It’s just four months away and it’s the biggest gaming and gambling expo on the planet, so if your marketing game plan for ICE Totally Gaming 2017 is not underway yet, it’s time to get started.

Specially created for B2B sports marketers keen to maximise ROI on the trade shows they attend, our 5 takeaways for trade show success bundles all the big learning we gathered while conducting the ICE Totally Gaming exit poll into one simple checklist.

1: Differentiate yourself from the crowd

It’s easy to get caught up in an arms race with other ICE Totally Gaming exhibitors to build the biggest and brashest stand, and there’s no doubt that size and garish colours can make a big difference: The most recalled stands among visitors at ICE 2015 were Novomatic’s colossal (4,500 sqft) stand and Playtech’s multi-level, multi-room, mini conference centre. but few of us have the budget to compete with players like this, so what else can be done?

  • Go colour crazy: If your brand allows it, go bold! It’s a great way of achieving real standout on a smaller stand: even shell schemes can be dramatically improved with a good use of colour. The guys and girls over at Papaya demonstrated how judicious use of lime (or papaya?) green can make even the simplest of stands jump out of the crowd.
  • Employ promo staff – sparingly! Promo staff are relatively low cost and can help bring a drab stand to life (two staff members in London will probably set you back in the region of £300/day). But it can be a double edged sword. Just remember that you want to be remembered for your products rather than as “that stand with the angel girls on it” (our exit pollsters heard that a lot – and not one person could tell them the stand name – sorry EGT!).
  • Go interactive: show goers are inquisitive, but they are overwhelmed with paper: If you can demo your products on an ipad or other interactive display such as Intralot’s Kinect‘s penalty game you’ll engage them much more easily. If you can’t do that, splash out on a big screen and a storytelling video that gives a short taster of what your company does. It’ll help filter out stand visitors who aren’t after your products and reel in those who are.

2: Do the hard work pre-show!

Take the pressure, and the element of chance, away from the show itself: Make sure your current and target customers know you’re exhibiting well in advance are informed in advance by pushing out comms ahead of the event and locking down meetings before the show. Advertise your show presence on your website, in your newsletters, and add it to email footers across the company – not only will that ensure all your company’s contacts are informed, it’ll help generate a bit of buzz and understanding among departments not usually involved in the shows.

3: Make sure your stand’s fit for purpose

One noticeable trend at ICE, which differentiates the gaming sector from others we work in is the number of on-stand meeting rooms – some, such as the Sportsman Cube almost gave the impression that if you didn’t have a meeting, you weren’t welcome! That’s because exhibitors aren’t relying on their stands to fish for custom from passing foot traffic, they’re using them as a base to conduct proper meetings and presentations. For an industry with such a multi-national vibe, this makes a lot of sense, because you can meet clients from multiple countries in a single day. But that only works if your stand can properly accommodate them – open plan benches and bar stools are great for quick chats, but don’t offer the privacy, presentation tools or comfort for proper meetings, so make sure you’re stand builder knows exactly what your intended use is.

4: Give and you shall receive!

Everyone loves a giveaway, right? but how many marketers have really considered what impact that order of 500 squeezy footballs will have on the year-end balance sheet? We’re guessing none… So how do you create a compelling giveaway that gets further than the hotel wastepaper basket?

Make it useful, make it relevant, and make it unique (pick at least two!)

The two most talked about giveaways we heard about at ICE (discounting the x-rated calendars) were at different ends of the spectrum, but by the end of the show, both were being actively sought out by attendees:
1: The TipBet goody bag which contained show (and post-party) essentials: cigarette lighter, energy drink, pens…) all good practical stuff in a bag which was robust enough to carry all the other junk you picked up that day

2: The InPay venu’s flytraps – a true conversation starter, quirky but relevant – all part of InPay’s message to clients to “leave no trace” of their current payment providers! Ours isn’t growing yet, but when it does, we’ll still be remembering who gave it to us.

Other great gifts we’ve seen at shows in the past include the Racing UK riding crop – a regular at Sportel which always raises a smile while managing to retain close links to the company’s product.

5: Leave the stand!

Much of the best networking at ICE, as with many other shows, is done away from the stands. Whether it’s grabbing a coffee in the foyer, a lunchtime pint in The Fox, or over several pints at one of the many satellite parties during ICE week. Make an effort to check social media to see where everyone else is heading, or just chat to the guy behind you in the coffee queue – the lack of expectation that accompanies most stand conversations may open up all sorts of new opportunities.

And finally: follow up fast

It’s pretty tempting to take a timeout after an event like ICE Totally Gaming, but all the evidence shows that the faster you follow up on the new prospects you met on the stand, the more successful you’ll be with new business leads.

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