The annual SelectUSA trade show is a premier site-selection event sponsored by the Department of Commerce to draw foreign investment to the U.S. The show typically attracts more than 3,000 attendees from more than 60 foreign markets.

In preparation for exhibiting at the event, AEP Economic Development (AEPED) approached FH to develop a creative trade show marketing concept that would achieve three objectives — appeal to attendees, transcend language and cultural barriers, and deliver AEPED’s key messages about its site-selection capabilities.

Theme & Concept Development

We conducted internal brainstorm sessions and in-depth discussions with AEPED to identify a theme and concept to meet their objectives. From several ideas presented to AEPED, one theme quickly became the frontrunner — “11 States, 1 Partner” — which touted AEP’s expansive 11-state service territory and the ease of working with AEP for site-selection needs.

To bring the “11 States, 1 Partner” theme to life, we proposed a candy bar concept to highlight each state with a jelly bean flavor that represented the state. This was coupled with the tagline — Find Your Sweet Spot!

Execution & Elements

We selected tall, table-top candy dispensers and designed state-specific labels for each, which included the jelly bean flavor, the significance of the flavor and the number of available AEP properties in the state.

While the entire project had an element of fun, tasting various jelly bean flavors to find just the right one for each state, such as Tabasco for Louisiana and Very Cherry for Michigan, was certainly a perk for our team.

To reinforce the “11 States, 1 Partner” message and highlight AEP’s capabilities and properties, we developed a small, folded pocket guide with information about AEPED’s site certification partnerships, a map showing all the available sites in their service territory and contact information. The guide was attached to clear candy bags provided to booth visitors.

We also designed the backdrop for the booth, which included key messages and a large map of AEP’s service territory. Understanding that details matter, our work also entailed selecting the floor covering and furniture to ensure a cohesive and appealing look. Of course, the “sweet spot” was the centerpiece of the booth!

Impact & Results

Though we had developed effective and creative trade show concepts for AEPED previously, the client remarked that this concept was the most fun and inviting. All while meeting their objectives.

By speaking the international language of candy, hundreds of attendees visited the “sweet spot” and engaged with AEPED representatives during the show. They left with a bag of yummy jelly beans and a handy, informative pocket guide.

In addition to the satisfaction of a job well done, our work was honored with a Creative Tactic PRism award from the central Ohio chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Need a fun and engaging trade show marketing concept? Give us a call. We’d love to help.

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