“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman,” Chernin Entertainment, 2017
It’s hard to believe that IBC is just over the horizon … again.
It seems like only a few months ago, we returned from one of the most inviting cities in the world and one of the most exciting international trade shows, all renewed and rejuvenated with the idea that the M&E industry was going to take over everyone’s screens everywhere.
Wait a minute. It did!
And between then and now, we barely recognize the broadcast, TV and video storytelling production industry.
Again, this year, companies are investing a lot of time, money and effort on their event stands to attract as many people as possible to their stand to see the new products, services, software, plans and opportunities for capturing more viewers, more profits.
And they won’t be alone.
This year, more than 1,700 companies from around the globe will participate in the world’s most influential media, entertainment and technology show. They will be doing everything possible to reach their prospective customers that are among the more than 57,000 attendees and 1,000 plus or minus media representatives.
For most organizations, IBC represents a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous expense.
To ensure the maximum stand traffic possible, many will include fresh, new acts; super cool schotzkes; celebrity appearances; market segment leaders with dynamite presentations; and super-rehearsed/super-polished product/service demos.
More than a few will be happy to engage anyone who walks in their stand and hope that when they get home, there will be purchase orders waiting for them.
The savvy firms will know it’s not about the volume of people who visit the stand but the quality of people and the time they spend in the stand.
The latter group of firms know that IBC – or any show – is only part (albeit, a big part) of their marketing effort.
As a major part of their complete program, they must maximize their return on investment and minimize wasted time and money.
The best way to do that is to view IBC participation and activities in terms of their target audience, not how much they can outshine their competition.
If you walked the halls of IBC last year, the people in the stands quickly told you everything you needed to know about the organization, their marketing – or lack of – goals, why they were there and the importance of reaching just the right audience with just the right message(s).
There were also staff personnel who stood at the side of their exhibit with their arms folded while customers and prospects pass by.
They instantly established a territorial boundary to prospective visitors.
Only the most aggressive (or most needy) IBC attendee were interested in crossing the boundary to step into their stand.
When prospects did enter the exhibit, untrained salespeople allowed the customer to control the situation, rather than taking control of the opportunity to learn more about their company and their needs.
Few of the folks were trained to be active, rather than reactive.
That’s why even before the company begins setting up their stand, marketing’s first task is getting people into their booth.
You can do this with:
- A targeted, high-visibility direct mail effort aimed at specific prospective people in specific markets
- Pre-show PR. This entails developing special publicity efforts outlining what will be shown in the stand, highlighting new products and their benefits to the customer as well as clearly spelling out their location in the many halls.
- An email outreach to IBC attendees about special events, activities and solutions that they need to learn more about to help them achieve their company’s growth opportunities
- Using Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tweet outreaches to your followers, giving them information and hints as to what they’ll see at the show. Produce special IBC insights and hints on how to find what they need, who they need to talk with
- A special online interactive contest for visitors with in-booth stations and prizes
- Unique advertising tags for your online ads and email signature blocks as constant reminders of your participation in the major global show they will be attending like “See us at IBC, Dates, Hall, Stand #1234”
For very special customers and prospects, initiate an even more focused email campaign that includes embedded video and presentations.
This can be highly effective when you want to:
- Have key people meet specific individuals face-to-face
- Demonstrate a specific product to them
- Have management discuss specific applications, needs or modifications
- Literally close a contract
Hands-On – Every company wants to show their newest (or nearly newest) products to build interest and excitement. Often, the products were barely finished before the show doors opened. Booths that get the most–and best–traffic have product out where it can be touched; and usually, the demo products are secured so they don’t accidentally walk off during the show.
Highlight hands-on demonstrations and enhanced drama as key reasons people must visit the booth to fully understand and appreciate the announcements and how they can benefit them.
It may sound a little obvious as you prepare your annual trade show program; but unfortunately, too many organizations seem to miss the obvious and go for the big bang.
If people stumble by the booth, they aren’t certain why they must be there. If they don’t know, they simply stumble on to the next booth and you’ve missed another opportunity.
Opportunities are terrible things to waste – especially in today’s rapidly growing and competitive market.
But as P.T. Barnum said, “Hyperbole isn’t the worst crime. Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much.”