It used to be that a great personality was enough to capture the attention of a trade show visitor. But, what worked once may not be applicable today.
We are faced with a fast changing demographic of trade show attendee. The traditional baby boomers are quickly being replaced by GenXers and Millennials who are different in many ways from their elders. They are more demanding, more skeptical and more tech savvy. Attempting to capture their attention in ways that once worked for boomers simply no longer will work. One of the techniques that is growing in popularity is the use of games. While games such as a putting contest or a draw have been used for years, today’s visitors demand more from the activities that attract them. The rock group Abba said it best in the refrain to their hit song “The Name of the Game,”
What’s the name of the game
Does it mean anything to you
What’s the name of the game
Can you feel it the way I do
What Abba taught fans in the 70’s is still applicable to the use of games at a trade show booth.
Here are some of the things you should consider as you Gamify:
1) Keep it relevant
When choosing a game make sure its challenging enough to keep the visitor’s competitive nature piqued. The first step is to understand the demographics of your visitors. If you are noticing that you are attracting more GenXers and Millennials than check out the games they play. Ninety percent of apps are game oriented and that’s what your trade show game is competing with.
Your visitors can participate in a timed game where scores are compared to other visitors or they can play against an unknown competitor on the internet.
2) Make sure that the message matters
One of the problems many exhibitors have faced in the past is that the technology or in our case games can be so much fun and interesting that all the visitors remember is the game. Before choosing a game make sure you can articulate the message you want your visitor to walk away with. The purpose of the game is to attract attention and engage visitors who you ultimately hope will become loyal customers. To ensure the message is received, the game should make reference your company and the features of your product. Perhaps you can have them move along an electronic corridor where every door features some product information. Or, if they are doing something hands-on like assembling a product and competing against other visitors, then the product needs to be one of yours.
3) Tie it into the show
Because shows are filled with interesting ideas you don’t want to confuse your visitors with ideas that add to the overload of information they already have. To avoid this simple tie-in your game to what’s happening at the show. Is the show themed? Who are the key-note speakers? What is interesting about the location of the show (city and country)? By researching all the stimuli the visitor is being exposed to you can reveal interesting ideas that you can use to Gamify.
4) Get inspired
The world is filled with wonderful ideas. When you are looking for something of interest tap into your past and present. Your past will include games that amused you as a child or young adult such as Monopoly, Etch-a-Sketch and Balderdash. Each of these games can be used as they were intended or in abbreviated forms. The present is filled with games and reality television. The Survivor series comes to mind instantly but don’t forget Storage Wars or The Bachelor. There are also countless game shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire that can be easily adapted into an interesting game. Don’t forget the world of digital games where you can find thousands of interesting ideas to tap into.
5) Get your staff on board
One obstacle to the success of a game is your booth staff. They either get so involved with the game they forget why they are really there or ignore visitors who are waiting in line to play. The trick is training. Gamification’s success lies in a harmonious integration of the game and your human resources. Training ensures your staff knows why you have chosen a game, what you expect from it and what skills they need to ensure that your investment pays off.
6) Test before a major roll-out
Everything in marketing involves a gamble. We do our best to understand the demographic of our visitor and what will attract their attention. We make an educated guess then test the initiative to see if we are on track. Sometimes we hit the mark initially, more often our marketing initiatives need a bit of honing before they can be applied to our entire marketing program. The same rationale applies to the use of games. If you have an aggressive trade show program, try your game in one or two locations first. Then gather feedback on how well it was accepted by your visitors and make whatever changes are necessary before you roll it out to your entire program.
By ensuring that your game is relevant, staying focused on your key messages, tying your game into the show activities, getting inspired, training your staff and testing and you will learn what Abba taught us decades ago when they sang it’s “The Name of the Game.”