We’ve seen a lot of different ways to attract people’s attention at the many events we’ve attended over the years. Some are gimmicky, some are delightful, but the general idea is that a bribe (yeah we said it) is offered in order to coax one to the booth and hear a spiel about the goods and services offered by the booth holder. And oh yes, ‘Booth Magnets’ just means ‘Swag that brings people to your stall’, only in certain circumstances are they actual magnets.
Here’s a list of the 10 most engaging we’ve seen so far. ‘Engaging’ is simple to measure- how long is the line to get to the booth? At the end of the day, has all the swag evaporated? It’s trickier to assess whether engagement will continue; but hey- one step at a time, you know?
A valuable prize (for example a drone) is kept inside a transparent box, and this box is secured with a combination lock. Punters are offered a tray of printed combinations, and are encouraged to pick one. This number is typed into the lock and.. well, you know the rest. Why it’s done this way is open to debate- one would like to think that it’s to guarantee that a winning combination will be picked. A cynical view might be just the opposite, but we prefer to think the best of vendors.
Wheels of Fortune
A spinning wheel is set up with a variety of prizes represented in each of its sectors. As one might expect, most of these are not anything to write home about, but there is a sprinkling of more sought-after prizes in there too. In some instances, entrants will be asked to complete a survey of some kind in order to participate. In instances where they are not asked to, the line (‘queue’ if you will) tends to be double the length.
This could be as simple as a choice of T-shirts, or as involved as a piece of generative art. Once, at a conference for cyber risk, we saw a booth that offered a fake ID card with the punter’s photo on it, presumably to show just how easy it is to impersonate somebody.
T-shirts and socks
Ahhh the old stalwart.. branded T-shirts and socks. Everybody needs them, and even if that’s not the case, there’s always a gift-giving occasion around the corner.
Really, these are a kind of ‘meta swag’- after all, the swag that can allow one to carry more swag is a useful swag indeed! Unsurprisingly these are heavily branded, but we are pleased to say that we have never seen them made from plastic. Generally a high quality canvas is used.
Branded enamel pins have a certain aesthetic that reminds us of the 1980s. And as they are metal, they give us an impression of value. It’s interesting to note what is asked of the wearer however- that they make the commitment to puncture their clothing!
People are understandably particular about their tables, at least the non-waterproof variety (tables, not people.). We will say that this category could used some improvement in terms of quality. We’ve seen coasters that are little more than moisture delayers- that is, they absorb the condensation from a drink, only to relay it in the near future to the table. In any event, these items are an example of the ‘oh why not, can never have enough of these’ category.
Speaking of the ‘can never have enough of these’ category, pens are always welcomed, even though we could argue that we live in a paperless society. It should be evident that we are well on our way to the bottom of the list at this point. This seems unfair, given how the invention of writing revolutionised our world. Still, that was then, and this is now.
Camera Slider Covers
Why use painter’s tape when you can stick on a slidable camera cover? Er- to allow your laptop’s lid to close all the way? Never mind that.. these are still a useful item; although we wonder how many of these have taken up residence in the freshly formed Continent of Plastic.
OK so we are at the end of the list, but let’s pause for a moment to think about the simple joy of plastering one’s laptop with a sea of stickers. It’s the most effective way we know to discourage thoughts of theft of said laptop.
We conclude that it’s not so much the value (perceived or actual) of the Booth Magnet™ rather it is the quality of the engagement with the booth that is important here. If just the right amount of ‘hoop jumping’ is put between the swag and the event attendee, they will feel as though their efforts will be rewarded enough to make it worth their while.