Taking the direct approach when you exhibit will lead to greater sales

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Posted by , 3rd July 2018

Use direct marketing copywriting techniques to help you stand out to the best prospects in the exhibition hall. This post explains how to do that

Direct marketing is making a comeback. Well, for many people it never went away but in the age of content marketing, the direct approach doesn’t get talked about as much as it used to. 

And that’s a pity because direct marketing as in, direct response advertising and copywriting has a lot to teach anyone who exhibits. 

Clarity of message 

Excellent copywriters are very good at drilling down to the heart of a message. They are “what’s in it for them” detectives and by them, I mean the target audience that the copy is designed to sway, influence and call to action. 

What should our graphics be saying? Write a proposition

This is a question many exhibitors face. They are looking for the winning proposition about their product or business. One that will attract the show visitors that they would really like to be talking to. 

How do you get that phrase or theme? If you don’t already have a campaign theme established, one way is to write what copywriters call a proposition. 

“A proposition is a brief statement that focuses on the main promise you are going to use in your promotion. The promise itself must be specific, not general. You need a lot of courage to isolate a single promise from so many and hang your hat on it, so that the whole piece revolves completely around it.”

John Watson Chairman and Managing Director at WPN Chameleon (and still fundamentally a copywriter)

You may think that that piece of advice won’t work for you because you have so many products or services to cover. I’ll come back to that point shortly. Meantime,

You write for the interested minority 

At first, this concept may seem strange. Why would you write for a minority, surely you want to reach everyone?

No, you don’t. And, no you won’t. 

Copywriters know that when they create an email, a direct response advertisement for digital or print or a direct mail shot, they know that not everyone who receives their carefully crafted words is going to read their message.

Why is that?

Because at any one time there will only be a certain percentage of the group being targeted that are in the market for an immediate sale. So when they create a message they know that immediate or short-term sales will come from people who are ready to buy now. And they are writing for those people specifically. 

And the better crafted their message and offer, the higher the conversion rate is going to be on their ad, insert, or email.

The cost of each conversion for the client is going to be lower too because the promotion has appealed to and converted more of the people ready to buy the product or service at that time. 

That doesn’t mean that the copywriter is ignoring the rest of the market. 

Excellent copy that resonates with an audience may pull fence sitters and people who had been putting-off a buying decision until they received a communication that persuaded them that there was a valid reason to buy now. 

That’s where direct response gets its meaning. It is marketing designed to make something happen then and there. A brochure request. A sales appointment or, an order to be placed as a result of receiving a promotional message from the sender.

What has this to do with exhibiting?

When you exhibit, unless you are in a small and highly targeted show, you will not be attracting every visitor onto your stand. Nor should you want to because not everyone at a show is a valid buyer for your product or service. 

Another way to say this is “the more conversations you have with people at a show who are not valid buyers for what you sell, the more you lower your conversion rate.”

So you are exhibiting to attract more of the people who are ready to buy that which you sell. 

And yes, you do want to influence other prospects. Those who might be longer-term buying prospects. And that’s where exhibiting can alert them to your existence, to your range of products or to your unique way of doing things.

And you will turn some of those “unexpected” visitors (those that didn’t visit the show knowing your company very well or at all) into leads and perhaps even into orders.

Leads are great but sales are better 

This is a favourite phrase of mine when working with exhibitors.

What I’m driving at is that I want to achieve the highest return I can on every £ invested in event participation. To do that, I need my clients to stand out to the people most likely to want and need what it is my clients’ offer. 

Achieving this will:

  1. Attract more relevant people to the stand
  2. Move my clients faster down the sales process line going from leads gathered to sales achieved faster than their competitors 

This is the analogy with direct marketing and it brings me back to the question of “what should our graphics be saying?”

When you write your proposition pre-show, you want to craft the clearest message for those visitors who are going to be most ready to buy what it is you offer. 

  • Your message could be aimed at people who perform a particular job function; finance,  marketing, operations ….
  • You may have a product that will be invaluable to a specific group; accountants, dentists, primary school teachers…
  • There may be an aspect of what you offer that is way over and above anything else on the market. If so, highlight the advantage loudly. This could be price, size, weight, range of colours, the guarantee that you offer…

Whatever makes the strongest proposition should be honed and then built into all of your show related-marketing including your graphics and the messages on your digital screens. 

And if you use digital screens, you can present lead headlines, supporting headlines, offers and other direct marketing techniques that can help you attract more of the right people. Those that are in the market now for what you have to offer. 

Take some direct action now

Brush-up on direct marketing. You don’t need to be a full-time copywriter to benefit from the wisdom of:
David Ogilvy, Drayton Bird, Jay Abraham, John Watson, Murray Raphael and a host of writers who make or made their living from writing words that made sales.

Posted in Marketing  /  Sales  /  Stand Management  /  Trade show marketing  /  Trade show sales

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