Tradeshow Marketing 101

This is one of my pet peeves as a marketer. Last week I was at CTIA in San Francisco, a key event in the wireless industry. As usual I walked around the show floor to see what’s new. Like many trade shows, there were well over a hundred booths. Like me, I imagine most customers don’t spend more than a few seconds glancing at each booth before deciding if they will stop by for more information.

Here is the problem: the information that marketers are using as “headlines” in their booth look more like slogans than actual descriptions of what the company does or how it helps customers. I walked down one aisle and wrote down what I could read in the booths as I walked along:

  • The First Total Solution for the Mobile Channel.
  • How Everybody Knows – Right Here. Right Now.
  • Powering Mobile Business.
  • Mobile Services 24x7x365
  • Freedom. Security. Choice.
  • Any text. Anywhere.

Nice slogans. These companies must have paid quite some money to an agency to get their top creative talent to come up with these smart words. But they don’t tell me anything about your company. I consider myself a pretty smart guide, and I have spent over 7 years in the wireless industry. A week later, I can’t recall what product or service was being offered by any of the companies using the slogans above.

What is the solution? make the healdine your value prop. Clear and simple In plain English. No marketing-speak, no slogans. One company stood out from the rest in doing this right. In fact, I glanced over the list of exhibitors and the company stood out immediatelly. Although I don’t need their services I will remember this company and might even refer business to them if a friend asks me for companies that offer these services.

Their booth read “$22/Hr Software Development” – I am impressed. The makreting guy could have hired an agency and come up with something smart like “Solutions for a Wireless World” (which I swear I have seen). “$22/Hr Software Development” is super clear: I understand what they do and the company value proposition. I remember the company clearly. If I needed software development cheap you bet I would have stopped by their booth. It would be simple to find them in the event directory because they opted to get their listing under “$22/Hr software development”.

If a customer walks by your booth at the next tradeshow, what message will he leave with in the 2 seconds he will spend?