Selling the Sandwich: More Than You Think

What do we mean by a “Sandwich?” For the fourth consecutive year, Gilson made the trek to GlobalShopthe world’s largest annual event for retail design and shopper marketing. Anyone who’s ever been involved in an annual event or campaign knows that repetition is the key to success. Moving forward with that in mind, our team knew this was potentially a BIG year for Gilson at GlobalShop.

Building the Sandwich

More than six months of planning came together during three jam-packed days of exhibiting in Las Vegas. Upon our return, we started crunching the numbers and sorting the leads, and we realized that this year, things truly were different. Things were BIGGER! The sales team unanimously agreed that it had been our most successful show to date, with a huge increase in qualified leads over the previous year, a basketful of new quote opportunities, and overall great feedback from attendees.

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GlobalShop participants raved about our booth and lauded our pre-show marketing materials. We were scanning badges left and right, and scheduling follow-up meetings and site visits. We knew we’d nailed it; the campaign was a hit. But why? What had made it so successful? Had our repeat attendance as an exhibitor finally pushed our opportunities to the next level? Or was there something more?

Just a few days later, I read an article in Exhibitor Magazine that reinforced the likely reasons for our success. The article by Travis Stanton titled “The Brain Drain,” examines the “dumbing down” of our industry due to a lack of time and energy. The article noted that for the past five years, marketers have been forced to do more with less. Too true! Projects that were previously outsourced are now kept in-house, adding more tasks to our already overflowing plates and leaving less time and energy for strategic marketing and creativity.

Couple this with consumers’ increased knowledge and savvy—they’ve done their homework on your company online and they know your product before they’ve stepped into your booth—and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some pretty bland event marketing. Stanton goes on to say that it takes more than a simple regurgitation of your website content in your event display to make an impact on potential customers. Anything less than a fresh, new approach is “woefully insufficient, and…insulting to clients and prospects who have invested an inordinate amount of time and money to attend the event.”

A Look Back at GlobalShop

Looking back at GlobalShop, proof of Stanton’s argument was glaringly obvious. Virtually all the booths at the show were mere physical representations of what could be found on the company’s corporate website. But not Gilson’s! Without anticipating the full impact of our booth, Gilson stood out from the crowd, clearly overcoming “brain drain.” We may not have been the biggest booth on the block, but our creativity and ability to think outside the 10’ x 20’ box shone the brightest.

To make an impression in a big way, we developed a campaign that was sure to get noticed. Enter the 6-foot tall, 20-foot long cardboard sandwich! It was friendly. Approachable. Simple. A metaphor: we have all the marketing ingredients you need, but you choose only the ones you want.

It was huge! Everybody saw it. Most people “got” it. (And, of course, a small percentage thought we were selling sandwiches.) For virtually every visitor, it led to a discussion about what we do and how we can help solve a company’s business challenges using a custom-blended mix of marketing solutions.

The Results

The end result? A 64.7% increase in leads over the previous year. More than seven times the number of new business opportunities than originally anticipated. And the decision to double our booth space for next year’s event.

We get it; creativity doesn’t come easy. It’s harder than ever to come up with ideas that break the mold and grab your potential customers by the eyeballs. As marketing folks, we’re used to continually tightening our belts. We’ve been conditioned to scrape by, re-purposing what we can without much of anything new to offer. Your customers deserve better than that. Your business deserves better than that.

Odds are, you’ve experienced a similar situation yourself. It might not have been event marketing, but somewhere along the way, your once-creative efforts have gone stale. Let us give you a hand. Check out our post outlining the guts of the pre-show campaign and detailing the response rates and results. Then don’t forget to get in touch with your Gilson account rep to start creating some fresh new marketing solutions.

Want to join the campaign and get some #gilsonfresh marketing ideas of your own? Visit and request yours today!

Kim Hasenbank is a West Michigan native and Gilson’s in-house marketing manager. She works closely with the Gilson sales team to provide creative solutions to their own marketing challenges, as well providing insight to the challenges of their clients. Send your questions, comments or requests for more information about the content of this post to