We're just returning from The Market Research Event in Boca Raton, FL, and in between the keynotes, breakouts, and cocktail hours, the buzz of activity centered around the Exhibition Hall. Our presentation, Falling Dow + Rising Tao: The New Quest for Balance and What It Means for Your Brand, touches on themes of juggling all aspects of the ecosystem of one's life, and TMRE is a microcosm of that juggling act.
How much time should be spent working on projects back home? How much time should be spent networking with other industry professionals? Chatting with prospective vendors? And, arguably just as important, how to decide which pieces of swag from the 93 exhibitors should make it into the suitcase home?
Anyone who's been to an exhibit hall knows that it's easy to get the "fever" to collect as many free baubles as possible (excluding the premium giveaways like the Kindle Fire HD we raffled off). Quirk's gathered bags and bags to give away to readers. But when the rubber hits the road and it's time to pack to go home, what makes the cut?
When I looked at what I really brought home instead of abandoning in the hotel room, the "best" swag met three key criteria: 1) It made a logical, even clever tie back to the exhibitor's brand equity, 2) It was practically useful in a way I was confident I would exploit, and 3) It didn't take up too much space.
With those criteria in mind, I give you the Top 5 Swag Items from TMRE:
5. Brain stress ball keychain from Ideas to Go: It suggests creativity and mobility, and will make a great post-conference trinket for a colleague back home.
4. Chocolate cell phone from Gongos: A delicious way to remind clients of their mobile capabilities, and slim enough to fit in a briefcase pocket for choco-mergencies on the way home.
3. Remote control car from Research Now: A reminder of their driving video game in the exhibit hall. Way to bring "gamification" to the conference, guys!
2. Digital caricatures from GutCheck: Fits with their "instant gratification" platform, yet took long enough to create that models became a brief captive audience to hear about their services. It created a lot of buzz for the company around the conference.
1. "Chicago Mix" Garrett's popcorn from C+R: If I do say so myself, there were many, many sticky orange fingers roaming the exhibit hall. Anyone who had lived in Chicago flocked for the freshly-flown-in delicacies. And by the time we presented on the final day of the conference, we were well-known as the company from Chicago with the tastiest treats.
It was hard to name just five. There were many items that came in handy (like the Pert Group's sunglasses during a blazing hot al fresco lunch) and many pens, desk toys, and some T-shirts too. But these five set the bar for memorability. Now, colleagues, let's start conspiring for next year's top items...see you in Nashville for TMRE 2013!