By Mike Thimmesch
If your company wants to build its brand at trade shows, your company is in good company. In survey after survey, exhibitors tell us that building brand awareness is their number one (or at least #2) goal in trade show marketing.Like many aspects of marketing, building awareness is layered. If a company is well-known, maybe they are looking to build awareness of a new product or store. If a company is less well-known, they might need to do some brand name awareness. In general, exhibitors want to build awareness:
- For their company
- For their brand
- For their division
- In their industry
- In their region/geography
- For a new product/service
- For their re-brand (following a merger, for example)
Companies seeking to build their brand want to be known as leaders in their industry. They are shooting for the top. However, “the top” looks different depending on the industry and the type of company they are. Exhibitors looking to be seen as leaders often want their brand to reflect that they are:
If this sounds like you, read on to see how to build your leadership position through exhibit marketing..
GO BIGGER: The first “wow” factor the attendees notice is the size of a booth and the size of the displays. Take control of the space you have by renting a bigger booth space and filling it with larger, taller, more dynamic displays. Going big will demand your audience’s attention and make them remember you.
GET GRAPHIC: Make your booth eye-catching and memorable by using bright, bold colors and large graphics of photos and illustrations. Make your messages large and easy-to-read. Stick with fewer elements, but make them large and bold to increase visibility. You want visitors to be impacted by your booth in your booth, down the aisle from your booth, and even farther away.
BE MULTI-DIMENSIONAL: Eye-catching displays usually have a variety of elements and can be seen from whichever direction visitors enter your booth. This will be a bit trickier if you have a 4-sided island booth, but it’s doable. Consider which sides of your booth get the most traffic, and make your biggest brand impact there. Consider a 3-D company logo that can be viewed from all sides. Just be sure that all public-facing sides of your booth contain messaging that’s impressive.
LAYER YOUR MESSAGES: Start with who you are, then move to what you do, and end with what you can do for people. Make sure your company name is obvious, especially if it’s not well-known. If your company is notable, your exhibit might not need to focus on the name but on the sub-levels of messaging for products or divisions within the company. Be sure to push your overall brand and to balance out your sub-brands. People should walk away from your booth with an idea of what you do and how you can help them.
BE CONSISTENT: SHowever you choose to promote your brand at a trade show, it should reinforce the overall look and message of any pre-existing marketing – your website, printed literature, other ads. If you contradict your existing brand, you will weaken your brand instead of strengthen it. If you’re looking to change your brand altogether, do a clean sweep when you have the time and budget and ingenuity to do it.
YOU’RE MORE THAN A LOGO: Remember that branding goes far beyond a unique graphic or logo or color. Your brand is your impression in the marketplace. It concerns the personality of your company and how it interacts in the industry. Don’t forget that when thinking about building your brand.
EXPAND YOUR REACH: If you can swing it, exhibit at more shows. Extend your reach to a wider audience. Do you have a new product? Are you breaking in to a new market? It’s your chance to widen your influence and expose your brand to an entirely new group of buyers.
BRING YOUR BEST: When trying to expand your brand exposure, make sure you have your key players by your side. Always bring employees who best exemplify your brand. They can staff your exhibit, hobnob at meet-and-greets, network after hours, attend breakout sessions, and more. If you have a speaking gig at a trade show, let your very best brand ambassadors do the talking. A dynamic speaker who knows what they’re talking about and can engage an audience is a better bet than a CEO.
PROMOTE: We know this works. If you want people to know and recognize you, promotions can do the trick. Consider sponsorships, ads in the show book, and giveaways to attract more people to your booth. If the giveaway reinforces your brand message, even better! Get creative with promotions to make your attendees have an emotional connection with your brand.
MEET THE PRESS: Any press is good press, right? Well, yeah, sort of. Since you’re putting your best foot forward at the trade show, why not magnify that message through the help of industry press, bloggers, and social influencers? They’ll keep your message going long after the show has ended.
Building your brand is a long, continuous road and these simple steps can help you along your way.
This article was inspired by "11 Ways To Build Your Brand at Trade Shows" by Mike Thimmesch