Here we have our third guest post! A great read about how to stand out at a trade show and differentiate your brand.
Any veteran exhibitor understands how hard it is to continually capture the attention of show attendees. With so much surrounding competition, maximizing your return on investment can be a challenge. The key to differentiating your brand from other exhibitors is crafting a unique customer experience that will have attendees lining up to interact with your booth staff.
While online marketing strategies have become critical to businesses in the digital era, trade shows, conferences and live events provide an essential way to meet face-to-face with potential clients and forge meaningful relationships. According to recent industry research, meeting potential customers in-person remains a top reason for companies to participate in expos, along with building brand awareness and meeting existing customers. Businesses often allocate thousands of dollars and months to planning for an important industry event; therefore, it’s important to properly optimize your exhibit booth layout for optimal results.
Popular face-to-face branding methods employed to stand out from the crowd include designing an extraordinary trade show display, promotional giveaways that attendees won’t dispose of after the conference, and integrating an engaging social media campaign. While there’s no denying these are important elements, developing a memorable, uniquely-crafted attendee experience not only helps attract attention during the trade show, but also boosts engagement levels and leaves a lasting impression.
If you’re looking for effective marketing strategies in 2018 to differentiate your booth space in a convention room full of other brands vying for attention, here are seven ways to help kick your expo marketing into high gear!
- Use Digital Tools to Connect Prior to the Exhibition
Customer experiences are no longer linear. Convention guests now expect pre-show communication and to personally received show attendee information months before the trade show. Personal outreach invites to your target prospects and existing clients, is an important outbound method and plays a part in an overall trade show customer experience. Connecting with registered guests before the show gives you a marketing opportunity to persuade them to prioritize a visit to your booth.
By offering a preview of your booth experience through digital channels such as email and social media, you can influence early engagement and streamline the discovery process for potential clients. Social connection is a powerful way to market your business on a limited budget. In addition, pre-show connection through social media will also give your team valuable insights about visitor needs in advance, enabling you to tailor your guest experience and deliver overall better client-focused solutions.
- Have a Creative Modern Theme that Supports Your Brand
Does your display backdrop, booth accessories, promo items, and other marketing materials convey a cohesive theme? Cohesive branding campaigns help draw initial show attendee attention, but you also want to ensure your message has a unified focus. In 2018, startups and creative agencies are finding it beneficial to be different and quirky.
Conventions can often be repetitive and dull, the large mass of exhibitors and show attendees having a tendency to blur together after just one afternoon. A smart and unique brand campaign can help differentiate your products and services from rival exhibitors. It’s important that your modern expo booth design theme reflects your company culture. The right branding execution will have a positive effect on both customer experience and your exhibiting ROI.
- Create Interactive Elements
Whenever possible, show don’t tell. If you’re showcasing an innovative prototype or a new cost-effective service available, do so in a way that engages your booth attendees. Adding an interactive element to your trade show stand turns a one-dimensional sales pitch into a customer-focused experience that leads to more dynamic interactions. A hands-on approach is more likely to create warm leads for follow-up and helps you to stand apart from other exhibitors.
Adding additional customer-focused elements such as touchscreens and comfortable seating naturally foster conversation. Be creative in your brainstorming sessions and try not to follow common rules. Sure, a raffle might get people to leave their business card, but there are more modern ways to provide a fun, valuable element to your lead generation!
- Use Tech to Create an Immersive Experience
Trade shows are filled with so much activity that it can be difficult to get the full attention of your prospect, even when they’re standing in your space. Technology provides the answer here.
Why not factor in virtual reality or AI for example? Could your booth visitors be greeted by a robot? Could they experience your product by slipping on a VR headset? Integrate some interesting technology and you might have attendees lining up to get into your booth.
Technology has become an expected element of trade shows, which means you need to go further to create a unique experience. Whether you have interactive quizzes projected onto screens or live social media feeds, embracing the new norm can put you ahead of the pack and create a memorable, lasting impression.
- Embrace Personalization
As a marketing trend, personalization has had a huge influence in areas such as email, social media and even online shopping – if you’re looking to differentiate your trade show experience, you’ll need to embrace it as part of your marketing efforts too.
But how? According to Salesforce, “At its core, personalization is about customers being recognized as individuals, and treated in a way that makes them feel appreciated, unique and understood.”
Consumers and businesses alike expect firms to do their research and use personalization techniques across a range of marketing communications, from personalized emails to tailored in-store experiences. It’s a must for creating an effective customer experience, especially for those that have made pre-arranged appointments. It can be as simple as knowing basic details or, for maximum returns, taking the time to understand exactly how your business can solve their unique problems.
- Improve Your Staff’s Customer Engagement Skills
Research shows that customers are less brand-loyal than ever before, creating a shift in the landscape. Forbes reports that 90% of common household goods brands are losing market share. At the same time, The Drum says, “Brand loyalty is evolving among younger generations and is increasingly built on personalized experiences where non-traditional approaches sometimes gain the most loyalty among the young.” Loyalty matters and in-person engagement is crucial. This mindset should drive your trade show marketing campaigns and inform your staff how to act, communicate, and engage with stand visitors.
Don’t underestimate how important your staff is to trade show success – they are the humanization of your brand and uphold the promise of your marketing. Even with stunning eco-friendly LED light box display booth materials, clever marketing, and immersive technology, you’ll lose valuable leads without the right team members in place.
Staff selection and training is key to creating and guiding effective customer experiences. You want employees that are knowledgeable, approachable, friendly, and passionate about the brand.
Building on the same techniques used to connect before the trade show event, the manner in which you follow up after the show should be considered an essential part of the customer experience. Arranging calls or sending an email to prospects a few days after the event helps to extend the experience of the show, but it should be an extension of your expo marketing, rather than a standard cookie-cutter follow up. Dare to be different and you’ll be rewarded with better brand recognition, stronger relationships and ultimately, more sales.