San Francisco, CA- RSA! They call it “the world’s leading information security event,” and I tend to believe them. The packed North and South Halls of Moscone Center are pretty overwhelming! In this edition of my ongoing series of post-show tactical analyses I offer up a brief overview of the new and old engagement techniques I observed at RSA 2019. I observed these tactics at multiple times of day, during both busy and heavy traffic times. Of course, best booth tactics always depend on marketing objectives, but here, I focus on a blend of volume of qualified conversations with total badge scans. With this info, I hope you can increase your booth effectiveness while saving the money and time wasted on unsuccessful tactics.


Carnival Games

carnival games

I saw quite a few booths utilizing rented and custom skinned classic carnival games like Skee-Ball, Whack-a-Mole and Giant Operation. While seemingly a fun idea, I noticed very few lines forming, and if attendees did participate, they were generally alone and would quickly move on without engaging in a conversation. Games like this seem to work better when hosted by the conference itself in a common area as a way to blow off steam, rather than in a booth for generating brand awareness and conversation. At the very least, the game should be augmented with a charismatic staffer trained to encourage the prospect to share their specific business problems.

Rating: D


Video Games

space invaders

Retro was very “in” at RSA, probably due to the Stranger Things 80’s phenomena, and the perfect alignment with the childhood demographics of many Infosec attendees. Many booths had versions of video game classics in both large, multi-player and standard single-player versions. Again, a fun idea (I love video games!), but they seemed to not attract the crowds for which they were designed. Perhaps prospects don’t want to lose or look silly in front of a crowd? Again, the game needs to be augmented with a charismatic staffer to make the messaging connection and encourage the prospect to share their specific business problems.

Rating: C


Book Signings

Celebrity author signings were indisputably the biggest crowd draw I saw at RSA 2019. Lines stretched around booths, down aisles and then around yet more booths. These successful tactics offered a huge opportunity for direct prospect engagement as long as booth staff had been properly trained to elicit conversations rather than simply scanning badges. Utilizing pre-show outreach and conference sponsor publicity options are a requirement here, as relying solely on booth signage to draw attendees is a risky proposition for a relatively brief signing event.

Rating: B


The Charismatic Sales Engineer/ Moderator

Ah yes, the sweet spot! The holy grail of booth engagement! The epitome of qualified lead gathering! I saw a few of these rare animals on the RSA floor: highly knowledgeable, funny and engaging. These folks would gather a crowd, provide valuable, take-away information that wasn’t a sales pitch, and then truly engage the group in a back and forth discussion of the various attendees’ real business problems. Consider adding a professional moderator to gather and energize the crowd and encourage conversations with multiple SE’s on mic for a booth busting conversation. This is how its done, folks!

Rating: A



RSA provided a great overview of the current state of tech trade show engagement. While there were plenty of nostalgia-driven trends, the best option I saw for engaging prospects in qualifying conversations was a highly knowledgeable contractor or Sales Technician who could lead a group conversation, rather than a presentation. This allowed solutions to be presented specifically to prospect titles and problems.

Until next time, best of luck planning your next event marketing initiative. We’ll see you on the show floor!

RSA logo trade show presentation emcee.png

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