3 Ways to Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out

3 Ways to Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out

For many companies, it’s time to start preparing for the fall trade show season. Now is a great time to confront that perennial question: do we redo the entire booth this year or just make do?

If you do decide to update your booth, we have a couple quick tips on structure and design that will help your investment last longer and hopefully deliver better results.

1. Make Your Booth Adaptable to Different Sizes

Let’s face it: some shows are worth a greater investment than others. And chances are you’re not going to pay for the same sized booth space everywhere you exhibit. So for a couple of conferences, you may invest in that 40 x 40 foot space while others may just have a table and a 10 foot drape behind you.

A good exhibit house will have structural options for you that can be assembled in multiple ways — what’s known as a “convertible booth.” Maybe you can create a 20 foot wall that allows you to remove a couple of panels when you only have 10 feet of space. Or if you’re in a conference room, you can have a design that integrates those walls independently as a backdrop or border in smaller spaces.

When you’re designing the graphics for a convertible booth, make sure you’re clear on which panels are consistently used and which are the extras.

Another piece to consider when choosing your structure and designing the graphics is how often you’ll want to change them or promote something new. If everything is inter-locked or materials are expensive to reprint, it will be more of a headache to promote a new product or showcase new messaging or imagery, leaving you in limbo with the same design as last year (and the year before).

2. It’s OK to Stick Your Neck Out

If your structure can stand out in the crowd height-wise, your customers and potential customers will have less trouble finding you. Some conferences allow you to hang signage, while others may not (always check their guidelines and regulations before making any design choices).

If you can’t get add much height to your structure, you can at least make sure your graphics are positioned vertically so as not to be hidden by anything else. Always account for table height and line of sight when placing your key messages. Plus you’ll have a better chance of catching eyes across a crowded show floor if your most attractive message is at the top.

Also, remember to take pictures of your booth at its most crowded during a show. That way, you’ll get a better sense of what is covered by people or by other pieces of the structure. Digital booth renders can only show you so much, so documenting the booth in-person will help you make changes later if necessary.

3. Give Visitors a Reason to Linger

This is the $10 million question: how do you increase engagement at your booth? You’ve driven traffic, but how do you get them to stay?

The best answer we can give here is of course the unsatisfying “Well, it depends.” Generally speaking, though, if you sell a physical product, have it with you. If the show is worth investing in, it’s worth shipping the product to the show (or at least a scaled version).

And if your key selling points revolve around a specific product action, have some way to demonstrate that if possible. Physical demonstrations — especially if your customer can do it themselves — are best followed by digital demonstrations, with video or photos bringing up the rear.

When you’re selling a service or your product is simply too large, it’s a little tougher. But that’s where technology comes in. Video is more engaging than static photos, but interactive digital displays are even more engaging than both. Get your customers to sell to themselves through a clever touchscreen program or app — this can also help with understaffed booths if you don’t have enough sales people to go around.

Conferences may be your best opportunity to make or reinforce a good impression. You’re already investing so much in being there — make sure your booth is supporting the effort, not letting you down.

How to Maximize Your Trade Show Appearance

How to Maximize Your Trade Show Appearance

So your team has decided that a particular trade show or conference is right for you. But now you have to decide if you want to be more than an attendee or exhibitor. Should you take advantage of any sponsorship opportunities? And if you do, how can you best leverage those available to you? Let’s explore two key ways to maximize your trade show appearance.

1) Choosing the Right Sponsorships

As we always say, start with your goals. What are you trying to gain from this event? Your primary goal is likely lead generation, though awareness or specific product testing and launching are also popular reasons to exhibit at an event.

Whatever the case, go back to the event information and analyze who’s attending and who’s exhibiting. If a large percentage are decision-makers in your target audience, additional exposure may be a good idea. And if some of your top competitors are showing, this may be your chance to get ahead with exclusive sponsorships.

There are likely to be a few opportunities that specifically yield lead information as well as many more that promise prominent logo display. It’s tempting to go for the logo options as a) they tend to be cheaper and b) they seem to promise the most exposure.

But before signing the contract, ask yourself if the quality of that exposure will ladder up to your goals. How familiar is this audience with your logo? Do you have an option to add additional messaging?

If you’re just aiming to be more prominent than your competitor or show you support the association, it can be worthwhile to select several of these broader awareness opportunities.

However, logo prominence doesn’t necessarily guarantee booth traffic. Many attendees go to conferences already knowing exactly who they’re going to visit. Pre-conference sponsorships or advertising opportunities are often the best way to catch these pre-planners.

2) Maximizing Your Event Sponsorship

Once you’ve decided to sponsor, make sure you get all you can out of it. Update your digital marketing content calendar to include event promotion. Post on social with the conference’s hashtag and @ mention their accounts. More often than not, the show team will then share your post to their audience of attendees.

Emails to your database can include a note mentioning your booth number and subtly promote your sponsorships, depending on what they are.

You can also send an email specifically inviting any attendees to meet while they’re at the show. This could be personal emails from the sales team or a well-crafted email to your database (preferably the segment that is most likely to attend — maybe your leads from last year 😉).

If you’re demoing or launching a product at the show, consider inviting customers or potential customers to an exclusive focus group or launch event. A good public relations team can likely help you make this kind of event happen.

For event success in general, it’s also important to carefully consider if you’re sending the best team members to reach your goals. You may have someone who knows the product inside and out, but do they enjoy talking to people? Will they pursue conversation and networking opportunities? If not, consider training a more extroverted team member who you know will get you the most leads for your money.

Sponsorships can greatly help boost your presence at a trade show or conference when done right. Always look for opportunities that get you in front of potential leads, but only if you have the team capacity to really make it work.

TL;DR

  • List your goals and make sure the tactics you choose ladder up to those specific aims
  • Logo prominence doesn’t always equate to booth foot traffic
  • Promote the hell out of your appearance if you go: social media, email, PR
  • Create unique in-booth events for potential customers to attend
  • Make sure your attending team members enjoy networking and interacting with people

Choosing the Right Presentation Platform

Choosing the Right Presentation Platform

Regardless of topic or size, presentations can be stressful. From planning and creating content to perfecting your delivery, a lot of time and effort goes in to developing and executing a successful presentation. But how much effort do you put into deciding which presentation program is best to use? Not all platforms are created equal, so we analyzed four popular options so you can see what makes each of them unique (and which one may best fit your needs).

Microsoft PowerPoint

If you’ve given or sat through a presentation in your life, odds are you are familiar with the most popular presentation program, PowerPoint (PPT). A staple in both classrooms and offices, PPT’s straightforward, easy-to-use platform makes it a tried-and-true method of presenting. Its customizable interface provides a lot of creative freedom: you can customize your presentation down to the slide to better meet your topic or audience’s needs.

But perhaps the biggest reason that PPT is so popular is because it is compatible with both PCs and Macs, a feature that certainly comes in handy if you are presenting in a space other than your own office and are unsure of what technology will be available.

Good for: Content-heavy presentations or traditional audiences.
Avoid if: Your presentation needs to be shared with others. Larger PPT files often cannot be emailed, and if your recipient does not have the same version of PPT as you, everything from how the design appears to the ability to view images or videos can be affected.

Keynote

Keynote is likely every Apple product user’s dream. Its variety of built-in templates gives presentations a modern look in a very easy-to-use platform, and projects built here can easily be transferred between devices via iCloud (a feature that makes it easy to present on-the-go, or on another Apple product such as an iPhone or iPad). One of its strongest features is the ability to turn your presentation into anything from a YouTube video to a QuickTime slideshow with minimal hassle.

Good for: Crafting persuasive presentations. Keynote’s sleek and dynamic format makes content more digestible.
Avoid if: You’re not presenting on an Apple product. While you can export your slides into PPT or other PC-friendly software, there’s no guarantee everything will transfer over in its intended format.

Prezi

Prezi probably has the most “WOW” factors of all the presentation platforms on this list. It offers more unique design and distribution capabilities than PPT and Keynote, and its non-linear presentation is great for more creative, interactive demonstrations. Users can seamlessly integrate multimedia, PNGs and vector images constructed outside the web-based application. Prezi also makes it easy for multiple team members to access and contribute to the creation of the project. If you’re looking for a platform to create a story-driven presentation, this is a great option.

Good for: Presentations that require collaborative construction, storytelling and/or audience interaction.
Avoid if: You won’t have a reliable internet connection. Prezi is a web-based format and presentations can lose design quality and functionality with any disruption to internet connectivity.

Adobe InDesign

For the more design-driven presenters out there, Adobe InDesign is a great option for creating an engaging, visually stunning presentation. This platform allows users to easily manipulate presentation layouts because of the level of flexibility with components such as type, images, graphs and color. Users also can add interactive features such as movies, sound clips and cross references. For presenters looking to share design concepts or branding ideas, this platform likely aligns most with their goals.

Good for: Design-oriented presentations, larger or shareable projects or projects containing sensitive information (since it will be in PDF form you can password protect the documents).
Avoid if: You are unfamiliar with the platform and need to put something together fairly quickly—InDesign has a steep learning curve. Additionally, the need to present videos or sounds using Adobe PDF Interactive may cause issues if the device you are presenting on does not have that software installed.

At the end of the day, the success of your presentation won’t solely be determined by the platform you choose to use. But by taking the time to explore all your options, you can become better equipped to create something that will fit you and your audience’s needs.

Goodbye, Traditional Marketing; Hello, Tangible Marketing

Goodbye, Traditional Marketing; Hello, Tangible Marketing

For all the messages out there telling you traditional and print media aren’t dead, there are dozens more telling you they are. The shiny newness of digital can easily blind marketers to the value of the age-old tactics of traditional marketing — or as we’re now calling it, “tangible marketing.”

Let’s get something straight right away: we love digital marketing. But we love it as a piece of your entire puzzle — not the only one you shoehorn into each and every campaign. And for every good, reputable digital advertising company, there are again dozens more who are less-than-good. And their sales teams are calling us (and our clients) trying to sell a digital-only media plan. Our approach to a media plan takes a more 360° view of things: we’re hard-pressed to think of a client who should only use digital advertising.

Now that that’s cleared up, let’s talk about why we’re calling it “tangible” media. Aside from the fact that “traditional” makes these tactics sound outdated, “tangible marketing” communicates many of the advantages of these tactics.

It’s definitely born partly of the smoke-and-mirror frustration of digital; often the only proof of performance you get are mocked-up screenshots and a spreadsheet of stats. It’s usually a good thing that you aren’t being served your own ads (depending on your targeting), but there’s something comforting in being able to touch, hear, or see your messages out in the world. And there is something vitally important about that tangibility to establish a connection with your customers.

Tangible marketing is also still (more often than not) the best way to reach the most customers at the same time. It delivers that top-of-the-funnel branding and awareness that’s critical at the beginning of a new campaign. This makes it ideal not as a total replacement for digital, but as a layered tactic.

Tangible ads can help prime your customers so that when they see your digital ad, they’ll be more ready to convert. Tangible marketing can even help drive search traffic that creates an opportunity to capture and retarget these now-warm leads with digital ads.

Even more exciting than layering tangible and digital tactics are the new marriages of digital data to tangible media targeting strategies. So now you can take digital data to build an audience profile and then target those audiences at scale. A match made in media heaven!

So when the next rep cold calls you and works hard to convince you that digital ads are the only way forward, remember to consider it in the context of your goals, your sales funnel and your existing strategy. How would this tactic support your goals? Are you ready for that stage of the funnel, or do you need more awareness? Is your digital ecosystem set up to make the most of these possible clicks?

Ready to take advantage of this marriage of digital and tangible tactics?

The 5 Pillars of a Successful Digital Ecosystem

The 5 Pillars of a Successful Digital Ecosystem

The breakneck growth of digital technology over the past two decades has forever changed the marketing and advertising world. And while many traditional tactics like out-of-home advertising and print publications still have a viable place for many clients, there’s no denying that very few brands can get away without having a stable digital presence.

So let’s take a look at the 4 key pillars of what we’re calling your “digital ecosystem.” These individual elements are often treated as related yet separate tactics, occasionally overlapping but often being thought of as distinct from one another. We believe that they must be taken holistically to be truly successful, and we’ll tell you why.

1. Your Website

This is ground zero for all your digital activity. Without a robust website, there is almost no justification for investment in other digital tactics (email, social media, etc.). That’s because you need to have an owned-and-operated platform from which to do things like sell products, convey key brand messages and collect information from interested customers. You can do many of those things on social media platforms or third party e-Commerce websites, but you will always be “renting” those distribution channels from other companies.

2. Content

Outside of the baseline information that makes up your website, you’ll want to invest in an ongoing content strategy as part of any digital efforts. This is particularly important for any B2B efforts, as without a physical consumer product to sell, content will be one of the ways you “sell” your brand and position yourself as a trustworthy, instructive partner for your customer. Content can run the gamut from as simple as a weekly blog post on industry news to in-depth instructional videos and tutorials. Some pieces of content will be easier and more affordable to produce regularly, while others you’ll want to plan for as part of a bigger strategy. Content will also help improve your SEO rankings, by populating your website with content that features your target keywords.

3. Email Campaigns

One of the oldest forms of digital communication has had a love-hate relationship with marketers over the years. With the rise of spam and less sophisticated marketing campaigns, it fell out of favor, but as social media is now being scrutinized more closely than ever, marketers are falling in love with email again. For starters, email campaigns still allow for direct, personalized communication with your audience. And unlike social media — which can also allow for those kinds of relationships — you will always “own” your email list.

4. Social Media

To use the parlance of the largest social media platform on the planet, our relationship status with this marketing tactic is “Complicated.” What was once dismissed as a passing fad has grown into a cultural phenomenon. It went from widely derided to widely adopted — and we’re starting to come full circle again. But that doesn’t mean social media shouldn’t still be a part of your digital ecosystem. In fact, the platforms themselves remain as powerful as ever, you just have to reorient how you’re thinking about them.

5. PPC: Pay-Per-Click Advertising

The final puzzle piece in your digital ecosystem is PPC advertising. As the paid complement to SEO, this tactic primarily revolves around Google Ads. Here’s how you’ll work to be the first result when someone searches for keywords or phrases related to your brand. Depending on how specific or broad your services or products are, this will be a very obtainable goal or one you’ll have to work very hard at.

So How Does This All Work?

Think of these five pillars as a kind of virtuous cycle. Each tactic feeds the other, working in harmony to help you meet your goals. For example, you can have a Facebook campaign that drives new visitors to your website, where you then offer them a free eBook download, who you later target on Google Ads with a more hands-on piece of content. Or, you can use an email campaign to drive webinar signups, and then send reminder Facebook ads to everyone who converted on your website. Whatever you do, make sure you take your campaign into consideration holistically, not just tactically.

In the process of writing this blog post, we realized we had a lot more to say about building a successful “digital ecosystem.” Stay tuned for a forthcoming Quick Look white paper that features more details, tips and insights. If you want to learn more in the meantime, simply give us a shout below.

3 Ways to Maximize Your Holiday Marketing Efforts

3 Ways to Maximize Your Holiday Marketing Efforts

Trying to capture some of that holiday spending for your business? Or maybe you’re concerned about cutting through the extra clutter? There are many factors—both good and bad—to contend with when marketing during the winter holidays. Here are three things to consider as you get started.

1. Embrace the Uptick in Radio & Streaming

Audience action for some media outlets increases during the holidays. This is good news especially for B2C marketing. One example is radio & digital audio streaming. A great many listeners who might otherwise be tuning in to a bunch of disparate stations or just listening to their own playlists all start to gather ‘round the fire of holiday music. If your market has a holiday music station (e.g. 99.5 WMAG in the Triad), November and December may be the best time to buy as you can maximize your reach in a small period of time.

By the same token, many listeners of digital audio like Pandora or Spotify are more likely to be streaming during this period, too. And the best part is, your message doesn’t have to be holiday-themed — it just has to be good and relevant.

2. Find Your “Red Umbrella”

Standing out in a crowd can be tough. As inboxes become increasingly inundated during the holidays, even niche B2B marketers may find it challenging to reach their audience. Emails seem to hit an all-time high in frequency, so how can you make sure yours is seen?

Timing is one element you can control: test and measure throughout the year to learn when your audience is most likely to open and engage. You can also try to focus in on the quieter periods when they aren’t being bombarded, giving your email a better chance of standing out.

To that end as well, you need a captivating, relevant subject line. Whether it’s the offer of a discount or the answer to a burning question you know comes up at this time of year, make it clear what you’re offering (without making it spammy). And if you segment your email list, it should be even easier to keep your subject line and offer super relevant.

3. Create Your Own Reason for the Season

Car companies have done it: car sales increase dramatically during the end of the year because car companies have created the belief over time (whether it’s true or not) that the holidays are the best time to buy. You, too, can create your own buying season within your B2B or B2C market.

If you have a great offer and market the heck out of it, you can secure your audience’s attention when you want it. So instead of trying to elbow your way through the holiday marketing crowds, find a time of year that works best for your audience — you know them best. When do they have the time, interest and budget to talk? What offer will propel them one step further toward becoming a customer or increasing their current business with you?

On the flip side, this tactic can sometimes train your customers to wait for a sale before buying anything. If that works for your sales cycle and bottom line, no fear. But consider carefully before you proceed.

So as you’re gearing up for the holidays, consider these three ways you can make the most out of a busy, noisy marketing season. With the right tactics and patience, you’ll find a campaign that works for you and your audience.

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