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State of Engagement: AORN 2019

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State of Engagement: AORN 2019

AORN logo

Nashville, TN- AORN, or the Global Surgical Conference and Expo, calls itself the largest gathering of perioperative nurses in the world. Thousands of nurses converge upon this show eager to learn about the latest surgical technologies and products. From an engagement standpoint, AORN provides an interesting case study, as most of the attendees are not the actual decision makers. in fact, these attendees have widely varied levels of influence on the decision makers, depending on the structure of their individual hospital systems, so its much more challenging to judge ROI on show expenditures. Additionally, healthcare shows in general play by the rules of the Sunshine Act. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires medical product manufacturers to report payments made to physicians and teaching hospitals. This means EVERYTHING, right down to ball point pens, and that usually means no giveaways whatsoever at physician-targeted shows. Even though this show was targeted at nurses, it still seems that most exhibitors shy away from any giveaways, and that presents an added barrier to engagement. In this edition of my ongoing series of post-show tactical analyses, I offer up a brief overview of the some of engagement techniques I observed at AORN 2019. I hope you can use this info to increase booth effectiveness while saving money and time wasted on unsuccessful tactics.


AORN trade show consultant

CE Credits

Healthcare Providers must obtain a certain number of continuing education credits, or CE credits, each year to maintain certification. Providers can obtain these credits by learning and being tested about new technologies. Offering CE Credits was the most popular and effective engagement technique on the show floor at AORN. CE Credits are a win-win: they offer a valuable service to prospects, and exhibitors have an opportunity to show their product, although it must be portrayed in a relatively unbiased, educationally-focused overview of options. AORN booths either exchanged educational quiz booklets or delivered presentations/quizzes to provide CE credits. From an engagement standpoint, it is essential to have a moderator who can push attendees to demo stations following the expert presentation, since the expert presenter will be delivering an “unbiased” educational talk.

Rating: A


Presentations

As mentioned above, expert presentations were heavily utilized at AORN to provide educational overviews followed by a test opportunity for CE credit. Presenters at health care shows are primarily subject matter experts, along with professional moderators to crowd gather, facilitate Q/A and push attendees to reps and demo stations. Attendees generally find interesting presentations via the show program or app and visit the booth at the designated time, rather than just strolling the show floor to find something interesting. However, I saw some booths successfully utilize crowd gathering techniques for less-attended presentations. As the presenters are generally expected to maintain an unbiased perspective, its critical to have a moderator to add the booth call-to-action, whether it be a demo, a rep conversation, or simply a badge scan. I saw many booths miss this critical engagement opportunity.

Rating: C


Other Engagement Tactics

A few booths utilized some of the more common engagement tactics from across the industry spectrum. I observed a money machine cash cube, a few end-of-day raffles and plenty of pen and grocery bag giveaways (the Sunshine Act didn’t apply at this show). While these were nice starting points, most booth staff at AORN were simply not trained to properly leverage these tactics, so the tactics were left dormant much of the time. Healthcare booths are generally staffed by medical company sales reps with specific territories, so assertive general attendee engagement has historically been less than stellar (unless reps recognize attendees from their territory!) No matter how great a booth engagement tactic may be, if booth staff doesn’t assertively engage with all attendees, its worthless.

Rating: D



The nurses on the floor at AORN were legitimately interested in learning about exhibitor’s new technology. However, due to the laissez faire engagement stance of most exhibitor booth staff, many booths were left empty. This presents a unique opportunity for exhibitors willing to use more straightforward engagement tactics. Whatever your booth attract, be sure to spend time training your booth staff and consider a professional moderator to ensure maximum attendee engagement. Otherwise, you’re wasting money.

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

don colliver trade show moderator

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Supercharging Prospect Engagement with Exit Interviews at Strata Data 2019

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Supercharging Prospect Engagement with Exit Interviews at Strata Data 2019

San Francisco, CA- Professional trade show consultant Don Colliver conducted quantitative and qualitative exit interviews for Dremio at the 2019 Strata Data Conference in San Francisco, CA. Don immersed himself in the Dremio marketing landscape, then wrote and delivered iPad surveys and subjective interviews to learn prospect engagement needs and desires. The project culminated with a comprehensive 22-page report with recommendations to increase lead count, qualified conversations and demos.

Don acted as trade show consultant at Strata Data occurred from April 26th through 28th, 2019 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

Dremio crew at Strata Data
Strata Data logo

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State of Engagement: Strata Data 2019

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State of Engagement: Strata Data 2019

San Francisco, CA- Strata Data! Its all about the Big Data here, folks. Whether you’re targeting data scientists, data architects or data engineers, they’re going to be interested in data manipulation demos at Strata. This conference is a perfect example of how the best engagement tactics are completely dependent upon the target demographic. I spent this show conducting exit interviews for a client and learned that these data folks are interested in 1 thing: demo’s. Oh, and maybe stickers as well. In this edition of my ongoing series of post-show tactical analyses I offer up a brief overview of the some of engagement techniques I observed at Strata Data 2019. I hope you can use this info to increase your booth effectiveness while saving the money and time wasted on unsuccessful tactics.


trade show engagement game skee ball

Carnival Games

Conference organizers placed 2 Skee-Ball games at the entrance to the expo hall at Strata. These were empty most of the show, and this carnival game trend may be fading away for now (till next time, that is). However, they were part of a relaxation area with seats, desk space and phone charging, which saw quite a bit of use. Attendee seating and phone charging amenities can gain traffic, however prospects won’t necessarily be willing to have a conversation. Passive messaging like looping demo videos work well in this setup.

Rating: D


Professional Headshot Station

headshot station trade show engagement

Conference organizers provided a professional headshot station for attendees smack dab in the middle of the expo floor. Lines down the aisle were pretty much non-stop throughout the show. Here’s an engagement tactic that truly offers a valuable, usable takeaway for prospects- I would’ve lined up as well if I had the time! A headshot station offers a huge opportunity for direct prospect engagement as long as booth staff has been properly trained to elicit conversations rather than simply scanning badges.

Rating: B


Live T-Shirt Screenprinting

live screenprinting booth engagement

Following the headshot station, the next biggest draw at Strata Data was the live T-shirt screenprinting station, also sponsored by conference organizers. I must admit, I am bewildered by the popularity of this tactic (aren’t they making the same shirts that most other booths are giving away?), but I can’t argue with the lines of prospects that this tactic creates. Also, having booth staff inquire prospects about which design they prefer provides a great opening for a qualifying conversation.

Rating: B


Product Demo plus Trivia Game

This concept was the closest thing I saw to an engagement home run at Strata Data. The data scientists I spoke with had no patience for silly sales pitches and wanted efficient and knowledgable product demos. However, if the knowledgable product demo was combined with a fun, content-appropriate trivia challenge where they could show off their own knowledge, they were hooked. Demo staff had to be not only charismatic, but also highly knowledgable and able to respond to prospect curveballs. Consider bringing on a professional presenter only if you have time to thoroughly train the presenter on the product. This demographic will not suffer fools gladly!

Rating: A



The data scientists, data architects and data engineers at Strata Data were interested primarily in learning through demos on the expo floor. However, the headshot and screenprinting stations were popular draws as well. Whatever your target demographic, be sure to spend some time investigating your prospects’ engagement preferences while planning your booth engagement tactics, or hire an engagement consultant like myself. Bottom line, every prospect wants a knowledgable conversation about a solution to their company’s problem. The question is: how do most efficiently start that conversation with your target prospect?

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

Don Colliver trade show consultant

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Next Step Towards "World Champion of Public Speaking"

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Next Step Towards "World Champion of Public Speaking"

Public speaking champion

Palo Alto, CA- Very proud to announce that I have won the Toastmasters Area A2 International Speech Competition with my inspirational speech, “Failure is not an Option” about my experiences performing with the Blue Man Group.

Huge thanks and gratitude to my home group, SAP Toastmasters and Area A2. Now, on to the Division A Contest, and then onward towards the “World Champion of Public Speaking” Championship in Denver, CO!

group contest.jpg

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State of Engagement: RSA 2019

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State of Engagement: RSA 2019

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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Starting Qualified Conversations as Trade Show Emcee at RSA 2019

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Starting Qualified Conversations as Trade Show Emcee at RSA 2019

Las Vegas, NV- Professional trade show emcee Don Colliver returned to once again host the exciting "SolveIT" Trivia Game Show for Trustwave at the 2019 RSA Conference in San Francisco, CA. Every hour, Don gathered crowds, energized the 15-minute games and prize giveaways, and then delivered packed and primed booth audiences to Trustwave presenters for their expert presentations.

RSA occurred from March 4th through 7th, 2018 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

RSA logo trade show presentation emcee.png

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Captivating Prospects as Trade Show Presentation Writer at RSA 2019

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Captivating Prospects as Trade Show Presentation Writer at RSA 2019

San Francisco, CA- Professional trade show presentation writer Don Colliver created the trade show presentation for ObserveIT’s retro 80’s themed booth at the 2019 RSA Trade Show in San Francisco, CA. Don wrote the fun, effective 8-minute presentation and developed the PowerPoint deck which was presented by professional trade show presenter Jennifer Canale. ObserveIT booked Don in partnership with Magnet Presentations, a trade show presenter agency.

Carey Thiels, Director of Marketing at ObserveIT said, “Hire this guy to write your trade show presentations! For RSA, Don took our marketing and sales materials and efficiently created a prospect-engagement focused booth presentation with a generous dose of humor. Don really made my part of the script writing process effortless. With a very small marketing team, it really counts when you have vendors who can make your life easier. Hire Don! “

RSA 2019 occurred from March 4th through March 7th, 2019 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA.

Photo credit to Magnet Productions.

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Engaging Consumers as Game Show Emcee at Live Nation Concert Series

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Engaging Consumers as Game Show Emcee at Live Nation Concert Series

San Francisco, CA- Is your brand considering using a game show engagement at your next event marketing initiative? Professional Game Show Emcee Don Colliver hosted an exciting and fun series of experiential marketing footprints for Kettle Brand Potato Chips and Live Nation at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA. Don drew crowds, led immersive audience potato sack race contests and gave away prizes at concerts including the Dave Matthews Band and Lauryn Hill.

Live Nation and Kettle Brand Potato Chips booked Don through Encore Nationwide, a live event staffing agency.

Click below to get a complimentary infographic of our Top Ten Event Engagement Tips to help you and your staff surpass your event marketing goals:

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Engaging Qualified Leads for Avalara at Oracle Open World

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Engaging Qualified Leads for Avalara at Oracle Open World

San Francisco, CA- Professional trade show presenter Don Colliver engaged with IT database and infrastructure professionals for Avalara at the 2018 Oracle Open World Trade Show in San Francisco, CA.

From October 22nd through October 24th, 2018, Don drew crowds of IT pros to the Avalara booth, strongly positioning the brand within the competitive environment and introducing qualified leads to knowledgable sales reps. Oracle Open World was held at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA.

Don was booked through CE Talent, a trade show staff agency.

trade show emcee engages prospect at OOW
Avalara team with trade show emcee Don Colliver

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Maximizing Doctor Engagement with VR at Anesthesiology 2018

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Maximizing Doctor Engagement with VR at Anesthesiology 2018

San Francisco, CA- Professional trade show emcee Don Colliver surpassed all lead goals hosting an exciting and educational 3D VR video game for Anesthesiologists for Merck and RevHealth at the Anesthesiology 2018 Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA.

From October 13th through October 15th, 2018, Don engaged with international physicians, walked them through an exciting series of video challenges, and connected them with knowledgeable reps. Anesthesiology 2018 was held at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA.

Don was booked through CE Talent, a trade show staff agency.

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