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trade show moderator

State of Engagement: Cannabis Business Summit 2019

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State of Engagement: Cannabis Business Summit 2019

San Jose, CA- Evolving regulations and increasing investment have created a rapidly maturing Cannabis B2B trade show industry. I visited the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in San Jose on July 23 and 24, 1019 to check out the state of booth engagement in this burgeoning industry. CBS is produced by the NCIA, the National Cannabis Industry Association, so advocacy and B2B commerce were heavily focused upon.

hardware at cbs

As this was my first cannabis trade show, I was surprised to find it to be primarily a heavy equipment manufacturing product show, with booths consumed by giant gleaming steel machines and elaborate corporate farming lighting systems. Although there were a few booths staffed by stereotypical overall-wearing farmer-types, many of the larger booths showed growing sophistication in the trade show engagement landscape.

In this edition of my ongoing series of post-show tactical analyses, I offer up a brief overview of some of the engagement techniques I observed at CBS 2019. I hope you can use this info to increase booth effectiveness while saving money and time wasted on unsuccessful tactics.


Hardware

chemistry at cbs 2019

Giant gleaming high-tech agriculture machines dominated booths throughout the floor at CBS. Most of these booths seemed to have an engagement strategy of simply rolling out their giant machines and then letting prospects wander in and ‘kick the tires’ without assertive engagement. Reasons for this laid back approach included “long sales cycles,” “people who want us come and talk to us,” and “we’re just here for brand awareness.” I would highly recommend a re-evaluation of marketing budget in cases like these to judge ROI. If a trade show presence makes hard financial sense, then booth staff training for assertive engagement is critical to make it worthwhile.

Rating: C


Booth Promotional Models

Unfortunately, a few booths utilized skimpily-attired promo models to promote their brand at CBS 2019. Although this tactic undoubtedly works for a small subset of prospects, this somewhat cringey throwback evidences a still-maturing industry trade show environment. There is a clear disconnect between utilizing promo models and delivering use case-specific messaging to prospects. If this industry hopes to continue growing in legitimacy and sophistication, I hope it will redirect engagement budgets to more effective means like booth engagement training and professional presentations.

Rating: D


Social Media Portraits

linkedin portraits

A couple of CBS 2019 exhibitors provided professional portrait photographer services in exchange for leads. As one of the few truly useful giveaways on the floor, this tactic successfully lined up prospects at booths. Although not directly related to the solutions provided, as long as booth staff properly engaged and qualified prospects, sales will be in good shape on the back end.

Rating: B-


Recommendations

As a relatively young industry in the process of gaining legitimacy and learning to take itself seriously, Cannabis B2B offers many growth opportunities for trade show marketing managers. A few recommendations:

Industry-Specific Giveaways

I noticed fairly standard giveaways like can coozies and fidget spinners at CBS 2019. A clever marketing manager could easily create buzz by creating a industry specific branded giveaway. A small tool used in cannabis production that could be branded, perhaps?

Hourly Raffles

Ongoing raffles of low-cost prizes are an easy way to create all-day traffic at a booth. However, traffic is only as good as the conversations generated by booth staff, so ensure that staff is prepared to engage and qualify the crowds.

Booth Theater Presentations

At a show like CBS with obvious experts manning the booths, why not have them add value for attendees by offering scheduled expert presentations in the booth? Just ensure that your experts are properly prepared to present in the distracting trade show environment. If a brand overview is relevant, consider a professional presenter, who will not only deliver your messaging in a compelling way, but will also pack your booth all day long.

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

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Gathering Prospects as Moderator at NTI 2019

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Gathering Prospects as Moderator at NTI 2019

Orlando, FL- Professional trade show moderator Don Colliver moderated a busy and expansive booth theater for a major medical device company at the 2019 AACN National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition in Orlando, Florida. Don wrote and delivered health care expert introductions, gathered crowds and facilitated engaging Q and A sessions every 45 minutes.

AACN NTI 1029 was held from May 21 through May 23 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Don was booked through Skye Agency, a trade show staff agency.

healthcare moderator at aacn.png

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State of Engagement: Dell Technologies World 2019

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State of Engagement: Dell Technologies World 2019

Dell tech world logo trade show consulting

Las Vegas, NV- The Dell Technologies World Conference was originally focused completely on storage, but these days this conference has broadened slightly to include many more aspects of the IT landscape.

caricature artist

On the show floor, booths are hard pressed to compare to the massive engagement expenditure put out by the conference itself. From caricature artists, to rescue dog petting stations, to a giant e-sports arena, its enough to make a Events Marketing Manager just give up.

sweets on the floor

And did I mention the non-stop food, coffee and booze? Its tough to even recognize the Sands Expo floor with this conference’s black ceiling and uplighting- dare I say… theatrical? Theatrical or not, 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 Dell Tech World 2019. I hope you can use this info to increase booth effectiveness while saving money and time wasted on unsuccessful tactics.


Hardware

On the show floor at this show, booth space is dominated by hardware manufacturers. Here a rack, there a rack, everywhere a rack-rack… Most of these booths seemed to have an engagement strategy of simply rolling out their racks of technology then letting attendees wander in and ‘kick the tires’ without assertive engagement. I assume this is due to the long sales cycle for these products, making it more of a challenge to show exhibit ROI, so they’re going for the non-measured ‘brand awareness’ objective. In situations like these, I wonder if booth space is the best use of live event marketing money. Perhaps either some booth staff training, or spending more on logo presence throughout the show and foregoing the somewhat underused space may be a better spend.

Rating: D


Booth Theater Presentations

A few booths at this show utilized the crowd gatherer/presenter model of engagement to good effect. Attendees seemed willing to sit through a presentation in order to be eligible for a raffle at the end. Although the “qualified-prospect” to the “I-just-want-the-prize-attendee” ratio can be dubious in these situations, its better than an empty booth, and can certainly drive demos. The challenge could come on the backend, when marketing forwards sales hundreds of scans with no qualification notes. Possible solution? Quicker, flashier on-going presentations with no scan required including a hard call-to-action to the demo stations, where attendees are qualified, scanned and provided a use case-specific demo.

Rating: B


Spin to Win

I saw multiple versions of the classic ‘spin to win’ wheel engagement concept on the floor at Dell World, and each one had massive lives down the expo floor aisles. Each had chances to win products like game systems, high tech backpacks, bluetooth mice, speakers and headphones. All good, expensive stuff, so no wonder attendees were lining up. I like the honesty here- this tactic doesn’t even pretend to be connected to the booth messaging, which is fine (but not terribly creative)! It works, as long as booth staff is trained to engage and qualify everyone in the line so sales knows what they’re getting on the back end.

Rating: B-



The somewhat standard booth engagement offerings at Dell Technologies World offer a big opportunity for exhibitors willing to take a chance on a game show or character concept next year. Also, booth staff training could help less engaging hardware-focused booths increase their show ROI.

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

trade show presenter at dell

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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 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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Initiating Prospect Conversations as Moderator at AORN 2019

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Initiating Prospect Conversations as Moderator at AORN 2019

Nashville, TN- Professional trade show moderator Don Colliver moderated a busy and expansive booth theater for a major medical device company at the 2019 AORN Global Surgical Conference and Expo in Nashville, Tennessee. Don wrote and delivered health care provider expert introductions, gathered crowds and facilitated engaging Q and A sessions.

AORN 1029 was held from April 6 through April 10 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Don was booked through Skye Agency, a trade show staff agency.

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