Promo Close-Up - Trade Show Tactics

One Distributor Thrives With Smarts And Simplicity

Apartment ListIt takes a lot to stand out and make a lasting impression at any trade show, particularly the colorful National Apartment Association Conference. For this year's event, distributor Motivators Inc. (asi/277780) and one of its senior sales consultants, Alison Derkatch, helped client ApartmentList generate some serious show floor buzz.

Guided by Derkatch, the staff at ApartmentList chose to attract attention with promotional emery boards, recognizing that most of the attendees at the conference are women between the ages of 30 and 55. Next, ApartmentList chose to feature promotional mints, plus a personalized bottle opener and magnet. The items were simple, practical and powerful.

"The campaign for the trade show was successful because it was unique, targeted to the audience and affordable for ApartmentList," says Nancy Bleeke, president of Sales Pro Insider, Inc. "Motivators, Inc. demonstrated what I call a WiifT (What's in it for Them?) mindset and focus – they created items that are about Them – about ApartmentList and the attendees."

Bleeke points out that by tapping into its expertise, the demographics of the attendees and the experience from earlier trade shows, Motivators was able to make a recommendation and provide items that mattered. "This shows that they value their clients and that they think of them by bringing fresh ideas at a reasonable cost," says Bleeke.

According to ApartmentList, passersby were thrilled with the two-in-one fridge magnet/bottle opener. The branded emery boards were a hit with female show-goers, many of whom made it a point to grab two or three at a time. As with most conferences, there were coffee and lunch meetings, so the audience was glad to have breath mints available as well.

"Providing something useful for the trade show itself, like breath mints, is a brilliant idea," says Bleeke. "Attendees are snacking and eating throughout the trade show and then close-talking with new connections." While bad breath may not be on their minds, Bleeke notes that bad breath is not a great way to make a favorable impression with people you are meeting and determining whether you have any synergy.

The promo items at the trade show may not have been the biggest or most expensive giveaways, but they were successful at getting the ApartmentList brand name some solid publicity. Overall, the branded goodies were a big success. About 1,000 items were distributed and Motivators earned about $6,000.

Most importantly of all, though, people were drawn in by the free goodies and stayed for the information. And, as an added benefit, the promotional items will continue to be used at work and home, providing a lasting impression.

"The strategy of making your solution timely and relevant and focused on them is one everyone should emulate," says Bleeke. She adds that if you are producing anything that has no value or use to the recipient, you are wasting your time, money and energy. "Instead, know your client, know your industry and know what others are doing and then do it better," says Bleeke. "You will not only give great value – you'll be remembered and knock out your competition."