Innovative and Controversial

The trade show booth was stacked four deep with people eager to take advantage of the company’s free giveaways. While they were waiting for their gift, they took some collateral sales and marketing materials, and signed up for the company’s e-newsletter. The booth was a smash success!

Then the giveaways ran out, and the mood shifted like the turn of the tide. An occasional passerby would slink by, trying not to make eye contact with the company rep. Or they would stand a good ways off, give the booth the “once-over” from a safe distance, and then shuffle on to the next.

It’s a fact: no giveaways, no booth traffic. No sales and marketing materials handed out. No signups for the company e-newsletter. No point in being at the trade show.

What are the lessons for trade show marketers?

Always have free stuff to give away? Well, maybe. “Booth candy” is a great way to get people to interact with you at your trade show display. However, there’s a deeper lesson to be learned—one that can be applied to your company’s written communications.

At Trade Press Services, a question that we ask every client when we develop content for bylined articles or other forms of marketing communication is, “What information can you provide that will be innovative or controversial?”

Innovation turns things on end

Innovative and controversial. That’s what draws people to a trade show display. And that’s what draws eyeballs to your website, company newsletter, e-news, blog, white paper or any other written communication.

A word of warning: don’t be faux-innovative, or controversial for the sake of controversy. For example, don’t exclaim that your product performs miracles if it doesn’t or make other outrageous claims. The Internet and indeed, most 21st-century media are full of this, and consumers are weary of it. Take the time to find out what’s truly innovative about your product or service. Look at your offerings from a new angle and figure out what’s controversial about your position, brand or approach in the marketplace. What will make people stop and think?

That trade show booth? The attention-getter was really nice plastic water bottles, the kind you might find at a nice hiking and camping store. Innovative? More than your typical convenience store coffee mug. They were free of toxic plastic and had a pop-up spout. Controversial? Well, it turns out that people like to color and decorate things. Rather than give away a plastic water bottle with the company logo, trade show attendees were given magic markers and colorful stickers to decorate and personalize their water bottles. It was a welcome bit of whimsy and fun that’s not often found at stodgy trade shows in the local convention center.

Add that bit of innovation and fun to your written materials. Maybe your headline reads “All-American Tires Save Lives. Yours Could Be Next.” Underneath, in italics, “New Tread Design Hugs the Road, so You Can Hug Your Kids.” Add a picture of a happy family and a mini-van, and you’re three. See? It’s easy—and attention-getting.

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