collateral.JPGYesterday we covered our top 10 takeaways from last week’s fantastic SiriusDecisions Summit.  In the last takeaway, we alluded to the meta-environment there of marketers marketing to marketers.  Michelle at Lattice Engines did a nice post yesterday highlighting some great examples of marketing on the trade show floor.

My focus was on the registration bag and event program.  The sponsors of this event paid a lot of money to get the attention of more than 2,000 world-class B2B marketers.  This included an insider in everybody’s registration packet, and an ad in the program itself.

How did they do?  Overall, I think I’d give them a C-.  Honestly, there were a lot of “mailing it in” efforts from several companies that spent five and six figures for the opportunity.

Rather than call out the bad examples directly, I tried to condense my takeaways to a short set of “lessons” I took away from what I saw, lessons I will definitely apply to future event marketing efforts for Heinz as well as for our clients.  I hope these give you some new ideas and insights as well.

1. Don’t assume people will read it right away
You’ve seen this format before, many times.  You’ve probably created or placed marketing materials in it.  The registration bag you get along with your name tag at the beginning of the event.  How many attendees do you think dig into the pile of collateral right away?  I assume very few.  They might flip through it during some down time later in the event, or (like me) flip through it once back at the office.

From the materials last week, there were several that pointed people to sessions the first morning of the event (in some cases before most people had even picked up their registration materials).  But even those materials that told people to “stop by the booth” likely didn’t get noticed until it was too late.  And if that was your only call to action, what now?  Which brings us to the next point…

2. Don’t limit your call to action to only “at the show” offers
It doesn’t help if I’m looking through these materials back home and you’re inviting me to your booth.  If you want to promote at-show offers, great, but pair that with something I can respond to afterward.  As an aside, it was surprising to me how many marketing pieces had no offer at all!  Just product and service overviews with a generic phone number and email address.

3. Use a unique tracking code or phone number or something
Whether the ads and materials had offers or not, I saw very few unique tracking mechanisms.  The email and Web response tactics were generic, so there was little to no way the company’s marketers would be able to measure how many people responded.  Some of the phone numbers could have been unique, I guess.  And given an average response rate to something like this (with just 2,000 total recipients), it would probably be small.  But still, if you can’t measure, how do you know if it was effective at all?

4. Choose a different format than 8.5 x 11
Each registration bag last week literally had more than an inch of marketing flyers.  Most of them looked almost exactly the same – not just in layout but also physical format.  A couple stood out based on unique shapes.  They were difficult to miss, and among the first things I paid attention to.  The dozens of letter-sized pieces became redundant quickly, and highly undifferentiated.

5. Don’t just use something generic from your “catalog” of content
I realize it takes extra effort to create something that’s unique to the event.  But if I’m in the mindset of that event, a unique headline or offer or message is far more likely to get my attention.  It was painfully obvious which companies simply pulled a generic capabilities brochure from their catalog of content and threw it in.  No offer, no differentiation, little value.

6. Limit the copy!
It’s bad enough when I come to your booth individually and get a double-sided flyer that has 1,000+ words jammed in.  I’m not very likely to read all of that.  Now multiply that two-pager times over an inch of similar flyers.  I don’t have a couple hours to read it.  Now, those half-sheets and minority of flyers that limited the copy and made it easier to read, they got my attention.  And they were much more likely to get my clickthrough or response to learn more (and eventually read more too).

7. Use thick stock
Tactical but important.  Flimsy paper gets lost.  It wrinkles quickly.  It often doesn’t hold color or bold print well either.  A thick stock costs more but feels better.  It implies confidence and authority.