The Look-at-Me Season

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

If you’re a parent, you’re used to people constantly vying for your attention. “Mom! Look at me! Look at me!”

I get that same feeling every time a conference approaches. A lot of exhibitors bend over backwards to get the attention of attendees—they may not know if you’re really a prospective customer, but, by golly, they want you to look at them.

As I walked through the exhibit hall of eTail Boston recently, the carnival barkers weren’t too overly aggressive. “Want some candy?” (Sure. Not sure what this Snickers has to do with your brand, but I’ll throw it into my purse for later.) “Want to win an iPad, ma’am?” (Sure … wait. What? Ma’am? Seriously?!? Ma’am? I’m probably only about 7-years older than you at most, sonny.)

Exhibitors at BlogHer, on the other hand, were definitely trying harder to woo the attendees, most of whom were female social media mavens with the ability to boost these brands’ profiles online.

Johnson & Johnson, for example, set up a suite down the hall from the main exhibit area, where visitors were given a “passport” that they could get stamped at the different product stations for the chance to win a prize. And of course, visitors picked up loads of samples like baby shampoo and Muppets Band-Aids.

Freebies and samples are the raison d’être for many BlogHer attendees and exhibitors. Without even trying, I ended up with a bag loaded with stuff, often thrust at me the moment I stopped anywhere near a booth and looked remotely open to chatting. (Yes, I can use the Martha Stewart brand notebook from Staples. No, I think I’ll ditch these samples of medication for … I’m not even sure what.)

Some brands did a better job of engaging passersby than others. Broadway Nails, for example, not only got people involved with product samples and free manicures, but by inviting them to take a quiz on an iPad to determine their individual style profile. I will admit I was a bit stumped when asked which celebrity I most wanted to emulate. From the choices of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and Kristin Stewart, I chose the latter, mainly because she seemed the surliest. (My style, by the way, is apparently “edgier than most.” Or maybe I’m just on the edge. Something like that.) And, bonus points—at the end of the quiz, email addresses were collected for post-show follow-up.

Now, Look at Us
The next stop for us on the Look-at-Me wheel of fun is DMA2012 in Las Vegas. Stop by the Chief Marketer booth (see, we want to be noticed too) and say hi to me and my fellow editors Brian Quinton and Richard H. Levey. We promise to look at you, even if you don’t have free candy. (But free candy is nice.)

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