In “Mending the Message” – Part 1, we learned that target audiences often end up more baffled than educated about respective offerings because the sales message becomes buried under the “hip” graphics, clever (but vague) ad themes, and too-complicated interactive engagements. All of the money spent on various aspects of a custom trade show exhibit could actually serve to decrease the trade show return on investment (trade show ROI) if the prospect doesn’t get the right message.
In addition, we reviewed the “organizational angst” that is all too common in the event planning process. So often failure to get management buy-in upfront, or keep them informed at critical times in the process, can de-rail an event’s success.
How do you avoid wimpy messages and the costly false starts, revisions and organizational angst that are all too common in the event planning process? In Part 1, we reviewed four tips:
- Appoint a “Keeper of the Message.”
- Develop a workflow process map.
- Put together a market/message matrix.
- Incorporate customer input.
Here are six more tips to consider as you plan for your next event.
- Write-up message platforms for each event. Put it in writing.
- What’s the dominant compelling message (your “elevator pitch”) that the pre-mailers, booth structure and engagement activities should deliver both visually and verbally?
- What are the key primary and then secondary messages you want your booth staff to emphasize?
- What do you say when a prospect mentions Competitor X?
- Do you have organizational-wide buy-in for the responses you have developed to answer the 20 or so most challenging questions prospects are likely to ask?
Hold an internal workshop if you need to hammer out your key messages and responses, put everything in writing and distribute the document (password protected) to everyone involved in the process, from the CEO to your exhibit house representatives.
- Build in quantitative measurement. Measurement forces everyone in the process to think and not be satisfied with lazy messaging. Every aspect of an event can and should be measured.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. Event marketing remains more of an art than a science. If you aren’t quite sure what message is going to win over a prospect, try two. Break your mailing list in two, send different versions of materials and see which message delivers the best results. Design your exhibit so that you can easily change messages or graphics and then note which approach attracts more interest from attendees. Is it a back wall with beauty shots of the prospect’s industry, or is it the displays of hard numbers that emphasize the cost-savings you can generate for customers?
- Employ the concept of “Message Hierarchy.” It is okay to put your company identity at the top, in bright neon if you wish! Let everyone know where you are. However, the targeted individuals are who you seek, so be sure the next most prominent signage is devoted to the “What’s In it for Me?” message for your targets. This allows the visitors you want to self-select based on interest, applicability and the need for your offerings.
- Ensure consistency between the corporate advertising and PR plans during the time frame of your event. Nothing can undo a successful ad or PR campaign, or a successful event marketing activity like disconnected or contradictory messages. Your first step in developing the written message plan should include corporate and marketing communications folks in your company.
- Ask customers for feedback on your messaging after the event. What resonated and what didn’t? What was the major learning point of value they derived from their visit? Are they more inclined to buy as a result of being at your event? And if so, how much will they spend? As part of your post-event measurement, evaluate your messaging and you will be able to make focused improvements at every subsequent event.
Before you make any more investment decisions regarding your event marketing program, you might consider spending time working through your message strategy with your marketing team. Then Contact Exhibitus for information regarding measuring your messaging success.