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May 12, 2009


Sandy Upchurch

I just love this post - I ran into it on Twitter. My firm exhibits at many attorney conferences and we have recently gotten into the habit of taking one of our mediators with us to talk with the attorneys. When one of our mediators is in attendance our booth visits go through the roof - the attorneys need the mediation practioner there to talk to not just a marketing person who may be able to talk the talk but not walk the walk.... I imagine this is true for many services that have exhibit booths...

Sandy Upchurch
Mediation Counsel
Upchurch Watson White and Max Mediation Group

Mark Merenda

I disagree about #8, Matt. Of course, it depends on what you mean by "booth babe" — I assume we are not talking about scantily-clad women, or women who are less-that-tastefully dressed. I agree that sends a terrible message. On the other hand, one of the rules of marketing is "attractive people attract." There is a reason that the people on magazine covers, and the people in beer commercials, and the people who sell pharmaceuticals look the way they do. People listen with their eyes.

Steven Levy

I'd add an 11th -- context! Don't assume the drop-ins know how your software will play out at work; show them. Use scenarios. If you make billing software, don't focus on the beautiful A/R reports; show how your super-easy capture of work-time translates into higher billable hours because attorneys don't forget to enter their time. This goes with #5, "We help you...."

Context is Part 2 of "benefits, not features." If the attendee cannot quickly visualize your solution in her environment, you're both wasting time.

Apolinaras "Apollo" Sinkevicius | LeanStartups.com

#4, #6, and #8 should be moved up to the top. #8 is especially true. If in your marketing you have to rely on gimmicks of any sort, my guards go up like I am in the middle of shark-infested ocean.

Unfortunately, conferences have become almost useless. Too much desperation, too much stale marketing, too much testosterone with silk ties, bad cologne, and alcohol breath masked by mints.

Brad Kolacinski

Thanks Matt. Very useful for my AIPLA show this week in San Diego, although I don't think I would have committed many of these sins. You did make me trim down my "What do you do" answer though... :)

Kathy Sierra

I love them all, though I'd like to see one (maybe part of #5) that highlights *asking/listening* to me when I come to the booth. We always use to joke about how you could tell the engineer vs. the sales person in the booth because the "good" engineer would tell you all the gritty tech details, while the good sales person told you only what was relevant to you personally (based on asking!). I reckon this is implied by #2...

Also while #9 is very useful -- stress outstanding service over "unique" features -- there are an awful lot of products for which my greatest hope is that I won't ever *care* about your service because I'll never need it. For a lot of product categories, what I care most about is that it Just Works at letting me do something I really really want to do. I'm not sure people are as motivated by service upfront, unless it's in a domain where we've been burned before by lack of it and assume we'll need it.

I know I've personally bought quite a lot at trade show floors --both on the spot and as a follow-up -- and many of my best purchases have been those where the transaction on the show floor was the only interaction I had/needed with the company until it was time to upgrade.

Thanks so much for this practical post. As an avid trade show attendee, I hope your advice is followed more often.

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