Recently a very popular topic of discussion on LinkedIn was whether or not a company should use promotional models in their trade show booth. I’ve also seen many posts about the use of QR Codes or Mobile App Games in trade show booths. Someone else asked about good “passport” gimmicks to drive traffic to booths.
I think it is good to have these discussions but what I find lacking in most of them is a discussion of strategy. People are very quick to tell you “don’t be left behind” and “everyone’s doing it” without ever talking about why. Or, is it the right thing based on your goals and objectives?
Let’s take our LinkedIn discussion on “promotional models”. Here is the question that was asked:
To use, or not to use, promotional girls at a trade show exhibition stand?
I have concerns regarding the associated brand reputation issues, however can’t deny they seem to work as an attraction. Considering researching the number of women decision makers attending the event to help me decide, but am interested in your opinions.
What I found fascinating were the 55 comments that this question spurred. I would say about 99 percent of those comments were opinions simply pro/con the use of “promotional girls” in a trade show. I watched with interest as no one seemed to care what business the originator was in, where the show was taking place, what was her target market, what were her show objectives, how was she planning on using the models, etc?
I’ve seen exhibitors embrace the QR code as the next best thing. Instead of giving out product sheets or brochures, attendees could simply walk up and scan the QR code. Sounds simple except most the attendees had never seen a QR code before. They may have had Smartphones but they did not have the QR code reader. Sales Reps and Booth staffers were spending all their time showing attendees how to download readers and then teach them how to scan a QR code. Discussions quickly turned to how the attendees company might use this cool new tool. No one was spending any time talking about the exhibitor’s product. Had they been selling QR scanners they may have been on to something but sadly they were not.
Forget the gadgets and gimmicks. Plan your strategy and make sure your efforts are integrated with the entire company’s strategy. How do your goals and objectives get you closer to your company’s goals and objectives? I’m not anti-technology, I just think it should be used to enhance what you are doing not take away from it.
If you find yourself wanting to spend a lot of money to be included in a shows passport program, ask yourself how will this help us achieve our goals. And then double check your trade show goals are in line with your company’s goals. If those goals involve affixing little pretend stamps on peoples’ pretend passports, then by all means, go for it. If it involves educating people on your company’s products or services, then maybe rethink your plan.