Don't Go to the Tradeshow
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Don't Go to the Tradeshow

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If the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome, lots of companies at mega-shows like CES, MWC and IFA need serious brand therapy. From Las Vegas to ...

If the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome, lots of companies at mega-shows like CES, MWC and IFA need serious brand therapy. From Las Vegas to Berlin, they make the same assumptions about what will engage the thousands of people walking right by their huge, expensive booths.


Help is here: the same teams that helped brands at shows like these gathered their insights in our newest white paper. They offer counter-intuitive advice on how to break through the clutter by creating a brand experience—not just a branded environment.

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Don't Go to the Tradeshow Don't Go to the Tradeshow Presentation Transcript

  • DON’TGO THE TOTRADESHOW ** And other counter-intuitive tips to break through the clutter at events like CES, MWC and IFA
  • TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction: the good, the bad and the very bad 3No one cares if you’re following brand guidelines 4No one cares about your products 5Your technology isn’t working 6It’s not about you 7Get off the floor 8In a nutshell: don’t go to the tradeshow 9Let’s talk 10About Jack Morton 11 DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW /2
  • INTRODUCTION:THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE VERY BADIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The showswere massive, swamped with hundreds of thousands ofattendees, teeming with exhibitors, packed with jaw-droppingtechnologies – and overwhelmed by brands jumping up anddown for your attention at every turn of the corner.That’s how we at Jack Morton felt as we experienced threemajor tradeshows this year: the Consumer Electronics Show(CES) in January in Las Vegas; the Mobile World Congress inFebruary in Barcelona; and this month, IFA 2012 in Berlin, theworld’s largest show of home appliances and electronics.It’s the best of times when brands sponsor and createexperiences for the right reasons. It’s the worst of timeswhen brands exhibit out of apathy and make the same oldassumptions about what will be interesting to the thousands ofattendees walking right by their huge, expensive booths.Breaking through the clutter is easy. Really. If we coulddistill it down to one phrase, it’s ‘follow your own brand,not tradeshow conventions’. That means not only stayingtrue to your brand and the people you’re trying to reachbut also bravely breaking away from the expected.In that spirit of surprise, we offer the following counter-intuitiveinsights about how to break through the clutter. DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW /3
  • NO ONE CARES IF YOU’REFOLLOWING BRAND GUIDELINES**it’s what you do that countsBy our estimates, 90% of exhibitors at shows like IFA, CES They only do what’s right for their brand. That’s why the bestand MWC have the same failed approach. It’s what we call a feel like their own self-sufficient ecosystems: like separate worldsbranded space. Evidently adhering to visual identity guidelines, on the tradeshow floor. That’s why they have superior standouttheir common ingredients are big logos and taglines, their and memorability to the sea of sameness around them. It’s howethos that of 3D advertisements. They assume the conventional Ericsson brought their Networked Society vision to life as, yes,boxy structure/demo/meeting room format, then simply decide an experience that operated like a networked society itself.what graphics to apply. The result: low cut-through, skin-deep It explains why AEG’s experience felt like a vision of thebranding with Identikit experiences. designer home, rather than yet another appliance showroom.Brand experiences do more. Brand experiences turn the brand It’s not just the big spenders who can pull this off; brandvalues into verbs – then act on them at every touchpoint. experiences aren’t about huge budgets but rather bigThey use the brand vision as a guide not for visual branding, ambitions. To promote the speed of their Windows Phonebut for every action: from structure, to activity, demonstration, at MWC, Microsoft created a unique rapid (but low-budget)entertainment and beyond. They don’t make assumptions. experience to match. Takea way Don’t ju st crea design te a br ed to th anded e letter space, of bran d guid Design elines. a bran from th d expe e bran rience d value design s. DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW /4
  • NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS**until they’ve bought into your brand All of us know from Branding 101 that strongly differentiated brands fare better than those that blend in with competitors. Why then, the sea of sameness on the tradeshow floor? It’s as if marketers who know better have forgotten the lessons of consumer marketing upon entering big shows like CES, IFA and MWC – where the competition and need to differentiate are even starker. Perhaps that’s because the typical exhibitor at these shows is so focused on showcasing products and only builds an environment around those products. On the whole, your audience doesn’t want or need to see the entire product range. Yet at the big shows, we saw thousands of products but few brand visions shining through. Philips, T-Mobile, Google, Ericsson and Dell were welcome exceptions. Takeaway ducts st, pro a nds fir eate buy br you cr People e rience tands he exp rand s sec ond. T hat your b age, show w tive im ne eds to distinc ject a on. nd pro e of in teracti for – a mod ask ge and g else, messa a nythin you do n?” Before d visio s ou r bran “what’ DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW /5
  • YOUR TECHNOLOGY ISN’T WORKING**if your audience can’t work it out for themselvesValues like ‘human’, ‘intuitive’ and ‘personal’ are in manybrand DNAs. So technology should behave accordingly.We often encourage our clients to empower people to discover Taketheir products versus compelling every attendee to go through astep-by-step demo. We do that because what we call the warm Crea awayglow of self-discovery can have a powerful and positive impact. te ex your perie prod nces that eIn our technology-saturated world, people crave experiences in the ucts t o live nable real as ththat work intuitively and without guidance, as if by magic. actio world ey do n as . And disco foolp make ver a roof that s pos and sible magi cal toYes, there are occasions when having an ambassador explain .your product is absolutely right; if you’re showing technologythat’s unfamiliar or in early-stage development, it’s likely thatyou’ll need the gentle guidance of a skilled brand ambassadorto ensure people get to understand it and love it. At times likethat, your product really does merit interpretation. But in mostother instances, people want to be able to pick up a product,press a button and find it does exactly what they asked it to. DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW /6
  • IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU**it’s about your audienceLots of brands talk about the power of interacting with Why? The goal is not impressing, it’s involving your audience.customers. Yet most exhibitors don’t act on it and activities are In a digital-dominated world, they also expect experiences tomore likely to be focused on one-way product demos with an be relevant to how they use your brand and better still, helpold fashioned “features and benefits” approach. One-way them interact with your brand. And that’s surely true of the most“shows” that grab attention yet ultimately alienate are another successful “attractors”—those activations that pull people intorecurring feature. Just like consumers, B2B audiences assume your exhibit instead of causing them to walk away. The bestthat their interest must be earned. They expect entertainment invite people to participate in something relevant, useful andand a bit of surprise. They love competition and that’s why real. To put it another way, if you have a vacuum cleaner, let“gamification” has been such a buzzword for the past few people suck up dirt.years. But mime artists and aloof models are just as off-puttingtoday as they’ve always been (but more embarrassing). akeaway T ractiv e. e= att Int e ractiv n em powe r u ca ract w yo o inte A sk ho nce t e audi your bran d. wi th the DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW /7
  • GET OFF THE FLOOR**if your experience will work better elsewhere Some of the most successful experiences at major events like CES, MWC and IFA aren’t even on the tradeshow floor. A few brave brands (actually, a tiny minority) create off-site experiences that avoid the noise by “exhibiting without an exhibit”. It’s a simple idea that brands can address through mobile apps, targeted meetings, interventions at transit points, guerilla marketing, mini-conferences or entirely autonomous off-site brand experiences that look and act like tradeshows—just away from the noise and distraction of all the competitors. It’s not an oversight that Apple doesn’t even show up at shows like MWC. Why create a physical, fixed experience at all? Why not a service or mobile experience? Takeaw Go whe ay re your ser ved, brand is whethe best or some r the tra where e de floo lse enti r rely. DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW /8
  • IN A NUTSHELL: DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW**just for the sake of showing upFirst of all, make sure you should be at the tradeshow at all. Havea good strategic reason to go: check it’s the best way to reachthe right people and achieve your business objectives. With somany brands competing so mightily for attendees’ attention whenit comes to shows like CES, MWC and IFA, it should go withoutsaying that “just showing up” won’t cut it. Yet a surprising numberof exhibitors rationalize their participation with phrases like“We were here last year,” “We have to come” or “My boss likesthis show” and fail to activate aggressively once there.Make sure you have the resources – time , money andimagination – to activate in truly different and engaging ways.If you’re going…Don’t create a branded spaceEssentially a superficially branded experience, visuallybranded, product showroom with few unique brand activities.An experience without a clear reason for being.Create a brand experienceIgnore tradeshow conventions. Instead, treat your brandvalues as verbs. Build an experience that’s true to your brandinside and out, and in behavior – not just appearance.That’s an experience that cuts through.That’s an experience that works. DON’T GO TO THE TRADESHOW /9
  • LET’S TALK CONTACT Liz Bigham liz_bigham@jackmorton.com +1 212 401 7212READ ON Read our blog at blog.jackmorton.com Follow us on Twitter @jackmorton Visit us online at jackmorton.com Read what we had to say about CES click here
  • ABOUTJACK MORTONJACK MORTON WORLDWIDE IS A GLOBAL BRAND EXPERIENCEAGENCY WITH OFFICES ON FIVE CONTINENTS. OUR AGENCYCULTURE PROMOTES BREAKTHROUGH IDEAS ABOUT HOWEXPERIENCES CONNECT BRANDS AND PEOPLE—IN PERSON,ONLINE, AT RETAIL AND THROUGH THE POWER OF DIGITALAND WORD OF MOUTH INFLUENCE. WE WORK WITH BOTHBTOC AND BTOB CLIENTS TO CREATE POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVEEXPERIENCES THAT ENGAGE CUSTOMERS AND CONSUMERS,LAUNCH PRODUCTS, ALIGN EMPLOYEES AND BUILD STRONGEXPERIENCE BRANDS. RANKED AT THE TOP OF OUR FIELD, WEEARNED OVER 50 AWARDS FOR CREATIVITY, EXECUTION ANDEFFECTIVENESS LAST YEAR. JACK MORTON IS PART OF THEINTERPUBLIC GROUP OF COMPANIES, INC. (NYSE: IPG).© Jack Morton Worldwide 2012