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To attract those unfamiliar with Nimlok and to promote a key theme that “Nimlok can solve any tradeshow puzzle,” the Illinois-based builder of tradeshow displays engaged attendees at the EXHIBITOR2013 show as well as online with terrific results.

“We definitely learned a lot,” said Amy Benes, marketing supervisor, Orbus Exhibit and Display Group, which owns Nimlok. “There was a disconnect between what people thought of Nimlok and our actual capabilities.”

The booth concept was simple: “Nimlok is an expert tradeshow and event puzzle-solver, and when you solve puzzles with Nimlok, you win big.” But communicating the message in a new and distinctive way proved challenging, so Nimlok officials chose a “puzzle-solver” campaign to sell the message.

“Our tradeshow puzzle-solver theme focuses on communicating how Nimlok’s creative thinking solves exhibit challenges and provides creative, cool design solutions to create memorable face-to-face experiences,” said Natalie Whited, marketing director, Nimlok.

Nimlok’s campaign consisted of puzzle-themed contests both onsite and online at the EXHIBITOR show held in March in Las Vegas. Nimlok conducted the online contest from Feb. 6 through March 29 and challenged visitors to solve an online puzzle to be entered into a drawing to win an Apple iPad Mini. The format proved popular online as well as on the show floor.

“It was really great and a wonderful way [to] meet new people who had a lot of fun,” said Benes. “I was surprised by all the comments left on our Facebook page after the show. We did not prompt them to go to our Facebook page, but they did.”

At the show site, Nimlok’s 20’x20’ booth was designed to look and feel like the set of a game show with bright lighting and colors and an open floor plan. A tuxedo-clad host was supported by a team of Nimlok staff representatives dressed in matching Nimlok shirts and ties for the gentlemen and scarves for the ladies. Audio and visual equipment played game show music, Nimlok commercials and countdown clocks, all of which supported the game show host’s continuous, welcoming and energetic messaging.

The booth also had stations where contestants played the games and competed for small prizes. The stations were situated close enough to the aisles to be inviting to passersby but far enough inside the booth to act as a stage. Stations were reconfigured and placed in the center of the booth for daily cash prize drawings, which enhanced the stage effect and provided a backdrop for photos of winners as they posed with giant checks.

Different contests were held each of the three days the show floor was open:

  • On day one, contestants took part in a wooden-puzzle challenge in which each contestant had two minutes to create a pyramid using three trapezoidal wooden blocks. The first to correctly solve the puzzle received a home version of the game.
  • On day two, contestants played a JENGA-like game using large wooden blocks removed from the bottom of the tower to be placed back at the top. After three minutes had elapsed, the individual with the tallest tower won, but each player took home a mini JENGA game.
  • On the final day, a tradeshow edition of “Catch Phrase” was played by competing teams of two participants each who had to guess the tradeshow word or phrase based on clues given by their teammates. All players received Nimlok branded M&M’s candy, but the team with the most correct guesses won.

While the Nimlok exhibit primarily was intended for use during EXHIBITOR2013, the game show format first began online on Feb. 6 and continued through March 29. Although done in the past in smaller, less ambitious formats, Nimlok officials said the enhanced game show format this year proved even more successful online than on the show floor.

“We tracked our website traffic and metrics before and after the EXHIBITOR show,” said Benes. “We exceeded our goals and doubled the online traffic we had a year ago.”

Results reported by Nimlok include exceeding its lead goals by 39 percent and creating brand awareness for attendees, press and fellow exhibitors. With goals exceeded and an effective message disseminated to those who were not aware of all Nimlok had to offer beforehand, the firm’s unique engagement strategy is one to be studied by others for future success.

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