What Exhibitors Can Learn from Lady Gaga

Whether or not you’re a fan of Lady Gaga, chances are you’ve heard about some of her wild and crazy antics. (Remember the meat dress?) But regardless of your feelings for her or her music, if you pay attention you can learn some great marketing lessons.

Lesson #1: No matter how big you are, act small.

In about three years, Lady Gaga went from a total unknown to having over 42 million Facebook fans and 13 million Twitter followers. But she still maintains a two-way dialogue and even engages fans in real-time by tweeting at her shows.

Many large exhibitors take the view that “everyone wants to come to our booth just because of who we are,” but that’s the wrong approach. It doesn’t matter how big you are, it’s always important to connect to the audience on a personal level. Don’t ever let attendees use the excuse “they’re so big, they won’t miss me if I don’t stop by.” Instead, help them feel a personal connection.

Lesson #2: Honor & reward your fans – they’re the real stars.

She affectionately refers to fans as “Little Monsters,” and so named her tour the “Monster Ball.” (She even has a tattoo in their honor.) During her concerts, she’s been known to call an audience member and invite them to meet her backstage.

What kind of community can you foster for your fans? How can you make them feel appreciated, special, and part of your “tribe”? While that might not take the form of a tattoo, you can still find ways to honor them. Create some type of “backstage” pass that your audience would be thrilled to participate in.

Lesson #3: Marketing is ongoing, not just for a new release.

One thing that keeps Lady Gaga in the media spotlight is that she doesn’t slack off once her new album is out. She maintains her public profile and keeps up a constant conversation with her fans.

Likewise, exhibitors shouldn’t slack off once a show closes. It’s important to have a regular, ongoing conversation with those leads until they become customers, and even beyond. Find a system that works, whether that’s social media, e-mail or something else. Just stay in front of them so they’ll remember you when they’re ready to buy.

Lesson #4: Create a collective experience with audience participation.

Unlike most artists, Lady Gaga lets fans record videos of her shows to upload online. Her concerts aren’t just a string of songs, but rather a story-telling, theatrical performance.

You can explain your product from now till doomsday, but attendees may or may not remember anything you tell them. Once you make it experiential with multisensory elements (touch, smell, taste, etc.) retention rates go way up.

Lesson #5: Show, don’t tell.

If actions speak louder than words, Lady Gaga might as well be screaming all the time! Her actions are controversial, shocking, and sometimes offensive. But they do garner a lot more attention and media mentions than a thousand interviews ever could.

Now while exhibitors shouldn’t necessarily follow in her footsteps (skip the meat-wear staff uniforms!), don’t hesitate to do something contrary to what all the other exhibitors in your industry are doing. If you want to say that your products are cutting-edge, find a way to demonstrate that in a big (and buzzworthy) way. Don’t be afraid to be a trailblazer!

Marlys

© 2011-12 Marlys K. Arnold  (Reprinted from the September 2011 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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About the Author:

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. She travels the country consulting and training both exhibitors and show managers, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image (2002), host of the Trade Show Insights podcast and creator of the ExhibitorEd training kit. She can be reached at www.imagespecialist.com.

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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community. To request an “Extra Shot of Exhibit Success” go to www.ExhibitMarketersCafe.com.