Under The Microscope

Should I Exhibit At Macworld?, Part 4: Odds & Ends

The Should I Exhibit At Macworld? Series

Part 1: Costs
Part 2: On The Show Floor
Part 3: Decisions, Decisions
Part 4: Odds & Ends

And so we’ve come to the end of our series. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve looked at
funny pictures of David Pogue. I gathered a bunch of small items that didn’t fit well into the other articles, and lumped them together here.

Gimmicks

Cheap gimmicks are unlikely to work as a way of attracting people. Booth babes are a popular concept at trade shows, but you won’t find many at Macworld, with good reason. When you’re showing off something simple like a video game, a booth babe is an easy way to get guys to your booth. Personally, I wouldn’t want anyone working at our booth who didn’t have a firm handle on exactly what our products do and how they work. If you have attractive, personable people working for you, by all means get them to the show. Hiring a pretty face to pitch your technical product, however, seems like a bad idea.

Likewise, using candy to attract people didn’t work for us. Our first year at Macworld we went out and bought a fishbowl and a huge bag of candy. Within an hour or two, we had an empty fishbowl, lots of trash, and not much else to show for it. In order to have enough candy to go around, we’d need to have spent hundreds of dollars. As you might guess, we quickly gave that up.

If booth babes and candy aren’t the way to attract people, what is the right way? Sad to say, I don’t know the perfect answer here. Our own formula of a weird name and logo coupled with interesting artwork works well enough for us. There are certain to be gimmicks that do work, and if you hit on one, great. But be cautious and don’t spend too much money. People are at Macworld to see you and other companies. They’ll come, no gimmicks required.

Protect your feet

Your best friends at a trade show are a comfortable pair of shoes and a man named Dr. Scholl. You’ll be on your feet for hours at a time, and anything you can do to reduce the pain will be a very good thing.

Take notes!

The most valuable thing about exhibiting at Macworld is the fantastic amount of interaction it provides, with both your current and potential customers. Keep a notebook with you at all times to write down ideas and suggestions.

Don’t worry about the unions

When you sign up to exhibit at Macworld, you’ll get all kinds of documents and a scary contract. Perhaps most frightening of all will be the regulations surrounding labor unions. For instance, regarding materials:

You may hand carry only what you can manage by yourself (one person) in one trip, using no equipment.

and regarding booth setup:

By definition, the installation or dismantling of exhibits that requires the use of hand tools, or takes one person more than 30 minutes, or exceeds ten feet in any direction, falls within the jurisdiction of the Local 510 of the Sign Display and Crafts Union.

Fun stuff, eh? Scary as it all sounds, it’s not really anything to worry about. These rules are designed to pry open the wallets of major exhibitors (like Apple). The small fish slip through the net, and that means you don’t need to worry much. Your setup should certainly be simple enough, and you can carry in a box or two at a time over several trips.

Now I just have to worry about getting Hoffa’d at the next show.

Infoboards

For Macworld 2006, we created infoboards that showed off our products. These featured a huge, high-quality print of the icon for the product as well as a brief description of its functionality.

These infoboards are very useful to draw the eye and bring people over. In just a few seconds, attendees can scan your products and hopefully realize they’re worth checking out. In fact, I’d say this is one of the simplest ways to get people to your booth, and we’ll definitely be using them again.

These infoboards are also great because many times people know your products, but not your company. Plenty of people know Audio Hijack Pro, but don’t know Rogue Amoeba. When they see Audio Hijack Pro’s icon and name, they come over and talk to us about our other products.

Use coupon codes

Last week we talked about selling on the show floor, and that’s certainly the most effective way of tracking sales. However, if you choose not to sell on the floor, you can still track sales. In order to track sales, we provide a unique coupon code for each show.

For Macworld San Francisco 2004, our code was MWSF2003IS, because we made it in 2003 and we were too dumb to realize that Macworld wasn’t until after the new year (the “IS” stood for Infosheet, where the coupon was located). With this coupon code, we can track the minimum number of sales directly realized from exhibiting at the show. It’s far from a perfect metric, but it’s simple and worth doing.

Free CDs

We’ve provided CDs with demos at all our shows, and it’s been an effective way of getting the software in the hands of potential customers. The biggest problem has been letting people know that these CDs are free.

Numbers

I’ll say it one last time, because it’s worth repeating. Around 2500 to 5000 trial CDs is a good bet for the show, as well as between 5000 and 7500 flyers. Plan to run out of CDs, the more expensive handout, and fall back on flyers.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you…Infosleeves

We’ve previously talked about two different types of handouts: flyers (or infosheets) which provide rich detail on all our products, and CDs which contain trial versions of our software. With these setup, we try to get visitors to take one of each of these handouts, which can be onerous. For the future, we’re currently working on a hybrid of the infosheet and the CD, dubbed the infosleeve.

The infosleeve, seen at right/left, provides all the info of a flyer and the CD as well. The sleeve has a fold-out flap, and with four full sides, we have enough space to provide information on the company and our products, obviating the need for flyers. The CD itself will be similar to what we’ve had in the past, containing trials of our products.

We think this will work well for us. The real lesson though is that the higher density of information you can get for your handouts, the better. By only needing to hand out one item, we’ve made our own jobs easier.

Closing

Hopefully this series has provided some valuable information for future exhibitors, and proved interesting for others as well. With any luck, this will be a useful reference for first-time exhibitors in 2008 and beyond. Speaking of 2008, Rogue Amoeba will be at Macworld San Francisco 2008 in booth 2738 (a larger 10′ x 20′). Mark your calendars now and be sure to check us out!

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