so that people coming to your booth have something to get as gifts. The importance of takeaways is that attendees have something to remind them about your brand once the trade show is over. Giveaways are ideal for reinforcing the brand message to your customers.
Go for gifts that will entice and not aggravate the attendees. Ideal giveaways are umbrellas, T-shirts, notebooks, and bags. The giveaways should be so conspicuous that they stand from the crowd. The bags should be the biggest and reusable. Reusable bags will not only be used after the trade show but will carry the brand message long into the future. If the bag is disposable, it might end up in the trash bin immediately after the show is over.
You can be creative and try something that is unusual such as sunglasses, socks, laptop bags, balloons, headphones, mouse pads, phone covers, etc. And how about the Rubik’s cubes? These items are unique.
In conclusion, the trade shows are organized for the sole purpose of giving the business exposure and rope in additional clients. Be carefully on how you are going to strike the balance between the showy exhibitions and the return on investments (ROI) from the resources spent on trade shows. While it is important to remain the talk of the town after the trade show, this should also translate into additional clients. Additional clients who will help the company to grow its top line.