September 20, 2016

We Played Bingo at IMTS—with Marketing Clichés

Keith Booton, President at Ivor Andrew, just wrapped up his 10th IMTS. He has some tips on how to un-cliché your messaging.

IMTS: Inspiring tech, uninspiring messaging

The 31st edition of the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) wrapped up in Chicago last week. With over 2,000 exhibitors and 110,000 visitors from 112 countries covering the entirety of McCormick Place, this bi-annual event is one of the largest B2B trade shows in the world.

2016 marked my 10th IMTS—the first four spent on the client side in sales and marketing roles, and the last six as the owner of Ivor Andrew. One thing has always surprised me about the show: Exhibitors spend thousands of hours developing their products and hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on their exhibits, yet many seemingly take only minutes to choose an overused cliché for their corporate messaging.

It’s kind of like working your tail off to have the best yard on the block while simultaneously hoping no one notices. It makes no sense to me. It never has. IMTS is an opportunity to get in front of prospects and tell them who you are and why you matter to them, yet many exhibitors pick a slogan that paints them as exactly the same as their competitors. You offer “innovative solutions”? So do three other exhibits in your hall. You want to be my “technology partner”? Get in line, my friend.

I needed something to channel my disappointment in the marketing creativity of our industry this year, so I created:

The first-ever IMTS Cliché Bingo card

​Fittingly, I was able to shout “BINGO!” in every IMTS hall.

I was able to shout “BINGO!” in every IMTS hall. The clichés weren’t limited to tiny 10’ x 20’ exhibits, either; many of my photos in the collage came from the multi-million dollar exhibits at the front.

The cliché problem has only gotten worse over time. Something must be done. Here’s an easy three-step process that will result in you destroying marketing clichés from your messaging once and for all.

​Step 1: Completely eliminate the words that have lost all meaning in our industry

These words used to be compelling. But now they’re used so often across so many industries that they’ve lost all meaning. Avoid at all costs.
          • Solutions
          • Partner
          • Innovative
          • One-Stop Shop
          • Quality*

*Unless you’re a metrology company, in which case this can be used with extreme caution.

​Step 2: Consider a temporary ban on words that are used far too often

While not meaningless, here’s a list of words that are rampantly overused and near-death:
          • Productivity
          • Precision
          • Engineered
          • Engineering
          • Technology
          • Efficiency

​​Step 3: Say the marketing cliché in a better way

You say you offer solutions. Good start. Now go a step further. How would you specifically describe those solutions? Whether you offer insanely great workholding, legendary machining centers or astounding automation, say that. Find a way to describe what you do in an original way that appeals to your customers and prospects.

 Your company and your people are unique. You should not rely on clichés to tell the story. You should also know you don’t have to develop the perfect message on your own. At Ivor Andrew, it’s our job to provide solutions make sure more people notice, appreciate and pay for your hard work. If you’re ready to ban clichés and stand out, let’s grab a couple barstools and get started