Marketing by nature is a creative endeavor. So, why does it seem that everyone is doing the same old thing at tradeshows? Companies pass out their promo merch, their business cards, and maybe even a prize or two. These are all good, proven tactics. However, in a creative field, this marketing protocol can get a bit boring. Honestly though, how many times have you recycled that business card or lost that cool pen in the depths of your purse? In order to get better results at tradeshows, we need to talk about marketing outside the box.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Marketing Coordinator fresh to the industry, or an experienced Event Manager knee-deep in marketing theories. We want you to take a step back and forget about everything you’ve ever been taught. (For now, anyway). Pretend that you’re a newbie to the comic world, visiting San Diego’s Comic Con for the first time just because you liked Marvel’s latest movie. On the other hand, imagine yourself as a tech geek who’s been to every tech tradeshow from Sydney to Tokyo to the Silicon Valley.
Either way, what is going to impress you? What about a trade show is going to pull you in, regardless if you’re primarily interested or not?
Even though it seems obvious, many companies forget to plan for the tradeshow. (If you need tips on tradeshow preparation, don’t miss our checklist.) Having your logos and eye-catching banners while you’re there isn’t enough. Your team should devote time to brainstorm what you can do, that no one else is doing, in your industry. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope; marketing outside the box has its rewards. The companies that dare to be different are the ones who are remembered and, ultimately, successful.
Now that you have your brilliant ideas in mind (whether it be handing out vegemite cupcakes or having a Ruby Rose look-alike hand out your merch), it’s time to build the excitement.
Social media is imperative, because you don’t need an unlimited budget to yield massive results. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube to get people hyped for the tradeshow. Make people want to attend the show just to see your booth. Create a hashtag so people can easily follow along, and give an incentive for your audience to share your posts. For example, the person whose tweet is retweeted the most receives a special prize– only to be picked up at the show.
On the day of, it’s time to put all of your brilliant, quirky, guerrilla marketing tactics to use. As you distribute your best promotional merchandise, don’t forget to continue the hype on social media. Encourage people to take photos of themselves in front of your booth, with your staff, and your promotional merchandise. Stream their posts in real-time on a large screen, or announce your favorite photos at the end of the show. If you want to give away prizes, even better! This is a great way for your company to gain exposure and to involve your audience (whether or not they are at the show).
Also, don’t forget to let your personality shine. Tradeshows give you the leverage to meet and engage with people face-to-face. Most people remember emotional experiences more than others, so make them feel a connection. Make a lasting impression by enlightening your potential clients with industry secrets, or make them laugh with your witty observations. Leave them with the feeling that your company alone has made this tradeshow worth their while.
What are your best tips for marketing outside the box at tradeshows? Please share your experiences (and any questions) in the comments below!