A great option for companies who want to go beyond qualifying trade show booth visitors on the show floor is to pair their exhibit with an onsite but off-the-show-floor meeting room.
Protection 1, a provider of business and home security solutions, achieved great results with this exhibit marketing strategy at ASIS 2013, an event for security professionals. Such good results that Protection 1 is planning an enhanced version of this strategy for ASIS 2014.
Prior to 2013, Protection 1 had a sizable exhibit that generated good crowds with activities such as speed painters and an appearance by Mike & Mike from ESPN. “The problem was that we realized we were entertaining the masses rather than having business conversations with people who were interested in our products,” says Joe Zeller, principal at Zeller Marketing & Design.
Protection 1’s solution was to place an attractive 20x20 rental exhibit (designed by Zeller Marketing & Design and executed by 3D Exhibits) on the show floor and a large branded VIP Hospitality and Demo Center (also designed and managed by 3D Exhibits) elsewhere in the convention center.
The experience was cleverly themed: Think Outside the Booth. Exhibit visitors were greeted and qualified on the show floor by the Protection 1 staff. Visitors who checked out as either customers or prospects were escorted to the Hospitality and Demo Center where they engaged in product demos and seminars, visited with company executives, checked email, and enjoyed food, drink and charging stations in the lounge.
Lisa Ciappetta, sr. director marketing & technology, at Protection 1 says the program overcame the difficulties of conversation on a noisy trade show floor. “Our Hospitality and Demo Center enabled us to get more intimate with our customers. We spoke to people longer and engaged in higher quality conversations. Several of our customers returned every day,” says Ciappetta.
The one shortcoming Protection 1 found with the on-the-floor-and-off approach was that it didn’t do a good enough job of explaining who Protection 1 is on-the-show-floor exhibit. This is being corrected by integrating a concise company overview into the on-the-floor exhibit space for 2014.
Tips for an Effective Exhibit-Plus-Off-The-Floor-Meeting Room
- Communicate your objectives to show management and ask for their support. They are likely to be cooperative if your plan generates equal or more revenue for them than if your presence were entirely on the show floor.
- Make it worth your guests’ time. Creating a favorable impression requires that attendees feel that the demos and amenities they encounter are equal or greater in value to the time they invest in getting to and visiting your space.
- Assess what is practical in terms of space and distance. Having an off-the-floor auxiliary space will only work if you can acquire the space you need within a short enough distance from your exhibit that people are likely to be willing to make the walk.
- Escort your guests. This reduces the number of people who never make it from point A to point B.
- On the floor presence still matters. Ciappetta advises that your presence on the show floor be large enough to represent market leadership and show you are worth attendees’ time.
- Environment enhances experience. Incorporate company colors, messaging and a few custom elements to your off-the-floor space to reinforce your message communicate brand image.