Integrate MARCOM Into Exhibits
Insights from an industry expert
eConnections speaks with Mim Goldberg, President of Marketech360
While exhibits aren’t the be all and end all of marketing, they are an important part of the marketing mix, moving prospects and customers one step nearer to closing. But all too often, company marketing plans, including messages and budgets, are determined without the input of the exhibit marketer. And that oversight can lead to a major disconnect, with an exhibit that doesn’t meet the needs of the brand or salespeople working at a show.
Recently, eConnections spoke with Mim Goldberg, president of Marketech360, to get the answers to these questions and more. Here’s what she had to say.
eConnections: With jam-packed exhibit programs soaking up all their time, how can exhibit marketers stay in touch with broad-brush marketing planning?
Mim Goldberg: Typically, marketing controls the planning and budgets, and doesn’t consider how exhibits meet the needs of the brand. But an exhibit must be part of the marketing plan because it supplements and enhances all the other elements.
Exhibit marketers must take the lead and become more proactive. Meet with product marketing and sales to ensure the exhibits program is in concert with what the brand should convey and the strategies to achieve it. Talk about messages. Make sure the business segment paying for the exhibit understands the connection with the exhibit and messages as well as the tools to support the staff working at the event.
Provide and show value. Explain the strategies and tactics you’ve used, how effective they were and what issues were encountered, so changes can be made. Promote each show to other segments of your company to increase awareness of the benefits that trade shows bring. Tout your success whenever you can.
eConnections: How do exhibits tie into company-wide marketing messaging?
Goldberg: Messaging is critical and needs continuity. Often, marketing or an agency creates an overall message and works on ways to communicate it. Exhibit messaging must be clear and concise. Otherwise, it doesn’t communicate the essence of your company in a way that’s appropriate for the environment and the audience. You can always tell if an agency has done the graphics for a show because they look like blown-up ads.
eConnections: What does successful messaging give to an exhibit program?
Goldberg: It creates memorability and validity to follow up after the event. Attendees might see several hundred exhibits, so messaging needs to be top of mind and easily remembered. “Oh, yes. That company does this, and I need help with it. I should give that company a call.”
eConnections: How can key messages developed for the company as a whole be best applied to an exhibit program that has, by its very nature, very targeted audiences?
Goldberg: Modify the messages for each audience while keeping the essence of the overall message. Make sure they resonate with your target group. The graphics can be the same at multiple shows if the audiences for them are similar, or they might need some tweaking depending on how diverse the audiences are.
But to succeed, you can’t rely solely on graphics. Verbal messaging and some form of interaction are necessary. For example, if your company’s message is saving money, have graphics, discuss how your company can do this and, if possible, have a product that can demonstrate how this may occur.
eConnections: What about the demands of business units to bend messaging to their specific purposes?
Goldberg: It’s OK to bend if you maintain consistency overall so it doesn’t disconnect from the overall message. Include brand, marketing and sales in your initial meeting. Make sure what you’re planning to do resonates with the sales staff since they know what their clients want.
Also, find out what each segment of your company expects from the show. For example, one may want to concentrate on selling to current customers while another wants prospects to fill the pipeline. Herding cats is tough. But with a planning meeting, you can see how to integrate everyone’s needs and meet them.
At each show, take pictures. Show others at the meeting these visuals — good and bad — and discuss why this one worked and that one didn’t. Make it a learning opportunity.
eConnections: How is marketing messaging different from exhibit messaging? Or is it?
Goldberg: Exhibit messaging is more targeted and focused on the attendees and their needs. Consequently, knowing and understanding your target audience is necessary. Will the message connect with them? What will draw them in?
eConnections: What if there are no top-level messages for you to work with?
Goldberg: Focus on product marketing messages. What will draw in visitors? Less downtime? Saving time? Saving money?
eConnections: How would you differentiate a key message from a tag line or slogan?
Goldberg: A key message is the major selling point. A tag line or slogan is a differentiator, a specific niche in the market. For instance, it could convey stability or breadth of experience.
The key message is placed at the highest point in an exhibit since it’s something you want every visitor to remember. The tag line increases memorability and may support the major message, so it goes at a lower level.
eConnections: What would you recommend exhibit marketers do to enhance their exhibit messaging?
Goldberg: Often, we design exhibits for ourselves (the exhibiting company), but they should be customer focused. What do visitors want to see, hear and do?
Also remember too many messages can confuse visitors; they don’t know what to focus on.
Use short, focused, memorable messages consistent with your overall marketing message, something that will stick with attendees after they visit 30 or 40 or more exhibits at a single show.
Nationally recognized as one of the most effective trade show staff trainers, Mim Goldberg, CME, is president of Marketech360, a company that specializes in strategic exhibit market planning, trade show and event staff training, and performance metrics. She has combined over 20 years of teaching with her exhibit marketing knowledge to bring innovative, motivating seminars and workshops to her clients. Goldberg co-authored the Exhibit Manager’s Companion series of training materials. Consistently rated highest among seminar leaders, she conducts programs at The Exhibitor Show, HCEA and international conferences and exhibitions. Goldberg received her CME certification from TSEA in 1999. She can be contacted at 508-398-5547 or firstname.lastname@example.org.