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(Pictured L-R: David Cucinotta and Amadeus Finlay)

by David Cucinotta & Amadeus Finlay

In July, Sarah Chew, sales and marketing director at Kingsmen Exhibits, wrote a provocative synopsis and evaluation of brand encounters on the show floor. But ensuring that your striking, custom-built booth properly represents the true essence of your brand is a challenge that begins long before you ever set foot in the convention center. Brand strategist David Cucinotta, president of brand-centric marketing agency, Galileo Associates, details the strategic and tactical considerations needed to navigate this complex challenge in order to generate results that last.

 It Starts with the Basics

The most basic of which is, understanding your brand. So, what is a brand? How do you define it? There are myriad explanations, but the simple distillation of all of them is this: a brand, your brand, is the sum of the experiences that your customers have with your company, product or service. Brand is a dynamic force, a living breathing personality that extends into every facet of your business.

In a tradeshow setting, where you are vying for the attention of hundreds or thousands of customers, potential customers and competitors too, every aspect of brand expression comes into play. Which means you can either prepare your brand properly in advance and present it in a fashion that will generate growth, or hope for the best and be forced to wait for an opportunity, if and when that may come.

Understanding the Dynamics

Every aspect of marketing your brand is important in this process. In the tradeshow environment, this requires great visual design that connects with your customer, and there is no shortage of technological options to help make this happen. But a great visual experience that does not properly reflect the true essence of your brand can reveal a disconnect that is more obvious that one might think. So, the question is: does each and every component of your tradeshow strategy reflect and reinforce your brand? And yes, I did say strategy. An overarching strategy that extends before and beyond the confines of the exhibit hall is a necessity.

 Tradeshow/Exhibition Strategy – Your Brand in Action

Whether you are a first-time exhibitor or a seasoned veteran of your industry, a strategic approach to your time on the floor will only improve your potential return on what is always a significant investment.  A well-articulated reason for exhibiting in the first place is a great start, one that is often overlooked. “ I’m exhibiting because all of my competition is here” is not necessarily the best of reasons.  Do you have a defined goal? Increasing sales, creating awareness of a new line or product, introducing your new brand to the market–these are defined goals that you can build a strategy around and create a tactical plan to support.

Once you have a well-reasoned goal, a well-devised strategy puts your brand in the best position to tell the story of who you are, and why someone could visit you. From this point you can determine the best tactical implementation of the strategy. What kind of training does my floor team need to present the brand? What kind of experience does my physical booth structure need to convey? What kind of digital and social media strategy preparation is required to advance and support my company’s presence at this exhibition, and nurture customer engagement after the show has concluded?

Maximizing Your Brand Experience

The great brands that immediately come to mind were not built overnight. They were diligent and consistent in their message to consumers. And once they had defined what they were as a brand, everything revolved around the personality and consumer experience they had created. Everything else they did was maximizing the tactical tools at their disposal to make sure that every message was the same, reaching as deeply and broadly as possible. And more than likely, for many of these brands, tradeshows and exhibitions are where they created the pivotal boost they needed, year after year.

David Cucinotta is the president and managing director of Galileo Associates, Ltd, a brand-centric marketing and advertising firm in Massachusetts, supporting regional, national and international companies.

This story originally appeared in the November/December issue of Exhibit City News, p. 39. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_flipbook_novdec2018

 

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