While business-to-business marketing has traditionally been the less exciting sibling of business-to-consumer marketing, change is in the air. Or, perhaps, change is in the water, as is evidenced this week by toilet brand TOTO’s display in Las Vegas at this week’s KBIS (Kitchen & Bath Industry Show). At this three-day trade show of epic proportions, two very distinct types of exhibitor styles were clear: there were those booths that held true to the traditional, quiet, straightforward b2b style and there were those who recognized that every touchpoint is an opportunity for brand elevation. TOTO’s display is a clear example of the latter, and one that marketers should study — after all, dialing up the excitement around toilets can be a daunting proposition.
Keying in on their “Tornado Flushing” USP, TOTO’s large booth featured a clear focal point that could be spotted from quite a distance: a gigantic material sculpture representing a tornado of water. This beautiful, artistic execution of the high-tech water whirling force that the brand claims makes their toilets better than their competitors was so different and compelling that people were compelled to come in and find out more. Inside the display area, much of the space was empty — or, rather, the space was organized to stand out from the hubbub of the traffic all around them. Once visitors stopped in the booth, they felt a sense of calm that encouraged more time at each of the cleanly designed communication stations. Then, once attendees had their chance to soak in the atmosphere of TOTO world, knowledgeable brand representatives were on hand to provide answers and additional knowledge.
No boring booth. No ugly sell sheets. No pushy salespeople. From the first sight of the TOTO tornado sculpture through the point of exit, every detail of this trade show marketing experience was planned — and planned as if the brand was speaking directly to consumers instead of to the industry that will take their brand message to consumers. When one thinks about it that way, b2b marketing should be held in far higher esteem, particularly in a communications environment as connected as today’s world. One no longer needs to belong to an industry organization to peek behind the curtains at what will be coming to retail; the Internet makes it all available in nanoseconds. Brands who maintain their high standards across all forms of communications are seen as the most authentic to all audiences. TOTO obviously understands this, and their display spoke volumes in terms of who they are and how they respect their audiences at all levels.