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Case study: How caricatures helped a little-known program create long term relationships with prospective buyers

Luanna DeMay – a Program Manager at Purdue University – had a unique branding challenge. At her upcoming trade show, very few attendees were familiar with Purdue’s MS/MBA program in agriculture. “We’re an odd duck in that our umbrella brand is Purdue University, which has great brand recognition. But most people in the agricultural education industry aren’t aware that Purdue has an MS/MBA program in this field.”

Without strong brand recognition it’s a challenge to attract students, afford good faculty and keep the program up-to-date. Luanna’s goal was clear; she had to increase brand awareness and educate potential students. “It was important to get as many people clued into my program as I could.”

3 things you are probably wasting money on

Giveaways are thought of as a “must have” at trade shows: USB drives, hats, t-shirts, iPhone cases, lip balm, etc. Yet the vast majority of businesses spend money on these items without any measurable return. Luanna tried common giveaways at previous shows, included raffling off special chairs with the Purdue logo on them, “we didn’t get any leads from the chairs, which was a shame because they were very expensive.“

Luanna had experience on the other side of giveaways as well…

“I once picked up these little teddy bears from a booth when I attended a different show. My grandkids loved them, but if you ask me what company they came from, I wouldn’t know. People spend $5 to $10 apiece on these giveaways, and it either ends up with a kid or in the hotel wastebasket.”

The right giveaway is one that will cement your brand in your prospect’s mind. It should be memorable, useful, or a high quality product someone will keep for a long time. Unfortunately this usually means expensive or bulky, and you run the risk of running out halfway through the show. For example:

  • 1 GB Branded USB drive: $400 to $800 for 100
  • High-quality T Shirts: $600 to $900 for 100
  • Laptop bag: $800+ for 100

Compare these costs to five hours of our regular caricature package: 100 people drawn for $750. Not only will prospects hang onto this branded keepsake for a long time, but it’s a buzz creator that will keep your booth the center of attention – a win-win.

1 giveaway that gets amazing results

When we contacted Luanna about drawing caricatures at her booth – the decision turned out to be a no-brainer “It didn’t take much thought for me to see the value of giving prospects a picture of themselves with our program logo they would surely hang in their office or at home.”

On the day of the show our artist set up her mobile caricature easel and got to work. We printed the Purdue Agriculture Program logo on each sheet of paper so the brand was unmistakable.

The result? A big crowd of high quality leads.

“Our artist did a great job spreading the brand because everyone and their brother wanted a caricature. While they were there watching the, they were a captive audience with me. I could chatter away and a lot of these people were in the market for a graduate program! The beauty is everyone probably stuck it on their wall, and everyone that walk into their office will comment on it. And at the bottom is my brand!”

How can a conference freebie turn into a long term relationship builder?

Luanna’s long-term goal is enrolling students in the program “My recruitment window can be five years, so we’re in it for the long haul. Prospects may remember me but not who I’m with and you helped cement that. If they want to talk about the grad school they can find me because of the caricature.”

In just a few hours we provided a popular attraction, helped Luanna connect with her target audience and gave prospects a constant reminder of her brand;“It was a great investment! It created a buzz around our booth and it was just a whole lot of fun!”

The top 10 questions we get asked about digital caricatures at trade shows

We’ve written before about the benefits of digital caricatures at your booth at trade shows. Our hundreds of happy clients have let us know all the benefits of this kind of attraction and freebie.

But you might still have questions about how it works. We believe that informed clients are happy clients, so here are the top 10 questions we get asked about trade show caricatures.

Do you work with a lot of different booths at the same trade show?

Nope. Digital caricatures are such a unique service that we don’t think it’s fair to dilute our client’s marketing efforts by working with more than one booth. That’s why we only book with one booth per show.

Will you fit in my booth (even if it’s only 10’ x 10’)?

Absolutely! We don’t take up much space. A table and two chairs are all we need. Here’s a diagram of how we can fit into a 10×10 space. 

10 x 10 booth layout

What kind of equipment or furniture do I need to supply?

We’ll need a table with enough space for a small printer along with two chairs near an electrical outlet. That’s it! We’ll bring everything else that’s needed, including the large screen, tripod and printer.

Do people have to hold perfectly still while you draw them?

Nope. Your booth staff can interact and chat with them the whole time.

How long does it take to draw each caricature?

It takes around five to six minutes to draw a full-color caricature. The a big benefit of digital caricatures is they provide great entertainment for everyone standing around. We get comments all the time about how much fun it is just to watch the drawing unfold.

Where do people go to get their digital copy?

We print the link for downloading on each printed caricature. We’ll have the caricatures uploaded on the same day so people can grab their digital copy right away.

Where does my logo go?

Right on the bottom in full color. We can put multiple logos, taglines, website or contact information, or pretty much anything you want. Here’s some previous samples to get some ideas.

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Can I host the digital caricatures on my website?

Absolutely! In most cases we host them on ours for the sake of simplicity, but if you’d rather have people go to your website to download their caricature, we’ll print out your website on the caricatures and give you all the files at the end of the show.

How much experience will my artist have?

We only work with the best! Any artist you work with will have had a minimum of five years of experience drawing live caricatures — usually much more! We’ll send you samples of your artist’s work before you book so you can approve their style.

There you have it; our most common questions answered. If you have a specific question that’s not covered in this list, shoot me an email at julia@jkexpressions.com or give me a call at 760-443-4598.

 

Case Study: How a small biotech firm in a competitive industry became the most talked-about booth on the trade show floor

BioStatus is a UK based biotech research and manufacturing firm. They have been in operation since 2000 and exhibit at conferences and trade shows to gain exposure.

Your trade show booth may have this common problem

Roy Edward, marketing director for BioStatus, had been experimenting with different ways to make a splash at trade shows, “it’s very difficult to get visibility as a small niche player among a lot of large multi-national companies.” BioStatus had exhibited several times with negative return on investment: very few leads, and a lot of wasted time and money; “we rethought our approach a couple years ago after a bitterly disappointing conference in Baltimore.” For the next show, “we understood the kind of effort we needed to put in for this particular conference – we had to go in guns blazing.”

How to be the #1 booth at a trade show

BioStatus’ goal was to stand out amidst dozens of larger, more established firms. JK Expressions worked with Roy to create a theme around caricatures. First, we drew BioStatus’ executive team, and these caricatures were included in marketing materials before the conference.

Then on expo day we set up BioStatus for maximum visibility; the caricatures were projected on our 32” LED screen (visible from 20+ feet away). Our color printer was all set to provide one-of-a-kind gifts for attendees.

At a conservative biotech conference, people getting their digital caricatures drawn stood out right away. “A crowd surrounded us all day – so many customers came and had their caricature drawn. When I stepped back and saw all these people watching, including our competitors, that was wonderful! We scored a massive hit at the conference.”

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Over six hours of the show we did drawings for the attendees, and caused a ripple effect that sent a steady stream of traffic to the booth: prospects would excitedly show their caricature to colleagues and sent even more people to BioStatus’ booth! Many people didn’t want to get their picture drawn – they just wanted to watch our artist at work. This gave Roy and his team plenty of opportunity to connect with potential customers in a fun, relaxed setting.

 

Make an impression that lasts for years

We created a sign-up sheet for attendees to leave their name and email addresses so BioStatus could follow up with them later. The caricatures were then uploaded to BioStatus’ website, “We sent a cheeky email  with a download for their caricature – it was a fun way to round out the whole experience.”

Roy was thrilled, “this was a very effective way of adding visibility and getting a lot more traffic.” And BioStatus stuck in prospect’s minds long after the show was over, “people have been emailing us from the conference and making jokes about it.”

For a small firm in a competitive industry, caricatures turned out to be the perfect way to drive traffic and connect with attendees;  “We’re small and we have limited resources, but we can get away with doing things a little bold if it makes an impression. JK Expressions created a crowd, energy, noise and laughter, and was a completely new compelling way to attract prospects on to our territory!”

The 8 Best Conference Freebies I’ve Ever Seen

I (Julia) love munching on free candy when I’m at a trade show, and I have enough branded pens to last me until the end of days. But there have been only a few times when a conference freebie has made me take notice and say “wow – now that’s a great idea!”

After doing caricatures at over 100 trade shows, my team and I have probably seen every giveaway and freebie there is between us. Here are eight of the best freebies I’ve ever seen at trade shows, along with their advantages and disadvantages. I hope this list will spark some ideas for your next show.

Flip flops

Ladies, have you ever been there? You’ve been walking around the trade floor in high heels half the day and your feet are just crying. I once saw a booth giving out branded flip flops with their logo on it and women were flocking to the booth to get out of their heels.

Advantages: Talk about making a good emotional connection to your prospects—the last person this happy to see a shoe was Cinderella. If the shoes are good quality, it’s likely that people will hang on to them after the show.

Disadvantages: Bulky and heavy to transport to the show. It’s cheaper to get only one shoe size but this may not fit many attendees, and of course flip flops are a better fit for conventions that skew female…so PR is in; but programming may not be.

Car USB Charger

Lots of booths give out branded USB sticks, but you can take it up a level by giving out a USB car charger. Who doesn’t need more power for their phone on the go?

Advantages: Everybody has a phone and everybody needs power. It has universal appeal.

Disadvantages: This doesn’t encourage a lot of interaction with your prospects – it’s easy to swipe a charger and move on.  And keep a few held back for your key customers because they’ll go fast.

Massage chair

After sitting through a long flight, waking up early to catch the keynote, standing in line to register and lugging around heavy tote bags, most people are ready for a massage by the time they hit the expo floor. Hire a masseuse to bring in a massage chair and work their magic on your prospect’s knotty muscles for 5 minutes.

Advantages: You have the opportunity to chat people while they wait in line.

Disadvantages: They’ll remember the massage but might not remember your company unless you give them something tangible. Plus, prospects may decide the wait is too long and simply pass.

Headshots

How many times have you heard someone say, “I really need to update my LinkedIn photo?” Give them the opportunity to do it right in your booth. Hire a professional headshot photographer and give them a corner of your booth to set up a half-backdrop and some lights. Then have them shoot away and either give attendees the link where they can go to download their photo. Or, better yet, send it to them in an email.

Advantages: Prospects will have to visit your site to get their photo. This is a great way to start a conversation after the show.

Disadvantages: This takes up a lot of space. People tend to get picky with their photos and may ask for a lot of re-shoots. You’ll have to instruct your photographer to be firm and keep the line moving.

Tea bags

Pretty much everyone needs to stay caffeinated at a big expo. You can help out the attendees by providing branded tea bags. Stamp your business info on each individually wrapped bag, or include a coupon with each one. Fun, fast, and definitely unique.

Advantages: Easy to pack, transport, and display. Doesn’t take up much space. Very unique.

Disadvantages: This isn’t that different from candy—when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Phone charging station

This is the best way to guarantee a lot of stops at your booth (especially from Millennials).

Advantages: You will guarantee a captive audience for at least a couple of minutes – prospects won’t just swipe the swag and move on.

Disadvantages: “People who often forget to charge their phone” may not be your most qualified prospects.

Something for the kiddos

A lot of attendees want to bring back something fun for their kids. You can save them the trouble of having to leave the conference in search of a toy by providing it right on the show floor. There’s a lot of stuff you can do here: I’ve seen Slinkies, stuffed animals (small enough to fit in carry-on), and yo-yo’s.

Advantages: Very popular with parents. It’ll stand out from all the boring “grownup” giveaways.

Disadvantages: Unless your target market is 8 year olds, you don’t need to be building brand recognition among second graders. And do you really want to associate your brand with “BRADEN! I told you four times to pick this stuff up!”?

The Butt Sketch Artist

Believe me, I had the same initial reaction to this you did. But Krandall Lee Newton gets lines around the block when he works at a trade show. I worked alongside him (I drew faces and he drew butts) and he is the real deal! People stand for just 2 ½ minutes to get a sketch from behind.  

Advantages: Krandall and his team are very flattering. People are skeptical at first, but he makes you look good. This guarantees that you have the most unique giveaway on the floor!

Disadvantages: A good amount of space is needed for the artist and the subject, not great for a 10×10 booth. There are very few artists that do this and they can be booked for months in advance.

Digital Caricatures

Of course, I’ve got to add one more: digital caricatures! These are as personalized as it gets, your prospects won’t throw it out, and it will draw a crowd to your booth as people love to watch their friends get drawn. Out of the 100+ trade shows we’ve been part of, we’re always one of the busier booths! If you’d like more information, contact me at julia@jkexpressions.com.

Case study: A Nonstop Line Every Day at HostCon 2015

Internet domain name company Rightside faced some stiff competition at its first HostCon conference. The San Diego technology expo features huge exhibitors like HP, Intel, and Lenovo. On top of that, many of the booths this year had come up with incredible booth attractions like a booth full of pug-nose puppies (really!) and free Nerf guns.

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The only way to compete with that kind of firepower was to zig where everyone else was zagging. So rather than pile on the technology, Rightside took a sideways leap into the art world. They decided a personalized caricature would be their best shot at recognition.

Their big news at the 2015 expo was their .news domain. (If you want a website that ends in www.yourwebsite.news, check them out!). To go with the news theme we had the hashtag #newsworthy printed on each digital caricature.

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After each caricature was drawn, a social media specialist on the team snapped a photo of the attendee and then uploaded it to Rightside’s twitter feed. They had a monitor hooked up to a live Twitter photostream so people could instantly see their snapshot stream on the monitor. And of course, attendees were asked to tweet out their caricature with the #newsworthy hashtag as well.

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Julia was drawing non-stop over the two-day show and the line never seemed to get smaller. Here’s what Rightside’s Sean Ottey had to say:

We have worked with Julia a number of times and every time is a blast! At HostingCon we had a line before the event even started and it continued all day every day. Not only are the drawings fun and engaging, we had the opportunity to speak with people at our booth for an average of 5-7 minutes. This is incredible engagement. Julia was wonderful and tireless. Can’t wait for next time!

We want to help you get these kinds of results at your next trade show. Give us a call at 760-443-4598 or email me at julia@jkexpressions.com and let’s get started.

Case Study: Lines around the corner and a best in show award

atd show

Here’s a case study of how digital caricatures helped take one booth to a whole new level.

The Client: RISC is a Houston, Texas-based learning management software company that had a booth at the ATD Conference in Orlando, Florida.

The Problem

As an established industry leader in learning management systems, RISC had been exhibiting at the ATD Conference for over 20 years. Management was concerned that it would be hard to make a memorable impact, especially among those who had seen their booth in previous years. Additionally, they faced stiff competition from 1200 other booths. What could they do to stand out from the pack?

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The Solution

RISC took a two-pronged approach to their booth attraction. First, they created a customized 15-minute live presentation on their software solutions. The two presenters integrated a CSI theme, complete with police investigator costumes for the two “agents”. The presentation ran every half hour.

To get people in the booth to see this presentation, they hired JK Expressions to draw digital caricatures on both sides of the booth. With RISC’s logo printed on each caricature, and lanyards for hanging the caricatures around each attendee’s neck, it was the perfect way to not only draw the crowds in, but spread the RISC brand all over the conference in a fun organic way.

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The Results

A crowd surrounded the booth for three solid days, with some attendees standing in line for two hours (yes, two hours!) to get their digital caricature. With such a captive audience surrounding the booth, there was always a crowd gathered to hear and participate in the presentation. The booth staff were busy all day long interacting with the attendees standing in line and there was never a moment of downtime from the moment the exhibit floor opened until closing time.

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In three days JK Expressions drew more than 250 attendees, and RISC reached many more than that with their learning management software solutions.

As the cherry on top, RISC won the conference award for Best in Show booth out of more than 1,200 exhibitors.

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Client happiness is our #1 goal and we are committed to getting these types of results for our clients with every show that we participate in. If you’d like to find out how we can help you make a lasting impression at your next trade show, call us at 760-443-4598 or shoot me an email at julia@jkexpressions.com.

How digital caricatures helped 6 trade show booths increase brand engagement

If attendees aren’t publicly interacting with your brand at your next trade show, you might as well be invisible. Why else do brands spend millions to get their logo on a NASCAR driver? For a band, there’s nothing more powerful than legions of groupies wearing their T-shirts. But if you’re not a rock star or pro athlete, it’s hard to turn customers and prospects into walking advertisements.

Well, it used to be hard. Personalized digital caricatures are not only a way to draw attention to your product, they’re a way to get your brand attached to everybody at the trade show. Booth visitors might shove your USB drive or pen into their bag, but they’ll wear their caricature around their neck the rest of the day.

The best caricatures go beyond funny drawings and show customers interacting with your products or services. What better way to make your brand stick then to literally draw people using it?

Here are a few examples of the kind of brand interactions we’ve created. Feel free to use these ideas to dominate at your next trade show.

Spark Conversations: Joerns, LLC

Male_Joerns

Our template at the CAHF conference had an air of mystery—we drew each attendee riding a dolphin through a wave. Almost everyone wanted to know why this was our drawing. That was the perfect lead-in for the Joerns sales team to introduce their new Dolphin custom mattress, a bed that prevents bed wounds in healthcare facilities. It was a fun, subtle way to provoke brand interaction around a sometimes sad topic (no one wants a picture of themselves in a hospital bed!) and put the spotlight on the brand’s work in a memorable way.

Everyone gets to be a Jedi Knight: Effortless

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Effortless had created a Star Wars theme for their booth at the Channel Partners Expo, complete with a raffle of a Yoda figurine and a drone. We created this unisex template so each attendee could be their very own Jedi knight. It was a huge hit because hey, who doesn’t love Star Wars?

Double Down On Free Beer: Heineken

Heineken_male revisedlady

The two sweetest words in the English language are probably “free beer”. But at the National Association Convenience Suppliers show, there were plenty of samples competing with Heineken. So they doubled down on the free beer by bringing us in to draw caricatures of people holding their newly designed bottle. Free beer PLUS a customized drawing to take home? That’s what we call a two-for-one special in the beer world.

Give Them a Free Ride: Empire CLS

Empire CLS license plate

Empire CLS provides limo and towncar rentals and services nationwide. They already had a massive booth at the Global Business Travel Association conference but wanted to increase their brand engagement with clients and prospects. What better way to do that then to draw each attendee riding one of Empire’s trademark black cars?

But with this client we went a step further. They had created a hashtag which we included on each caricature. Attendees were asked to tweet out their caricature using the hashtag to be entered into a prize drawing. So not only were people advertising the booth around the conference, they were blowing up Twitter and drawing even more people to the booth.

Help Them Brag About Their Workouts: Most-Fit

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Does a workout count if you don’t post about it on Facebook? We took the concept of the workout selfie to a new level at the massive Fitness Expo in Los Angeles. Fitness entrepreneur Andrew Gavin and his team were demonstrating their innovative Most-Fit workout equipment with a demo gym. The booth was a flurry of activity all day with people trying out the weights, rubber hammers and suspension trainers. We drew over 150 attendees using the equipment and created a crowd while doing so.

Take Them To The Beach: Muscle Beach

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Sometimes the best kind of brand interaction is just plain fun. The Guild decided they wanted a beach theme (pretty fitting for San Diego, we think). We drew the gentlemen riding on surfboards and the ladies rollerblading down the boardwalk. We thought it was a huge hit, and Stephanie Roy (our client) did too.

“Everyone loved the digital drawings! Even with two artists, we had to ask them both to stay an extra hour to appease the overwhelming interest. Julia and her partner stayed until we got every last person drawn.”

There you have it—six ways to dominate at trade shows. Whatever approach you take, make sure your brand isn’t just doing the same old thing. It’s 2015, and a few brochures and a banner aren’t going to cut it anymore.

You’re spending thousands of dollars on this show anyway, so you might as well go the one or two extra steps towards making your brand stick with your customers and prospects.

Elizabeth Crane of the Las Vegas International Press Club says that at a show, nothing is more important than making a strong impression.

“Trade show display branding is critical to your overall success. If it isn’t spot on, you are not making the most of a significant opportunity.”

How can we help you make the most of your opportunity?

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