One marketing channel that has given us lots to talk about over the last year is events and trade-shows. MOO has visited Austin, Boston, Las Vegas, London, New York, Providence, San Diego, and Washington DC. In total we have spoken to tens of thousands of photographers, graphic designers, artists, fashion designers, students and more. We've met hundreds of businesses along the way, and while it's been tiring, it's also been educational and lots of fun.
Trade-shows can be very expensive, time consuming and demanding, so it's really important to get as much from them as possible.
We thought we'd share five things that worked for us - hopefully some of this will be useful for those of you considering trade-shows as part of your 'marketing mix' next year.
A good company has a brand worth protecting, and its visual identity is a huge part of that. This remains the case at a live event - any old furniture and fuscia coloured carpet shouldn't suddenly become acceptable. As an on online business, an event may be one of the few times a year you have a physical presence in the real world. So we invest in design and customisation.
Our current booths are created by our marketing and design teams from scratch. They begin with a brief and a blank piece of paper, and then we work out what we want to achieve - but more importantly what will customers and visitors want to experience at a MOO booth.
We often talk about short print runs helping relevancy. Making Postcards specifically for a job interview, or tailoring your Business Cards to the trade show you are about to attend helps you to stand out and get noticed.
The same should go for when you are exhibiting - marketing materials shouldn't be left over from a different exhibition - the money you save handing out the leftovers may well be negated by the customers who take their business to someone with a more relevant offering. MOO tries to make sure everything we hand out is fresh, current and targeted to its recipient. At the HOW Design Conference we talked about vector art, graphics and illustration. At PhotoPlus, we talked jpegs and megapixels.
If you are speaking to creative people, it helps to speak their language, and prove you understand their values. Make the effort to be creative. Some booths pop out from a mile away, even if they are tiny - because they look vibrant, or clinical or crazy or fun - what matters is that they support the company brand, and appeal to the type of customers you want to engage with.
People walk up to a booth and ask 'what kind of show specials do you have?' - you need to decide if discounts and specials are part of your events plan, but you can be generous in other ways.
Give people some time, listen, ask them some questions and find out a little about them. If I know a bit about the person in-front of me, it's much easier explaining how they could use MOO, and how a creative print project would benefit their business or project. Leaving a booth with a firm idea in mind that might benefit your business is far more powerful than a discount flyer or a mouse-mat.
At PhotoPlus in New York, we designed and printed Blurb books full of ideas and inspiration on how to use MOO products, and the response was far more positive than any promotional material.
This one is simple - the best way to learn what works well at any specific show is see for yourself. Look at every booth (both the busy ones and the quiet ones), and speak to the teams working there. Carry lots of Business cards - and make some connections.