To be competitive today, trade show exhibitors not only need to grab attention to their trade show displays inside the exhibit hall but also beyond the exhibit floor.
More and more, creative trade show exhibitors attract crowds to their trade show booth by using nearby venues as a springboard. Attracting attention at neighboring hotels where the trade show visitors are staying or public places where attendees frequent, is a good start. This goes for neighboring restaurants, bus routes, cabs and local night clubs as well.
Increasingly, instead of letting a custom or trade show diplay rental at the expo stand on its own, savvy marketers are adding value by identifying key places outside the trade show to tee up traffic to the trade show display arena.
Event Marketer Magazine spotted three brands that successfully made the tie-in connection to their trade show booth from sites outside the exposition hall.
The first was in Chicago. GE Healthcare launched their campaign, Healthcare Reimagined at the Radiological Society of North America trade show in Chicago in 2005. They were on the lookout for popular locations outside the trade show hall to enhance awareness of their trade show display presence. According to Sean Burke of GE Healthcare’s Diagnostic Imaging and Services, “We were looking for something different that would create word of mouth and buzz.”
The trade show had over 60,000 attendees staying in Chicago. GE came up with the concept of all-white-clad “molecule people” that roamed Chicago sites before and after show hours, in nearby hotels and on the RSNA bus routes, as well as at neighboring restaurants and night clubs.
Wearing branding for GE Healthcare, the all white molecule actors batted around giant inflatable molecule structures and used bubble machines to complete the look and feel of what they wanted to portray. They were able to visually and kinetically capture the health care aspect of GE Diagnostic Imaging. This played directly to the imagery created at their trade show exhibit.
The second was at a consumer oriented show in Washington DC. A month before the Auto Show, Chevrolet started its awareness campaign at sites around the capital city. They set up mini tailgating parties out of the backs of Chevy Silverado Hybrids at construction sites, George Washington University, Home Depot stores and commuter rail stations. Consumers got to drink coffee and play Xbox 360 games. Chevy representatives gave out cards to visitors they could redeem at the trade show for a chance to win a Silverado Hybrid.
Chevy wanted to drive traffic to the trade show display. It worked. The results were measurable and dramatic. Because the scan cards were handed out at dealers and at the tailgate parties, over 20,000 consumers visited the trade show booth or were able to scan their cards with Chevy reps in the convention main lobby. The scan cards brought in 1,900 dealer leads.
The third one was in Las Vegas. That city is a natural for all types of trade show display marketers every hour of the day. At the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas in 2005, Yahoo! wanted to draw attention to a custom auto web site among car enthusiasts. So they decided to customize two Mitsubishis inside their trade show display booth.
To complete their exposure they went outside to showcase their cars on the Las Vegas Strip. Yahoo! hit it big. Knowing that Las Vegas is always wide awake 24/7, they were able to shut down traffic on the Las Vegas Strip at 3 a.m. Even at that time, throngs of people watched their two custom Mitsubishis race down the strip. “We didn’t want to just do a booth and pass things out,” says Bennett Porter Yahoo!’s senior director-buzz marketing. Emulating Frank Sinatra, he continues, “We wanted to do it our way.”
The above are just a few of the examples of how you can use outlying venues to tie into your trade show display. So let’s say your firm is in the electronics field and you want exposure for your upcoming trade show appearance in the San Francisco Bay Area. With the high tech industry so heavily concentrated in Silicon Valley, California, many of the high tech leaders live there.
There’s Yahoo’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, Apple Computer Inc. based in Cupertino, eBay based in San Jose, and Google headquartered in Mountain View, to name a few. You can focus on Silicon Valley executives and market to them within close access to Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, and the Santa Clara and San Jose Conference Centers.
The hotels, restaurants, athletic clubs and other popular sites make them targets for high tech trade show tie in messages once the high tech trade show comes to town. It’s smart to think outside the trade show exhibit hall box to compound your trade show exhibit investment.