Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tradeshows Must Brand to Expand

Today I participated in a panel discussion about promoting tradeshow attendance at Association Marketing Day, a one-day conference sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington.

I was joined by three accomplished association marketers: Craig Blake, Nexus Direct; Margaret Core, Biotechnology Industry Organization; and Christine Maple, Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute.  All are responsible for driving tradeshow attendance, which has declined in most cases since the economic meltdown in 2008.

When the mic was handed to me, I used the opportunity to remind conferees how essential branding remains to any effort to expand the audiences for tradeshows.

It might seem nuts to proclaim to a gathering of marketers that "branding matters." 

But, from what I observe, few tradeshows have a skillfully wrought identity.

That's because most tradeshow executives rise to their positions via the ranks of show operations, which makes them exceptional logisticians, but often lousy marketers.

Most, as a consequence, close their eyes to branding and merely shower prospects with uninspired announcements of dates, locations and the "hundreds of companies" and "thousands of new products" to be found on the floor.

But brandingknowing your audience’s catch factor and letting them know you knowis crucial to increasing tradeshow attendance in today's Web-centric business environment.  

You must brand to expand.  There's no way around it.
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