By Kathryn Kosmides
I’m a big fan of slot machines. I like the math behind them and the flashy lights and colors that heighten the stakes of the ultimately simplistic object of the game.
I also grew up in Las Vegas and worked at a social casino gaming studio right out of college—so games were always in the background of my formative years in some way or another.
So, when I was in the midst of a giant expo hall at Dreamforce, I was drawn to a 10x20 booth featuring a giant slot machine. Folks could “spin” and win a simple prize like socks or stickers. There were about six or so people waiting in line to participate.
It looked like an appealing tactic, until I overheard one man ask a team member “So, what do you guys do?”
She went on about the slot machine and all the prizes we could win.
He looked disdainfully at her and said, ”No, what does your product do?” and her eyes went big and her face blank. She wasn’t prepared to discuss what her company actually did and it was painfully obvious.
This is far from the first time I’ve experienced a blank-faced sales team member on a trade show floor. There seems to be a common disconnect here, between the sensory storm of an exciting game and the actual goals of a brand’s sales team. While we see no benefit in this traditional usage of trade show booth games, we do believe they can be useful if implemented the right way. If you’re unsure whether your genius trade show game is a good fit, ask these questions with your team before investing in a trade show booth game.
1. What Are Your Trade Show Goals?
Games are fun, but they also have an end goal in mind: to win. Likewise, the end goal for your trade show game should be directly related to securing leads and selling your product. While things like raising brand awareness or acquiring a certain number of badge scans might seem like appropriate goals, these are more like vanity goals than profitable ones.
Instead set clear, specific goals and a system for your team to follow in order to meet them. For example, if your team’s goal at the trade show is to complete 75 demos, then you need to question whether a trade show booth game would help or hinder that goal.
2. How does this Trade Show Booth Game Relate to my Brand/Product?
I’ve won over $10,000 worth of trips and gifts from a handful of SaaS companies in the last two years, and I don’t remember who half of these companies were. How could I? All the gifts I received, though they were nice, were general prizes with no relation to the brand itself.
The one gift I do remember was from Quotable, who provided an amazing trip to Dreamforce 2017. This move was on brand for them, which helped me associate the gesture with the company. They also strategized to provide a gift before Dreamforce, which helped them with their pre-trade show advertising and held a dinner with me and some of their great folks during the event.
3. Will this Trade Show Booth Game Attract the Right People?
Having a giant slot machine or a matching game with an iPad prize might attract a lot of people, but attraction doesn’t secure the sale—you do.
Attracting your target prospects is your team’s number one goal once you’re on the trade show floor. Your game should either add value to the product you’re selling or provide a unique opportunity to sell your product. A poorly strategized game will only be a distraction from that goal.
Someone who wants a free pair of socks isn’t your prospect, they’re someone who wants a free pair of socks. While attracting a bunch of giveaway gatherers can sometimes feel like a win, remember to keep your team laser eye focused on finding your target prospects. Everyone else is just noise.
4. What Value does this Trade Show Booth Game Bring to my Prospect?
Rather than focusing on a trade show game that attracts a lot of people to your booth, think about techniques that add value to your prospect’s experience. Crafting your trade show booth game to be both entertaining yet valuable is key (i.e. mentally and emotionally rewarding as well as physically rewarding).
If your company sells a content marketing tool, maybe your trade show booth game could be a “Content Marketing Quiz” where the person who answers the most questions correctly wins a prize. This adds value by allowing your prospects to show off their knowledge, possibly learn something new, and be rewarded for it.
Focus on value rather than volume when designing your trade show booth game; you’ll find more value and stand out from the crowd.
So, do you Need a Trade Show Booth Game?
Games are great for those on the receiving end, but they are risky for your sales team if implemented solely for flashy entertainment. If you do decide that a trade show booth game is for you, be clear on the purpose of the game within the bigger picture.
Focus on the details of your plan that help your team achieve their goals. Make sure the game aligns with your brand and provides value to your prospects that will make your brand more memorable. If you can tie it into your overall goals and brand/product, then by all means, maybe a trade show booth game is for you after all.