Building Brand Awareness Through Tradeshows

Branding is a basic marketing concept that is designed to set your products/services apart from the competition. By using a particular name, phrase, design, symbol or a combination of these, you can create a unique identity. When choosing a brand name, consider the following five criteria:

It should suggest product/service benefits.
It should be simple, memorable, and unique.
It should fit the image of the company.
It should have positive connotations for the target market.
It should be easy to pronounce and to pictorialize.

Branding is not a sales and marketing gimmick. Instead it refines and defines corporate culture and identity. A brand must have meaning to its consumers, its organization and its employees. Brand is an emotional link between you and your customer. It is what people buy when they buy your product or your company. The most important part of a brand’s identity is the promise it makes to customers. The essence of branding is simplicity and timelessness.
Integrating Brand Awareness Into Your Exhibit Program
Since exhibiting is a powerful extension of your company’s advertising, promotion, public relations and sales function, that automatically means it is an excellent way to enhance brand awareness. Everything your company stands for, no matter how large or small, is being exhibited on the show floor. This means there needs to be total consistency, congruity, clarity and focus in every aspect of your exhibiting program, before, during and after the show.
Here are three important points to consider as you plan to integrate brand awareness into your tradeshow program.

Consistency and repetition is vital in creating brand awareness. People buy brands they know and they trust! A brand is a promise that companies make to their customers. Strong branding requires all the levels of communication to agree with one another.
Ensure all your marketing and promotions are consistent and that they have your logo, colors, typeface, slogans and characters. Everything you develop should have the same look and feel.
Peoples’ perception about your company, products, and services is a major factor in their choice of brand preferences and their buying behavior. All perception is subjective and based on experience. Individuals tend to interpret information according to existing beliefs, attitudes, needs and mood.

The following is a 10-point checklist to act as a reminder for many of the questions you need to ask and answer as you plan brand integration into your exhibit program:
1. What needs to be done to ensure that your booth conveys total consistency, congruity, clarity and focus of your company image and brand?
Consider:

booth size
location
graphics
demonstrations
staff
handouts and giveaways
lead management

2. How can your graphics work best for you?

can be easily seen and read in three seconds
use a simple and bold typeface
have striking and grabbing visuals
are instantly memorable
use a unique size or shape
reinforce your message
make your message a single, strong, provocative idea
use a “What’s in it for me?” message
use bold colors

3. What are the best promotional activities you can use to enhance brand awareness?
Personal invitations (e.g. with incentive and response form)
Direct mail with incentive
Pre-show advertising

trade and/or local publications
local media
websites (e.g. company, show, association)
broadcast faxes
association newsletters
city billboards
transit advertising

At-show advertising

show catalogs
show dailies
airport billboards, banners/electronic message boards
hotel closed-circuit television
hotel – on door or in room promotion
kiosks/banners at show site
convention television channels

4. What types of PR communications could be used?
Pre-show:

press releases for local and trade publications
product/service application articles
personal invitations to trade/local editors
company newsletters

At-show:

press kits for the press office
press reception
video/slide presentation at the booth
reprints of articles as giveaways
seminars/workshops
contests
personalities/spokesperson at booth

5. What sponsorship opportunities exist and would complement your company image?
Some of the most frequent sponsorship opportunities are:

press room
international lounge
speaker or VIP room
awards reception
educational programs
keynote sessions
coffee breaks
luncheons/dinners
banners
badge holders
audio visual equipment
display computers
tote bags
shuttle buses

6. What advertising premiums will be consistent with your image and complement the message you want to convey?
Consider:

budget
originality
usefulness and appropriateness for your target audience
distribution

7. Who are the best ambassadors for your company – the right people to staff the booth?
8. What training should they receive?
Consider:

prospect qualification
booth etiquette
product knowledge
product demonstration
obtaining commitment

9. What is the best dress code to convey your company image?
10. What is the best way to follow-up after the show that is consistent with your exhibiting program?
Remember that branding is a process, a business system, that fuels and sustains all customer/company relationships! Total consistency, congruity, clarity and focus in every aspect of your exhibiting program, before, during and after the show are essential.
About The Author

Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author: “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. Go to thetradeshowcoach.com to sign up for a free copy of ExhibitSmart Tips of the Week.

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