Want to find out how Facebook can work to draw people to your tradeshow booth? Listen to this podcast interview with Pooja Dhawan of FashionSpy.com. She’s a wholesaler of womens young contemporary fashion and she has used facebook and other social media outlets successfully in marketing for the past couple of years.
Imagine selling your product just by posting a photo on your Facebook wall! Pooja has done that – and much more.
How can you engage your customer so thoroughly that you’re sending shivers down their spine?
It doesn’t happen all that often, and admittedly, to get a real spine-tingling moment is rare. But it can be done.
It happened to me yesterday – and it wasn’t something I expected.
In reading some Facebook updates, a FB friend was telling the story of seeing Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pops Festival in 1967. You know the story (or maybe you don’t): it’s where Jimi – a virtual unknown at the time – had been given a slot AFTER The Who – who were arguably the biggest draw at the show. But somehow the promoters saw fit to put Hendrix on after the Who.
“…He took a total piece of crap in “Wild Thing” and made it heavy. Serious. In the middle he diddled out the melody to “Strangers In The Night” in a minor key, which got a laugh out of the crowd, then let the music swirl into another feedback meltdown. Now he was down on his knees controlling the feedback with the Whammy bar. I can’t see from where I am, but Jimi douses the Strat in lighter fluid and drops a match on it.. Whoosh. The feedback takes on the wailing tone of a Stratocaster burning to death. The Who finale was Angry…but this guy is sacrificing his guitar for us….”
As an old rock ‘n’ roller, this description literally sent chills down my back by projecting me back to ’67 and imagining what it must have been like.
Can you do that to your audience?
A good demo onstage might (no, you don’t have to sacrifice a Stratocaster!). A terrific story certainly could.
People react to stories. If your story is compelling and hits your audience in the gut, the reaction may be visceral. There’s no better way to get someone’s attention than with a powerful story.
The downside is that for most people it’s difficult to tell a story. And it’s even more difficult to tell a story in a compelling, arresting way.
Start collecting stories about your products and your customers. Ask them how your product or service impacts them. Why did they buy? Why do they keep coming back?
The more stories you collect, the better chance you have of finding that one nugget that succinctly tells the story of your product.
Once you’ve got that, find a powerful way to tell that story to your prospects. Engage them. Enlighten them.
What do people see when you send out a tweet, newsletter, blog post; put up a tradeshow booth…what is the perception of what people see?
Are you seeing through the eyes of your visitors, or through your eyes?
It’s not an easy question to answer as we all have our own vantage points. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t completely get outside of ourselves and see things objectively. Especially if we had a hand in creating the sales tool.
But it’s a good question to ask – and to try and find an answer. Or two, or three: what do other people see when they look at your ‘stuff?’ Do they see what you want them to see or do they see something else?
If your goal is to get a tradeshow booth visitor to see that you’re a fun company with an engaging product, is that coming across? If your goal is to get a visitor to see your company as conservative in your approach to the marketplace with your offerings, is that what they’re really seeing?
When you start peeling back the onion of your marketing message, it may take the eyes and ears of a third party – an ad agency, a colleague – to help you see things more clearly. And it may take the services of a professional to craft that message in a way that resonates with your visitor.
Creating the marketing message with the help of an experienced pro may be the best money you’ve ever spent. She might see things that you’re blind to. She can help with a subtle nuance in your message that makes a big impact.
On the other hand, no one knows your company, product or service quite like you – especially if you created it and live it on a daily basis. Even if you’re ‘just’ a tradeshow marketing manager, you still work and live and breath the company’s culture everyday, which gives you insight and a bird’s-eye seat into how you can reach your customers. In a perfect world, the collaboration between you and a professional (writer, designer) will result in a message that touches your potential customers in ways that move them to action.
The most successful tradeshow booths are the result of collaboration between several people, giving each person a stake in the message, but not surrendering to the whim of an individual. But committee meetings can only go so far: any successful message has to have a passionate advocate who has an understanding of the product/service and the impact that a customer feels when they commit to your company by pulling out their wallet.
So. Get a second opinion. And a third. Feed their comments and opinions into the hopper, chew them over and let them inform your creation, but not control it.
And remember it’s all fluid: markets, products, people. What works today may not next year. Or vice versa.
Tradeshow marketing is about the sale. You may take a meandering path to get there, but at the end that’s you want: the sale. The path may involve direct mail to get your prospect to the show. It might mean inviting your market to come see a new product launch. Could be that you’re offering an incentive to her to stop by your booth.
Whatever approach you take, you’re engaging in building a relationship with that person. In some cases ‘relationship’ may be too strong a word, but in most cases it applies. You want the prospect to feel good about coming into contact with your company. You want them to get a lift from using your product. You’d like to invoke a positive reaction when they see your tradeshow booth.
All of this comes together to build a market of people that respond: they purchase products, they engage, they spread the word.
And with all of that engagement on a large scale the small things can have the most personal impact.
Take a birthday card, for example.
I don’t know where companies get the information, but every year when my birthday rolls around, I get cards. They come from real estate agents, mortgage brokers, auto dealers, car dealers. Of course I’m glad to get them, but they don’t mean as much as the hand-written card I get from a good friend. The business-birthday cards are mostly cranked out by an automated system. Yes, some of them have a brief hand-written note. But I know they’re still trying to do one thing: get me to come buy something: “Remember me! I’m still here! Wanna new car? Need a new house?”
It’s all a sales pitch, built around the birthday card.
I like to do something a little different. When I get to know my clients I make sure I get their birthday and stick that info into my SendOutCards database (disclosure: I’m a SendOutCards affiliate). Then when their birthday rolls around I get a reminder when I log on to the SOC site. I can jot a personal note and – here’s the neat thing – stick a gift card into the card.
Most often I’ll put a $10 Starbucks coffee card in because it’s a great pick-me-up to the recipient without overdoing it. Who doesn’t want to spend $10 at Starbucks?
Now you may think I’m pitching SendOutCards, but if you think that’s all I’m doing, you’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter how you make the connection – only that you make it. What really makes MY day is when I make THEIR day. When someone opens up a birthday card from me and is surprised – first by the card, second by the gift card – and they let me know by e-mail, phone or maybe a simple posting on Facebook – it totally makes my day.
Not only have I made their day, I’ve solidified myself in their mind as someone who is separating myself from other suppliers and salesmen.
Getting a wow ‘Thank You!’ under these circumstances demonstrates a deepening of the relationship.
What are you doing to deepen your relationship? Are you saying thank you? And are doing anything that elicits an enthusiastic ‘Thank You!’ from your clients?
You may have had it up to HERE with social media! In fact, you may not want anything more to do with social media. Too much Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn?
If that’s the case, you can stop reading now and go back to pawing through your vinyl records because this doesn’t pertain to you.
Or you may be so into social media that the thought of learning the basics may seem so boring and old hat that you’d rather stick needles in your eyes. Or at least take a few moments to learn another smartphone app during coffee break. And tweet about it. And post it on Facebook. And hey, maybe even shoot a short video to put up on all of your social media outlets. After all, you have a five minute coffee break, right?
If that is the case, you can also stop reading now, because this is going to get boring!
However, if you’re among the crowd of people that would like to LEARN about Social Media, to learn how to get involved, why to get involved, and even what to do once you’re there – this webinar is for you.
Coming up in less than two weeks, I’m hosting two identical Social Media 101 webinars that will get you up and running on all of those platforms that you keep hearing about: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
And yes, blogging too! After all, I believe that blogging is the centerpiece of your social media efforts, at least as far as your company is concerned.
The webinar is free, and it’s set for two days so you get a choice: Tuesday the 27th or Thursday the 29th. You can register here.
Now that a lot of your audience are carrying around smartphones, are you even able to reach them anymore with email, blogging and your social media outlets?
Probably – at least you should be able much of the time.
But an ideal scenario is literally in your hands: reaching your audience with text messaging.
Here’s why text message (or mobile) marketing is worth considering:
First: approximately 97% of all text messages are opened and read! Yeah: wow, 97%!
Next: your competitors are probably NOT doing it. Yet. But chances are they will look at it soon.
Also: Texting can spur instant action because of the immediacy of the medium.
One comment I often hear when the subject of mobile marketing comes up: “…but who wants to get spam text messages?”
That’s the beauty. It’s not spam. Your audience has opted-in to your messages through your website or advertisement, and they can easily opt-out if they change their mind.
Let’s say you have a booth at a tradeshow, and you’re going to surprise your audience with a special deal, a celebrity guest, or some other reason to get people to head for the booth. By timing your text message, your audience can open the text (remember, it’s immediately sent), see the invitation, and come by the booth.
If you can narrow your market to a select group of show attendees, chances are good that you’ll get many of them to respond.
“Your only restriction with mobile marketing is the numbers of characters, so my best advice is consolidate and pack a punch with your message,” advises Van Allen, a leading business marketer and business author who uses text and SMS (short message service) technology to grow several business.
So the next question on your lips is (at least it was on my lips): how do you do this?
The difficult, and manual, way would be to send each message out individually.
Nope, you can see right away that’s not gonna work. Not with all you have to do to keep the booth running, right?
Some services I’ve seen have the ability to segment your audience. For instance if you put out an advertisement on “organic yogurt” you might have readers opt-in to get message specifically about organic yogurt. Other readers might want messages only about fruit-flavored yogurt. It gives you a chance to send extremely targeted messages based on the desires of your market.
Once you start thinking, the ideas on how to tie mobile marketing into your tradeshow marketing start tumbling over themselves.
Phone coupons, time-sensitive offers, opinion polls, welcome messages, games, video links…what can you think of?
If you have sent out or received text messaging, what’s your experience been?
A terrific guest post by Brad Shorr on Heidi Thorne’s excellent blog ‘Promo With Purpose Today’ got me to thinking.
In the post, Brad discusses how long-term thinking and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help to bring more people to your website. And Brad says that press releases are an excellent way to seed your company’s brand throughout the web.
I can’t agree more.
But with apologies to Brad, I’d take it a few more steps.
If you’re planning a press release, come up with a short list of a half dozen keywords that people might be searching for in regards to your tradeshow appearance. Perhaps you’re in the food industry and you want folks to find your products and scheduled appearance.
Your first sentence should contain at least one or two of those keywords and the name of the show. Search engine algorithms tend to look for keywords within the first several words of an article or release. So don’t waste time getting to the point.
In the body of the copy, be sure to include the other keywords that you’ve targeted. Sprinkle them generously – but don’t overdo it. It’s got to be both search-engine friendly and human-friendly (readable!). It may take a little re-working, but you’ll know when it reads right.
At the end, be sure to include all of the pertinent contact information, including links to your company’s website and blog (the link-backs that Brad mentioned).
Press releases have jumped from old media to new media quickly – and the change really took place a few years ago. Press releases can be found by anyone searching for specific keywords – they aren’t limited to reporters and bloggers. And as Brad stated, you may actually get an immediate lead from your release.
Two of my favorite resources to improve your press releases include a book and a website.
Being involved in the retail and trade show display business and seeing pull up banners go out to customers on a daily basis, I think I have a good feel of what makes an effective banner design. And when you consider that the artwork and graphics are the very element that will “make or break” your banner display, you may want to read on!
Colours are King
Though you may feel limited to a particular colour palette that compliments your corporate colours and logo, great results can be achieved using colours that create strong contrasts. Whether its light on dark, or dark on light, or colours at the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, contrasting colours are very effective at catching the viewer’s eye. So be bold in your use of colour, but don’t over-do it. Try using just 1, 2 or 3 strong, contrasting colours – any more and you’ll start losing impact.
Artwork: Sometimes Less is More
It can be tempting to try and get the most value from your trade show banner by loading it with images and artwork. Despite the temptation, I find that the vast majority of the time, one large image is more effective that a number of smaller ones. Multiple images act to dilute the visual impact of your banner as each image competes for the viewers’ attention. On the other hand, having one large, primary image creates a strong focal point that is very effective in the kind of open trade show or retail environments in which banner stands tend to be used.
Keep it Short and Keep it Sweet
In both trade show and retail environments the key function of a banner’s design is to grab the attention of the people passing your store or exhibition stand and entice them to approach. Bearing in mind that you may have just seconds to achieve this, large amounts of written information are most often counter productive. Keep your message short and simple by using large text, bullet points and images where possible. A clear “call to action” can be effective in having people approach, upon which a staff member, some printed material, or both can leave them with more detailed information.
I guess in summary, you could say that when it comes to trade show banners, simplicity is the key: Simple yet bold use of colour, clear and strong images to create a focal point, backed up with some brief written information and a “call to action”.
Effective banner design is not rocket science, but unfortunately more often than not, trade show and retail banners end up being less than effective. But now all you’ll need to do is follow these 3 simple rules to good banner design and you’ll be sure to get the most from your next banner stand investment!
Do you have any more ideas for producing effective trade show banner designs?
About the Author:
Danny Jessen is Marketing Manager at Slimline Warehouse Australia a trade show and retail display company, specialising in Pull Up Banners.
Alex was both exhausted and excited at the same time.
He’d just spent the day finalising his stand at a major tradeshow, and was looking forward to the hoards of people who’d be streaming past the next day.
It was an expensive exercise. By the time he added up the floor space, construction and personnel costs, he’d spent about $15,000, but Alex was sure it would be worth it due to all the new leads he’d be getting.
Walking through two major tradeshows over the last couple of weeks, I met lots of Alex’s.
Sadly though, most of them will be disappointed with their results from the show.
Why? Because in many cases they won’t meet the right people, won’t engage them when they do, and won’t follow up.
Interestingly, there are major parallels with networking functions, so even if you’ve never contemplated exhibiting at a tradeshow, the principles I’m about to outline apply in everyday business networking.
So let’s take them in turn.
Tradeshows, like networking events allow you to meet a lot of people at one time and in one place.
So rather than you running around the countryside visiting people, you get them to come to you.
How? By personally inviting them and setting up appointments to meet. That way you know you’ll be busy talking to the right people.
While walking the aisles, I noticed three general behaviours.
Some stand attendants stood in the corridors and actively made eye contact, smiled and invited me to talk to them. Others stood there looking bored and made no attempt at contact. And the last lot sat at the backs of their stands talking amongst themselves or eating.
Guess which ones I spoke to? In fact there were other people I was interested in meeting, but they showed no interest in me, so I gave up after waiting a few minutes.
Ever been to a networking function where you’ve experienced something similar? You’re new and no one takes an interest in you, makes you feel welcome and you leave wondering if this was all a colossal waste of time.
And finally, following up…
Generally, you can’t actually buy things at a tradeshow. You’re there to make connections, not lug stuff out the door with you.
So it’s critical that you follow up any prospects you meet. And not just once. You need to keep your name in front of them on an ongoing basis – forever!
Offer them something (an article you’ve written or something else you know would interest them) in return for their business card.
I recommend you use a combination of phone (for the hot prospects), letter, fax and email over an extended period of time. And it’s not always about making the sale. Send them articles you think they’d be interested in, stuff happening in their industry etc. It’s about consistently keeping in contact.
Once again, the same applies if you meet someone at a networking event.
Do all three of these things and you’ll extract the greatest return from your investment in both time and money. Miss one and you’ll leave money on the table.
Rashid Kotwal is an international speaker and author who specializes in on-line and off-line strategies for direct response marketing and sales optimization. He works with sales organizations want to get more business, faster and with less wasted effort.For more information on Marketing, Sales and Customer Retention Strategies head over to http://revealedresources.com.