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Trade show execution is just one of many items on the marketer’s to-list. But the trade show booth, which is often the most lucrative marketing investment, stands as a living, three-dimensional representation of your brand — and that means you don’t want to take planning lightly and just slap up a graphic or two. This active forum provides face-to-face interaction with your customers, so amp up your plan to ensure success. How can you make the most of your investment and stand out at every show? Here are five best practice approaches to get the most booth bang for your buck.
Exhibit planning involves a lot of details, so it’s easy to get bogged down in tactics and deadlines. But before you start ticking off to-dos, begin by asking questions so you’re certain of the why and the what before you tackle the how.
Why are you exhibiting at this show? Why are you promoting this product or service? What are your company’s overall business goals and objectives? What are your marketing goals when it comes to exhibiting? What will help you measure success? These answers will guide your strategy so the brand goals and exhibit plan work together.
Another way to refine your approach involves diving into your audience — who are your customers and what solutions can you offer to meet their needs and offer value that others don’t? Knowing your audience personas (these are often varied groups, so make sure you have them all pegged) and what they need will also help you shape trade show strategies tailored to your customers.
Now that you have an exhibit strategy, it’s time to talk measurement and how you’ll define ROI for the whole program as well as individual shows. Once you have your end goal in mind (increase sales, raise brand awareness, etc.), you can develop a measurement plan.
Benchmarks can make your measurement efforts go even farther. Instead of mere comparative numbers, benchmarks are reference points and best practice standards gained by comparing your exhibit performance internally and externally over a set period. These guideposts help you evaluate your event from various angles so you can identify the good and the bad, which will increase performance and give you competitive edge.
Your exhibit is a living symbol of your brand and what it stands for, which includes values and vision as well as products or services. So, let the booth tell that story! Strive to extend that storytelling through the design and sensory elements, which enhance the customer experience and drive home your message.
Take Vornado, a premier real estate company whose exhibit includes a tall LED-wrapped display built to mimic New York City’s iconic Times Square. The design showcases the brand’s Big Apple roots, progressive thinking, and appeals to its cosmopolitan audience. That sleek, cost-effective element proved to be a sophisticated marketing move that evoked Vornado’s brand vision and created universal buzz at the conference from all audiences (even reporters refer to the exhibit as “Times Square!”). Other examples include food brands harnessing the power of scent and eco-friendly companies choosing exhibits built with recycled or recyclable materials.
Everything from the structure and graphics to marketing materials and engagement tactics — each touchpoint should tell a comprehensive and compelling story about your brand. Explore the narrative from beginning to end to find an exhibit theme that aligns with your budget and marketing goals. The size of the booth doesn’t matter; what matters is how customers feel after engaging with your brand.
In a tech-centric world, today’s audiences expect exhibits to be digital too or at least have some digital aspect at play. Even though tech is all the rage, make sure the solutions work for your brand and the product or service being offered. Talk with your AV partner to find out what digital integrations make the most sense for your goals and be sure to do a dry run (well, several!) to avoid hang-ups during the show.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to tech choices and the list keeps growing, but don’t fret if budgets are tight — with so many choices, you can find the right solution that meets your needs and pocket book from cost-effective touch screens and LED displays to investment-worthy 3D mapping and virtual reality. These are just a few options on the digital menu and each can be customized and adapted for easy content sharing with your customers.
One of the main reasons people attend trade shows and conferences is to learn and grow their careers. Your company can contribute to this essential education by selecting representatives who can offer their perspective to a panel or the stage as a featured speaker. Talk to your teams internally and create a list of potential speakers. Then gather engaging and timely topics and submit to relevant conferences and panels in your industry. Providing thought leadership to audiences in your sector can set you apart from the competition and drive more traffic to your booth bringing more exposure to your product, solution or service.
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