Venue branding; show media; sponsorship opportunities. These are names that are commonly applied to things that show organisers and venues will offer exhibitors as branding tools that said exhibitors or sponsors can use to increase their visibility and visual impact at an event.
But why would they or more importantly, you want to do that?
- To gain an edge over competitors
- To uplift brand promotion
- To attract more stand visitors
“This Is Where My Market Meets”
Leading trade shows attract the most active and influential people in a marketplace to their event. This attribute was summed-up nicely by one exhibitor who had invested heavily in venue branding when I asked her why all of the extra spend? she answered;
This is where my market meets and I want our business to be at the forefront of visitor thinking when they decide who it is they want to work with.
Businesses enter trade shows and become exhibitors because they believe that the events they have chosen will provide them with the opportunity to meet active buyers and specifiers and the best events attract the biggest numbers of these all important people. Therefore, a show is a marketing opportunity that must be made the very most of.
Visibility: Gaining A Competitive Edge
If you think about the biggest and busiest trade shows in your market, you’ll know just how crowded they can be. There are a lot or people in the aisles, there’s noise and of course there are a lot of stands and these and the people on them (that’s you) are all are vying for visitor attention. It’s in this sort of environment that visibility and impact products come in their own. But some exhibitors will try and start gaining an edge before visitors ever get to the venue.
Trade Show Marketing: “I Saw Your Ad On The Way To The Show”
It’s not uncommon for some exhibitors at really big events to start marketing to visitors in the public places that they believe will be used by visitors going to and from the event. They want their message to ideally be the first and last things you see in connection with your visit to the show or conference even if those messages are appearing a long way from the venue.
Locations for this kind of promotion include; airports arrival and departure areas; mainline and venue train stations; taxis (branded externally or with ads on screens inside the cab); buses (external wraps); tube or commuter trains (internal ads or wrapped trains); branded ad trucks driving around visitor routes to the venue; hotel rooms; branded buildings (wrapped in a graphic), branded rickshaws; hotel advertising …..the list is very extensive and I haven’t covered all of the things that I’ve seen but I mention all of this to illustrate the importance and the leverage value that some companies place upon their trade show participation.
Importance and leverage; these two qualities highlight beautifully core values that make show participation so valuable regardless of stand size or spending power.
Impact: Achieving Standout Out At The Venue
A good friend of mine and a colleague that I worked with for ten years is media sales specialist Rosalind (Ros as she is known to her clients) Brown. Ros has handled hundreds of show-related media sales contracts for clients that include Toni & Guy, International Paints, Oral B, Colgate, E J Gallo Wines and Breitling. I asked Ros for her view on why her clients invested so heavily in this show-related activity which often involved major expenditure in addition to budget spent on a stand.
My clients saw the value in the tailored branding packages that I created for them. The objective was always to deliver a branding “journey” that followed visitor routes to and from the halls in which my client was exhibiting. Usually we worked on creating brand visibility from arrival at the venue and then as directional signposting to their stand. It was no accident that their stands were usually the ones that were the busiest in the show. They wanted to extract the greatest value possible from their participation and saw this spend as a key part of achieving that objective.
Visibility & impact;costumed show walkers are fun and effective for generating awareness of your brand. Two of your five a day are shown in action at IFE 2017.
The Art of Selling To People When They Are Not On Your Stand
This is what media opportunities at live events enable you to do. You reach and market to attendees when they are not on your stand. And you don’t need huge additional budgets to do this.
- Your Stand is a branding opportunity. Graphics, hanging banners, digital screens can all be used to attract visitors to your stand as they can be seen beyond the short term range of your stand. See this related article
- In-hall branding opportunities; things like hanging aisle banners, aisle floor graphics; branding of in-hall catering areas and seminar theatres. Some of these will be big-ticket cost items due to their visibility with visitors but not all. Ask your organiser for details
- Advertising in the public spaces of the venue; washroom advertising; table-top advertising, digital screen advertising and floor graphics are all normally at the lower cost end on an opportunities list but they all can be highly effective.
- Higher priced options in public areas include hanging banners; large posters, big screen digital advertising and one of my favourites, hall entrance branding. This is where a company sponsors an entrance to the show – usually the entrance to the hall that they are exhibiting in
- You can even look like the sponsor of the show for a fraction of the cost (a very enterprising exhibitor taught me this on a large consumer show many years back)
- For more ideas on venue branding see this article
Impact: Walking Advertisements
The impact of branded bags at trade shows and conferences is not to be underestimated. There is something impressive in seeing thousands of people walking around a venue with a brand name displayed prominently and for the exhibiting company whose name is being advertised, it must feel very satisfying too. There is of course a price for such fame but for brand recognition in so many places this item is hard to beat.
Alternatives to sponsored bags are the branded floor walkers like the ones shown in the image above. Visitors like taking pictures of them or like being pictured with them and those photos get circulated on their social media pages.
Achieving Visibility & Impact For Your Business
- Start with your stand no matter how large or small small it is. Display your brand clearly and prominently – see this small stand example
- The best time to buy listed media items is when you book your stand as you have the opportunity to strike an overall deal for space and branding with your organiser
- If your show budget is tight, ensure that all costs for your stand are covered. Then, if you have any funds left talk to the organising team and ask what kind of bespoke campaign can be created with the funds you have available
- If your budget is tight, don’t be tempted to do a little branding in a few places as this will have little or no impact. You are better advised to be as strong as possible in one high traffic area
- Always display your stand number – yes you want brand recognition but you also want people to visit your stand
- Contacting your clients and prospects pre-show is also a valid part of building brand recognition and stand attendance. Ensure that your pre-show messages link to those visitors will see at the show
- Be creative; there are so many useful things that can be sponsored or used for advertising. Simple things like your name on all of the delegate notepads at a conference to product placements and augmented reality displays. If you need ideas use the Ask Us tab on this site stating the name of the show, date and venue and what it is you have in mind or would like to achieve
Trade shows and conferences with exhibitions alongside, attract and deliver the brightest prospects for business growth in your market and branding tools help you to leverage the investment that you make not just in your stand but in your presence at the event. Selling to target visitors when they are not with you on your stand, perhaps when they are close to the stands of your competitors in busy show halls and spaces is an excellent way to increase your competitive advantage and your show results.