If you have been getting the same, so, so results from your recent run of trade shows, not brilliant, not terrible so it’s all still kind of worthwhile, although you do have an idea that things should or could be better, it’s probably because you keeping doing the same things, which is why you keep getting the same results.
Last year, I worked-out at the gym regularly, at least three times a week, sometimes more plus I was cycling too and although I made some gains in fitness and weight loss, I was not getting the results I thought I should be getting after all that work. Then I realised that I hadn’t moved things on. I was following a routine that needed shaking-up if I was going to make the gains I expected.
Within weeks of making changes to my programme, I was half a stone lighter and noticeably fitter in exercises that had previously proved challenging.
Results: If things aren’t working you need to make changes
It’s the same with exhibiting in trade shows. If you aren’t getting the results you want, you need to look at what you have been doing to see why things aren’t working as you would like.
The first part of that process is knowing what you want to achieve. You have to have a clear picture to work back from so that you can identify the things or practices that are stopping progress.
Daring to be different
If you have been a regular reader of Exhibitors Only, you will know that I have highlighted how there are some very successful trade shows that are radically different to the “normal” established event model and in fact their different approach has been a key factor in their success.
One of these events is Outpost, which in the organisers words is;
“A weekend retreat of engaging activities, great food, amazing performances, and opportunities to spark new connections with like-minded people, brands, and agencies from varied industries and backgrounds.”
If you click on the link above, the video which opens straightaway, will definitely back-up the organisers description. It’s very rad but then so are shows like Desert & Denim, Agenda, and here in the UK, Silicon Beach, which is held every September in Bournemouth.
These are all successful events that are flourishing because they approach the business of shows differently, but in a way that works for their communities.
Shake-up your exhibiting
How could you apply some of these principles to your next show? First allow for some different thinking. What could you do to really stand out and engage with the people that you most want to meet?
To figure this out, you need to think about the big issues that your prospective customers are facing and how your business can help them overcome problems and provide solutions. Then you focus on the different ways that you can creatively deliver this message/news/information, whether it’s on your stand, in your pre-show marketing, in content delivery, in your on-stand selling, in your post-show follow-up and so on.
Look with fresh eyes at every part of your show process. You probably don’t need to change everything, but get the big picture right and you can tweak individual elements accordingly.
Event strategy for startups: When to attend, sponsor, or skip
With doing things differently in mind, I thought some readers, particularly those who own or work within a new or startup businesses, might find this article which was published in VB News, useful.
I liked the idea of sponsorship as a strategy for a new business rather than straightforward exhibiting especially in the area of conferences that have small shows alongside them, although you could probably negotiate stand space as part of your sponsorship deal.
Seems like changing things can be painful
By coincidence as I was thinking about the subject of changing things up, I came across this article from The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group, an event contracting business based in Chicago. I liked this quote from their article which you can read here;
“A far-too-common thread in all of this is the fact that the trade show industry is not exactly the most cutting-edge, always-trying-something-new kind of community.”
In many cases, the industry is as described but, as I mentioned above, with some shows this is changing rapidly and they really are cutting edge and delivering the event experience in a wholly different and appealing way.
The importance of content in your show marketing cannot be underestimated
Content marketing conveys the personality of your business and how you go about doing things differently to others. It can convey the emotion or the conviction that drives your business. It can highlight your mission. That’s why it is so powerful, but for it to work you have to know what your mission, your USP, your difference to everyone else is.
“The right content at the right time.”
“The faster your business realises it’s a media company, the more likely it will be to succeed in 2020, in 2025, in 2030,” shared Gary Vaynerchuk with his Twitter followers.
For a different take on the changing things theme, read this excellent article published recently in The Drum. If you are seeking to radically change your show results, having a strong message that resonates clearly with your audience will be a key factor in your success. Mixed, weak or poorly conveyed sentiments will provide weak and watery results.
For more on this theme, see this article from Exhibitors Only that highlights how one very experienced trade show marketer increased sales from one show by 160% by getting the at-show messaging right.
“It allows us to be more experiential in the way that we do marketing.”
If you really want to change things-up when you exhibit, why not buy the trade show and turn into a platform that really serves your business which is exactly what Zalando, a German based online fashion platform did when it acquired the Bread & Butter Festival.
I love their thinking! But what could you take from their approach and apply perhaps a little more modestly to your own event marketing? Fun for a start. Make your stand engaging and approachable. Work more closely with the organiser to create a buzz not just on your stand but perhaps in other areas around the halls where your brand name and a mini-presence can appear and be visible.
“We were exploring additional ways to engage with the customer beyond the traditional mediums,” Carsten Hendrich, vice president of marketing at Zalando, tells BoF. “It means that we move away from a traditional campaign approach and more into a live campaign approach… It allows us to be more experiential in the way that we do marketing.”
I’m going to leave you here with that brilliant bit of thinking, but also just to say again, if you don’t like the results you’ve been getting from your shows and you know they should be better, you need to change things up and if you want help in doing that, see the next item.
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