Now This is How You Create Buzz at a Tradeshow – Unbounce Does it Right
There are obvious reasons why tradeshows are beneficial for both those who choose attend and the exhibitors. It can be a great opportunity for all to learn, network, and generate sales. But to get the most out of an event like this, you can’t just sit back and wait for something good to happen.
And while ‘standing out from the crowd’ can be an overused term, it is incredibly vital in a tradeshow setting. We explained how Joel Klettke, a single freelancer, used his creativity and limited budget to generate buzz at MozCon in our last post. However, as exhibitors it’s even more important that you draw those who may be interested in your product or service to your booth.
Unbounce, a tech company that allows users to easily build, publish and test landing pages, was also at MozCon this year, but with a little more skin in the game than Joel. As an exhibitor and sponsor of the event, they created a three day Unbounce experience, complete with an awesome tradeshow booth, epic after party and a fun contest to generate a real buzz while they were there.
The Tradeshow Booth
Traditionally, tradeshow booths are where most conversations start. While you can advertise all you want, how appealing you make your booth has a big effect on how much traffic a booth may get during a show. Unbounce’s booth not only was a place to find out more information on their product, but a place to own your skills in ping pong (how cool is that!). Their approach to tradeshow booths is refreshing and also very effective. Tia Kelly, the Social Strategiest at Unbounce, explains,
We didn’t go the traditional “booth” route. Our Events and Sponsorships managers, Stefanie and Sarah, don’t really believe in status quo sponsoring… if we’re not allowed to think outside the box we generally won’t consider sponsoring an event. Besides the ping pong table we had some pretty great swag that fit the theme: headbands and wrist sweatbands, and sunglasses, alongside our usual t-shirts. Some fun things we brought with us were custom ping pong paddles that had faces of recognizable Moz and Unbounce employees on them. We also never sit. We find it makes you way more approachable when you’re standing up in or near your space. We used social a lot to invite people to come visit us (tweeted out photos, etc.)
The After Party
Tradeshows and conferences may have a schedule of events for attendees, but that doesn’t mean people just camp out in their rooms till the next day after the show is over. Moz has an amazing community, which we have commented on before, and they do a great job catering to it. After the first day of the event, Moz has traditionally set up a bar crawl for attendees to help loosen them up and make networking a little easier.
Unbounce piggybacked on this idea and decided to keep the fun going after the bar crawl with an epic after party they called #Unbar. At the end of the first day, Unbounce hosted the party at another local bar which consisted of a shuffleboard tournament, photobooth, giant Jenga, board games and Cards Against Humanity.
A great way to ensure that interested people will come to your booth is to make sure they know you’re there. Before the conference, Unbounce decided there was more power in numbers when trying to promote a tradeshow booth so decided to partner with another sponsor, Wistia, and enlisted the help of a few of their friends who were also attending. They were going to run a contest to get people talking about them and something that would attract people to their booth.
The idea was simple. As an attendee at MozCon, your job was to track down ‘spies’ at the conference who were wearing special red stickers, take a picture, and tweet it out for a chance to win a $1000 flight voucher to anywhere in the world. They set up a landing page for the contest, recorded a video, and promoted it even before they set foot at the show. Tia said,
The idea for Spy at Moz came from us being sponsors. We didn’t want to take the classic route and simply show up at a tradeshow booth, so we got creative. Besides having a ping pong table onsite, we wanted to find a way to resonate with the attendees and build on the great sense of community Moz already fosters. We already love Wistia, who was also a sponsor at the conference, and decided to make a bigger splash it would make sense to partner up with them. The idea for the sticker hunt evolved from something I’d seen working in tourism a few years ago. The premise didn’t work exactly the same in a conference setting so we adapted it to fit better with the event, and simplified it. I asked Joel to help us out by being one of our first “spies”, and when we found out he was also doing a giveaway, it was easy to co-promote and grow the reach for all of us. It was awesome and we wish we could have done it for two days! We decided to hold off on really rolling it out the first day because we wanted to focus on promoting our night event, but once the word got out it was hilarious to see some of the places where people were finding stickers. It was also a great ice breaker for attendees to snap a pic and get talking.
MozCon is a fantastic opportunity to meet and learn from some of the biggest and brightest minds in the online space. It also is a great time to let your hair down, relax and throw back a few. On the flip side, you only have three days to close sales, get your name out there, and acquire as many new names on your list as possible. So with all the hard work that went into Unbounce’s efforts, were they able to accomplish everything they set out to do?
We made some solid connections, got our brands some recognition (Wistia and Unbounce) and were able to engage with attendees—which was what we really set out to do. The promotion especially helped us start and end conversations in a fun way at the booth. At the end of the day, we had 58 unique entrants in the contest (some entered multiple times) and saw about over 400 tweets that mentioned #MozCon and @unbounce or @wistia (some were also in conjunction with our sponsored after parties for MozCrawl).
Would you recommend this strategy to others?
Definitely. Think outside the box when you’re at conferences… even if you’re not an official sponsor you can make the most out of your time there by getting creative. Look at the buzz Joel stirred up as an attendee!
Do you think this would work with other types of giveaways?
It could be done with anything, really! The fun part about the stickers is they’re small and easy to put anywhere. But a keepsake SWAG item could do the trick too if you printed a custom message on it. Find unique alternatives that will work for your needs and budget