Interview with Chandar Pattabhiram, Group VP Product and Corporate Marketing at Marketo-thumbnail

Most booths at industry conferences are brutal. Companies just aren’t willing to push beyond their brand guidelines to get people’s attention.

At trade shows, I often feel like I’m lost in a sea of booths manned by the same sales reps in same company polo shirts with the same boring value propositions giving away the same crappy tchotchkes.

influitive_officespaceAt Influitive, we don’t believe in boring.

We’ve put funny images on our conference booths to get noticed. We once incorporated an Office Space meme into SiriusDecisions Summit booth design to amp up traffic—and Lattice Engines called us a Standout Booth in their SD Summit recap post!

We want to stand out. We think the first job of a marketer is to be noticeable. And since we sell to marketers, we’re constantly trying to raise the creative bar.

We knew at this year’s Marketo Summit we needed to stand out. We wanted to promote the launch of Purple Select, Marketo’s advocate marketing program powered by our own software. Purple Select is an online platform for Marketo customers to build their network, share their knowledge, and be recognized for their contributions to the community.

So, how did we promote the program and make our booth interesting?

Step 1. Pick a timely booth theme.

We wanted to reference Marketo’s ‘Marketing Nation’ conference theme by playing with the idea of attendees building an army of advocates. Mobilizing advocates to grow your brand’s reputation is what our software does best. (Just call us your own personal Advocacy Army!) Also, by becoming a Purple Select member, attendees could build their clout in the Marketo community by climbing the leaderboard and creating a stronger professional network.

We decided to choose a Game of Thrones-inspired theme, and used the tagline “Conquer the Marketing Nation” in all of our booth branding. The idea of conquering a nation is a huge plot point in the popular HBO tv series. Plus, the new season of the show premiered the night before the conference started—so it was a no brainer in terms of timing.
unnamed-10 We promoted our booth presence on our blog, through organic and paid Twitter campaigns, and via email. We also used extremely bright t-shirts and a giant column wrap banner to draw attention to our booth.
But we knew that wouldn’t be enough to cut through all the noise at the conference and drive booth traffic.

Step 2. Give before you receive

We upped the ante by having every booth visitor automatically entered in a contest to win a trip for two to a Game of Thrones filming location, such as Iceland, Morocco, Croatia, Ireland or Malta. (We’ll be sharing the winner’s story soon!)
got giveaway We also directed visitors to the Purple Select booth so they could sign up for the program and start building their profile in the Marketo user community.

Still, we didn’t want to just use a contest to get leads. We wanted people to really enjoy our booth.

Step 3. Don’t be afraid to have fun

We made our theme come alive by having Game of Thrones costumes, props and a life-sized cutout of Jon Snow (a popular character from the show) for photo ops. Many people brought friends by the booth to take pictures (which never happens at trade shows). Attendees also shared photos on social media—without us having to ask. Why? Because it was fun!

Photo by @trishlalisan

(It also didn’t hurt that our Marketing Operations Manager kind of looks like a Westerosi warrior.)

The Results

We received 737 booth scans, which was a 1,300% increase from the amount we received at last year’s Marketo Summit.

Thanks to our a fun, interactive booth theme, we were able to successfully build awareness for the Purple Select advocate program and our software at the same time.

events-eBook-cover-portrait-300x388Boost Event ROI With The Help Of Your Advocates

In this eBook, Mark Organ, founder and CEO of Influitive, shares how your biggest fans can help you get more value form your events. You’ll also learn how:

  • Eloqua got their advocates dancing through the keynote hall
  • Ektron’s advocates welcomed attendees to their annual user conference
  • Act-On Software gave their advocates the VIP treatment

Download the ebook now