B2B marketing secrets were rife at the 2012 DMA Conference.

My recent attendance at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Annual Conference and Trade Show produced a wealth of B2B marketing learning. The sessions I attended were full of quantitative information on best practices. The booths I visited revealed a number of sophisticated new technologies for managing customer communications, refining customer data, personalizing mailing packages and getting access to email data by geography. The information was great.

Unfortunately, for the vendors with booths in the exhibit hall, there was one issue that wasn’t great — signage. If the problem appeared at just one or two booths, it wouldn’t be worth writing about. But with rare exception, after reading everything the signs had to say on each booth, I still had to ask the magic question, “What does your company do?”

When I first read Ruth Stevens‘ book Trade Show and Event Marketing I learned about the best practices for trade show booth signage. They include:

  • Make the message short, clear and easy to grasp.
  • Use a typeface that’s legible enough to read at 30 feet.
  • Make sure the visitor knows — within seconds — what the company does.
  • Avoid signage that makes the visitors do all the work.

Making the visitor do all the work is exactly what I experienced. The signs were full of benefits, as she recommends. But what those companies did to deliver the benefits was a mystery. She said the same in her book.

“As I walked the aisles, I noticed how my eye would scan the signs, in an effort to decide which booth to visit and which to pass by. Many of them left me clueless. So what does a clueless aisle walker do? They have two choices. Either go up to the booth and pose the big question, “What do you guys do, anyway?” Or, move on, mumbling to oneself, “Why don’t they just tell me what they do? Why do I have to do all the work?”

Everywhere there were the words we know in B2B marketing. They included ROI, Increasing Customer Value, Data Driven Marketing, Email Marketing, Integrated Marketing Solutions. What are the folks with Integrated Marketing Solutions or any of the other companies selling? Software? Advertising services? Marketing automation?

B2B marketers need to spend time creating a short description of what they do and put it prominently on their signs. Here are rough examples of what several booths I visited could have put prominently on their signage to clearly describe what they offer:

  • Advanced software that integrates ALL customer interactions
  • Zip code-based email marketing
  • Cloud-based CRM that engages customers with relevant communications

As past posts covering trade shows on this blog have illustrated, there are many innovative ways B2B marketers can generate traffic to their booth. You can check out some of the ideas on these posts.

Take your B2B trade show booth from boring to spectacular.
Four quick B2B marketing ideas for a short week.
Rock-Bottom Trade Show Tactics: Event Marketing on the Very Cheap

But if the signage visitors see when walking the aisles doesn’t grab them, B2B marketers may not generate the traffic they need at these costly shows.

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1 Comment

  • By Nick Stamoulis, October 25, 2012 @ 8:33 am

    Marketing, whether it be online, traditional, or even person to person is all about opportunity. You have one chance to make an impression with your potential customers. We always recommend our clients optimize their meta descriptions as that is what is going to drive users from the SERP to their websites. Messaging that is short, to the point, and captures a company’s essence helps to drive visitors and traffic.

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