Social Media displays, sweepstakes, performers, games, and branded giveaways are just a few of the many attention-grabbing tactics exhibitors use to try to get your attention. But are they effective?
They can be, but they can also be the single biggest reason a trade show booth is ineffective. No matter how “cool” or innovative a tactic may be, if it doesn’t fit with the audience, or match with the key messaging it can be a complete fail.
The key to matching the right tactic with the right audience comes by knowing when you should identify tactics within the planning process.
The next time you are thinking about designing your trade show booth, here is the order in which you should make your key decisions.
1. Identify your audience
Who exactly are you targeting? Don’t be general or vague. Spend an hour+ really thinking about who your dream audience will be.
Don’t think marketing manager for a small to mid-size firm. Think about their demographic, their age, their company size, their preferred social media (or traditional medium). Dig deep, the more specific you are the more fruitful this exercise will be.
Not only is this a vital step in crafting the right message; it should be the main determinate of which trade shows you participate in.
For help creating a customer profile you can check out these articles
2. Identify the right trade show(s).
A big mistake I’ve noticed is that companies fall for the “prestige” of a trade show, instead of selecting the right trade show. For example, just because you are an events company doesn’t mean you need to exhibit at TSE. Your audience may not be there, and even if they are, the trade show message you’ve constructed may be out of place or inappropriate for this particular trade show. If you aren’t going to be effective, then don’t exhibit. If you need a presence just attend.
Identify the tradeshows that your target audience attends, but also pay attention to the location and the type of conference. Geographic factors can play a role in “what’s relevant”, so your message although directed at the same audience, might not be as effective. Look for trade shows that apply to the right audience, and have the same tone / feel and take place in a similar geographic or demographic region. This way you will get the most bang for your buck across multiple trade shows.
For help identifying the right trade show
- Talk to trade show promoters
- Look at your competitors –where are they showcasing
- Research current or past attendees
- Pay close attention to sponsors of the show
3. Identify your Message
Now that you know whom you’re looking to appeal to and where you will be presenting, it’s that much easier to write your key messaging.
Having taken the time to understand your target audience, you should have identified the hot buttons that make them tick. Utilize those hot buttons by thinking about your messaging from their point of view.
(For more on Hot Buttons – Power Marketing Training – Hot Buttons & Innovations)
Once you’ve captured your audience’s pov, let it set the tone for your entire booth display. It should influence the look & feel of the color scheme, furniture, and the uniforms of your employees.
Remember, consistency is the key to effectiveness.
4. Identify your tactics
Now it’s time to think about the attention grabbers. Never before you’ve identified your audience and crafted your message.
Your tactics, your games / activities, your sweepstakes, your giveaways etc., are just to draw people’s attention. They are the icing on the cake. If they aren’t in line with what you are trying to say, they are as pointless as Cat Memes on Facebook.
Tactics are also the easiest element on your trade show to change if you’ve decided on them in the correct order. If you know your audience, and your message is strong, it’s ok to experiment with different attention-grabbing techniques or modify one that isn’t as effective as you’d hope.
However, if you wrapped your messaging around an innovative piece of technology or event craze then you may be completely out of luck if that attention grabber is not working. It will cost too much time & money to change the messaging and tactic.
When identifying your tactics here are a few things to consider.
- Age vs. Social Media
- Industry type vs. Complexity of a game / sweep stakes
- Demographic vs. giveaway
This is the process I think about whenever I sit down and start talking to a client. This is the same process you need to think about. Understand who you are trying to reach, and where you will be presenting. Craft your message around those two factors, and then bring that message to life with the right tactic. Your cohesive and well-planned exhibit will be the standout at your next tradeshow.