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July 16, 2015

IAEE: Crazy Ideas That Work




by Kenya McCullum

When Dave Poulos of Granite Partners wanted a unique sponsorship idea for a show, his team decided it would be a great idea to advertise on the rear of the shuttle buses going back and forth to the hotels and the meeting location.
 
“We ended up with not only the back of the bus, but we let somebody sponsor the bus, and we let individuals sponsor the seat covers of the head rests so that the person behind you was reading the sponsorship,” he said. “And it sold quite well because, depending on where the show and the hotel circuits are, you can have a captive audience for quite a while.”
 
Similarly, when Phelps Hope of the Kellen Company needed an unusual idea for a show in South Korea, they decided on a promotion where a sponsor supplied cell phones that were given to all attendees at the show – and when the voice mail of those phones was activated, the caller received information about the event.
 
“The hook was getting a free cell phone, and people loved it, and the marketing hook behind it was on the voice mail – so if anyone called you at that number, it would have the show name and information on it,” he said. 

How to Make Crazy Ideas Work

The following tips can help you hone in on some offbeat trade show ideas and put them in motion.
 
Brainstorming. When you are coming up with ideas, the first step is usually to brainstorm, which allows members of a team to search their minds for ideas and document what comes up. During the brainstorming phase, the sky is the limit – there should be no judgment during that process. Although the ideas during the brainstorming phase may be outlandish, by allowing the creative juices to flow freely without sticking a cork in them, you will be able to come up with good ideas that you can use.
 
Get something borrowed. If you see a good idea at a show, you may want to try and put your own spin on it and modify it for the needs of your audience. And if the show is not competitive with yours, you may even be able to get pointers from the organizer of that event.
 
“Sometimes you get an idea if you have seen other shows do it. If it is not wholly your idea, you are taking somebody else’s and modifying it, and you can call up the other organizer to ask how they did it,” said Poulos. “Sometimes they will give you some clues on how they did it if it is a non-competitive show. But be prepared – if it works really well, somebody else is going to want it the next year.”
 
Sex does not always sell. Although Madison Avenue will tell you that sex sells no matter what, sex generally does not have a place at a trade show – and if you do something too risqué, you run the risk of actually turning off your attendees, rather than getting them to buy something. 

“Bringing a girl in a bikini to a trade show does not usually work. That is great for car shows or a motorcycle show, but in most cases, it actually will turn people away from you,” said Margaret Colebeck, marketing associate at Vantage Advertising LLC. “Trade shows are a
lot of fun, but at the same time it is still business. At a generic annual trade show, I would definitely avoid using any kind of sex to try to sell something – and that goes for using women and men.”


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