Ready for Flight

Marketing a greener product in the B-to-B realm can be a daunting task.  Depending on the category, sustainability is often just one of many boxes to check on most buyers’ lists — and it’s usually pretty far down the list.

And then there are trade shows — the staple of any B-to-B marketing plan.  You’ve probably attended a show (or worse, worked one) and looked around hoping for something interesting to happen. It’s simply rare that exhibitors do anything to help themselves stand apart and change the game, other than spending a lot of money on the booths themselves (not that that’s not important…it just becomes a game of who has the cooler booth vs. who can really attract the most qualified leads).

So, in what may seem like an effort at shameless self-promotion, I’d like to share how we recently actually did change the game at a trade show.  Hopefully, this quick case study will give you some ideas for your next event:

We’re the ad agency of record in North America for Toshiba LED Lighting, and LIGHTFAIR® is their biggest show of the year — in fact, it’s the largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show in the world. Here’s what we did to change the game:

• First, we honed in on a narrow list of key individuals who can actually say yes to Toshiba and created a plan to specifically reach them.
• That plan centered around an exclusive helicopter event touring the Grand Canyon that would be memorable long after the attendees left LIGHTFAIR.
• Instead of sending an email or direct mail pieces to invite our key prospects to the helicopter event (all of which would most likely be ignored or forgotten), we sent Toshiba-branded RC helicopters as invitations.
• We built a microsite for attendees to sign up and receive information that could be dynamically updated.
• And finally, we used Toshiba’s “Ready for Work” messaging for all materials to tie into their brand, and ultimately, their trade show booth.

The event was wildly successful — even before the event itself.  Toshiba sales reps received numerous calls from the very people they want to be talking with — and those people were saying things like, “this helicopter is AWESOME!” and “thank you — best invitation I’ve ever gotten!”  After the event itself, one attendee thanked Toshiba for a wonderful time and committed on the spot to growing their businesses together – starting with lighting for 33 of his newest branches.

By creating a disruptive experience – as opposed to just using the same old posters and handouts seen again and again at trade shows – Toshiba was able to build relationships with potential business partners AND drive sales. At your next trade show, maybe you can too.

About the Author

Brian Kelley

Brian is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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