Warning! Professional advisory—content suitable only for smart trade show professionals.

Wed, May 25, 2016

What does it take to have your show reach near record-breaking numbers? That is the magic bullet question for all trade show professionals. There are so many variables, it’s hard to make guarantees, but what we do know is that amazing, creative designs combined with hard-hitting messages rolled up into a program that delivers value is a great start.
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Our client, the International Sign Association, produces ISA Sign Expo every spring, alternating between Orlando and Las Vegas. The last show in Orlando this spring was a resounding success. We know the attendees saw value in the expansive, sold-out exhibit hall filled with suppliers who had innovative products and offered exceptional service and value. Check off a critical part of the show there. Now add in some extras such as a new event—a welcome reception open to all attendees and exhibitors at a kickin’ fun location with live entertainment; plus a few additional contests, educational opportunities, and enhancements to the onsite activities and you’ve got something really great to sell.

And that’s what we did. ISA is very open to creative, edgy marketing concepts, which definitely helps attract attendees and capture their attention in a crowded marketplace. This past year, our designers hit it out of the park with a concept we used that not only attracted registrants, but received a lot of positive feedback from attendees and exhibitors who remembered the campaign. A marketer’s dream—the target audience not just responding in droves to your calls to action, but REMEMBERING the campaign enough to comment on it. Below are some of the campaign pieces. And here is what I imagine many of the recipients have said to themselves: “Hmmm, what’s inside this direct mail piece?” “This is funny, edgy, interesting enough for me to open.” “That is clever and this looks like a fun, valuable event.” “This is exciting; I have to be a part of this.”

ISA 2016 Ad Campaign_End UserWe also worked with our client on the right strategies and tactics. Based on research and analysis, experience, and a willingness to try some new things, we were able to implement proven traditional tactics, as well as new ones, that covered both print and digital channels. Knowing smart, new marketing strategies will help break through clutter and get the right messages to the right audience members when it’s the right buying time for them.

So to sum it up, here is what you ultimately need for a successful trade show:

  •    A great product—programming that is valuable, relevant, and advanced enough with take-home ideas for attendees. And…innovative products, exciting activities, the right price, the right time, and the right venue.
  •    A great design and messaging campaign—don’t hold back, let your designers and marketers get a bit edgy and capture the attention of the target audience. Be smart, be creative, be relevant.
  •    A great marketing strategy—know what audience to target, where best to reach them, new tactics to break through clutter, and differentiate yourself from the competition.

One of the keys to making these work is to be open, use research and resources at your disposal, and keep being creative. There is a good chance you can take what you have to the next level to make it truly great.

Congratulations to ISA, and now on to ISA Sign Expo 2017. How to make that better? Well, back to the research and strategy board to evaluate where we can make even more improvements. That’s the marketing and trade show world. Bigger, better, more!

6221 ISA 2016 Sign Expo Rated R Valentine's Day e-Card

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