How Owners, CEOs, Marketing Managers, PR Directors, and Sales Teams use Strategy to Succeed at Trade Shows
We are getting many inquiries about the trade shows – the Aquatic Experience, NY VET, VMX 2018, WVC, GPE 2018, SuperZoo. For those of you working on booth events, product demonstrations, presentations and meetings, we’d like to ask you to take a moment and read this blog, because we want to talk to you about strategy. The word strategy is loaded, right? It implies days of planning, long meetings in windowless conference rooms, a Plan that goes through a dozen rounds of edits, and ultimately you feel you’ve put in a whole lot of time for … well, for what?
At FWV Fetching, we have heard about strategy sessions that still haunt people, but our approach to how to know your strategy and how to make it work for you, is different. It’s direct, efficient, and most of all…useful.
Read on and see if this approach to strategy matches your particular needs. Because manning a booth at a trade show is not the same thing as strategically doing a trade show. And with the investment you’re making in a booth, along with the competition you’ll see in the exhibit hall, it pays to have a strategy.
Expert Guidance: Consider the benefit of having an objective industry expert listen to your business goals, and appreciate your bottom line. Throughout the year we help businesses launch products and services at the pet and veterinary tradeshows. We have the ability to hear you and translate your needs into an actionable and strategic trade show plan so that you will reach your target audiences with today’s marketing tools and technologies.
Stand out from the Crowd: The words you use to position your business, product or service can be the first and only impression a prospect sees. With years of experience managing communications programs for pet product businesses and veterinary services, we will help structure your messages so that you can stand out from the crowd. It’s a cliche saying, but nevertheless, a true requirement for success. You must differentiate your “widget” from everyone else’s. The differentiators must be crystal clear to anyone looking at your website, brochure, booth, or social media content. Our strategic direction will remove any fog around your messaging.
Know Your Audience: We want to know everything about your target market. It can’t really be “the world of pet owners” can it? You can lean on us to help identify who you are talking to, and what they want to hear. Further, our experience with all of today’s publicity tools opens up a number of ways for you to communicate to your audiences. Think of it – posts, digital marketing, web content, video, media placements, bylined articles, and on it goes. Not to mention the technologies that are easy to use to support email outreach, or graphic design needs.
Results, results, results: Why go to a trade show, why bother to exhibit, if you can’t specify your goals? Our work with pet and veterinary businesses around the globe is unique in that, as an agency, we are always asked for metrics and results. Let us help you define those outcomes and then determine how to successfully achieve them.
FWV Fetching works with pet and veterinary businesses as they prepare for trade show exhibits. If you would like a free consultation about your trade show publicity, social media, digital, design and/or marketing needs, or if you just need a press kit written for the trade show’s press room, contact Liz Lindley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, complete our brief Marketing Needs Analysis and Liz will contact you right away.
If you’re looking for a fun, exciting and effective way to get your product in front of a whole new audience of pet owners, look no further than pet bloggers who offer product reviews. This community, like the pet industry as a whole, is rapidly growing each year.
For example, BlogPaws, a conference for pet bloggers and brands, boasted a sold-out crowd of over 500 enthusiastic attendees in 2016. And that’s just a small sampling of the entire pet blogging community. Some blogs focus on traveling with pets, while others focus on particular breeds or rescues, and others may cover holistic approaches to pet wellness. As the number of pet bloggers grows, so does their influence. Smart brands understand the unique power of these influencers and are reaching out to partner with them in various ways.
Done right, mentions in a blog can drive traffic to your website, increase the potential of sales, build brand awareness and create goodwill amongst the pet parent community. In our experience, earning product reviews on blogs is one of the most effective public relations tactics you can use to broaden your reach, and it’s a smart element of your overall marketing.
However, before you start Googling “pet blogs” and sending packages to bloggers, here are some things to keep in mind to make sure the process is mutually beneficial for both of you.
- Do your research.
Understanding the blogger’s audience and specialty is key to an effective campaign. Distributing a blanket “Dear Blogger” email is unlikely to work, since most experienced bloggers will send those right to the trash. The blogger outreach process is just like a media outreach campaign targeting traditional journalists – before you send anything, you must be certain that your press materials and pitch are on target for each reporter. That’s why we always learn as much as we can about the blogger before making the connection for our clients. Just as with beats or areas of focus at newspapers or magazines, we need to know what types of pets a blogger covers: cats, dogs or both? What do their readers enjoy learning about? What is the blog’s reach? Does the blog typically do product reviews? Are those reviews “sponsored” (i.e., paid)? We then align the needs of our client with those of the bloggers and their audience, to develop a prioritized list of bloggers to contact.
- Numbers aren’t the only things that matter.
It’s tempting to only want to work with the “big dogs” in the pet blogging community. But there are many different types of blogs that can work with your overall outreach strategy. Some, like the Dogington Post, have large readerships; some are positioned as part of a media outlet, like Catster.com; and still others are smaller and more personal like The Writer’s Dog. The key is to align your marketing goals with the right audiences. If a blogger has 250 readers instead of 250,000, you may not think it’s a good choice for a blogger outreach campaign. But once you dig a little deeper, you might find that the smaller blog has a much more engaged community or a specific niche that would find your brand or product especially interesting. Looking at the whole picture will help you determine the blogs that will offer you the most beneficial partnerships.
- Understand their policies.
Each blogger has a set of guidelines and policies for product reviews. Make sure you request these upfront. Some blogs will require product in exchange for a potential review; others will require financial compensation for their time. They may request an additional item, contest or special promo code to give to their audience. Some may ask for a link back to their site from your own website and social platforms. In addition, you should ask for an estimated date for when the review will be published. While we encourage quick turnarounds on product reviews and on most media outreach efforts in general, publication dates are entirely dependent on the blogger’s schedule, which could mean days or months. This could become important if you’re coordinating a product launch or special contest promotion.
- Don’t send unrequested products or samples.
Some brands send products or samples to blogs prior to knowing whether the blogger is actually interested in doing a review. This is a random, hope-for-the-best kind of approach that we do not endorse. It’s important to decide what type of product you can send, once initial interest has been earned. This is applicable when you have varying levels of a product line in terms of fabrics, prices or sizes. With snacks, foods or other packaged products, you will want to decide if you are sending a small sample or the full size that would be available for purchase online or in a retail outlet.Working with pet blogs on product reviews can be hugely beneficial, generating positive publicity and awareness for your brand. But as you can see, the blogger outreach process requires time, expertise, consistency and an understanding of what each blogger needs for their particular audiences.
Fetching Communications can help you cultivate relationships with bloggers, earn product reviews and reach a larger audience of pet parents. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post about building your brand with bloggers through guest posts, sponsored posts and giveaways/contests.
We specialize in building brand awareness for pet products and services like yours. Want to discuss your specific challenges and the solutions Fetching Communications can offer? Contact Liz Lindley at 877.703.3824 x105 or email@example.com.
In a previous blog post, we mentioned that tradeshow exhibitors should “be prepared for media.” Let’s take a closer look into this subject, because doing it right can be a great advantage, whereas doing it wrong can cause problems down the road.
Tradeshows give you a wonderful opportunity to meet people who may become future customers, and of course you want to focus on the potential for sales and connections. However, another set of attendees is equally important, and that’s the media. They attend shows to see new products, check in on existing companies, and see what the trends look like for the months ahead.
Journalists come to the shows with packed agendas: meetings they have made in advance with companies and their publicists, lectures they want to attend, events they don’t want to miss.
You may have appointments pre-scheduled with particular reporters, and if so, we recommend that you set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you that the journalist will be at your booth in twenty minutes. That will give you time to wrap up any conversations and prepare for a focused meeting with the journalist. Your plan should be to spend 20-30 minutes with the reporter. Hand the reporter a press kit. Don’t allow for any interruptions, and strike a balance between talking and listening. Give the reporter your direct email and phone number so they can follow up with you after the show with any questions.
Let’s talk for a moment about your press kit. This is a folder or flash drive that typically contains a press release about your exhibit/new products, a frequently asked questions document, and a product information sheet with images. We advise that press kits are developed several weeks prior to the show, that way you have enough time to print copies, and place in folders and on drives. Your publicist will use the press kits in pre-show communications and pitches with media outlets. When you arrive at the show, place the folders and press kits in the press room at the tradeshow for easy access.
And, finally a word on unscheduled media visits to your booth. The worst thing you can do is ask the reporter to come back at another time. Remember, meeting with the media is not only a way for you to position your messaging and products but it is also an important aspect of reputation management. We have assembled a list of tips that will help you when someone with a press badge arrives at your booth. Click here to download the “Be Prepared for Media at a Tradeshow” checklist.
What are your questions about talking to the media at your next tradeshow? Contact Liz Lindley at Liz.Lindley@fetchingcommunications.com for a free tradeshow publicity consultation.
When it comes to advertising, nothing is more trusted than product or service recommendations from friends and family. And according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report, this trust extends beyond our immediate circle, and now includes reviews and opinions posted by others online.
Because of this, bloggers have become so influential when it comes to purchasing decisions. In fact, research indicates that 84 percent of consumers have made purchases after reading about a product or service on a blog (source: Research Now). It’s easy to see why partnering with bloggers should be an important piece of any pet brand’s overall marketing strategy.
When working with a blogger, product reviews often spring to mind first. And with good reason! They’re an effective, fun way to drive traffic, build brand recognition and increase sales. But don’t overlook other opportunities to partner with bloggers in the pet space, including:
Developing content for blogs other than your own is a terrific way to establish yourself as an authority in the industry, reach new audiences and drive traffic back to your site. The first step, of course, is to identify blogs that align with your target market and accept guest posts.
Before you reach out to bloggers, familiarize yourself with the blog owner, as well as their site, audience and niche. What types of pets do they have? What topics do they frequently write about? This will allow you to craft a personalized, targeted pitch for each blogger. Let them know who you are and why you’d like to write for their site. Give them some ideas of the types of content you could create for them. Above all, remember that this is not about advertising your product or service. It’s about offering value, resources and useful content to their audience.
Giveaways and Contests
Who doesn’t love the opportunity to win a valuable item for themselves or their pet? That’s why giveaways and contests are so successful. Whether tied to a product review or as a standalone campaign, both are great for creating engagement and word-of-mouth. The more valuable or in-demand the prize, the more interest it will get from both bloggers and their audiences.
Many contests and giveaways simply ask readers to submit an entry via an online form on the blog. For example, Caren Gittleman of Cat Chat with Caren and Cody recently partnered with our client, PetSafe® Brand, to do a product review and giveaway of the Flitter Cat Toy. Giveaways like these often encourage the audience to earn additional entries by taking other actions like commenting on the blog post, visiting the brand’s website or following the brand’s Facebook page and other social media platforms – further increasing engagement.
Fetching Communications can help grow your brand by connecting you with the pet industry’s most influential bloggers. Click here for a free blogger campaign quote from Fetching, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877 703 3824 x105.
It’s countdown time – your booth space is reserved, hotel reservations confirmed, and your employees are ready to go to the tradeshow to represent your company. You’ve made a significant investment of time, money, and resources.
Maximize that investment with these 6 tips:
Start with strategy. In the rush of registering for a booth, take a step back and consider the reasons you are exhibiting at the tradeshow. What do you expect to accomplish? How will you leverage the exposure of having a booth with the show’s attendees? If you start with a strategy and a focus, you are more likely to have a successful outcome at the tradeshow.
Plan PR, social media and marketing. Having a few key messages for all communications at the tradeshow will help you stick to your strategy and achieve your objectives. We recommend weaving these messages into your media outreach, social media and marketing at least one month prior to any tradeshow. For publicity, prepare a press kit in advance of the show that promotes your messaging and differentiates you from similar products or services. For social media, prepare your posts in advance, and engage with your audiences before, during and after the show. Your booth, logo, packaging, brochures, and all other marketing materials should be consistent in their themes, messages, styles and colors.
Consider promotional items. Most exhibitors order all kinds of promotional goodies to hand out to attendees, but the truth is that most attendees will drop the goodies into the trash bins as they leave the show. An alternative solution is to provide attendees with something that reflects your company’s value and messaging. Any giveaway should support your strategy and objectives for the show.
Train your booth staff. Your booth team represents your company, and for the few days of the tradeshow, they will be your ambassadors. We recommend that you train your booth staff beforehand, and provide a briefing packet for their reference during the show. It is also a good idea to conduct a huddle with your booth staff upon arrival and periodically during the show to review your expectations and answer their questions. Download our checklist for training your tradeshow booth staff below.
Be prepared for media. The tradeshow affords the opportunity to meet prospects, generate solid leads, and make sales, but you also need to be prepared for journalists who visit the booth. Be sure that you have press kits available for media to take, with your contact information clearly positioned in the materials. Start a conversation, and offer to speak with the journalist on the spot, or suggest a time later in the day when you can focus on the journalist’s questions without interruption. Remember that the conversation with the media should emphasize your values and messages for that media outlet’s particular audience.
Develop a solid follow-up plan. Most conference attendees leave the show and promptly head for the airport, already thinking about the work week ahead. To stay top-of-mind, we recommend developing a thorough follow-up plan that enables you to connect with leads you met at the show. Your follow up may be by phone, email, postcard, or in-person, and no matter how you do the follow up, it must have a specific call to action. With each follow up task, study the prospect, and be prepared to explain how you can help solve their particular need.
Fetching Communications works with pet and veterinary businesses as they prepare for tradeshow exhibits. If you would like a free consultation about your tradeshow publicity, social media and marketing needs, contact Liz Lindley at email@example.com.