"Swimming Against the Surge"

(If you missed Part 1, go here

OK, maybe you DO want more trade show traffic. Let's go against my premise in Part 1 for a second. Yes, there are times when you want 50,000 people flowing through your trade show venue like a flood through a plain.

Let's try to simplify this. Name Brands displaying at a Consumer oriented show, don't have to try hard. Their very name has fueled it's own fire. Everyone wants to see the new I-pod at the Apple booth. Linux fans are looking for anything Linux. This is the Hollywood appeal of a consumer show.

But, let's say you make a specialized refrigeration unit and you're showing at a builder's convention or a designer show. So, you're not Nike.

They're tired, they're hungry, and very few of the hundreds drifting past your booth want to get stuck chatting with you for too long. Not more than seven seconds or so. Here's where 50,000 attendees could be a problem.

Your job at this point is NOT sexy.

Is there a way to TAG everyone? Get everyone a little something to compel them to look you up later? Let them know quickly what you do AND that they should want to see you again? Like, when you both have more time?

Yes. But you're not going to do it with a pen. Or gum. Or a foam hat.

Seriously. Think, here. Here's a little aside about my business: Many people in my profession are thrilled if you simply want to buy thousands of candies and pens and coloring books and squeezie hearts and whatever else, for no discernible reason. Shame on them.

Since this post is not about engaging people in your booth, but rather, dealing with having "too much traffic", let's just address what you really want to do in this situation.

Don't just wear a big goofy hat and suggest that they go to your site, or call for a catalog, or leave you their card. MAKE them WANT to do all that. Spread the lottery mentality. Give them an opportunity to receive a very big payoff for very little effort and time.

One way to do this would be to give out a web lottery card or a secret code or one half of a valuable gift, anything that will truly compel them to do the simple thing: Log onto the site, and see if they've won. Or log on to claim the other half of their piece. This is viewed by them as ONLY FAIR.

For instance, in order to see if they've won a widescreen plasma T.V., if they merely have to log into your site, where they'll see your product, and then register their email address and the position they hold at their establishment... well, they will. Wouldn't you? How much more likely would it be for you to go to this vendor's web site, than if for instance you had an ad slick in your bag and a plastic pen with their web site address on it?


The beauty of this kind of strategy is that with the same money you might spend on thousands of mini baseball bats or neon refrigerator magnets, with dubious results and limited tracking potential, you can execute a complete prize liquidation program, spend mere seconds per touch at the show, and have a very accurate tracking and follow-up mechanism to fine tune your efforts with each new show.

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Trade Them Up !

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When it comes to supplying a useful gift, utility is not the be-all and end-all of the equation. The item MUST replace what the recipient is already using, right?

If you are going to give a logo brand gift that your client or prospect is supposed to keep and use, and therefor give your message the most bang for your buck, KNOW that the gift is going to have to be nice enough or different enough to actually push aside an item they're already using.

Example: MUG. Everyone has a mug. Maybe two. Or eleven. The mug you're asking them to accept and use, and be happy about pouring their coffee into, needs to be attractive. Simple as that.

Look, people love gifts. If you give me the cheap $0.88 mug, I'll use it. Just, not at my desk where I might see it all day every day. It'll hold paperclips in the garage at home. Sorry, you've really sort of wasted $0.88 each. Not including the slightest cost of packaging or delivery.

The above mug is $2.50 to $3.50 depending on the quantity you buy. The extra couple dollars for 144 or 512 or 1024 pieces used in the campaign, would make all the difference in the world in terms of usefulness to your recipient, which will translate into a return on equity for your project.

This holds true with any of the standard fare - mugs, mousepads, writing intruments, key-tags. Don't consign your valuable message to the junk-drawer or the garage. It's doing you no good there.

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