Are you a trade show veteran? Your approach is all set. Your products, solutions, collateral and team specialists are all tried and true. That is wonderful for you but, from experience, reality changes and we know there is always room for improvement. Your customers and prospects will know when your approach and your solutions, have grown stale. You will know from their actions, or lack thereof.
Once you hit the convention floor, or during the chatter of the casual social mixers, is your focus on wining and dining your current customers or all about finding new customers? Or do you find a healthy mix of both?
And how do you approach frequency? Budget for one big show that reaches most of your target audience or do you hit the road regularly for many smaller shows, or even eschewing trade shows, as your prospects don’t travel far. I am sure there are many factors that play into your corporate trade show decision making.
DME recently found ourselves pondering our trade show strategy as we prepared for NACDA 2017.
As 2017 began, DME and PPI merged and we were challenged to define and create distinct brand personalities for our three newly acquired solution sets.
- PPI: provides branding solutions via customized premium incentive products
- PPI Loyalty: specializes in marketing solutions that establish and grow member/donor communities
- PPI Sports Go GameDay: offers custom branded gameday solutions and promotional items
At times, the brands have been complementary but can also be perceived as overlapping depending on customer need, messaging and perception.
“People are more apt to buy products where they have a clear understanding of what it is and what it stands for and products that connect with them,” says Allen Schiffenbauer, chief research officer for the Brand Consultancy, a firm based in Washington, D.C., whose clients include Staples, Holiday Inn, and the NFL.
Branded as PPI Sports, it was judged the 2016 NACDA show was successful. But with elements of all three brands in a smallish booth, feedback did allude to brand confusion. The small booth made it harder to point out individual solutions based on varying customer needs.
For 2017, it was decided again one space would be shared, albeit in a much bigger showcase area! And only two brands would be featured, PPI Loyalty and PPI Sports, but could see elements of PPI as well. The larger space allowed for specific solutions to have their own space for customer conversations. Many leads were generated and a few deals were closed on site, which is against the norm for what is normally a slower sales cycle at NACDA. All agreed success was much greater than 2016.
Based on feedback from NACDA attendees, both during, and after the show, we have learned a great deal on how our brands and solutions are perceived in our marketplace and how our updates on brand definitions and messaging are working. With 2018 ideas already being kicked around, one suggestion was made to have each solution in its own booth which could further reduce brand/message confusion. But does that dilute the power of the well-defined, complementary brands? That is what we will debate as we continue 2018 prep.
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