A lot of pressure rides on the once-in-a-great-while opportunity. After a 17-year slumber, freshly hatched cicadas have only four weeks to couple up and mate before they die. For 100-meter Olympic sprinters, years of training culminate in a mere 10 to 15 seconds of pure speed after the pop of a gun. And in the beef cattle industry, vendors are limited to a perilously small window of time when it comes to connecting with clients in person. Such was the case for Zoetis Inc., a global manufacturer of medicine and vaccines for pets and livestock, going into the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show.
"It's difficult for cattle producers to leave their operation to attend an event, so they rarely go to more than one trade show per year," says Leona Ling Ferguson, senior marketing manager for U.S. cattle/equine at Zoetis. "And for most, NCBA is that event."
Because these cattle producers are such an elusive breed, NCBA exhibitors know it's crucial to bring their A game to the show. And as anyone in the industry can attest, the face-to-face conversations that happen at the show are the secret sauce to securing lasting customer relationships and generating a steady stream of revenue.
Steering in a New Direction
While Zoetis has been represented at NCBA for as long as anyone in its marketing department can remember, only recently has the company enjoyed a booth stamped with its own logo. Zoetis cleaved from its parent company Pfizer Inc. in 2013, and since then it's been working hard to become a household name among its core customers.
However, in the first few years of its independence, Zoetis attended NCBA with a generic booth offering little more than a basic product showcase. Not surprisingly, lead counts and returns on the company's investment were equally unremarkable. To remedy this, Zoetis turned to its marketing agency, Bader Rutter, and requested a new booth that would be worthy of the once-a-year rendezvous with cattle producers.
"We were tasked with diving in and overhauling the entire exhibit experience," says Nicole Starr, account executive with Bader Rutter. "In re-thinking the objectives for the space, we knew that we wanted it to be conducive to lots of one-on-one conversations and teaching moments where customers could experience Zoetis' products."
Bader Rutter's goals were twofold: 1) create a compelling booth design that would lure attendees on sight, and 2) build traffic by developing and incentivizing an in-booth activity that would expose visitors to Zoetis' products, highlight key messages, and ensure multiple conversations with product experts.
What Bader Rutter proposed was a plan to have attendees feel as at home in the Zoetis booth as they felt on the range by making the exhibit itself look like a real cattle operation. "We wanted the booth to feel personal and send the subtle message that Zoetis understands attendees," Starr says. "But we also needed an activity – and incentive – that would align with Zoetis' goals and really resonate with the target audience."
As it turns out, one thing that deeply resonates with cattle producers is large-scale ranch equipment. By partnering with another NCBA exhibitor, Zoetis landed on its incentive: a massive cattle scale worth $5,000, contributed by W-W Livestock Systems. And as a bonus of the partnership, Zoetis and W-W Livestock would cross promote one another's booths on the NCBA show floor.
Instead of a basic drop-your-business-card-in-the-fishbowl-to-win approach, Bader Rutter created a Herd Health Record card. A passport-style strategy at heart, the card would serve as a guide to move visitors through three engagement stations highlighting different categories of Zoetis' products. To earn all three possible entries to win the cattle scale, attendees would have to participate in the entire trio of educational activities, filling in their cards along the way.
"The exhibit design and the experiential components were big changes," Starr says. "And going into the 2017 NCBA show, we were ready to see some equally sizeable changes in booth traffic as well."
The 2017 NCBA show in Nashville, TN, drew a record-breaking crowd of more than 9,300 cattle producers, all eager to make the most of their three days at the event – and Zoetis'
20 staffers stood ready to wrangle them like cowherds.
Located on a busy aisle, the company's 20-by-60-foot island booth, fabricated by Global Experience Specialists Inc. (GES), featured a cattle-operation-inspired design with four 12-by-8-foot lean-tos flanking the length of the space. Both sides of the lean-to walls were plastered with photos of hardworking cattle farmers in denim jeans, flannel shirts, and cowboy hats. Weathered fencing, wooden barrels, and rope lassos enhanced the ranch aesthetic. Displayed prominently in a back corner of the booth was the W-W Livestock cattle scale. A sign near the display read, "Win this scale or $5,000 equivalent: Explore the booth, learn how we can help you succeed, and enter to win."
Attendees could increase their chances of winning Zoetis Inc.'s high-value giveaway by completing their Herd Health Record cards via visiting all three of the exhibit's engagement stations.
Practically stampeding their way to the rustic reception desk, attendees were greeted by staffers dressed in branded vests, denim jeans, and cowboy hats. Zoetis staff handed visitors their Herd Health Record cards attached to clipboards and invited them to move through the exhibit's three engagement areas offering unique sets of Zoetis' products for different stages of a beef cow's life cycle. For each of the three areas completed, attendees would earn one entry to win the cattle scale.
A "Mooving" Experience
The first engagement station, Advance Animal Well Being, showcased Zoetis' portfolio of products that promote overall cattle health. A 7-foot-long, 4-foot-high fiberglass cow sculpture bore messaging about the importance of preventative medicine for bovine respiratory disease. Zoetis staff jumped right into conversations about the problems attendees faced with their sick cattle, noting how Zoetis' solutions could stop such illness in its tracks. After learning a thing or two about the importance of preventing disease using Zoetis' products, attendees were given a sticker of half a cow to adhere to their Herd Health Record cards. The sticker connected to the other half of a cow drawn on the card, signifying how Zoetis' products can complete a cow's health.
At the second station, Maximize Cow/Calf Value, attendees learned about vaccines that can protect calves even before they're born. Knowledgeable reps talked through Zoetis' pro-ducts, then pointed booth visitors toward the station's trivia-based activity. Using one of three iPads on kiosk stands, attendees responded to four trivia questions about Zoetis' products related to cow and calf health. After completing the trivia game, attendees were invited to scratch off a cow and calf silhouette on their Herd Health Record cards to reveal a message: "FP (fetal protection) Guarantee. Keep them safe before day 1." The scratch-off was a play on the concept of gambling – something smart cattle producers want to avoid when it comes to the health of their herds.
Advance Animal Well Being, the first of Zoetis Inc.'s three in-booth engagement stations, was devoted to products that promote overall cattle health. After conversing with staffers, attendees were given a sticker of half a cow to place on their Herd Health Record cards.
The second station, Maximize Cow/Calf Value, highlighted Zoetis' bovine vaccines and included an iPad-based trivia quiz on the company's products. Upon completing the quiz, attendees were invited to scratch off a cow and calf silhouette on their cards.
At the final engagement station, titled Boost Cattle Performance, booth visitors used a 40-inch touchscreen kiosk to calculate how many more pounds of beef per cow they could expect from cattle treated with Zoetis' products. This figure was then added to their Herd Health Record.
The final engagement station, Boost Cattle Performance, calculated precisely how many more pounds of beef per cow one could expect from cattle treated with Zoetis' products. After conversing with yet another Zoetis expert, attendees stepped up to a 40-inch touchscreen kiosk, which had been converted into a custom calculator. Attendees input a few pieces of information on their specific operations, and the calculator then informed them just how much heavier their beefy hauls could be if they chose to use Zoetis' products. Booth visitors then wrote that figure inside a cow-shaped silhouette on their cards. Doing so not only completed their Herd Health Records, but also provided them a tangible, objective measure of the return on investment they could expect from using Zoetis' offerings.
Having visited each of the three engagement stations, attendees returned to the reception desk and proudly presented their cards. Zoetis staffers scanned attendees' badges for each completed section, which entered them in the drawing for the cattle scale. Staffers then gave attendees a complimentary cattle sorting stick with an orange flag used to guide wayward cows. Finally, showgoers were encouraged to keep their Herd Health Record cards as a reminder of how Zoetis can help them grow their operations.
Steaking a Claim
By the time NCBA 2017 ended, a total of 1,205 individuals had visited at least one engagement station, a 250-percent increase that far surpassed Zoetis' goal of boosting engagement by 10 percent compared to the year before. And while the company had hoped to net a respectable 610 entries into the cattle-scale drawing, the final total tipped the proverbial scales at 3,557 – nearly six times more than anticipated.
Attendees who visited Zoetis Inc.'s trio of engagement stations were rewarded with an equal number of entries in a drawing
for a cattle scale worth $5,000.
What's more, a post-show survey, which offered recipients a fourth and final entry in the cattle-scale drawing, generated an open rate of 66 percent – 43 percent higher than the animal-pharmaceutical industry average. A total of 233 people completed the survey, translating to a 103-percent increase over the company's goal.
As Zoetis reviewed its NCBA results, it realized something even better: Each of the 3,557 drawing entries translated to at least one conversation between a company representative and a cattle producer seeking animal health-care solutions. With results like that, it's safe to say this once-in-a-great-while rendezvous between Zoetis and cattle producers played a
pivotal role in beefing up the company's bottom line. E