Trade Show Tips

The Care & Feeding of Brand Characters at Conventions

???????????????????????????????The walkaround brand character is a tried and true crowd pleaser. Costume characters are always a hit at theme parks and other events, so why wouldn’t the same be true for conventions?

It is true, as we found with a recent client who asked to feature a couple of brand characters at dental conventions. It was a great way to engage people as they waited in line for our main theater presentation, and it gave our client additional exposure as the characters walked the trade show floor.

Our MPG team wasn’t surprised—we have extensive theme park experience and, thus, a lot of knowledge on the care and feeding of costume characters. If you’re considering using them at your next convention, here are some dos and don’ts.

DO: Invest in Quality Construction – Your character’s costume will take a lot of wear and tear, so make sure it’s well-made and durable. Have extra shoes/”feet” created, since these tend to get scuffed and damaged easily. Never underestimate the stress a costume will go through—you may even want to purchase a couple of back-ups.

DON’T: Leave Your Character Unattended – It’s hard to see in front of you when you’re wearing a character costume, let alone use peripheral vision. A costume character should be escorted at all times, for everyone’s safety. Even if your character isn’t in a full head mask, he or she needs protection from kids and even adults who might think it’s funny to mess with them. The escort can do some gentle scolding while your actor stays in character.

DO: Know the Boundaries – Each convention has its own rules about where your costume character can roam. Find out in advance whether he or she must stay within your booth footprint, and consider purchasing some extra space, separate from the booth, where the brand character can “live.” If your character is allowed in public areas, make sure they’re part of his or her regular route.

DON’T: Kill the Illusion – Working as a costume character is physically demanding, and your actor will need to rest for about 10 minutes every hour, in addition to lunch breaks. Make sure you provide a place where he or she can take off the head and sit that is out of the public eye. Plan for this in your budget, and make sure your actor is never seen in partial costume.

DO: Be Social – Since people are already taking photos of your brand character, let them know how they can tag you on Facebook and other social media.  Your character’s escort can hand out small cards with the information. Likewise, post your own photos of your character interacting with crowds—make the most of it!

Exhibitors: Avoid These 5 Common Trade Show Mistakes

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A new trade show exhibit can be a huge investment. The last thing you want is an oversight that could create a less-than-WOW experience for your guests, or stand in the way of ROI.

We’ve seen a lot of successes when it comes to trade show experience design. We’ve also navigated our share of challenges. If you’re considering a new trade show exhibit, then plan to avoid these 5 common mistakes.

1. Not reserving enough space — Sometimes you need to lock in booth space before you have a firm exhibit design and strategy. And space can be a tempting area for cost-cutting. But we have worked too many shows where the booth felt cramped and our clients weren’t able to execute new activities as well as they’d like, simply due to lack of space. And trade shows often have strict rules about experiences spilling into the aisles. When in doubt, go bigger. That extra 10 feet will pay you back in flexibility and a better guest experience.

2. Unclear agency brief — The brief is our Bible, so give it extra attention. Provide clear objectives and criteria for success. Lay out messaging musts. Clearly delineate the roles of any partner agencies. Let us know what assets exist and who’s responsible for providing them. Don’t be afraid to ask your agency for help with the brief. A good brief is vital to creating an outstanding, on-equity experience with maximum efficiency.

3. Not staffing with your A-team — A beautiful trade show booth is just a hollow shell if the people inside it stand like lumps, waiting for attendees to come to them. Even if you’ve hired a company like Moening Presentation Group to craft an amazing experience using professional talent, it all falls flat if your company reps aren’t ready to step up, engage, and close the deal. Trade shows require a special kind of personality and stamina, so be choosy with your internal staff. Or follow the lead of some of our biggest clients and hire professional sales hosts.

4. Not following up on leads — We see this too often: An outstanding experience brings tons of qualified leads to the booth, then those leads languish on a spreadsheet, in someone’s email, or—worse—in a booth crate. Building and creating new relationships is a trade show exhibit’s raison d’etre, so keep up the momentum and reach out to visitors who’ve shown they’re open to hearing from you. Good lead-management programs can help. Or simply assign someone to filter and distribute leads after each show. Then, make sure your team is committed to the all-important follow-through!

5. Not documenting the experience — A video recap is a must-have in your measurement arsenal. It’s all about capturing the excitement for leadership and other stakeholders who couldn’t attend the trade show. Showcase all major aspects of the booth experience, and be sure to interview attendees for raves. Weave in the results you’ve measured to demonstrate ROI, and you’ve got a powerful sales tool that can help ensure your trade show marketing program continues.

MPG followers, what are some common trade show mistakes you’ve encountered?

How to Work a Trade Show: 6 Musts for Successful Exhibiting

MPG’s trade show work has given us a lot of insight into what works, what doesn’t, and what companies are doing to keep their trade show exhibits fresh.  In our next few posts, we’ll be exploring some trade show best practices and offering ideas for successful trade show marketing.

A friendly professional host can draw people to your trade show booth and help engage them.

You’ve got a beautiful trade show exhibit with a great mix of activities that bring your brand promise to life. Now it’s up to you to bring in the leads. Here are some tips for getting people in your booth, then making the most of the relationships you build there.

  1. Get Your Team on Board: Hold a pre-show briefing to detail what will be happening in the booth. Preview all activities so team members know what to expect, and make sure all are on the same page with your key messages. We like to do one comprehensive meeting the day before a show opens, then a smaller “check-in” meeting each morning before the crowds arrive.
  2. Prepare ‘Em for the Spotlight: Your people are the face of your company, of course, but trade show days can be long and tiring. You never know when a VIP could catch someone letting down his or her guard. So lay some ground rules to help ensure your team is at its best. For example: No texting, checking email or playing on smart phones, no eating or chewing gum in the booth, and make sure all attendees are greeted with a smile. Designating an out-of-view spot to decompress and staggering lunches and breaks will help keep everyone fresh and on their toes.
  3. Use Professional Hosts and Crowd Gatherers: Marketing at trade shows is a special skill. You may have great company reps but drawing people into your booth might not be their strongest suit. Plus, when things get busy you want your best people closing sales. Professional hosts and crowd gatherers are engaging, approachable and expert at bringing a steady flow of attendees to your booth. A company like Moening Presentation Group can help you hire hosts whose look and demeanor best represent your brand.
  4. Pre-Qualify Attendees: Hundreds of people can go through a trade show booth every day, but not all are what you might consider prime prospects. Some are looking for swag, some are just browsing, and some are family members of attendees. You’ll want a plan to target those who are truly interested in your offerings and prepared to either buy or recommend. Your professional hosts and crowd gatherers offer a great low-tech way to find and send high-interest attendees to your reps. Or you can go high-tech with a digital pre-marketing campaign. Learn more about that here.
  5. Designate an Answer Expert – Arm everyone in your booth with basic talking points so they can handle most attendee questions, but have on-hand one or two super-knowledgeable brand ambassadors or thought leaders to take in-depth queries. Make sure booth personnel know where these folks are at all times. If your go-to person has stepped away, let the attendee know he or she will follow up as soon as possible.
  6. Turn Leads into Relationships –Today’s trade shows are more than a way to showcase your products and services, they’re openers to ongoing relationships. So make sure you’ve put a system in place to keep communicating.  If your marketing strategy includes social media, then encouraging Facebook likes is a great way to start. Even better is a program that collects attendees’ contact information and allows them to opt in for further conversations with your team.  If you’re curious about how this could work for you, contact us and we’ll fill you in on our suite of solutions.

Trade Show Booth Tips: Exhibits That Go Beyond Expectations

Your trade show booth is your company’s home and identity when you’re on the road. It’s how prospective customers experience your brand and, depending on the show and the size of your booth, it’s no small investment. So you want to make sure your trade show booth does all it can do for you. Here are some tips for creating displays that leave a lasting impression.

Good trade show booth design brings a company’s brand promise to life, while cutting through the clutter of a busy show floor.

Invest in good design. “A brand experience is the promise of the brand on the show floor; it has to look like you,” says Gino Pellegrini, President of InterGlobal Exhibits. “Having a good designer on board really makes a difference. Anybody can cram in your programming needs and slap on your brand colors. But a great trade show booth needs a soul.”

A good designer also will make sure your trade show exhibit communicates quality in the details. Lighting, fabrication, and reproduction of graphics—it’s easy to assume attendees won’t notice, but they do. “Sometimes companies want to have lots of structure, instead of going more simple and focusing the budget to make less with more quality,” Pellegrini says. “Level of detail is important.”

Make it easy to find. Trade show real estate is like all real estate—location is key. Study the floor plan and think about traffic flow. Which spots give your booth the best visibility? It’s worth spending a little more to make sure your booth is seen. Take a look at your signage as well. Too often, we see booths with graphics that are too low or don’t prominently feature a company’s name and/or logo. You want attendees to be able to pick you out immediately when they scan the busy show floor. If it fits your branding and overall booth design, then raise those banners high!

Fill it with engaging activities. We’ve seen too many trade show booths, big and small, that feature little more than signage and a counter behind which stand bored-looking sales staff. There’s really no excuse for that considering all of the options available these days. Hire an engaging professional to conduct can’t-miss product demos. Give an interactive live presentation—these work well in big or small spaces. Video backup will help provide visual interest while a professional presenter engages and educates the crowd. Check out our 6 presentation ideas for your next trade show.

If it fits your branding and message, then create opportunities for attendees to have fun and make a little noise.

Make it an event. An empty booth evoking the sound of crickets or one filled with people who are laughing, cheering and actively engaged: which would you visit? Crowds are drawn to crowds, and attendees naturally follow the sounds of others having a great time. Hire professional hosts to invite people into your booth. Then incorporate ways to make a little noise: Have people shout out a key buzzword. Have a competition that gets people fired up and cheering. Weave a camera crew into the experience to create the appearance that you’re making news.

Get the word out. Wouldn’t it be great if people came to the trade show ready to seek you out? You can let prime prospects know about your booth though pre-marketing efforts that put you on their must-visit list and help continue your relationship after the show ends. If the trade show you’re attending allows it, get the attendee list and send a pre-mailer inviting them to a personalized URL. There, you can tease show specials, offer VIP perks for visiting the booth and allow them to opt-in to receive future communications. Click the link to learn more about Moening Presentation Group’s digital pre-marketing solution for trade shows and events.

For advice on how to make your exhibiting efforts a success overall, check out our most recent post on this topic.

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Successful Trade Show Tips – Be Your Company’s Convention Superstar

Whether you’re just starting to exhibit at trade shows or you’re looking to reinvigorate your existing program, we’ve identified some “must haves” for trade show success. Check out these trade show tips, and let us know if you have any to add!

Let people connect with people at your trade show booth

This interactive presentation for IAMS allowed attendees to connect with a personable and professional brand representative in a booth that provided a welcoming “wow.”

Bring in the experts. It can be tempting to DIY, especially for a smaller trade show exhibit (and you’re probably thinking, “of course, a company that specializes in trade show marketing is going to encourage me to buy their services”). But professional designers and producers will bring the level of quality you need to be competitive—in fact, they could save you money by doing things right the first time. They’ll troubleshoot areas you probably haven’t considered, help with hidden costs and free you up to focus on your attendees.

Let people connect with people. The point of a trade show is bringing people together.  Technology can be powerful, but don’t overdo it at your booth; attendees can interact with touchscreens at the supermarket on any given weekday. Instead, take advantage of the face-to-face nature of tradeshows and create opportunities for them to engage with human beings.

Staff strategically. Make sure everyone represents  your brand with excellence. Choose only your best, most personable sales reps and thought leaders. Then back them up with professional hosts and presenters who can draw people to the booth and make them feel like VIPs.

See tradeshows as part of the conversation. These days, trade show exhibits aren’t on-off, once-a-year things. They’re a chance to start and continue conversations and relationships. Reach out to attendees before the show and invite them to visit you. Collect their data and track their interests while they’re at your booth. Then follow up and keep them engaged until the next time you meet. MPG is using event digital marketing to help clients do just that.

Be a spy. Make sure to get away from your booth for a little reconnaissance. Check out what your competitors are doing. Look for inspiration from other exhibitors: How are they engaging attendees? Is there anything you could take and make your own? Include your agency and designer in this exercise; it’s never too early to start planning for the next show!

Track ROI. With budgets getting leaner, it’s vital to demonstrate how marketing at trade shows benefits your company’s bottom line. Decide what trade show success means for you—is it number of visitors? Actual sales? Qualified leads? Whatever the benchmarks, track them and follow up. Also, consider investing in a good “sizzle” video to communicate the excitement to higher-ups who couldn’t attend.

Finding Top Talent for Your Trade Show Presentations and Corporate Events

???????????????????????????????Corporate events and trade shows are one place where the messenger is just as important as the message.  When competition gets fierce and setting the right tone is vital, a good presenter can make all the difference in building brand equity, establishing credibility and—most important—forging connections.

When selecting talent for live presentations, it’s important to go beyond video clips, websites and resumes. At Moening Presentation Group, we always meet prospective new talent for an in-person audition and interview, so we can see for ourselves how the person will do in front of an audience and whether we’ll work well together.

Here are some other criteria to consider when hiring the people who will be your face and voice of your brand:

  • Are they ear prompter experts? If your presentations are tightly timed, coordinating live action with video, then you don’t want your presenters to wing it. Make sure they demonstrate proficiency with an ear prompter before you bring them on-site.
  • Are they warm and relatable? Whether talking hard science or chatting about a consumer brand, a good presenter should be able to take a script and make it sound natural.
  • Will they behave like professionals on- and off-stage? Your presenters are a reflection of you and your brand; you should be able to count on them to be at their best from the moment they arrive in an event city until it’s time to pack up and go home.
  • How are they at being a team player? Are they willing to take direction and go the extra mile, helping with crowd gathering and recognizing potential hot leads?
  • How’s their energy? The trade show floor is not for wimps. Presentations can run several times an hour and you should expect every last one to look, feel and sound like the very first.

Hiring the best talent isn’t easy, especially when you consider that you’re selecting someone to represent you in front of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. MPG has a roster of professional presenters who have proven themselves the best in the business. If you have a project that requires superior talent, get in touch with us. We’d love to put their expertise to work for you, because your message deserves nothing less!

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