When it comes to communicating a message via your trade show exhibit, once is not enough. Most attendees have to hear or see something twice—or even more times—before it sinks in.
Savvy marketers take this a step further and make sure their communications include multiple senses—seeing, hearing, touch—and sometimes even taste and smell. They also reiterate the message both inside the exhibit and out.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition embraced this philosophy in its trade show marketing program at VMX 2019 (exhibit design and fabrication by 3D Exhibits, Inc.). Hill’s supported the introduction of its “Hill’s to Home” home delivery for its pet foods with a multi-tiered, multi-sensory, multi-media trade show marketing experience.
The result, measured via exit survey, was that 90% of the targeted audience segments of veterinarians and vet technicians left the exhibit aware of the program.
Here are some best practices you can learn from Hill’s example:
11 best practices for increasing the impact and memorability of a trade show message:
1. Support your message with a brief copy and/or a simple, clear graphic or icon. The Hill’s to Home logo blends the Hill’s Pet Nutrition logomark with a simple house icon that makes it very easy to understand exactly what Hill’s to Home is (see below images for logo).
2. Start before the show opens. Getting your booth onto attendees’ “must visit” lists before the show ensures that they make visiting your exhibit a priority. Hill’s pre-show outreach to introduce Hill’s to Home included e-blasts and inserts in the show’s Real Deals booklet.
3. Leverage high-level messaging opportunities to give the message clout. Incorporating your message into your exhibit signage elevates its perceived importance. Hill’s placed the Hill’s to Home message high in its messaging hierarchy—second in importance only to the Hill’s corporate identity and tag line. Prominent placements included on a large header over their main entrance and on billboard-sized signage along the side of the exhibit facing the aisle.
4. Reiterate the message inside the exhibit. Not every attendee notices every element of your exhibit, so it’s important to repeat your message inside as well as out. And it’s okay to get creative here. Hill’s internal messaging included graphics on its LED wall and a variety of creative props (more on these later).
5. Employ multiple media types. Every attendee has their own preferences for how they like to receive information, so by conveying your message in multiple ways you increase the percentage of attendees you will be able to connect with. In addition to signage, Hill’s used video and several activities to reinforce the Hill’s to Home message (more on the activities later).
6. Look for subtle and unexpected ways and places to reiterate your message. Fun, surprises, and humor are all valid ways to get attendees’ attention. And then there’s the tactic we’re seeing on TV—integrating product placement into TV shows to reinforce what we see in the commercials (or what we otherwise miss because we fast forward through commercials). Hill’s applied all of the above with style. First, it created a photo opportunity featuring cute dogs and cats that took place in a vignette that looked like the front door of a home with Hill’s to Home delivery boxes on the doorstep. Then, it adorned the comfy couches in its Hill’s to Home education area with pillows custom screened with the Hill’s to Home logo.
7. Train your staff. All the signage in the world can only go so far. That’s why you need to supplement your graphic messaging with content delivered verbally by your exhibit staff. Hill’s trained their booth staff to engage visitors in the exhibit and tell them about Hill’s to Home. Their training included a brief list of talking points that made it fast and easy to share key messages with visitors.
8. Leverage your exhibit staff’s attire. Many exhibitors forget that their exhibit staff’s attire is an added messaging opportunity. Opportunities here include embroidered and screened logos, pins, and buttons. Hill’s choice was a modest Hill’s to Home patch embroidered onto the shoulders of the staff’s blue button-downs.
9. Provide an incentive. Trade show attendees are more likely tomake time to listen when there’s something in it for them. This can be a business benefit or a prize. Hill’s used both—compelling attendees to sign up for Hill’s to Home with the dual incentives of increased profit and a chance to win a trip to Hawaii.
10. Create an opportunity for the attendee to communicate the message back to you. Memorability increases dramatically when attendees go beyond reading and hearing your message—with the ideal being getting the attendee to repeat the message back to you. Hill’s accomplished this by integrating questions about Hill’s to Home in their Quiz Bowl trivia game. In order to earn points, attendees had to be able to know the key difference between Hill’s to Home and other pet diet home delivery options: Hill’s to Home enables the vets to set the pricing and margins.
11. Expand your campaign beyond your exhibit. Sponsorships and guerilla marketing are a great way to get attendees’ attention—especially if the activation includes a tie-in to the product or benefit. Hill’s sponsorship of golf carts to transport attendees across the VMX show floor—with the statement “Let Hill’s Deliver,” was a perfect reinforcement of Hill’s to Home message.
What sort of communications opportunities and trade show marketing techniques do you use to reiterate your company’s messages?