I was speaking with a client last week about all the changes coming down the pike in his company. They were just acquired by a larger organization and, although the logo will remain the same, the company name is changing by the end of this calendar year. I asked what the plan was going to be for announcing this huge news, and, oddly enough, trade shows never entered the conversation – not until I brought it up.
The client said the company wasn’t really planning to announce the change on the show floor; they were just planning to put the new name with the old logo up there and get on with it.
My brain came to a screeching halt. As my kids would say, “what, WHAT?”
What are the implications for not announcing at your trade shows, that you used to be Company A but now you’re Company B? You see more customers and/or potential customers on the show floor than at any other time during the year.
Here are a few things that come to my mind when I hear that the exhibit won’t be assisting in getting this very important news out:
- You have the same exhibit, you rent the same 20×20 space at the show but there is a new name in that space. Company A must have gone out of business.
- Attendee: “Wow, this must have been a hostile takeover; they won’t even acknowledge that they were acquired by another company. I bet customer service will suffer for it. We should start looking for a new vendor.”
- I got this post card in the mail from a new company but I already use Company A and I’m happy with them. Why should I stop by and see this new guy? I’m loyal.
- This is a missed opportunity to show off not only the new business cards, but all of the new services you will be able to offer your loyal customers; because you now have the resources to support them.
- You’ve just been given a chance to freshen things up a bit. You’ve been using the same exhibit and graphics for more than 5 years, that’s a century in exhibiting years. A Bigger organization and wider reach, means more marketing dollars. Invest in this huge opportunity to announce the merger, acquisition, partnership or whatever you call it. Show it off with new graphics or even a whole new exhibit made in this century. It will generate excitement among your customers, new and loyal.
- Think like your customers. They want to be assured that this is a good thing, so shout it from the rooftops! Make it a celebration and let them know that they will benefit from this deal and new name, and everything that comes with it.
You can’t assume that your customers know about the changes through industry news or an announcement you placed on your company home page. You need to bring the news to them and make sure all of your marketing initiatives announce it in the same way. Come up with a catchy logo that morphs from the old to the new, or a short statement that you can put on your website, e-newsletter, snail mail announcements and social media outlets. Then be sure to follow it up with your exhibit graphics. You don’t have to plaster it everywhere, but one very visible graphic for a 10×10 or inline booth, 2-3 for a 20×20 and more for larger booths, will ensure that you’ve gotten the news out and you’re not about to lose a customer to someone else because they didn’t know it was still you.
Remember, your competition is on the show floor and they want your customers. Keep the message positive, talk about the benefits of this change, and give your booth staffers some talking points so they can sound informed and excited about the new company. Show customers you value them by acknowledging that a change has taken place, the relationship is safe and it will only get better. Then give examples.
And before they walk away, don’t forget to give them a trinket with the new name on it so they’ll remember to change it in their contact management system (or, if you’re older than 45, rolodex) when they get back to the office.
Keeping your consumers informed about your company is a must, especially when a big change is ahead. By creating a strong social media footprint and promotional marketing strategy, you’ll never have to worry about a disconnect between you and your clients. Read the Using Promotions & Social Media to Get More Trade Show Visitors white paper to strengthen your all-around presence, no matter where you are in the process. Click here for your free copy.