How to Create a Brand Presence Off of the Trade Show Floor

September 11, 2018

Song Heo

Song Heo is the Senior Vice President of OOH Media Strategy for EMC Outdoor. When not thinking about innovative solutions for effective event and Out of Home advertising campaigns, Song enjoys talking about all things food, history and politics, music and pop culture.

Successful brands must differentiate themselves to stand out to their target audience and from their competitors. For many, trade show marketing is a major component of the integrated marketing mix because it offers unique brand engagement opportunities. Atypical B2B marketer’s single largest budget item is trade show and event marketing – averaging 20 percent of the total marketing budget, according to Advertising Age, How to Triple Your TradeShow Marketing Results.

Trade shows are designed for associations and their members to exchange ideas, share what’s new and important, and help shape the industry. Trade shows also give businesses a platform to promote their products and services while they have access to a targeted audience of potential buyers. Research shows, 67 percent of trade show attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies (Exhibit Surveys, Inc.) and that 81 percent of attendees have buying authority (Center for Exhibition Industry Research).

Understand Your Audience

A successful trade show marketing plan is one that aligns with attendee behaviors in the market to accomplish a brand’s marketing goals. A booth, product demos and meetings are important, but a brand can make the most of that investment by engaging their audience at the right time in the right place with the right messaging.

Location-based marketing, like Out of Home and Experiential, allows brands to engage attendees while they are already open to your messaging and moving around outside of the convention spaces. Targeting your audience in this way gives you the opportunity to:

  • Expand brand engagement
  • Increase marketing footprint
  • Sustain brand awareness
  • Drive foot traffic to your booth/meeting

Make a Memorable Impression

Consider the trade show marketing experience like a sales funnel. You must create awareness and consideration with multiple touch-points to groom and nurture them until they are ready to “shop” (i.e. go to your booth or talk with a salesperson). In OOH, this means there is an increased likelihood your brand will be memorable if it makes a unique first impression and can reinforce that message through to the end. This is also known as the Primacy and Latency Effect. 

In practice, consider taking advantage of welcoming attendees to the market using airport advertising solutions. Then, reinforce the messaging while they travel into the market, using transit and ground transportation solutions (i.e. taxi tops, shuttle wraps, transit posters).

Stand out from the Crowd

Most trade show exhibitors put their efforts toward booths, banners, swag items and engagement on the convention floor. It’s a high density of media and increased competition with low share of voice for the attention of the attendees. This results in a high quantity, low quality of impressions.

Implementing Out of Home and Experiential options in multiple places and methods gives your brand room to breathe. Utilizing space outside of the convention center will help establish a unique, more memorable, more effective voice. A successful integrated OOH plan will not only target the desired audience but will reach them wherever they are. This additional investment will result in higher reach, higher frequency of impressions and deeper brand conversation.

Reach Attendees off the Trade Show Floor

Attendees spend an average of 9.5 hours on the convention floor (Exhibit Surveys, Inc.), which means they spend a lot of time outside, too. Attendees could be exposed to your external OOH messaging or Experiential activation every time they travel to and from a hotel, convention center and restaurants and attractions. OOH advertising can deliver high impressions during a short period of time.

Trade shows often provide an opportunity for off-site meetings, after-hours events and parties open to convention attendees. OOH and Experiential marketing can target attendees where they are working and moving around to drive them to these events. Custom solutions can creatively target attendees where they are in a specific market while maintaining brand integrity.

Integrate Digital with OOH

Implementing digital advertising via geofencing technology can maximize your Out of Home advertising in the trade show setting. Digital messaging hyper-targets audiences within a specific area (down to a 200-meter radius), offering a method to continue the brand conversation with your audience.

Studies show that people are 48 percent more likely to click on a mobile ad after being exposed to the brand on OOH (NeuroInsight: Beyond OOH). Integrating a digital marketing component with OOH means customer are seeing your banner or in-app ads in addition to the location-based OOH ads. Those audiences can be re-targeted for post-show messaging, too.

Join the ranks of successful trade marketing brands by understanding your target audience and their behaviors, and by creating a unique experience to compete for their attention. A strategic, tactical approach integrates multiple channels, including OOH and Experiential marketing, and will yield better impressions, a more effective message, increased brand engagement and maximum possible ROI.


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