Trade shows are like a live interactive version of the Home Shopping Channel.
Some people end up wandering around among all the vendor booths, like sleepless zombies mindlessly eating bowls of brains in the middle of the night. Some people visit every single booth like they’re shopping the clearance racks at Macy’s, hoping to find The Deal That Changes Everything. Some are like hunters, tuning in at the appointed hour with the intention of satisfying a particular need.
I’ve attended hundreds of trade shows over the years and worked a few of them, most of them colorful scrapbooking related affairs.
Today, I got to see an insurance convention trade show.
Ooh, insurance. Settle down.
I’ve been married to an insurance salesman for four years but I had no idea how one hawks insurance products at a trade show.
Turns out, it’s with a lot of brochures.
But what was really impressive was the swag (when you don’t have fancy new cars or cooking demos or home decorating ideas, swag is where it’s at). In the drive to collect the most business cards, every other booth was giving away some sort of flashy electronic gear: iPad, tablet, DVD player, Kindle. Being October, mini Halloween candy was plentiful. And every booth had some sort of useful or strange takeaway: Reuseable grocery bag (imprinted of course), pens (my favorite was the hairy pen), sticky notes, playing cards, balsa wood toy airplanes, fly swatters, light-up bouncing balls, antibacterial soap, lint brushes, mints and my favorite: Specialty chocolate packaged just for the vendor (“like dark chocolate?” “Sure!”). The margarita mixing machine was the most clever, though. At 10:30 a.m.
My husband is the hunter type of trade show attendee: He had a specific intention and he worked those booths like a man on a mission. I was just the eye candy. Eyeing the candy.