Having the right message...
...is absolutely critical for a successful tradeshow – you can have all the best-looking displays and promotional gear to hand out but if your message doesn’t speak to your perfect client – you are throwing money away.
This post is part of a series of 17 steps to mastering your trade show ROI. If you haven’t already seen in you need to go back to the first post in the series that covers your goals and objectives. While you can take the information in this single post by itself and improve your results - you will have far greater success if you approach it like a mini course and move from one step to the next.
There are plenty of courses and training out there that cover just this one topic alone and if you have already been through one of them then congratulations! You are well ahead of the majority of exhibitors and this step will help to strengthen and build on what you already know.
We obviously can’t cover everything in every detail on this subject either, but we will be taking a quick deep dive into the main elements and what you can do to give yourself a big advantage. You are perfectly welcome to go and find other programs that cover this in detail provided you have the time before the expo starts.
A lot of different marketers have said this, you may well have heard it before and it still holds true – "when you speak to everyone, you are speaking to no one."
As counterintuitive as it might sound to you right now, your success will improve dramatically when you focus on a specific niche. For now, we’ll focus on the tradeshow you have coming up but this strategy can be implemented right across your business. Now this niche might be an industry you’ve had a lot of success with, or possibly, a specific type of person you like working with. It could even be a specific person that uses the product you are promoting at this expo. Whatever it is you need to identify it.
The key at this stage is to get very clear on who your ideal prospect is.
People expect the product or service you sell to be exactly what they’re looking for and to feel almost as if it were specifically designed for them.
The secret is not necessarily about customizing the products or services you sell, it’s about making it feel that way. We call this: Perceived Customization and the tradeshow is the perfect place to make this happen.
Many companies offer the same product or service, so for success, point of difference is a must. This isn’t as easy as just coming up with a fancy new name and tagline. To truly obtain an edge over your competition, you must determine what makes you unique at what you do.
You will obviously be using your brands logo, colour scheme and fonts, but the way you talk to your ideal prospect is the core message that you promote. You need to be thinking about every aspect of your ideal client. For example:
- How are the results you get for them unique?
- What benefits do you deliver that others don’t and why is this benefit unique to you?
- What colours do they like?
- Do they prefer open space or cosy corners?
- Are they all about glitter and glamour, or are they country people that are attracted to a rough and ready look?
Only when you’ve answered these questions and come up with what truly makes you unique AND what your target prospects enjoy, can you start looking at the message and theme for this expo.
We came across some great formulas recently that will help you define it – they are actually from Alexandra Watkins out of her book “Hello My Name is Awesome”. The first will help you pick your message – SMILE:
- Suggestive – Invoke something about your brand
- Meaningful – Resonates with your target audience
- Imagery – Visually suggestive to aid in memory
- Legs – Will travel the distance – it is “timeless”
- Emotional – Moves people
The second will ensure you don’t choose the wrong message – SCRATCH:
- Spelling challenged – Looks like a type-o
- Copycat – Similar to a competitor’s name
- Restrictive – Limits future growth
- Annoying – Hearing it frustrates customers
- Tame – Flat, non-descript, and uninspiring
- Curse of knowledge – Understandable only to inside professionals
- Hard to pronounce – Anything that requires explanation
Focus on including the true benefit of what you provide. For example, we are a marketing company providing backdrops, merchandise, printing and training to companies exhibiting at tradeshows; however, our message is “Increase ROI & maximise your performance at expos” Backdrops, promotional merchandise and training explains the features of what we do whilst the real outcome of what you really want is the increase in ROI. It explains the benefit of what those features provide.
It's very tempting to say well I want to attract everyone that visits this expo… why can’t I make it generic? The answer is you most certainly can make it generic, however, unless you are a globally recognised brand like Apple or Mobil or Volkswagen it definitely won’t attract every visitor that attends.
The reason is simple:
Visitors will walk past your stand and if it's a very generic message and look that you have – they will assume you are just “one of the other hundred exhibitors” and keep moving on. The only way you can fill your lead funnel this way is if you have a really strong appointment strategy and pre-book your days full up.
So once you have been through these exercises you need to put it to the test. Start using it in conversation with some prospects and see what the response is – your aim is for people to stop and go “huh – tell me more…” or "wow, that’s definitely me!"
You can then move into your investigative, sales mode and explain the features that tie back to the overall benefit that they are going to get from working with you.
Spend some time working through these questions so you can have a strong pointed message that will cause visitors to want to stop and find out more and feel like you have set the display up just for them. Remember to keep referring back to your 1-PEP and make sure that your targeted message still aligns perfectly with your strategic goals.