DIMENSIONAL MARKETING: TRADE SHOW GIVEAWAYS THAT LAST
by Cathie Smith
Ah, the trade show - row after endless row of white draped booths with a variety of products and services for perusal and purchase. Where does a visitor start, and how do they tell one product from the other? Some exhibitors entice visitors with expensively produced documentaries projected on screens. Others try to keep it cozy with intimate one-to-one conversations. There are exhibitors with libraries of brochures that "counsel" passers-by. And, there are the giveaways - hundreds of logo-embossed goodies to sack-up and play with back at the hotel or to take home to the kids - caps, rulers, key chains, pens, T-shirts, mugs, flashlights, tool sets and backpacks. Marketing from the mundane to the extravagant, all with the same goal - to get and keep exhibitors' products and names in front of customers.
THE AGRIMARKETING CHALLENGE
The challenge to the agrimarketer is two-fold. First, in agriculture, companies that make pesticides and fertilizers know that their customers' livelihoods depend on the exact use of the products on their crops. Also, health and safety are a prime concern. In this light, marketing tools take on much more importance to end users than does a promotional device that, for example, enables customers to choose the right wine to accompany a meal.
Second, trade show marketing professionals seek to create marketing tools that distinguish products from the competition and create a marketing edge. Giveaways accomplish this goal if they are useful, relatable and meaningful to buyers and potential buyers. But not all giveaways are created equal. They must be designed to engage prospects and buyers and, therefore, represent something that creates and maintains a communications link - something trade show visitors will keep. When exhibitors provide buyers or potential buyers with simple tools that help them do their job better, they create a powerful marketing advantage.
DIMENSIONAL MARKETING PRODUCTS
Customized, dimensional marketing devices - slide-charts, wheel-charts and pop-ups - are uniquely suited to meet the agrimarketing challenge. Dimensionals need not be expensive; nor do they require hard work. Rather, the essence of dimensional marketing is to take information that is important to customers and put it in a format that they want to use and can use easily.
The devices are dimensional, interactive marketing pieces that give dimensionality to a marketing effort. Slide-charts and wheel-charts use a simplified slide rule methodology, which provides accurate information on how to correctly use the product. Pop-ups are rubber band activated shapes that fold flat for mailing and pop up when taken from the envelope.
A pre-show mailing of the rubber band activated pop-ups to current customers, prospects and other registered attendees is a dimensional invitation that's pretty hard to ignore. Recipients pull it out of the envelope, and it snaps into a three-dimensional shape announcing your participation in the trade show and inviting them to visit. Displaying one in your booth provides the connection for passers-by.
On the trade show floor, dimensional giveaways may be more effective as a premium for which visitors trade marketing information, rather than randomly dispensing them. Mauget Micro-Injection Systems, a manufacturer of fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides that are injected directly into the sap stream of trees, and their distributors use slide-charts as marketing tools to sell their product. Mauget Marketer Kellie Dodds explains, "Our distributors purchase [slide-charts] from us and use them as marketing tools in their business to sell our product. We take them to trade shows and give them to selected interested parties."
At trade shows booth visitors are asked to answer a few questions in exchange for a useful product, "Would you buy this product?" "How much of this type of product do you use?" "Are you currently using this type of product?" Once the exhibitor collects the qualifying data, the salesperson gives the slide-chart to the prospect or customer. Alternatively, it can be mailed to the prospect as a convenience. Then the salesperson can follow up by phone.
PRODUCT COMPLEXITIES MADE SIMPLE
Slide-charts and wheel-charts are, perhaps, more appropriate and significant for agriculture marketing than for other industries because the design and purpose of the tool is to give information that is very specific. Slide-charts provide information end users need to be successful with the product, such as how to determine the amount of the product to use. Calculations are already done to eliminate any chance of mistake. It eliminates guesswork. It eliminates waste. It eliminates failure in the use of the product because the end user isn't going to use too much or too little of the product.
Dodds explains how her company uses a slide-chart to give instructions for using their products, "We are a niche business. What we do is very unique and due to that uniqueness using the products requires more training than just reading 1-2-3. On the front of the tool is information that helps the professional calculate how many capsules of our product to use. The formula for the calculation is very complicated. That's where the slide-chart comes in, to simplify and educate on the use of the products. We also use them for training purposes. It was a very good investment and a very good tool."
ENGINEERING THE TRADE SHOW GIVEAWAY
The first of three key elements in designing a dimensional marketing item is defining what information is to be provided; what does the buyer want to know? Slide-charts are marketing communications devices that get precise information across in a very effective but simple way, without the need of a computer, electricity or even batteries.
Second, what are possible applications and uses that will prolong the "life" of the giveaway? Slide-charts that actually help customers use a product more successfully will stay with them. They become a reference tool when buying decisions are made, especially when purchasing that particular kind of product.
The third key element is determining where and how will the piece be used. In other words, what is the physical environment? In the agriculture business, tasks are often performed in an environment where it is not practical to take a computer, such as on the back of a tractor, in the middle of a field or in a barn. Every element of the slide-chart's design is controllable and customizable. If the charts will be used in an environment where there is potential for a lot of moisture, they can be laminated or made out of plastic. They are very transportable. In fact, most fit in a shirt pocket.
Agriliance, a St. Paul, Minn.-based company that manufacturers a full line of crop protection products, adjuvants and crop nutrients, uses a slide-chart incorporating all three key elements of design and application. The crop protection guide detailing t´´e use of their products is a 550 page spiral-bound book. Carrying this book around in the cab of a truck and performing the calculations for using the products is a burdensome and time-consuming process. Their slide-chart consolidates information extracted from the guide in a readily useable format. "We have different herbicide combinations. We use the slide-chart to show [the user] which of our products they should be adding and how much to mix. It's a lot easier to carry and manage than a 10-pound book," explains Agriliance's Eric Spandl. "It [the slide-chart] has been in demand by the end users, the retail agronomist. It has become a product in itself. It's a convenience item that's easily transportable, very functional and gives a lot of useful information."
GIVEAWAYS THAT SELL AND STAY
Three-dimensional marketing tools are interactive and irresistible. Prospects can't resist the urge to flatten the multi-sided orb or pyramid and watch it spring back into shape. Individuals who wouldn't touch a slide rule in school often feel compelled to investigate the results of a slide-chart. As they are playing with the marketing "toy," prospects are being educated about the product. As they experiment with slide-charts, prospects see a demonstration of the features of the product in a simplified and understandable format.
Finding a tested and proven way to put critical product information in the hands of the right buyer is a tricky proposition at best. Dimensional marketing pieces are specifically designed to appeal to the people who will be using the product that the marketer is selling. A marketer who used a dimensional slide-chart in a direct mail promotion reported response rates as high as 47 percent, which is a significant response considering the average direct mail response rate is usually less than five percent.
Millions of dollars are spent on advertising every day, all with the same objective - to establish sellers' products in the mind of potential buyers and to sell the products. The advertising mediums that best accomplish this objective are the ones that stay with the buyer and become as much a part of the product as the product itself. Slide-charts for many agricultural products have not only accomplished these goals but have taken on lives of their own. They are tangible instruments that not only put the marketer's product in front of the buyer every day, but are also tools that the buyer can keep and use in the application of the product. AM
Cathie Smith is the director of marketing for Perrygraf. For more information on dimensional marketing products call 800/423-5329 or visit www.perrygraf.com.