Seth Godin on Trade Show Tactics

Here’s an interesting piece by Seth Godin on marketing at trade shows.  At the recent eBay live show he gave away 600 T-shirts promoting his Squidoo web site.  "Big deal," I can hear you thinking "everybody gives away T-shirts at trade shows."  (OK, maybe I can’t actually hear you think, but if I could, I bet that’s what you’re thinking.)  But leave it to Godin to find a unique way to work an old promotion.

First, the shirts were orange.  It’s hard to miss an orange T-shirt with writing on it.  Second, if a booth visitor took a shirt, she had to put it on and wear it.  Why?  Because each day someone wearing the shirt was chosen to receive $9,000 worth of advertising on Squidoo.  You can check out the winners on the Squidoo Blog.

Seth writes, "Within an hour, you saw orange t-shirts on the show floor. By the
second day, every single t-shirt was taken and more than 5% of all the
people there were wearing the shirts."  The cost of the shirts was $3,000.  Most important, people were talking about the shirts and they were talking about Squidoo.

Trade show give-aways are nothing new.  But a give-away that generates that kind of buzz is.  Obviously there’s an advantage to being able to offer a $9,000 prize that essentially costs nothing.  But at your next trade show, home show, or county fair you can adapt the idea to fit your business.  First, you need a really gaudy T-shirt.  Second, you need a prize that has a high perceived value and creates interest in your business.  Third, you need to work it and work it hard.  I can’t tell you how many trade show booths I’ve gone into and been ignored.  With the advent of cell phones, it’s even worse. 

Exhibiting at a show is expensive.  Worse, it takes your staff out of the store.  If you’re going to exhibit, you ought to do it right!  Make the most of every single visitor.  If you can get them to promote your business by wearing a T-shirt, you have a win/win.

By the way, you may be wondering about Squidoo. It’s a website hosting hundreds of thousands of lenses. Each lens is one person’s look at something online.  Mine Your Own Business has a Squidoo lens.  Check it out at

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