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.