Archive for February, 2008
Friday, February 8th, 2008
On Tuesday, as I watched Super Tuesday unfold on CNN, I marveled at the marketing machine that has successfully pushed this virtually unknown Illinois senator to the forefront of American politics. A year ago, the average American didn’t even recognize his face, let alone his name. So how did he get to a place that has Hilary Clinton looking over her shoulder? One could say, it is solely his politics and where he stands on issues of governmental reform but then again, weren’t all the Democratic hopefuls all chanting the same song of change? One could say it is his charm and ability to connect with people on a ‘real’ level but Joe Biden has that same magic (personal opinion, of course) and that was of little help to him in his presidential bid. One could even say it’s the color of his skin but Jesse Jackson proved in 1984 and again 1988 that Americans don’t always ante up when the race card is played. There are a number of factors at play here and one of them is that a brilliant man took $31 million dollars (it helps having friends like Oprah ) and began a viral marketing campaign that has women swooning around the water cooler and a disenfranchised populace believing that change in government can happen and will, under the leadership of a 46 year old African American small on experience but big on vision. He sells a dream and by the results Tuesday, everyone’s buying.
So now the obvious question, what the heck does this have to do with trade show marketing? What Mr. Obama’s team of marketing gurus did was think outside the box and apply some basic guerilla marketing techniques that anyone can apply to help them generate a buzz. Imagine that your trade show start date is election day. How is anyone going to show up, if you haven’t gotten them there in the first place? Sure you could wait to see what the trade show floor holds for you but that would be like handing out a flyer to someone walking into a polling station; if they even showed up. Okay, so now the how. How do you become the Barack Obama of the trade show? Here are some tips.
- The plan. The difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline. Sure you have some great marketing ideas but unless you break them down into a time tabled list that is realistic, then chances are they will never materialize. So grab your laptop and just put it down and into action. Commit to be committed.
- Start early. Grassroots marketing campaigns take time to grow. If you book your trade show space a year before the show date, then that should be day #1 of your campaign.
- Don’t put your eggs all in one basket. Spread your marketing dollars around to various types of media communications. It doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. The web is a great inexpensive way to get the word out. Make sure that you let visitors to your site know where you’ll be come show time and why they need to be there.
- Don’t under estimate the power of the word. Word of mouth is an extremely powerful tool and has catapulted sites like myspace to astronomical success. Think about that great restaurant you love, the site you frequent, the products you buy and I bet you someone first told you about them. There’s no crime in shameless self promotion, just ask Donald Trump.
- While you think of ways to generate new business don’t forget about your existing clients. What ways can you introduce new products and service to your existing clients. Think about special trade show incentives just for them, that let them know you appreciate their business.
- Consider the element of surprise. Don’t tell potential leads exactly what plans you have for the show. Unveil your new product at the show and create hype around the event. This is the way Apple has unveiled much of it’s product and it works.
- Consider cross-marketing at the show. Forge a relationship with a company attending the show, that offers products or services that compliment yours. Get together and come up with a promotion that is mutually beneficial. Sometimes the oddest pairings make for the most interesting marketing campaigns. The connection doesn’t have to be as close as you think. McDonald’s happy meal’s cross-marketing with Dreamwork’s Shrek 3 figurines. The connection is broad (kids) so you don’t have to buddy up with your competition or business rival. Think about who uses your product or service and what other products or services they may benefit from…then connect.
- Finally, just do it! You would be surprised how little thought or effort goes into pre-show marketing. When everyone one is silent, you most certainly can hear even a whisper.
So for your next trade show, don’t wait til election day to get a lead. Start early, implement your plan, knock on doors, think outside the box, shore up your resources, get out there and sell that dream.
See ya in the oval office,
What blog wouldn’t be complete without a shameless plug. I practice what I preach and you heard it here first; for amazing portable display ideas visit www.adfabexhibits.com