Walking through the busy aisles of large events like re:Invent or RSA can be both exhilarating and daunting. Picture this: dozens of booths, each clamoring for attention with an array of swag, unique designs, and product demos. But often, these conventions tend to offer a déjà vu experience — similar branding, with slight tweaks here and there.
I recall my initial strolls through such expos, where it struck me how many vendors seemed to miss a key opportunity. Their booths often resembled physical manifestations of websites rather than immersive, tangible experiences.
At Wiz, we take a different approach. We aim to tell a story, alternating themes that reflect our product's values and messaging. Our goal? To engage and connect with our audience in a refreshingly unconventional way. By continuously introducing new themes, we rekindle the curiosity of our existing customers, drawing them in to explore our latest innovations. This strategy not only strengthens our relationships but also amplifies our brand awareness.
Our Method for Conventions
The basic idea is to translate the “wow” effect of our enchanting brand into the convention halls and into the hearts of our visitors. Utilizing a new theme for each event sparks anticipation — we want people to wonder, "what will Wiz do this time?" and feel invited to visit our booth, even if they're already familiar with our product.
To be effective across various platforms, an idea must meet three criteria: it should be original and surprising; reflect the company's values; and be relevant to the industry. Without these three elements, it's challenging to work with a concept.
Case Study: The American Diner-themed booth above the clouds
Our concept for this year’s AWS re:Invent conference was an American diner booth floating above the clouds, serving magical dishes related to cloud security (like Data Burgers, Malware Donuts, Shift Left Hotdogs, etc.).
Once you've settled on a theme, it requires deep planning and a focus on three main aspects to bring it to life effectively:
Design: Crafting an impactful booth involves incorporating elements from your brand that allow for immediate identification while integrating visual components that narrate the story you wish to convey. Organize the booth to be inviting and exciting, and within it, plan the visitor's journey to take them on a voyage. Focus on elements that create a strong visual impact (such as a hot air balloon or an enormous diner-style sign), and a giant digital screen. Think about how to weave the story across all designed platforms in the booth, from the video playing among the demos to the uniforms of the booth staff, and even the brochures you distribute. Aim to create a holistic experience full of unique details that, through design, tell a clear story.
Experience: Going beyond just how your booth looks, focus on the experience it offers. Think about what will get visitors excited and draw them in. You can start building interest even before they arrive at the conference by engaging with them on social media. Always aim to add value through unique content that reflects your company and product's message. For instance, in our Wizard of Wiz booth, we had actors dressed as Dorothy, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow. They were there to welcome people, encourage them to enter our booth, and take photos with them. Similarly, for our American diner-themed booth, we had an Elvis impersonator to sing and invite people in for a photo op. And of course, in keeping with the diner theme, we offered donuts — it’s all about creating that authentic diner feel!
Memory: Make sure your booth offers visitors experiences they'll remember long after the event. Give out swag that's more than just logo-stamped items. Choose things people will actually want to use later, and that'll remind them of visiting your booth. Aim to create special moments at your booth that leave a lasting, positive impression. Think about ways to capture these memories, like making a digital or physical keepsake for visitors. And if your booth looks great, people will want to take pictures. Set up a spot that's perfect for photos, so visitors can share their memories and your booth gets noticed.
Swag as a storytelling tool
Swag is more than merchandise; it's a narrative element that embodies our brand's essence. Each item aligns with the booth's theme, transforming it into a part of the story. From theme-inspired socks to the Cybersecurity Magic 8 Ball at our “Wizard of Wiz” booth, we blend creativity with utility. The Magic 8 Ball, offering tailored responses for CISOs, exemplified how inventive swag can enhance brand recall and engagement.
The essence of creating a remarkable expo presence lies not in merely showcasing products but in crafting compelling experiences. Through innovative themes and meticulous attention to detail, Wiz invites attendees into captivating narratives, making cloud security not just essential but enchantingly memorable. As you plan your next expo participation, remember: a booth isn't just a space; it's a story waiting to be told.