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Beef up your integrated marketing plan before your next trade show

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Robyn Sachs is president of RMR & Associates (www.rmr.com), a b-to-b marketing services agency based in Rockville, Md. BtoB recently spoke with Sachs about how to prepare for the next big exhibition.

BtoB: What's the best way to drum up attention while getting ready for the next trade show?

Sachs: Just preparing the same old standard press kit is not enough. To make your next trade show effort one that does the job and captures lots of attention for the right reasons, try an integrated marketing approach.

There is no single definition for this process, but few would argue that integrated marketing encompasses this basic definition: the integration of various marketing disciplines?advertising, media buying, public relations, Web marketing, direct mail, trade show marketing, creative design and research?by an agency for a client. In an integrated marketing campaign, the best vehicles to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communications impact for the client and the client's message are chosen and then implemented for maximum impact.

BtoB: How should marketers go about planning their integrated marketing campaign before the next trade show?

Sachs: There are many ways to create powerful, memorable, integrated marketing campaigns for your next trade show. And luckily, money is not the most important factor determining the campaign's success. Instead, it is creativity and creating a strong and memorable theme that ties together your products, services, marketing vehicles and overall marketing communications message.

One campaign illustrates this. Network Imaging Systems' goal was to roll out its new suite of software products?1 View?to the document management marketplace. An integrated advertising and public relations campaign was implemented that encompassed direct mail, a product brochure, product introduction at the Association of Information & Image Management trade show and a four-color, full-page advertisement in Inform, AIIM's show publication.

In order to promote NIS and the car raffle [it was holding] at AIIM, teaser postcards featuring a picture of the car were mailed to all of the show's preregistered attendees. A one-page flier featuring a photo of the car was also distributed to the hotel rooms where AIIM attendees were staying. The company's presentation at AIIM, which ran twice an hour for the entire show, was standing-room- only. NIS received 2,500 leads from the show.

BtoB: What are some tips for planning successful integrated marketing campaigns?

  • Be creative.
  • Be consistent: It's confidence and familiarity that lead to sales.
  • Start with clearly defined marketing goals and objectives.
  • Strategize in the beginning.
  • Talk budget in the beginning to prioritize goals and vehicles.
  • Understand product and company positioning.
  • Find a theme that makes sense for the client and that the client feels comfortable with; it may be around for a long time.
  • Use a variety of marketing vehicles.
  • Track the inquiries from the various vehicles.
  • Stay focused.
  • Generate credibility for the client.
  • Lead rather than follow.
  • Commitment is the key; marketing takes time.
  • Think of marketing as a conservative investment, not a miraculous cure.
  • Know what makes the client different from the competition.
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