You can’t give stuff away fast enough

Just back from DAC in Anaheim. The last true Denali party was a smash. We’ll see if the tradition continues under new management. Nothing amazing to report about the show. Attendance seemed OK, though not stellar.

Here’s an observation some may find interesting. I worked booth duty at both the TSMC OIP pavilion and the Global Foundries Global Solutions pavilion. At TSMC, the attendees needed to get something like 8 stamps on a card to get the nice giveaway TSMC was providing. At GF, there were only 3 stamps. It turns out that when people have to collect a large number of stamps for one item, they will not stand at your booth any longer than it takes to get the stamp and maybe fill out a contact card to be entered in another drawing. When there are fewer stamps to collect, people will actually stay for several minutes and listen to a pitch. Sure, there were some people just wanting a free introduction to a topic outside their main area, but that’s OK. It’s good to spread the word, particularly about DFM. Some people were probably just being polite to listen before collecting the stamp, but still they listened. When there are too many stamps to collect, you don’t even get that. Bottom line, if you’re giving stuff away, you can’t give it away fast enough. :=)

How would I change this? Require fewer stamps, but require the attendees to stand still for 5 minutes to hear a brief pitch to get the stamp. Maybe if it’s interesting and pertinent, they’ll stay longer than required, but they should have to stay at least a little while to get a stamp. In trying to get more partners into the pavilion, and get attendees to see more partners, it actually works against the partners. I had way more interested people listening and discussing at GF than at TSMC. Just my observations.

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Posted June 21st, 2010, by

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Commented on June 22, 2010 at 6:21 pm
By Sean Murphy

I question the premise of collecting hundreds of cards at DAC from folks who wanted to win an iPad but had no real interest in your offering. Why not focus on a message that attracts a few people who are really interested in DFM problems and are willing to spend 20,30,60 minutes getting a better understanding of how you can help. Each card you collect because the visitor wanted the stamp generates at least another hour or two of wasted labor in follow up. Mentor may have that time to waste, but a startup emulating these practices may miss a few hot leads in a blizzard of cards in the give-away fishbowl.

Stu Silverman had similar thoughts on this in 2007 at the Sales 2.0 Conference, I blogged about it at

Commented on June 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm
By Simon Favre

Oh, I agree. Remember that what I posted was a comparison of the TSMC and Global Foundries partner pavilions. Was one of them “keeping up with the Joneses?” Maybe so. I have worked at startups and there it was more about filtering the trade show masses to get the quality people inside for a suite demo. When you’re a hot startup, this is easier to do. The people who are actually interested in something let you know about it, and you get to show them something. The main Mentor booth was run more like that, although some of it was just scheduled presentations. The other problem with DFM is that since it isn’t exactly new or hot, we don’t get to have our own show. I came to the show armed with a real demo on a Linux VM. I used it exactly once to show an existing customer how to do something. That’s not what a DAC demo is supposed to be for. There was a regular presentation in PPT at the Mentor booth on DFM. I have no idea about the attendance since I didn’t give it. Anybody who saw that was interested and probably qualified by Sales.

I totally agree on the lack of value in collecting 400 leads of which 40 are existing customers, 5 are actual leads, and the rest are useless. When you have a small kiosk at a partner pavilion, first you have to play the game by the host company’s rules, and second, the most you can hope for is somebody who says, “Call me after the show.” I certainly hope somebody in Mentor Corporate Marketing reads the skmurphy blog you linked to. Thanks for the post!

Commented on June 23, 2010 at 2:18 am
By Sean Murphy

I think the root cause may be that Marketing and Sales keep score differently: Marketing often measures leads/inquries and gets points for creating interest; Sales gets fired if they don’t close enough deals (and marketing folks and engineers also get laid off if Sales doesn’t close enough deals).

DAC exhibition attendance was down about 25-30% over last year with a total of 3444 full conference and exhibits only attendees. Mentor can get access to the postal mail and e-mail addresses for all of those people and put them into a “lead nurturing process.” If you can’t have a conversation with most of the people it seems like a waste of your talent.

Better that you are 60% idle and have a half dozen good conversations with interested prospects (and you would be fresher than if you have been stamping cards all day). Looking back six months from the the question is how much incremental revenue the different marketing activities generated, now how many name got collected.

Commented on June 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm
By Simon Favre

In that sense, a trade show is kind of like a web site, but with sore feet thrown in. :=) Web sites (and blogs) are typically measured on traffic, not incremental revenue. Trying to measure incremental revenue from going to DAC is a futile effort. You show something at DAC to be seen (and not forgotten), to raise awareness, and promote the brand. You can do all of that and not measure a single $ of incremental revenue. Nobody closes a deal at DAC. The best outcome is to have a second meeting with a few prospects after the show is over.

The response I got from Corporate Marketing is that all these lead cards are used to build up a database of contacts we can send promotional info to for a long time. So in reality, it’s all about the Spam. :=)

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