"A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is; it is what consumers tell each other it is."
--Scott Cook, Founder of Intuit
One of my favorite quotes of all time.
When it comes to direct interaction with your customers and partners, what’s the underlying foundation of your communication? What is it that you want your exhibit to convey? Are you trying to persuade or move others to do something? Companies that have the audacity to clearly articulate why a customer should engage with them are special. Companies that are bold enough to help customers figure it out on their own terms are extraordinary.
What comes to mind when you think about campaigns like Nike’s “Just Do it…” or Apple’s “Think Different?” How do you feel when you think about your annual Girl Scout cookie fix?” How about when you shop at Nordstrom or visit Disney World? What do these brands all have in common? They appeal to us emotionally. They each offer memories of products that you can and do connect with viscerally. And then what are you likely to do? You share your story with friends and that connection is amplified.
You have the same opportunity to create emotional connections when you’re conceiving an exhibit. Any organization can pop up a booth, but exceptional companies aim higher and are focused on producing an experience. Exceptional brands create environments where guests are encouraged to form emotional bonds with their experiences. And like Scott Cook refers to above, it’s a bond that they feel compelled to share.
How often do you find yourself talking with others about your iphone, or Mac? How about in the early spring when Girl Scout cookies go on sale? Now ask yourself how often do exhibitors evangelize the greatness of your event based on their experience there? How often are the people visiting your exhibit really blown away?
When you start planning what’s next, you really need to ask the hard questions about what fosters a real and genuine connection. How can I stir up an emotional experience? I just bought new Levi 501’s and Nike tennis shoes at Nordstrom. I used my iPhone to pay for them. The salesperson walked from behind the counter to offer his hand in thanks, but his smile resonated even further. What a totally great experience. Maybe I’ll just tell the person sitting next to me on my flight tomorrow to Disney World. I’ll be the guy attending an event at one of Magic Kingdom’s properties, and I’m psyched to see just what experiences await me from exhibitors who are focused on passion.
I’ll let you know what kind of day I have and you can tell others either way.
Here are my 5 Top Tips for Connecting Onsite
#1. At every touch point, create an experience - from your website and social media, to your on-going communications. From the moment they arrive until they leave for home find a way to create a connection.
#2. Live your brand. Enthusiasm is contagious, Incurable Optimism is compelling. Communicate to all 5 senses and watch what happens.
#3. Be gracious and humble and never stop. Thank your customers and mean it! Let every interaction be one of humble gratitude.
#4. Change it up - be different and think differently. Ask yourself, “Where’s the rule that we have to do it this way?” Don’t worry about mistakes. Worry about not learning from them.
#5. Challenge your partners and vendors to participate in making these and other goals a reality. That’s right - challenge them, question them and collaborate with them.