The Volume Wars
The situation: Day One of the Trade Show. Your neighbor’s first presentation of the morning begins. And …. it’s loud. VERY loud. You wince. You grimace. You launch the Noise Meter app on your iPhone.
110dB and rising fast.
The sales reps in your booth can’t have a conversation. Their temperature is rising faster than the sound level. They’re staring at YOU. And the look in their eyes is saying ….
Your response: Those jerks are too damn loud. I’m going straight to Show Management. They’ll come over with their own dB meter and get those clowns to TURN IT DOWN. If they don’t, I’ll just turn our volume UP!!
Their response: Oh yeah!? Well, TWO can play at that game. I’m going to keep my dBs right at the legal limit all day long. We’re going to do four … no SIX, 10 minute presentations an hour. Yeah, That’ll show ‘em. Maybe throw in a little feedback to REALLY make their day. By the end of this show, they’ll wish they never messed with me. Bwa ha haaaaa…
Conclusion: OK, this approach isn’t going to do anyone any good. It’s kind of like making the decision to call the police at 2 in the morning to get your neighbor to turn down his Metallica Retrospective. Instead of just calling him up.
The Alternative: Wage Peace
The situation: You’re at the Convention Center on the set-in day. You’re rehearsing. Running through your presentation. Checking your sound system. The guy at the next booth is doing the same. And he’s got MUCH bigger speakers than you do. So in the “volume knob wars,” you’re gonna go down. What do you do?
Your response: Hey! How’s it going? Looks like we’re both going to be doing live shows here. What kind of presentation are you doing? (Really listen.) Well, I’d like to introduce myself to see if we can coordinate our schedules so we’re not fighting each other for three days. Are you presenting on the hour and the half hour? Great. What if I go at 15 and 45? Just know that when I do my presentations, there may be pretty big crowds and it could get kind of loud. But if it does get TOO loud, you can give me a signal and I’ll turn it down.
In fact, since it looks like we’re not competitors, how about if I mention you guys at the end of the presentation and see if I can send some of that traffic your way?
Their response: Hmm. Nice guy. I should try to stay on schedule and make sure my volume doesn’t go to “11.” I wonder … if I send some of my crowds to their booth, maybe I can score one of those screaming monkeys they’re giving away … or two …
Conclusion: Compromise. Wage Peace. Establish a relationship. BE NICE! I guarantee you, you’ll have a better show. You’ll have more fun. And you might just pick up some business.
** Got any trade show war stories that ended up all ‘warm and fuzzy?’ I’d love to hear them.
This month’s entry is: “Ending Death by Powerpoint” It’s about why Powerpoint can be the LEAST effective way to tell your story at a trade show. It offers up some GREAT alternative technologies, and some simple “Low-tech” approaches.
It also tells you what NOT to do if you are going to use Powerpoint.
Please give it a read:
This month’s entry is: “Beat Up Your Booth.” It’s about taking a cold, hard look at your current booth, with an eye towards making it better. A LOT better.
It’s about tough love.
Please give it a read:
“Hey Newman” will be back soon….
I ran into a guy at an airport recently who was hauling two large company-branded shopping bags. It was clear that he was on his way home from a trade show.
Well … it was made even clearer by the fact that he was still wearing his Attendee badge.
“Pretty good score, huh?”
“Yeah, lotta crap. Not even sure why I’m bringing it home. But hey, it was free, y’know? ”Kids’ll like it. And the rest I’ll probably just dump.”
I found myself wondering about the hours of discussion, the meetings, the phone calls, the RFPs … the debate by the marketing team over what the “perfect” giveaway for this show would be. And here was a bag full of the stuff on a fast track to the trash heap.
I think many of us agree that promotional giveaway items are an essential part of trade shows. And I know from many years of experience, that people will queue up for a branded t-shirt or a thumb drive or a flying-screaming aadvark as if their very lives depended on it.
I’m also willing to bet that many of these people get home, dump their suitcases on their beds and wonder,
“WHY THE HELL DID I WAIT IN LINE TO GET … THIS?!!”
Now, I don’t want to suggest that we do away with the swag. But I think it IS worth considering the amount of trash we are creating in this industry. AND the amount of work that is being outsourced to countries so that we can get that 8 gig flash drive in the shape of a nose for a unit price of fifty cents.
I don’t have an easy answer here, but I would like to open a dialogue on the subject. Do we need this stuff? Or are there alternative forms of messaging and branding that have a reasonable lifespan (And not just a half life in a recycling center.)
Would love to hear your thoughts.