Best & Worst: Trade Show Marketing Examples from a Recent Expo
“Earlier this month, I had good fortune to attend the 4th annual International Ceramics Expo in Cleveland. If you’re not familiar with the modern ceramics industry, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not about ceramic bowls, vases and figurines.
The Ceramics Expo showcases marketplace for all raw materials, equipment, machinery and technology used within the ceramic manufacturing supply chain. We’re talking cutting-edge innovations in medical, automotive, electronics, aerospace/defense and energy. Things you definitely won’t find in grandma’s china cabinet. (I hope!)
Many of today’s B2B marketers continue to use trade shows to drive sales. So I thought we could take a look at the Ceramics Show for examples of what exhibitors are doing good and … not-so-good.
The Best: Pre-Show Emails & Scheduling
After I registered for the Ceramics Expo online, I received automated emails from the event staff. The emails contained pertinent trade show information at a pace that kept the event top-of-mind. However, I never felt overwhelmed or spammed by the communications.
The emails also linked to a B2B meeting scheduler. It allowed attendees like me to sign up and request meetings with exhibitors. This scheduler was a great feature.
Anyone who’s ever attended a trade show knows that they’re a marathon of activities. The scheduler was easy to use and enabled me to set up several quality meetings beforehand. The scheduler was a win-win for me and the exhibitors.
Pro Tip: If your company signs up as an exhibitor, don’t count on the trade show organizer to offer an online scheduler. Set one up yourself. There are free and low-cost plugins that make it easy to book meetings.
The Best: Attention Grabbers
The best way to get attendees to your trade show booth is with a scheduled appointment. The second best? Exciting attention grabbers.
There were 300+ exhibitors at the Ceramics Expo fighting for my attention. The one’s that caught it and kept it, were companies with relevant stand-out displays that offered value.
Demonstrations – The most common attention grabbers were demos. Many trade show booths at the Ceramics Expo featured industrial machinery. Not only did the machine demonstrations make more people stop and look, I noticed that more attendees were engaging with booth staff as they watched the machines at work.
Virtual Reality – What if logistics get in the way of a demo? Maybe your product is too big. Too small. Or too heavy. One of the exhibitors at the Ceramics Expo worked around that. They captured attention with a VR experience. It was simple, yet very effective. The VR experience showed trade show attendees the benefits of a 100-foot-long machinery system in less than one minute.
Holographic Projection – Another company at the Ceramics Expo “wowed” attendees by showcasing its product in a unique way. Rather than just bringing product to the show, it featured a holographic projection of it. It was simple and didn’t take up much booth space. Plus, it stopped people in their tracks long enough for the exhibitor to start up a conversation.
The Worst: Marketing Technology
While the ceramics industry is cutting-edge, it’s martech is not. In fact, only about 20% of exhibitors were using marketing technology to capture leads. The Ceramics Expo even offered badge-scanning technology, yet exhibitors weren’t using it.
To capture leads, the majority of exhibitors were using (gasp!) a spreadsheet. I even saw one exhibitor, selling sophisticated software and machines for high-tech industrial fabrication, asking attendees to toss their business cards into a beat-up old box.
Pro Tip: Capture leads through your CRM system. Don’t have one? Set one up. (You’ll thank me for it later.) According to Salesforce, implementing a CRM program increases lead-conversion rates by up to 23%.
The Worst: Swag
If an exhibitor is going to give away promotional materials at its booth, they must be useful, valuable, relevant and branded. But even if giveaways hit all four criteria, they don’t attract quality leads.
At the Ceramics Expo, I saw freebies in every shape and form. Pens. Stress balls. Keychains. Note pads. Beverage koozies. Reusable water bottles.12-inch rulers. Plastic back scratchers …
Only one exhibitor doing it right. It was giving away a ceramic kitchen knife – the product it makes. Each knife was branded. Plus, it came in a branded box containing information about the maker’s capabilities. The exhibitor was gifting the knife to prospects only after they had a conversation.
In this case, the knife was less like swag and more like a product sample. If you’re going to spend money on giveaways, at least do it right.
There you have it. The best and worst examples of B2B marketing from the 2018 Ceramics Expo. If you want an unbiased look at your trade show booth so see what your company is doing good (and not-so-good), sign up below for our Free Trade Show Experience Analysis.
Free Trade Show Experience Analysis
Get an unbiased look at your trade show booth. Our “Mystery Show Shoppers” will secretly stop by your trade show booth. After the show, we’ll let you know what’s working and what could be improved to make the biggest impact.
Mike Hutchinson, Digital Strategist
Mike uses consumer influences to drive digital strategies. He uncovers relevant data to measure effective SEO and uses marketing technology to inform successful business decisions.