Blog-worthy Boothies

I enjoy creative booth giveaways. The run-of-the-mill tchotchke is typically forgettable, but sometimes, you run into something outstanding – something worthy of a blog post.

This week, at two different conferences, I picked up three. Here they are:

1. The Epocrates leather-covered notebook is simply delightful. I’d been looking for something in which I could more systematically order my written thoughts (yes, though I do now use Evernote on-line, I’m still a bit old-fashioned) – and this high-quality personal notebook is gorgeous. You don’t have to go high-tech to achieve an “enduring” remembrance – this paper-based goodie won’t get thrown away anytime soon.

2. Also from Epocrates, the Lego-ish USB memory stick. You’ve picked up three dozen memory sticks in the last few years, right? But this is just plain cute. Too cute not to share. Yes, I popped the doctor’s head off so you can see that it’s a memory stick…

3. Eagle Productivity had these pens that didn’t look all that different – until I pulled out the rolled-up sell sheet, which unrolls and retracts from the barrel. Brilliant. I won’t use it for writing. I’ll just show it off. And that’s kinda the point, isn’t it?

I have a hundred other boothies banging around that I’ll never show you. They’re not blog-worthy. But these are. It’s worth the investment to be outstanding, to be remarkable.

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Way to Light up your Booth!

I was at Ad-Tech NY this week, where I indulged one of my favorite pastimes – wandering the exhibit area to see who had a remarkable booth design, or marketing campaign, or giveaway.

cigar4I wasn’t too inspired, frankly – that is, until I came upon the Elite Commission booth. Rubbing my eyes in disbelief, I saw – yes, right there on the exhibit floor – two guys hand-rolling cigars with tobacco leaf, and giving them out! And sure enough, they had an audience.

This was incredibly effective because:

1. It had the “circus sideshow” effect – come see this bizarre act! Excellent way to stop people drifting by, and great word-of-mouth impact.

2. It was unique and remarkable. No-one else was giving away cigars, let alone letting you watch them getting made.

3. There was an enduring element. In the giveaway packet was a logo-fied lighter and cigar-cutter.

Brilliant. I came back the next day for another one (yes, I love marketing swag). And, even though I don’t have a need for Elite Commission as a provider, they’ve just gotten some free advertising. Because out of the hundreds of companies there, they were the most creative. And that is marketing that smokes!

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Ad-Tech NY – Monday

Ad-Tech NY starts today, with no keynotes or workshops – just exhibits.

It’s bewildering!

Because the event is taking place in a mid-town hotel, there is not a large exhibit space. Therefore, exhibitors are scattered over 3 floors. If you get claustrophic, this is not the place for you!

Most of the booths/displays are 10 or 20 foot, and they are tightly packed in hallways and ballroom areas. For those involved in SEO, widgets, on-line advertising tools, PPC, affliate marketing, and the like, this is nirvana.

I’m actually on the hunt for new and cool social media applications – things that would appeal to my branding/marketing StickyFigure audience, and well as apps that might have relevance to my pharma Impactiviti audience. The major challenge is the signal-to-noise ratio!

I’m pretty obsessive about critiquing booth design and outreach at trade shows. With all the companies that are here, ostensibly involved in marketing and advertising, I’m struck with how few of them seem effective at grabbing and holding attention. So far, Casale Media gets my nod for the best booth design – a clean field of white with a very simple red logo presentation. Memorable. A lot of companies still seem to be struck in the describe-everything-that-we-do mode, instead of crafting a single compelling message.

I’m anticipating that once the sessions start tomorrow, there’ll be a lot more to share. In the meantime, a few companies that have caught my eye so far:

Izea (connects up bloggers and advertisers) – anybody using this service to review products and get paid? Your thoughts?

Blockdot (on-line game development) – anyone have experience with this outfit? Your thoughts?

Telligent (social network platform) – this platform can be used both publicly and internally, to deploy social networks (including forums, wikis, blogs, etc.), and has a robust reporting back-end. It’s built on Microsoft enterprise tools (and Microsoft uses it). Mzinga competitor. I see a lot of potential here – anyone have user feedback about Telligent?

Live! From Hollywood!

Hollywood, Florida, that is…

OK, I really have no intention of “live-blogging” the annual Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers conference. But I woke up incredibly early this morning, mind instantly buzzing, and there was no way to get back to sleep. Plus, I decided to allow the hotel to rip me off for at least one day of high-speed internet access (for the price of this hotel, you’d think they could throw in web access – but they hit up their customers for $14/day minimum if you want to get on the web. Note to Westin: maximum revenue extraction is a negative customer experience approach….).

diplomat-w-fl.jpgAnyway, other than the nickel-and-diming, the Westin Diplomat Hotel is quite striking. The lobby area, and (I’m very sensitive to this) the exhibit area both have an open and “airy” feel. Definitely one of the nicest exhibit hall layouts I’ve seen in a long time – high ceiling, light color, and no protruding posts/pillars to break up the traffic flow. Last night was the opening reception, which seemed lightly attended – because this hotel is right on the beach, and has some fabulous pools, the anecdotal evidence so far is that a lot of people brought their families.

As an aside, from a branding perspective, the Westin permeates the hotel with a “signature scent” – I feel that including olfactory elements in branding is very effective, and I’m glad to see it increasingly being utilized. Their “White Tea” scent is very pleasant.

The three hours of the reception went so quickly that I was astounded when they announced that the hall was closing at 8:00 pm. It’s like an annual homecoming – so many familiar folks from both the vendor and the client side, and it was a real joy to talk to friends and colleagues from the pharma industry whom I’ve come to know over the years. Really looking forward to the sessions, which start this morning. I’ll try to do one more blog post tonight or tomorrow morning.

Mrs. StickyFigure will be enjoying poolside quiet, with good books, a very welcome break from the endless demands of caring for and schooling our tribe, while I will be living on adrenaline and caffeine for the next few days. Friday will bring the inevitable post-conference emotional and physical crash!

Coming up next week – more coffee posts. Mrs. StickyFigure got me some mail-order coffees from Boca Java for Father’s Day, and I’ll review them. Couldn’t resist bringing one bag down here with us, and the first tasting was quite promising indeed!

Differentiate or Die

20070614111737.jpgOne of the most difficult places to rise above the “noise” level, and make a memorable impact, is on the conference exhibit hall. These places are a virtual Babel of company pitches, images, marketing materials, and all-too-brief interactions, typically with prospects who are rushing on to the next thing. How do you make your “signal” stand out from the noise?

I’m a veteran of over 20 years of selling and marketing, and have attended countless trade shows, both as a vendor and an attendee. Most of what I’ve seen and heard over the years is just a blur. And, next week is another one.

Since a number of my business partners will be in the exhibit hall as vendors at this conference, I thought I’d prepare a simple 4-question worksheet to help them maximize their impact on the exhibit floor. Then, this morning I realized that with a few minor tweaks, it could be used universally. Why not make it available on the blog?

Answer and apply these 4 simple questions, and you stand a chance of differentiating yourself. Not only on the exhibit floor, however; in reality, this worksheet is widely applicable for any selling situation.

So, here you go. Let me know in the Comments if you find it helpful!

(Image credit: James Duncan Davidson)

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