Friday, October 31, 2008

Xerox: Transforming the trade show portfolio

While attending the 2008 Experiential Marketing Summit in Chicago, many of the country’s biggest event marketing companies presented case studies on best practices across each phase of a brand experience.

Here’s our takeaway from the Xerox case study:

Trade show portfolios continue to be streamlined, amped up and transformed into better-performing platforms that provide a greater return than ever before. The way Xerox reinvented its trade show efforts emerged from research, strategic planning and new tools.

Rosie Madison, VP of industry marketing, at Xerox and her exhibit partner Christopher Kappes, EVP of sales, at Sparks presented the factors that what led Xerox to rethink its exhibit strategy, how it weighed the risks of changing its gameplan, and the internal and external hurdles the company had to overcome.

Most of all, they offered insight on how the company is measuring success.

According to Xerox research, an effective trade show begins with “the conversation” objective. During the event set-up, the brand team should focus on what conversations with attendees are desired. Then, the trade show plan can be created to fit that interaction. Xerox customer research helped them design exhibits that could be flexible and customized for each show. Plus, they allowed efficient traffic flow and easy customer dialogue.

Further, these successful brand conversations go beyond the booth itself. The trade show staff must be effectively trained. In order to make this training more consistent on a show-to-show basis, Xerox has created an e-learning platform with specific trade show selling curriculum. Market research and sales force feedback guided them that selling at a convention booth was different from an office sales call. Therefore, different selling strategies are necessary.

Another point of evaluation is the exhibit venue. The trade show team must learn about the venue for events to determine why it is a good fit for “the conversation.” How can the venue become part of the sales strategy? How can it be leveraged for the area branch? How can it be used to make greater impact with local customers?

Finally comes the process of managing and measuring these programs. The Xerox team creates a forecast and plan that include set criteria for each event – by brand – with the projected budgets to be allocated and target sales to be generated. Because of the large number of trade shows at which Xerox exhibits, the review calls are scheduled weekly with both the agency and brand team. The agenda includes a discussion of the criteria for upcoming shows, as well as a report of progress to goals.

In transforming the trade show portfolio, what are the applications for health, science, and technology marketers?

When the teams at Stinson Brand Innovation create strategies for conventions, scientific meetings, and trade shows, we help clients facilitate customer conversations. Our plans are designed to help with Awareness, Attitude, and Usage. That means we educate attendees with new knowledge, engender a new positive attitude, and above all, change practice. All three of these dynamics can and should be measured.

Using a template suggested by the Xerox case, list some of the ways you could make your trade show programs more productive and more measurable.

2. EXHIBIT DESIGN -- Elements to facilitate the customer interaction
3. SALES TRAINING -- Approaches to modify the call for the venue
4. RESULTS CRITERIA -- Measuring the results of each shows

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