7/29/2011 11:55 AM
Comic-Con 2011. Wow! What a show! Two Hundred thousand plus attendees, half in costume, all looking for as many give-a-ways as they can to fit into their oversized Comic-Con carry bags. In addition to the trade show exhibits, all crammed with interactive games, celebrity signings and of course free t-shirts, the attendees attend panel discussions featuring their favorite movie, cable & broadcast TV shows, and famous character artists. These folks are the rock stars of comic books and cable, and the seemingly endless versions of vampire and werewolf genre productions. Fake blood was everywhere!
At this show it’s all about building a brand and immersing the attendee in a memorable experience. The print and video products are the retail commodities, and gaining the attention and devotion to the brand is the goal. Typical retail, B-to-C show. But what can the B-to-B producers learn from Comic-Con? Plenty!
Let’s face it. Most of today’s humans have the attention span of a hummingbird on amphetamines! Try to have a conversation with someone holding a smart phone for more than 5 minutes without them looking at their email, YouTube or Facebook app! Well there were very few smart phone lookers at Comic-Con. The attendees were too busy being over-stimulated and entertained by everything around them. Can B-to-B exhibitors hope to achieve the same level of immersion and experience? We can try.
First a good invite is a good start. Begin the show long before the doors open with a compelling reason to make your trade show booth a destination. Introduce something new…offer a highly valued giveaway…feature a speaker or even an author in your exhibit. Find a way to create a buzz and start “buzzing” long before the show begins.
Next, use all the senses to intrigue and attract. Appropriate audio (music or high energy speaker track) and adherence to the three rules of graphic design (light, color, movement) will make your exhibit stand out even from across the convention hall. Use a hanging sign for maximum visibility. If you’re planning on hosting meetings on the show floor consider an island exhibit with a second tier deck seating area. This not only takes you “vertical” at the show, but it also creates a certain “by invitation only” cachet that makes those invited to go upstairs feel that special treatment.
Finally, even business show attendees are still human beings…and consumers when they’re not working. They want the same thing Comic-Con attendees want; a compelling reason to be there, an immersive experience while they’re in your exhibit and a positive impression they take home (read “branded to you”), leaving them anxious for your follow up.
So, rest assured, my family will let me back in the house. I have plenty of t-shirts, fake tattoos and toys to go around. They’ll all be Comic-Com devotees by the time I’m done. It’s all about the swag!
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