Friday, October 30, 2009

Expo Fail

Whether you are a retailer or manufacturer, presentation and sales of your products and services directly to the public at event expos is the best way to make an impact with the consumer.

In an ongoing study of products, services and marketing ideas I recently went to a couple expos here in Austin. I saw everything from the very well funded big corporate booths to very small non-profit organizations. Some had giveaways, fun games, raffles, and others even had celebrity spokespersons.

The one major factor that everyone needs, no matter what the size is knowledge. It doesn't matter if you are a retail shop, a non-profit, or one of the big bicycle manufacturers, you must know what you are doing there.

I was appaulled that after being offered a free sample of a product, the person handing it out couldn't tell me anything about it. Now I know most people who have been to expos have run across their share of booth babes who were hired per event simply to attract attention and hand out goodies, but this was definitely not the case. What's worse is that this was a simple, single product.

So here's about how it went down...
Me "So there are so many of these on the market, what makes this one different?"
Company Rep "Unlike other brands, this is... (insert one word description like faster, durable, healing)"
Me "Oh, so how does it do that?"
Company Rep "Well, I'm not an (expert/doctor/etc.)"
Me "I see, so you are new? You aren't familiar with this product?"
Company Rep "I know about the product".
Me "Great! So how does it do it's job differently than others?"
Company Rep "I said I'm not an (expert/doctor/etc.)"
At this point I set the sample down and walked away in dismay.

Does it make sense to purchase a booth, load up your product, pay staff and spend the weekend away from your friends/family/cycling to create a poor perception of your company or product? It took me less than 5 minutes of my time online to get the answer to my question about this product . I'll tell you that the only reason I cared enough to do this after my experience was in order to make a point on this blog. Had I known the difference right then at the booth, I'd have taken a sample and tried it out. Unfortunately for them I am already turned off from the brand.

It's best to have a team meeting with your staff before every expo so that you can review the basics of what you are promoting. Make sure everyone knows your basic theme, technology or purpose. If for some reason someone asks you a question you don't know the answer to, let them know that you will find out that answer for them and then either find someone who does know, or ask for contact information so that you can get back with that person. A little effort will go a long way in creating credibility for your company, brand or product. I'd rather have the perception of a person as that of someone who cares and wants to help, than the perception of someone who couldn't care less and just plays it off as "not being an expert". There is no excuse for that!

If you are a retailer or manufacture in need of assistance to figure out your company position, product direction, or brand strategy in the market place I am availalbe for a consultation.

Darren Zielinski

1 comment:

  1. Good post Darren, I share your ideas.
    It could be interesting to ask the same question to some sponsored athletes to check if they just use the product because they are paid, or if they are more involved in their sponsorship and could "benchmark" the product.

    Results could be suprising...