Tradeshow Strategies: Story Telling Improves Show Results

by Karin Roberts

Remember “show and tell” in elementary school? We do. And the fact that the memory of that experience lasts for a lifetime proves its staying power. So it makes good marketing sense to use the same principles in your tradeshow exhibit, where your display can provide the perfect setting for demonstrating to your market what your company can do. Of course, it’s easier to show if you have a tangible product to sell, but the concept can still work for a service business.

Keep It Short

In a recent white paper, “Make It Count,” we detail six elements to ensure that you get measurable results from your tradeshow exhibit. The first relates to the five-second rule. “Within five seconds, most people who walk by your tradeshow display will decide whether your message is of interest to them. Make sure you get your best prospects to stop at your booth and stay a while. Your tradeshow exhibit should match your corporate brand image and send a powerful message at a glance.”

Invite People To Stop By

“Many companies invest heavily in pre-show marketing to targeted attendees with promotions designed to bring them to your exhibit. If you are relying just on passersby to make a sale, you may be missing a big opportunity,” the white paper states. These days, it’s easier than ever to invite people to your next tradeshow, including sharing upcoming events on social media.

Your exhibit itself can offer an experience that invites people to interact. New types of displays tend to attract attention, so you may want to try something out of the ordinary at your next show. One recent innovation is called the HypeBOX, which combines an actual product display with a high-tech LCD touch screen so you can provide digital content right along with the real thing. The HypeBOX ranges in size from 10 to 84 inches, but if your product is too big to fit in that space (for example, industrial equipment), you might create a model of your product to put on display instead. Being able to see the product itself can help make a lasting impression.

Do More Showing Than Telling

In his article, ‘Building Your Business by Being Specific,” business growth, efficiency and marketing consultant Andrew Jensen writes that the focus of your messaging needs to be on showing what makes your business unique. “Diversifying your business is a concrete step you can take towards improving it, thereby increasing your profits,” he states. “In today’s competitive market, simply telling customers about your business is not a big enough step towards that goal. Instead, by using specifics to show your customer what makes your business unique, you can create a memorable, positive reputation for your company.”

Tradeshow displays are perfect for demonstrating what makes your company special, and the exhibit design can make all the difference. Dawn Foodservice, which specializes in bakery supplies and baked goods, created an exhibit that looks like a bakery, with display cases of their tantalizing sweets that exhibit-goers can sample. For global packaging company Amcor, their innovative packages are displayed on shelves in their exhibit to show how they are “creating a new world of packaging.” Their exhibit also features two round tables with four chairs at each to make it easy to hold conversations with multiple attendees.

Make It Personal

 Technology can do a lot of the storytelling for you, but your booth staff needs to be trained to make memorable connections. It’s important for everyone on the trade show floor to be prepared to share a powerful, 30-second “elevator speech” that shows how your product can meet your prospects’ needs and reinforces your brand. It’s equally important to listen to your customers and ask questions that reflect an understanding of their business.

As the white paper states, “The speech should include the main messages you want to get across, such as your products’ major features and how it benefits your customers. Those same points should be reflected in your booth graphics and literature. Talk with your marketing/advertising personnel to make sure that the messages that drive your brand advertising are carried over to the tradeshow event. Keep the focus the same and make sure your messages can be quickly and easily understood by a new prospect.”

Show And Tell Your “Signature Story”

In an article in CEOWORLD magazine, “Why a CEO Should Be a Storyteller in Chief,” Chuck Kent writes, “Presenting hard facts invites an audience to raise their rational guard, examining and even challenging the data–but telling stories invites them to enter into the narrative. They let their guard down, let both the rational and emotional content sink in, and (assuming the story rings true) they arrive at their own conclusions.”

He interviewed David Aaker, vice chairman of brand consultancy Prophet, who wrote the book, Creating Signature Stories: Strategic Messaging that Energizes, Persuades and Inspires. Aaker noted, “Audiences really are not interested in your brand, your firm, your product. They’re just not–and even if a message gets through to them, they’re pretty skeptical. The reality is that, as compared to facts, stories are orders of magnitude more capable of gaining attention, of changing perceptions, of persuading, of stimulating action, of even inspiring. And we’re not talking about 20 or 30 percent better. We’re talking about 200 or 300 percent better.”

Want to make an exponentially bigger impact at your next tradeshow? Use the power of storytelling and the experience of “show and tell” to stand out from the crowd.

Karin Roberts is the director of marketing for The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group. As specialists in tradeshow marketing, TTNMG offers start-to-finish services for high-impact tradeshow appearances, including strategic marketing services, custom-designed and modular exhibits; storage, shipping, installation, and complete tradeshow management services. For more info, visit www.thetradeshownetwork.com.

 This story originally appeared in the May/June issue of Exhibit City News, p. 62-63. For more pictures and original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/may-jun_ecn2018 

 

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