Women Continue to Make Great Strides in the Industry

This past Friday was International Women’s Day, and the theme was “Let’s inspire inclusion.”

As our team participated at the Las Vegas Convention Center the week prior, we continued to consider the growing influence and increasing roles for women throughout the construction industry. Every year, attendees and exhibitors alike at IBS and KBIS edge closer and closer to gender parity. While this development provides encouragement, we’re still struck by the tone deafness of those trade show exhibits – where showgirls and “booth babes” are scattered around – like accessories. Mercifully, those numbers seem to shrink every year. What message is a brand sending, if the only women visible in a booth are positioned merely for gawking? It seems particularly short-sighted to us… especially given the strides women continue to make in the industry.

Yes, what’s come to be known as Design and Construction Week was celebrated in Las Vegas. After all, when The International Builder Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show co-locate in the Las Vegas Convention Center at the same time… it’s a huge experience. This annual event draws over 117,000 attendees to the largest annual gathering of residential construction and design industry professionals in North America. Its size can be a bit daunting… with more then 2,400 exhibits to navigate.

Trade shows, exhibitions and conferences are invaluable opportunities for builder products to showcase their innovations – network with industry professionals – and leave a lasting impression on prospects. However, with intense competition (and a limited timeframe to capture attention), it’s crucial for building product brands to differentiate at these events. At K&A, we’ve been participating at industry trade shows across the globe for as long as we’ve been an agency. And along the way we’ve learned a lot.

Over the years, our team has developed an array of “best practices” and we are thrilled to share real examples of these techniques. Trade shows and industry events fit into a broader plan for building materials marketing… and here’s how.

Set Clear Objectives

Before diving into the world of trade shows, define the objectives. Whether it’s generating leads, increasing brand awareness, or launching a new product… having clear goals will guide the strategy and help to measure success.

Design an Engaging Booth

A trade show booth is the face of the brand. Invest in a well-designed, visually appealing exhibit that reflects the brand’s identity. Use eye-catching graphics. Multimedia displays and interactive elements to engage attendees. And encourage them to linger, to make a memorable impression. Cornerstone Building Brands suspended a huge logo at an angle from the ceiling above their booth.

Photo from Hamilton Exhibits, LLC

This brand’s “fifth wall” was visible from all over the show floor. And it stood out like a beacon. People walked out of their way just to see it… that’s the very definition of an engaging booth.

Make it Multisensory

It can be difficult to stand out and capture attention at a trade show.

Photo from Kohler

Kohler always stands out… however, this year they set a new standard. Kohler’s impressive 15,000 square-foot space showcased the latest in design and innovation from the company’s portfolio of brands. The experiential booth provided visitors with an unexpected array of multi-sensory moments: from hands-on interactive product displays and aromatherapy fragrances… to the hand-crafted flavors and bold colors of Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates.

Develop Compelling Marketing Collateral

Create impressive marketing materials that attendees will want to take with them. Irvine California-based Boot Barn sells high quality footwear as well as western attire for all ages. At IBS, they were there to showcase work boots suitable for the job site. So much so that people lined up, literally, to get into their booth.

Photo from Boot Barn

Instead of a keychain – or water bottle – Boot Barn gave away Boot Barn branded ball caps. And they were a very much in-demand item in Las Vegas.

It goes without saying that brochures, business cards and promotional items should be professionally designed. And as Boot Barn showed so ably… give away something that people actually want. After all, merchandise that people keep – is an excellent call-to-action – that encourages further engagement after the event.

Engage in Pre-Event Marketing

Don’t wait until the event starts… to promote a brand’s presence. Pre-gaming can pay big dividends before, during and after the show. Leverage social media, email campaigns and a branded microsite or landing pages to create buzz before the event. Offer teasers or exclusive previews – and incentives – to attract attendees.

Leverage Technology

Incorporate innovation to enhance a booth’s appeal. Consider virtual reality or augmented reality experiences… to showcase products in an immersive environment. Leverage touchscreen displays for interactive product demonstrations, while capturing attendee information for follow-up.

LG went a step further – and staffed its booth – with a flotilla of its “Smart Home AI Agent” robots.

Photo from LG

LG’s Smart Home AI Agent uses cutting-edge robotic and multi-modal technologies that enable it to move, learn and comprehend… to help free people from the burden of household chores. This fully ambulatory robot can answer questions – hold conversations – and integrates seamlessly with LGs ThinQ UP 2.0-compatible appliances.

Follow-Up Effectively

The work doesn’t end when the event does. Have a comprehensive follow-up plan in place. Reach out to leads promptly. Expressing gratitude for their visit. And provide additional information or resources. Personalize follow-ups… to make a lasting impression.

Measure and Analyze Results

After the event, evaluate performance against the objectives. Measure metrics such as lead generation, booth attendance and brand visibility. Analyzing results will inform future strategies. And help refine approaches for upcoming events.

Navigating trade shows and industry events requires a strategic approach to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Set clear objectives – invest in engagement – and leverage technology, while focusing on follow-up to maximize your brand presence and leave a lasting impact. 

If you’d like to learn more about maximizing trade show experiences within your marketing mix, we’re here to help. Send an email to Steve at sk@kleberandassociates.com to get the conversation started.