WHY EXHIBIT? Part V: Product Promotion & Testing
Part 5 of our Why Exhibit? blog series provides a detailed overview of your Trade Show Strategy when your goal is to promote and test a new product in your market.
Trade shows are the perfect place for testing new products in the marketplace. Your audience is pre-qualified to be interested in your product, and you can gauge how effective the product or your marketing strategy for it is, right on the spot. Engage directly with potential buyers and see how your product or service appears from their perspective.
Setting Your Goals
You’ll want to set product promotion as your top goal in your exhibit strategy (for all of your shows, or for specific events), if:
- Your company has recently developed a new product or service, and you want to cross-sell to existing buyers.
- Sale of a new product isn’t performing as expected, and you need direct feedback from industry buyers.
- You want to test a new idea or product in the marketplace before it goes into production.
- You’re developing an advertising strategy for a new product or service, and want to test its effectiveness in the market before launch.
Meeting Your Goals
The main focus of your exhibit needs to be on the response. Don’t rely on the “feeling” salespeople received on the show floor (although don’t discount their insights, either!) but invest your time and money into effective response tracking, something that really engages your audience.
You can do comment cards. Definitely. However, to ensure they are giving you a well thought-out response, you need to be more creative. Brainstorm ways to really engage your visitors and to encourage them to be creative and detailed in their responses to your product questions. Do something to catch their attention and make them WANT to leave a creative response. Some ideas we’ve seen tossed around:
- Colour-coordinated sticky notes for visitors to post on your display, possibly organized into posting feedback areas like, “What you love about our new product!” and, “What should we change?”
- A whiteboard or chalkboard integrated into your display for customer feedback, similar to the sticky note concept.
- Integrate a way for visitors to leave video reviews of your product, with a “best review wins” prize incentive.
- Do the cardboard cut-out face photo op, and use an old school polaroid camera to take the photo. While the visitor waits for it to develop, have them write their comments and pin them to a wall. Their finished photo gets pinned above it.
- Run a live Twitter or Facebook feed on a large monitor or video wall in your space. Offer an incentive for visitors to leave comments on your Twitter or Facebook via their smartphone, and see it show up live on the monitor.
- For more streamlined feedback, create pre-made “pin” cards with featuring possible product or advertising improvements or ideas your team has already brainstormed. Create a real-life “Pinterest” wall in your booth, and encourage visitors to “Pin” the idea they like best.
Are you seeing a common theme here? People like getting credit for their ideas, and by making their feedback visible to everyone who visits your display—not just your backroom marketers—they feel recognized for their thoughts. All of these ideas help visitors interact not only with you and your salespeople, but other visitors. They’ll be more engaged not only in thinking of their own feedback, but in considering what others have said before them and possibly elaborating on those thoughts. Everyone wins!
No matter which goal you set, selling a new product or testing a new idea, you’ll measure your success in three distinct areas:
- Quantity of Feedback: Count up the comment cards, sticky notes, or Twitter posts you used for gathering visitor input. If you also used lead capture software, factor those numbers in too. How many people visited and/or provided feedback?
- Quality of Feedback: No matter what kind of input system you used, devise a rating systems to grade the quality of the ideas provided. Knowing how many visitors provided high quality feedback versus lackluster comments can help you determine how effective your booth, your product, and your input methods were.
- Hype Generated: Disregarding numbers and quality, how excited were visitors by your product, and how engaged were they with leaving feedback. Were they excited? Did they really enjoy themselves while visiting? You can gather this information from the salespeople you had on the floor, and from the tenor of comments left behind—how many exclamation points were visitors using?
Take advantage of your captive audience, and the fact that people often like to contribute their two cents. It makes them feel like a part of the process, and thus more invested in your brand and the new product! Keep an eye out for our next Why Exhibit post, where we cover Business Rapport as an exhibiting goal.
Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you, and happy to help!
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