Missing trade shows and their leads? Read: 18 Ways to be productive when you can't exhibit

Branding & Marketing: Tools Of Trade Show & Business Success

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Posted by , 9th May 2017

When it comes to your business, it is important to build your reputation and identity in order to send out the right image to your customers, both current and prospective. The disciplines of branding and marketing can you help you achieve this.

Marketing is a term often thrown around when businesses are trying to sell a product or a service, but how many companies fully understand what marketing is, and how it differs from your brand?

Quick Definitions & Distinctions

Marketing is promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.

It’s clear that both activities overlap and are in many ways bound to each other. A company advertising its brand is marketing itself and hopefully creating a strong brand image in the mind of consumers because the ad or promotion in whatever form it takes is highlighting a significant and differentiated product or service.

Trade Shows; A Marketing & Branding Opportunity

Trade shows are a proven marketing tool for small and medium sized businesses but they are also a branding opportunity that should not be overlooked or undervalued because of a focus on sales.

Your stand can project your name, logo and messaging. Your presence at a show provides your target audience with the chance to experience your brand first hand. And visitor giveaways can play their part too.

According to Incomm Center for Trade Show Research and Sales Training, trade show attendees are 52% more likely to stop by your booth if the promotional product is relevant and appealing to them.  

Exhibitors and their marketeers are constantly on the lookout for unique stand giveaways and promotional concepts that will help make their exhibit a popular destination among trade show attendees.  A trade show promotional item given away at a booth not only helps draw traffic, but also creates a positive connection between the brand and that customer so, putting thought into the giveaways that you offer to show visitors is important.

Read this related article on achieving impact at trade shows.

Back To Those Differences

While branding and marketing are both very important to the success of your business, they are very different. All companies must sell in some way, even if you are a non-profit organisation. Your marketing and branding strategies play a huge part in how you sell not only your product but the image of your company.  Today, it’s your reputation that helps build awareness in the face of new customers!

Marketing
Defined as the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably, marketing should be a strategic and tactical tool within your business. It is an integral part of the brand-building process because it communicates the promise that you want customers to identify with your business.

Well-researched marketing can be a great investment that pays for itself, especially if it is well-executed too. By having the right marketing strategy, you can ensure you know your customer, meet customers’ needs and ultimately drive profits. Marketing is essentially the tool you need to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them.

Branding
Branding can be seen as something much bigger than marketing; it is the expression of the truth and values of an organisation, showing the characteristics, values and attributes associated with the company. Your brand is so much more than a good logo or a well-designed website; it is ultimately what determines if someone will become a loyal customer or not.

Branding is something built on to create your company’s identity and personality; creating an image that is seen by the public eye. It remains long after your latest marketing tactic and been and gone. Having a strong brand strategy is important to your business as it projects a vision for the future and clearly states what your business stands for.

The differences between branding and marketing

Brand Strategies And Why You Need One

Having a brand strategy in place for your business can have many benefits. First and foremost, it can set you apart from your competitors because many won’t have a branding strategy or a clear market position around which they direct and drive their business.

A strong, internally understood and expressed strategy will provide a focal point or brand value statement around which you and your team will market your business. It will also be a great guide that will tell you to say “No” to marketing tactics that don’t truly support the values of your brand.

This unity of purpose and message throughout a business is where the expression “your behaviour is your brand” comes from. It is the consistent display of values that build a strong brand in the hearts and minds of your customers and a marketplace.

The Role Promotional Items Can Play

Creating and handing out promotional gifts at an exhibition or conference is a great way to allow a potential customer to sample your product.

If you are a service-based company, promotional merchandise can help trigger a visitor’s memory association with your company name and the service that you offer. The item becomes a valuable advertisement for your business. If your branded product is useful and relevant to your target audience, it will no doubt be used in public which can create even more exposure.

In fact, in a recent study, 71% of consumers said they felt happy when receiving branded merchandise.  And that happiness is quickly associated with your brand.

The emotional connection to branded products chart

Not only does promotional merchandise give your customers the warm-fuzzies, it’s also the most effective marketing tool for every demographic:  from Milennials to GEN X’ers and Baby Boomers to the Silent Generation.

The most effective advertising channels based on social grouping

Social Media & Promotional Products To Support Show Participation

Using social media in the lead-up to a show to promote your presence and to incentivise visitors to come to your stand is a very effective tactic and a great way to create a buzz around your brand.

You can run competitions, reward referrals that encourage more people to find you at the show, create and promote hashtags, encourage image sharing where your promotional item is featured… there are lots of possibilities.

Trade shows are a very personal form of marketing where visitors come to you so social media works well allied to the show environment. It provides a direct method to promote your product or brand message while increasing your audience on a personal level.

Think about the ways that you can up the visibility of your brand at shows and how in doing so, you can create more interactivity with your audience.

Related article; read how this trade show marketeer promotes her business.

Rob Watson of Outstanding Branding

About the Author

Rob Watson is an accomplished, dynamic marketing executive with a proven record of developing targeted campaigns, communications, and strategic initiatives that drive brand recognition, market share, and ultimately revenue. In his nearly two decades of marketing communications experience, he has worked with nationally recognized advertising agencies and produced branding and advertising campaigns for companies like the Miss America Organization, GEICO and Royal Caribbean International.  Rob is currently the Global Chief Marketing Officer for Outstanding Branding – a world’s leading agency of promotional merchandise. Rob can be contacted via LinkedIn.

Posted in Giveaways & Incentives  /  Marketing  /  Sponsorship

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