No matter your budget, footprint or even booth staff capabilities, the marketing that happens surrounding your exhibit experience pre-, at- and post-show is extremely important to its success.

At the 2013 American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) convention in Miami, Dermablend™ Professional, the #1 Dermatologist Recommended Camouflage Brand, hosted a special event within the trade show, inviting dermatologists and medical practitioners to a wedding. The event itself was an opportunity to experience the benefits of Dermablend, but with an edgy and fashion forward vibe to enhance the qualities of Dermablend products. The experience gave attendees more opportunities to interact with the Dermablend brand through photos with the newlyweds, hospitality features and hands-on product demonstrations. Visitors also received samples of Dermablend products.

The creative strategy was unique and engaging. Zombie Boy, a performance artist whose body is his canvas, was the star. His face is covered in distinctive, artistic, and some might even say creepy, tattoos. To emphasize the beauty of everyone looking different and unique in their own way, our team introduced a very beautiful woman into the mix inviting dermatologists and medical practitioners attending the AAD Convention to the “wedding” of Zombie Boy and the girl of his dreams. But there was an added surprise, the bride revealed her beautiful complexion to be a Dermablend creation, too! Like Zombie Boy, only half her face was covered with Dermablend. But unlike his tattoo artistry, her skin showed patchy areas of depigmentation – a serious skin condition known as Vitiligo.

Apart from Zombie Boy and his bride, the most astonishing aspect of this Dermablend marketing program is that it was communicated through only two emails. The first invited attendees to the event–a wedding invitation. The second was a ‘thank you’ email after the event to drive further communication and advocacy between Dermablend and its audience. The post-show email included a coupon for $10 off Dermablend products. With minimal but strong communication, the program was the most successful trade show program in Dermablend’s 30-year history.

How did this become such a success? Through a very compelling, engaging concept platform that captured the target audience’s imagination, communicated entirely with two highly-engaging emails and was marketed directly to attendees.

The record breaking results spoke to the powerful creative strategy. The pre-show email was sent to 1,689 attendees and there was a 40% open rate. The post-show email was sent to 1,366 attendees, who were scanned within the exhibit and it had a 30% open rate. As further testament to its success, last week the EXPO Digital Awards were presented and Dermablend – Zombie Boy Wedding won the top award for E-Mail Marketing Campaign.

An achievement such as this is only possible through teamwork and close collaboration between Dermablend Professional and GES’ designers and marketers. Together, the teams proved what the power of a well-executed email marketing campaign has on trade show results and how you don’t need a big budget to create an engaging experience.

Frank Laudo is Executive Creative Director at GES