Jeremy Waite shares priceless truth & wisdom on social-media marketing, but it’s not exclusive to social media.
Waite’s graphic above (and quote below) explains why social-media marketing is not so reliant on massive budgets. The same principal can also apply to trade-show marketing too.
"Too many brands running around trying to join the dots between all their different properties and hoping that one day they may be able to compete with the top brand in their industry.
Social business doesn’t work like that. It’s a level playing field. It’s like moneyball economics. Social “media” or whatever we chose to call it these days is still one of the only areas of business where you don’t need to outspend your competitors in order to beat them.”
The big disconnect between trade-show marketing and social is that having a big budget can make a pretty big difference at trade shows. Fortunately, trade show marketing is not all about big budgets, massive booths and extravagant displays.
A little creativity can go a long way, and the fact that your smaller company shares the same space and traffic as much bigger companies really helps to even out the playing field despite budget differences. You don’t get that kind of “equality” on TV, paper ads, billboards or any other marketing space except for social media. Of course, it’s not an easy feat to outshow a showy brand like Sony or Samsung, but you can attract massive amounts of attention anyway.
There are lots of ways to do this, and you’re only limited by your creativity. One relatively easy way is to flood the trade show with attendees that are wearing your company shirts, hats or other apparel. But how can you coerce masses of people to wear your promotional apparel?
One way is to launch a contest that requires participants to wear your shirt during the trade show to win prizes. I put together a detailed plan on that strategy at a previous blog post titled, "How to Get Everyone to Wear Your Promotional Shirt at the Next Trade Show.”
The basic idea is to bring along some extra employees to walk and search the show floor, randomly handing out prizes - such as free products, gift cards, money or coupons - to attendees wearing your shirt. In order to attract the most attention from each prize giveaway, the key is to use bold extroverts with a showman’s attitude as your prize patrol. They should be loud, attractive, attention-grabbing people that you can’t ignore - perhaps accompanied by music, a short siren and/or light effects. Like I said, you’re only limited by your creativity.
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Trade show giveaways, such as free shirts, are one of the most effective ways to boost brand awareness within your target audience, but the key is making sure your giveaway is not prematurely chucked into a trash can or hidden in a bag. Achieve this effect by designing a marketing campaign around your promotional giveaway instead of just handing out free stuff.
Handing out promotional giveaways at trade shows is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book. The goal is to turn fans and potential customers into walking billboards for your brand - and also sell to those same swag-wielding folks - but since everyone at the show is handing out promotional items to everyone else, it’s harder than ever to get attendants to use your giveaway in public.
Giveaways Are Not Marketing Campaigns
Most trade-show exhibitors assume their free giveaways are their marketing campaigns, but that’s not how you should craft your presence at the show. The giveaway should only be a small component of a larger marketing machine, not the machine itself. Below, I craft an easy example for a video game publisher, but you may need to adjust the details of the plan to better fit your business and audience.
+ It all starts with a brand that other people want. If no one could ever want your brand, no amount of skillful marketing is going to change that. However, if your brand is worthy, you should see great success from this campaign. If you are confident that your brand would sell if people were introduced to it, you are on the right track. For this example, let’s pretend we run the marketing team for a gaming company.
+ You’ll need a low-cost promotional shirt or hat to give away at the trade show. Of course, you’ll add your logo, URL and/or message to the shirt, which is a service provided by a company like AnyPromo.com. You’ll need a lot of shirts, which is why they shouldn’t be expensive, but you don’t want to go so cheap as to encourage folks to prematurely trash your giveaway. If the shirt is of decent quality, fans will wear it long after trade show. For this example, let’s pretend we ordered 2,500 Hanes tees for less than $2.00 each from AnyPromo.com. These shirts brandish our brand logo, game logo, store URL and fashionable artwork.
+ Before you arrive at the trade show, craft a plan that encourages others to actually wear the shirts on the show floor. It is not good enough to simply give the shirts away. One of my favorite ideas is a contest that awards random shirt-wearing attendants at random times throughout the show.
A video-game publisher would bring along a few extra employees to covertly search for shirt-wearing attendants all over the show floor in order to offer them free copies of games. Coupons, gift cards and actual money are also great prizes. The goal of the campaign is the buzz it can produce as fans, potential customers and competitors will certainly discuss the masses of shirt-wearing fans, and once word spreads, you may even find a line at your booth for free shirts. A long line is also one of the best marketing tools your brand can have at a trade show.
+ For the next trade show, you may switch out the shirts for tote bags or another promotional giveaway that appeals to your audience. You don’t want to repeat the same campaign at every show as its effect will wear out if it’s used too often. However, you may decide to pull the same stunt at the same show every year. It could be a fun and memorable tradition that your fans anticipate.
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