From the January 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

Trade shows are often considered a stepchild in the marketing field-an afterthought of the marketing plan. Yet truly thinking through your booth and image can dramatically change perceptions of your business-and profits.

Before

Maria Erickson,41, founded Bette & Court in 1990 because she loved golf and wanted to make fashionable clothing for female golfers. Because golf appeals to consumers who have both the time and money to spare, the majority of the Hileah, Florida, company's loyal consumers turned out to be senior citizens.

During

By 2000, Bette & Court's apparel reflected a more modern look in order to appeal to a younger audience. Erickson wanted to create a buzz about the shift at her industry's most significant event, the PGA 2001 Merchandise Show. The problem? Her booth still reflected the company's old image. Redesigning the booth triggered a need to first understand the brand. Working with David Sudjian of Showtime Enterprises in Paulsboro, New Jersey, the firm worked its way through Showtime's "Brandscaping" process. The company developed six key words to describe the brand, then used those words as guidelines for all marketing materials, including the creation of the booth.

After

The new booth (above) stood in stark contrast to its traditional golfing competitors: The stodgy woods and traditional greens were replaced with glass panels, aluminum tubing, and black-and-silver countertops, all grounded by a silver carpet. Contemporary music welcomed buyers from all three sides, instead of the typically closed, "members only" atmosphere. And, for the first time, the entire apparel line was accessible to visitors via large, open displays. The results? Sales soared a whopping 50 percent over the previous year's figures.


Elizabeth J. Goodgold (liz@nuancing.com) is CEO and chief nuancer of The Nuancing Group, a brand consulting firm in San Diego.

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