22 June, 2010

grabin' them at a tradeshow

So our cool booth dudes and dudettes are regularly hard at work at booths on tradeshows, telling people about our great community.

I've been there many times, and there are a few thoughts I'd like to share. This isn't just meant as a how-to or a finished plan but also to start a discussion - we can improve in some area's and why not discuss it in public so anyone can weight in and add comments ;-)

So here a few insights from others and me since the last happening at Linuxtag:

  • first of all, the booth must be clean. Either we 'work' at the booth, or sit/hack somewhere else.

  • We must make sure we know what we're selling. We should have a list of selling points. The promo team is on this, and we'll distribute it to booth attendants once it's done!

  • Reciprocity: giving something makes ppl want to give something back. If we want to get them to sign up for our supporting membership, having some give-aways is important. This is related to the booth box, also in the works. But we currently don't have many give aways, as funds are limited. Should we put money in this?

  • Have pretty things at the booth. We should have one or more cool devices in our booth box which ppl will want to play with. Touch screens +1! However, again something which might be costly, so we should probably ask sponsors for things.

  • Ask questions. Not only to figure out what people want or are interested in to find an angle to talk to them, but also because questions simply make people more open.

  • Use examples: talk about successful KDE deployments, how we have millions of users and how we get a lot of positive feedback!

I could go into the evil psychological schemes behind the these things, but they're probably clear. So who knows other things we can and should improve on at the booth?


  1. Jos, it's probably best to work on the emotional pitch for the membership scheme and connect any little gifts to that. Maybe also use booths to collect feedback on why people do/don't want to join?

    By the by, please don't demean women as "babes".

  2. a few good points, Tom (including the one on the bottom, I don't like being too politically correct but on the other hand don't want to offend anyone).

  3. We should ask sponsors for equipment like super-sexy slimline desktops and lightweight monitors. In return we can slap tons of sponsor stickers on the gear as advertisement.

  4. " - Ask questions. Not only to [...]"

    That doesn't have to be an "evil psychological scheme".
    I think it really is valuable for the KDE community to know more about what people think of KDE when it is presented to them for the first time, what kind of questions (or even suggestions) they have, what kind of things are most important to them, etc.

  5. Good that you asked here and not on a mailinglist (where this blog-post might be more appropriate).

    Keeping the booth clean: Definately a huge bonus and easy to do. Depending on the booth setup you can hide the mess behind the front table or the backing "walls". If there are only open tables some blue or white large sheets of textile helps.

    Not hacking at the booth: Most easy to accomplish by banning chairs from the booth. Sitting down isn't really helping engaging with the visitors.
    Now, on the other hand, nobody gets paid for booth-work and it really is a pain (in the back and after a few hours also in the throat), so if booth-work would e limited to two hours a day, I would agree, but the reality is, that you can easily spend six hours and more because there are not enough volunteers to make it easy on everyone and that's where I say that some chairs are pretty comforting.

    Bonus bullet point: Corporate identity:
    If everyone would dress in the same colors/t-shirt (say blue kde-shirt and black trousers), booth-staff would be easier to spot and approach for the visitors.

    PS: You should mention http://community.kde.org/Promo/Material/Boothwork whenever you make a call to the public :)


  6. Bullet point number one is essential. I visited KDE at CeBit 2009 and 2010. 2009 I spoke to someone while he was eating, breadcrumbs on his lips and all. 2010 I did not speak to anyone, some people at the booth were talking to other people but 2 were clearly concentrating on hacking. I didn't bother to wait until someone had time for me.

    I do really appreciate all your efforts though. Just thought I'd point out my experiences.

  7. I also think that the most important thing is that people at the booth should be there for visitors and not doing anything else. Also I always tried to imagine how it would look to have some nice attractive computer case. For example the sides with some KDE motive/logo and nice KDE-blue neon lights shining through.


Say something smart and be polite please!