NeoCon recap: Practice what you preach.
You might be wondering what a branding and advertising agency was doing at NeoCon, an expo dedicated to residential and commercial furnishings.
In an age of preaching, we decided to take a page out of our own book and exhibit at NeoCon. While we didn’t have any office furniture to release, we did have something useful for attendees: best trade show practices. From an enticing giveaway to digital name badges, here’s a look at what we did:
- Pre-Show Activation
Networking events at trade shows are our favorite place to start conversations with potential clients. This year, we were fortunate to attend Interior Design Magazine’s Giants Celebration at the Gensler-designed Gratz Center at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church.The event, which was attended by nearly 600 of the most influential designers and architects, was a perfect way to kick off the week of design, as designer Todd Heiser gave personal tours of the newly designed space.
- Digital name badges
Trade shows are full of new faces, so we tried to reinvent the wheel with virtual name tags. About the size of the screen on an iPhone and running on a loop like digital photo frames, these bite-sized eye-catchers were a great way to showcase our creativity.
- Wander the show
Before the show, we made sure our schedules were packed with interviews with the press, other exhibitors at the conference, and presidents of permanent showrooms. By keeping ourselves busy, we were able to be proactive about our exposure and take matters into our own hands. That being said, some of our hottest leads came from our interest in product on the show. Whether you’re exhibiting or attending, be sure to walk each aisle or floor of a trade show to see what others are doing and pinpoint where you can help them grow.
- Branded Bags.
I Imagine took a stab at purse design for NeoCon with our branded tote bags, and found success. The totes worked as both an eye-catcher, as attendees sometimes stopped because they saw the bags, and walking billboard, as each attendee carrying a tote was also carrying the I Imagine logo. Next year, we’re thinking a pop of color or a bold design.
- Strategic Social Media Campaigns:
Much of social media surrounding trade shows involves utilizing hashtags—both your own and those that others are using. For instance, we Tweet-dropped on a few conversations, including Metropolis’ #MetropolisLikes and KI Furniture’s #iSpyKI. These experts have a way with Tweets, and we even took a page out of their book and started tweeting images of everything #IImagineLikes during the show.
- Get to know your neighbors
While scheduled meetings and booth giveaways are a plan for trade show success, there’s something to be said about making friends with the booths near you. After all, they’ll be your neighbors for the next three days. Because of our cantor, our new friendly neighbors made a habit of sending visitors who were looking to marketing our way.
- Prompt follow-ups:
If you didn’t know already, trade shows don’t end when the exhibit floor closes. We would argue that the most important work happens right after the conference officially ends. By sending follow-ups on leads and thank-yous to people who stopped by our booth, we are always able to ensure communication continues. Plus, promptness leaves a lasting impression.