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case study
hange provides an opportunity for renewal, which can often be a good thing. After all, if you keep doing the same old thing, you're likely to get the same old results.

With that in mind and the 2010 Pack Expo in Chicago fast approaching, product-label maker CCL Label Inc. (a division of CCL Industries Inc.) decided to change its approach for its biggest show of the year. The company saw the expo, held annually but alternating between Sin City and the Windy City, as a chance to renew its approach to attracting attendees.

For years, CCL Label, which comprises several product-labeling groups serving a variety of vertical markets, sent only its Specialty Group to the Chicago show. And according to Bryan Baker, the group's director of marketing, Specialty performed fairly well, pulling in about 170 leads at each of the two most recent Chicago shows. Those results were enough to convince upper management that it needed to send more of the company's groups to Pack Expo. And with that, CCL Label decided to add its Home and Personal Care Group and Healthcare Solutions Group to the mix in 2010.

In the weeks leading up to the show, the company tasked Baker with creating an exhibit experience that would not only join together the three groups (Specialty Group, Home and Personal Care Group, and Healthcare Solutions Group) under one umbrella, but that would also incorporate CCL Tube, a separate division within CCL Industries that had also never exhibited at the show. By consolidating four of its entities into one cohesive exhibit, the company hoped to show attendees that it offered a wide variety of labeling and product solutions, not just the ones they were used to seeing in their own vertical market. In addition to creating continuity among the groups and CCL Tube, the company also asked Baker to highlight CCL Label's worldwide reach, something the global organization had never focused on in the past.

Furthermore, since the new exhibit would need to highlight each of the four product lines in one space, Baker sought a strategic way to extend the amount of time attendees spent in the booth to ensure they soaked up the key messages of each group.

While Baker had never before tracked the amount of time visitors spent in his booth, anecdotal evidence suggested that qualified attendees generally spent less than three minutes in the exhibit, stopping just long enough to get their badges scanned, speak briefly with a staffer, and grab a promotional giveaway item. Knowing three minutes wouldn't be enough time to extol the benefits of the three different groups and promote CCL Tube, Baker aimed to create an engaging experience that would keep attendees in the booth for at least five minutes, chatting with staffers from each product area and soaking up CCL Label's messages in the process.

Travel Time

Piling on the leads and keeping attendees' attention at the exhibit would require a bit of inspiration. Fortunately, Baker found his muse in the "Ideas That Work" column from EXHIBITOR Magazine's December 2009 issue. A story titled "Rock On" explained how Qwest Communications International Inc. took photos of attendees in front of a green screen at Interop 2009 to create personalized promo items.

"I really liked the photo and the interactive aspect, and how Qwest gave attendees a personalized item," Baker says. "My objective was to marry our products and divisions into a promotional item and overarching theme."

Since the rock 'n' roll theme from the Qwest story did not resonate with Baker, he decided to pair the personalized photo idea with a giveaway that would stress CCL Label's global reach: a passport. Each passport would include a photograph of the recipient in front of an iconic scene in one of the 20 countries CCL Label's 60 facilities call home. The landmark would be added to the photo using the same green-screen technology Baker had read about in the magazine. The passports would also serve a second function: Attendees would need to get their travel document "stamped" at three product areas to qualify for a series of prizes the company planned to distribute during and after the show.

With the theme and giveaway settled upon, the next order of business was to arrange for one big booth space at the expo. The Specialty Group had previously exhibited in a 20-by-20-foot space, but the addition of CCL Tube, the Home and Personal Group, and the Healthcare Solutions Group necessitated a much larger footprint. So Baker worked with Pack Expo show management to reserve a 20-by-60-foot booth.

In the months and weeks before the Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 show, Baker e-mailed customers and placed CCL Label ads in the e-blasts to registered attendees that were part of Pack Expo's pre-show notifications. He also placed an advertisement in the pre-show issue of Packaging World magazine, a popular industry publication.

Finally, before the show, Baker and his colleagues worked on the passport to create a personalized, branded giveaway that would also serve as a product sample for attendees. The 3.5-by-5-inch booklet comprised a front cover that resembled a basic passport and featured the text, "Travel the World of CCL Label, Your Global Partner." Flipping open the booklet revealed information about the company and a placeholder for attendees' passport photos, which they would receive in the booth. Meanwhile, 10 interior pages were filled with details about each group (including key messages, market info, a list of product innovations, and images of the company's labels and tubes). In addition to the group pages, the passport contained a world map with markers on it denoting CCL Label's global offices.

The passport also featured two blank pages, each with two empty squares into which the "stamps" (which were actually adhesive labels produced by CCL Label) for each of the four product areas would be placed. What's more, contact info for all four entities was provided on the passport's back cover. To top it all off, the passports (and labels that would be affixed to them) were created at CCL Label's printing facilities, so the passport itself was also product sample.

A World of Change

At Pack Expo, the CCL Label exhibit was laid out with the idea of moving attendees through the experience. The back and sides of the space were closed by fabric drapes in CCL Label's corporate blue color with only one length of the booth open. Along the walls were large posters of postage stamps and postcards from around the world, while other graphics bore images of eight national flags and text inviting attendees to "Travel the world of CCL Label."

As attendees entered the exhibit, staffers guided them to the left end of the booth where visitors selected an international background for their photo and posed for the camera. Next, each attendee received a blank passport and was shown to the first of three product areas (the Home and Personal Care Group and CCL Tube were combined). Each area featured a display case filled with an array of product samples and examples of that particular group's work. After attendees finished with one product area, staffers affixed the appropriate stamp to their passports and invited them to visit the next division.

At the end of the journey, one CCL Label staffer retrieved the attendee's photo from a print station at the far right end of the exhibit and stuck it to the passport's inside front cover. At the same time, another staffer scanned the attendee's badge and asked qualifying questions to find out which market segment the attendee belonged to, what label features he or she was most interested in, and what, if any, follow-up action needed to take place after the show ended.

"The whole thing was very personal," Baker says. "Each booth visitor got to choose a backdrop that appealed to them. They could spend time learning about the solutions that most interested them. They got a tactile booklet with their photo in it. And then we did a bit of qualifying right there in the booth."

Since each station took about 90 seconds to finish, the attendees needed to spend nearly five minutes just to get their passports stamped. Combined with the time it took to take photos at the beginning of their journeys and claim their passport photos at the end, attendees spent considerably more than five minutes in the exhibit.

With their passports full of stamps, attendees then participated in the prize portion of the experience. In the center of the exhibit stood a large metal drum full of $5 gift cards from Starbucks, McDonald's, iTunes, and Best Buy, along with a card redeemable for an iPod Shuffle (one of which was given away each day of the show). A staffer turned the drum to mix up the cards inside before inviting attendees to grab their prize.

In addition to the drawing, attendees had one more opportunity to win: Staffers informed them that the stamp they received from the CCL Tube area featured a special code, and that they could enter their code at CCL Label's website to see if they won an iPad. By tying the code to a post-show prize, CCL Label encouraged attendees to take their passports home, created one last touch point with prospects, and drove traffic to the company's website.

Climbing High

At the end of the four-day show, CCL Label collected 303 qualified leads. While Baker and his bosses were happy with that number, it wasn't until show management reported the show's audited qualified-lead average that they realized just how successful they were: The audit revealed an average of 170 qualified leads per exhibiting company, meaning CCL exceeded that average by 78 percent.

As for keeping clients and prospects engaged, Baker estimates attendees spent more than 15 minutes in the booth taking part in the experience, visiting the product areas, drawing a gift card, and talking to staffers. Plus, 217 of them visited the CCL Label website after the show to see if they won an iPad, continuing the booth experience after the show.

Based on the success of its consolidated approach, CCL Label plans to expand the exhibit even further for 2012, adding its Container division and its Food and Beverage Group. "This past experience taught us that change can be good," Baker says. "As a result, we're not afraid to try something new." Sometimes all it takes to be successful is an adventurous spirit and a little industry inspiration.E

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