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

In need of exhibiting inspiration? Try these creative tactics and ideas

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Posted by , 7th November 2017

Inspiration: When you need to be inspired and a trade show is fast approaching

Sometimes inspiration can elude us….

Are you exhibiting at bett 2018? Perhaps you’re showing at the Spring Fair? Maybe ICE Totally Gaming or one of the many other shows that will be happening in January or February next year? If so, you have about 12-15 weeks left to prepare. Take out two of those weeks for Christmas which is seven weeks away, and, showtime is not really that far away.

Hopefully, your planning is right on track. You have your stand design in hand, know which products or services are to be promoted, have your team booked, everything is in hand. Or, maybe there are some areas where you haven’t quite nailed the strategy or the mechanics for your stand. If that’s the case, perhaps one or two of the ideas below may be of help.

Nail the message and build out from it

Even very experienced stand managers can struggle for inspiration when it comes to event preparation. The challenge is always to do better than the last show. Nailing the strongest possible message for the event, the core thing that will make your offering attractive to visitors, is a great place to start and to get things moving.

Has the message become confused or scattered?

One of the interesting things that a show can do, is to highlight areas where your corporate branding has become inconsistent.

When you are the person responsible for displaying your corporate brand in the public domain, you have to be sure that you are displaying the true and consistent vision of your business. In the process of organising things like stand branding and graphics, you may become aware that your company’s brand image is not as tight or as “on-brand” as it ought to be. Over the course of time, brand messaging can become “scattered.” For an explanation of this term see this article.

Scattering doesn’t always involve your outward facing corporate branding, although this is often the cause of messaging that goes off-key. Scattering may also be seen when a business doesn’t stick with a core sales proposition. You can see this on stands where graphics are carrying lots of copy, usually in text so small it’s hard to read unless you are up really close. An exhibitor using graphics in this way is usually trying to promote numerous messages. This is confusing for attendees. It can also obscure what your company is promoting as its key skill or USP.

Here are two articles that are helpful on this subject:

From Salesforce pardot: How to Create Brand Messaging that Really Resonates
From Exhibitors Only: Meet Jeannette La: An interview with an exhibiting whizz

Stand inspiration: Let there be light

Once you have your big message fixed and agreed, you can think about how you are going to make it standout to show visitors. A tool that you may want to consider; Lightboxes, also known as backlit graphics. For me, these are one of the best advances in graphic display for trade shows stands in recent years.

Light boxes massively enhance stand graphics

Digital walls are excellent and I love those too, but if you are working with limited time and budget, then a lightbox is one of the easiest and quickest ways to create a high impact stand presence. And, your lightbox doesn’t have to be as large as the one shown above.  And you don’t have to be using a custom-built stand either. Shell scheme stands can incorporate lightboxes just as easily. For ideas, enter lightboxes for exhibition stands into your search engine of choice.

Small scale digital banners

As already mentioned, digital walls are excellent for creating impact but at this stage of your planning you may not have the budget for a digital wall. But, you could consider smaller, digital banners as opposed to screens. Called banners because they look like printed pull-up banners, they are in fact digital screens. Here’s an example from Prismaflex. There aren’t that many on the market yet but that will change soon enough.

A digital screen that looks like a pull-up banner

Direct mail invitations

If you only know direct mail as a form of marketing that happened in the past, guess what, it’s still alive and being used to great effect.

With 12 or so weeks to the show, you still have just enough time to put together an effective direct mail campaign to attract visitors to your stand. Send email invitations to your clients and prospects by all means, but don’t count on them solely to do a convincing attraction job. If you use direct mail as part of your visitor attraction campaign, your impact and recognition will be higher and more likely to produce results.

The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) has powerful stats on their website related to this subject. Here are some to consider:

  • 79% of consumers act on direct mail immediately—only 45% react to email in the same way
  • 1.1 – 1.4% will respond to a direct mail piece
  • .04% will respond to an internet advertisement, according to a Harvard Business Review study
  • .03% will respond to an email

You can read the full DMA article and the stats here. 

Postcard campaigns

A really simple and cost-effective direct mail item is a postcard. A strong visual either image or text or both will work in getting you noticed and in making the receiver interested. Promote your big message. Offer a web address where more information about what you are doing at the show can be found. You could make your postcards to clients different to those of prospects. You could make the postcard a competition entry form or a means to collect a promotional gift at the show. Simple but effective promotional marketing. Just check how many postal addresses you have on file.

Revise your stand staff strategy

One way to change your show results, especially when it comes to lead generation is to add trained promotional staff to your stand. Lee Ali made a strong case for this approach in a recent article he wrote for Exhibitors Only – you can read it here. 

Small businesses exhibiting at trade shows will often view the use of outside promotional people as an expense they can live without. Yes, that’s often true but, if you are pretty sure that your show results could be better, then perhaps adding one person to your stand team as a trial, might be something to consider. The benefit of hiring an agency staffer is that they will be highly experienced at working trade shows and they will not have a problem when it comes to talking to visitors. They can also offer you tried and tested advice based on their wide meeting and greeting experience.

Get with the programme

To move from steady results to breakthrough exhibiting results will mean doing things differently to what you’ve done previously. If your company has not taken advantage of speaking opportunities that most events now offer, then your first show of 2018, represents the time and place to change things up.

On big events like those mentioned in the opening to this story, the main slots in the conference programme will now be filled. But double-check this with your organiser anyway. Speakers do have to dropout for various reasons. Where all slots relating to your company’s expertise area are filled, let the organiser know that you can supply a back-up speaker if they need one due to any last minute hitches arising.

Then, ensure that you have a presentation ready in case this scenario happens.

Don’t forget the seminar programme

Big events will generally have a main conference plus seminars or product talks and demonstration areas around the show. Ask about participation criteria for this programme and submit an outline of what your talk or demonstration will cover. Once your slot is confirmed, start promoting your speaker and your session. Use the seminar as a promotional opportunity with the people you most want to reach and meet.

You still have time to be creative, to be inspired and to make your first show of 2018, a cracking success. Go to it!

#exhibitorsonly #standmanagement #tradeshowmarketing

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Posted in Marketing  /  Shell Scheme & Small Stands  /  Stand Management

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