Although I enjoy writing about my famous wife and winter snow, because I call myself the trade show guru, I think that I ought to, at least occasionally, write about trade show stuff, like trade show booths and trade show display design mistakes. However, because I tend to not take myself or this blog too seriously, I figure I can write about trade show zombies as well. So what are trade show zombies you ask? Well, they’re a bit like regular zombies (I’ll discuss real zombies and necrosledges at the end of this post). And, as should be obvious, you find trade show zombies at, of all places, trade shows.
Trade show zombies are those trade show attendees who wander up and down the aisles between the trade show booths with oversize bags, grabbing any available free candy and more importantly, grabbing any and all available free loot (aka trade show giveaways and/or trade show schwag). You can spot them by their glassy-eyed stares and often, by flecks of drool running down their chins. They have one purpose – to go by each and every trade show booth at the show and get whatever free stuff they can find.
The problem is that usually trade show zombies aren’t at the trade show to do business with any of the vendors at the booths. They are there for the free stuff (apparently they don’t know that free ain’t free). A horde of trade show zombies can clean a trade show booth out of free M&Ms or post-it pads in minutes…
So how do you avoid a horde of trade show zombies descending on your booth? If you don’t have a necrosledge (to be discussed at the end of this post) ready to fight off the trade show zombies, you can fall back on the following trade show advice. One key is proper trade show planning. Focus on bringing qualified prospects to your trade show booth. Don’t focus on the general masses (which often have a high ratio of trade show zombies). If you have a contest or giveaway, make sure it is targeted. If you are giving out an iPod, have people fill out a “qualification form” and answer specific questions. Require that they then talk to a salesperson before they are entered. Make sure your contest or high-value trade show giveaways are for qualified prospects only. When people come into your trade show booth, qualify them immediately, and see if they are interested in your business. A trade show isn’t the time to shoot the bull. Don’t cater to the trade show zombies. You’re at the trade show to create and conduct business, not to feed and supply the trade show zombies. When you identify one, send him packing. And, if you can, keep a necrosledge handy for the more persistent ones.
Speaking of necrosledges, I mentioned that I’d end this post by talking about REAL zombies. Actually, I’m going to quote from the beginning of a great post about zombies that I read a few years ago. I first heard about the following post from Tim, aka the King of the Rednecks. The post is called “How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse” by Araminta Matthews, and it goes something like this…
“Now here we have a topic about which both my partner and I have thought long and hard about. When the zombie apocalypse takes place, he and I will survive and we will survive well. Let me share with you our plans so that you, too, might survive the impending doom.
First, we have NECROSLEDGE. Yes, they’re machetes painted black by my best friend and fellow zombie-anti-enthusiast, Steve [not Steve the trade show guru though], that read “Necrosledge” along the sides. These are mounted on our walls in the central room of our upstairs apartment for easy access from anywhere should zombies attack. Why machetes and not shotguns? Simple. There has been a lot of debate around the proper way to destroy a zombie beast, but all of them seem to agree that severing the brain from the spinal cord is the way to go. That somehow, without this pivotal connection, zombies are no longer reanimated dead: they’re just plain dead. So, machetes. They don’t need reloading, they don’t require precision and a good shooting eye, and they can be handled by young and old alike. Hack and slash, baby.”
To read this most excellent post “How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse” in its entirety, go here. And remember, at your next trade show, beware the trade show zombies!
UPDATE: As I write in my newest post, this original post about trade show zombies seems to be attracting a heck of a lot of spamming zombies. I guess spammers must know who they are and what they do. In any event, I’ve been thinking more about trade show zombies. I think the term should apply to more than just trade show attendees. I think it should also apply to trade show exhibitors that just follow the crowd (zombies) and do whatever all the other trade show exhibitors are doing, and never thinking outside the box. The term should also apply to trade show products companies and trade show marketing consultants that just follow the crowd and never think outside of the box. So with that in mind, here’s some more guru wisdom.
When looking for trade show display companies, avoid the companies that act like trade show zombies and make displays just like everyone else. Fortunately, this linked company does not suffer from zombie-itis.
When creating a trade show design, don’t design like trade show zombies. Use this link and common sense, and create a zombie-free design.
And when evaluating trade show marketing consultants, avoid those that act like trade show zombies. Follow this link and you’ll again find a consultant who doesn’t suffer from zombie-itis, but rather who knows what she is doing and has the experience to back it up.
And always remember to carry a necrosledge and keep your eyes open for trade show zombies, and zombies in general. You never know where or when you might run into them!