A lot of work is about generating ideas for clients and their campaigns to help them achieve a specific goal or desire. But it’s not enough to come up with some wild fantasy concept. The ideas need to be workable, but what do we mean by that? In short, they should be:

1. Objective
2. Truthful
3. Practical
4. Budgeted
5. Sustainable
6. Palatable
7. Accessible

Case study

A retained client expressed a desire to raise their profile and make more local businesses aware of what they do and the benefits of working with them. Web-based software developer, coding all the clever back-end stuff that makes websites work better and offer a more engaging user experience.

Objective – raise the company profile by attracting local businesses.

Truthful – the idea must connect strongly with their business values, experience and passion.

Practical – assess the time available to plan and prepare properly, plus how to effectively manage the time at the event (e.g. number of staff required, roles, set-up, breakdown, engaging with visitors, etc), and post show follow-up. Also understand and accommodate delivery and collection, venue access, stand size, displays, equipment, testing, etc. Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Budgeting – research all requirements, including stand hire, equipment hire, staff time, planning time, material costs, equipment purchases, etc. plus fuel, delivery costs, food and drink, accommodation.

Palatable – test the idea, pitch it to the client and several members of the intended audience to gauge reaction and feeling towards the idea. An idea that you think is great could have a negative connotation with someone else and end up unintentionally offending someone or generating bad publicity for your brand and business.

Sustainable – some ideas require significant investment to enable the most in return, so keeping an eye on opportunities to repeat, re-use or re-purpose the idea or any associated materials can be useful in securing the budget required to have maximum impact.

Accessible – no point having a great idea, investing in all the set-up if no-one in your target audience can find it and experience it. Similar to being practical, think about the customer’s journey and how they can be directed to your idea / campaign in order to get the full effect.

The idea – piggy-back a local trade show with a unique exhibition stand and presence. At the time of initial planning, several members of staff were avid cyclists plus the business had recently completed an eCommerce website for a local specialist selling bespoke bicycles. Out of this was born the message ‘Gearing up for online success’.

We then took the cycling theme and ran (or should that be pedalled) with it. Working with the bicycle specialist client who also ran a spin class, we set-up a virtual cycling course. It’s worth stating here this was several years before the popularity of Peloton and the like. Armed with a course and cycling set-up, we proposed a virtual cycling challenge on the exhibition stand, whereby visitors could set a time for the course and be added to a leader board. This gave us the opportunity to break the ice with them, discuss how we’d helped the cycle shop with their online business and also post social media updates throughout the event, tagging participants and their respective businesses to increase engagement and followers. The person with the fastest time also won an Amazon voucher – another nice tie in with online shopping and a great incentive for generating participants.

In an avenue full of stands with branded back-drops, table cloths and flyers, our client’s stand really stood out and was by far the busiest and most talked about during the whole event.

The feedback was incredible, so much so that it gave our client the confidence to book more trade shows. Over time the themes evolved to included other forms of virtual racing and experiences. One of the best pieces of feedback we received was from a stand visitor that recalled their experience well over a year later, remembering the client’s brand and waxing lyrical about how it made them feel.

But the icing on the cake came after the fifth trade show. The ice breaker introduced our client to a contact that went on to be their ‘golden-goose’ referrer. Within several months, our client had secured new projects with the likes of Samsung, Hyundai and Carphone Warehouse – doubling their turnover for the first time in over 20 years of trading.

In the words of Hannibal, from ‘The A Team’, ‘We love it when a plan comes together!’