Event Booths that Work

The corporate team from Stella & Dot was on hand at BlogHer

Last week I had the opportunity to attend BlogHer in NYC. BlogHer is a huge blogging conference (I believe there were 5,000 people in attendance) and it naturally attracts a large number of brands that seek to garner positive attention from the many web influencers who attend.

I attended as a blogger (I write several blogs), with the intention of soaking up the experience, and finding out more about the conference. I walked the expo hall, attended sessions, and networked with other bloggers. But one thing that really struck me was the varied approaches that vendors used (and some were a great deal more successful than others, at least in my view.)

Some vendors used free product to woo us. And this is often a good strategy, albeit an expensive one. I walked home with many full sized products that I intend to use. This probably gives me the most authentic brand experience…trying the product. Others provided cheaper giveaways, like nylon frisbees and the like. I gave them to my kids, but fully expect to toss these when they wind up underfoot (and honestly, I don’t necessarily remember the brands that gave them to me.) I also have a bag full of paper…I haven’t even looked at this yet. Flyers, ads, etc…I probably won’t have time to go through them. They will all wind up in the circular file (although I’ll probably do a quick scan to see if there are any coupons in there first.)

But in all these experiences, here are the main conclusions I drew:

  • The brands that put the needs of the bloggers first were most successful. These brands thought about what bloggers might need during the conference, and provided booths that met those needs. These included substantial snacks, recharging stations for our electronics, etc. I even heard a blogger talking about a brand in attendance who set up a hashtag on Twitter you could use if you needed something like toothpaste, comfy slippers because your feet hurt, etc, and they would deliver a sample from their brand portfolio to your hotel room. When you come up with a brand experience that gets people talking, you’ve won.
  • You must design your experiences for the people you want to reach, not yourself. At one booth, I could get a sample of press-on nails I knew my daughter would enjoy if I participated in an online quiz. I was more than happy to participate in the quiz, but when I was asked who my style was most like and all 4 of the answer choices were probably easy for a Gen Y but I had no idea how they dressed, I felt a little out of my element. Know your audience!
  • Games are fun. In some booths, there was simply a display of product (not free samples) and literature. These were the least visited booths. But booths where you could spin a wheel to play a game, get a massage, or participate in some other way were more frequently visited than those where there was just a person standing waiting to give you their sales pitch.
  • Charity is good but don’t make it hard. A very large national brand took out a whole suite that consisted of 6 stations, and people who entered were handed a passport. The idea was that you circled each station, got a sales pitch and info on a charity at each station, got a stamp in your passport, and then handed in a slip at the end. If you went through the whole thing then the brand would make a donation to charity. As they were explaining to me the rules, I couldn’t help asking myself why they didn’t just make the donation instead of making me work so hard for them to make a donation. I opted not to participate.

You may participate in booths at various events for your own business. How do you create experiences that draw people to you so that they learn about your brand? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

7 Responses to Event Booths that Work
  1. Sheri Gazitt, Teen Life Coach
    October 17, 2012 | 12:55 am

    I am so glad I came across your site with a link to this article on vendor booths. I am doing an event this Saturday and wanted to make sure my approach will work. According to this article, I am on the right track. Girls will be stopping by my booth to do a free activity, will get a pen they can use in school, and will get a succint rack card that has my contact info. Now I will be going into this vendor event with confidence. Thanks!
    Sheri Gazitt, Teen Life Coach recently posted..Mistakes Shape Us, NOT Define Us

  2. Tonya Stephens
    August 19, 2012 | 11:14 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    Love your blog and the value you are providing. I have an event coming up and your comments on how to have a successful booth have my wheels turning. Good points!
    Happy Blogging,

  3. Linda Kinsman
    August 13, 2012 | 11:32 am

    I haven’t had the opportunity to attend a Blog conference yet, so I appreciate your insights Jennifer.
    I can especially relate to your point about charities. It should be really simple: if you want us to part with our money, our time or both, please be nice, accept no for an answer and don’t waste our time, get right to the point!
    Linda Kinsman recently posted..Mobile Mishaps- $ 40 Amazon Gift Card # Giveaway

  4. Phyllis
    August 7, 2012 | 11:21 am

    When I am a vendor at a trade show I provide a cup of our sports drink to refuel the thirsty, often weary attendees. Depending on the event I might also sell our healthy energy drink at a discount. They can sign up on my phone or ipad.

    I have learned to make make life easy and fast for attendees by accepting credit cards with my phone. Automatically opting in for a product or discounts seems to work the best for customers and for follow-up.

  5. Erica Mueller
    August 6, 2012 | 11:15 am

    I came away with much the same thoughts. Booths that provide a bit of relaxation, pampering, or a place to recharge were my favorite. I prefer them over take-home trinkets. Often while enjoying these experiences you get to spend a few minutes, in a relaxed environment, talking to the brand. When they’re just handing you stuff, or giving you a sales pitch you don’t get that.

    I’m a total geek. One of my favorite booths was the NQ booth where I talked to an app programmer for almost half an hour. Another one I enjoyed was Samsung’s booth. They lets us play with the technology and every question asked was answered. I thought they did a fantastic job!
    Erica Mueller recently posted..cellhelmet Review: The iPhone Case that Comes with a Guarantee

    • Jennifer Fong
      August 6, 2012 | 11:32 am

      I enjoyed the Samsung booth too. I was able to find out from them how to get my iTunes music onto my new Samsung Galaxy phone. 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

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