By Zane, Ruth Suarez
Independent Banker , Vol. 52, No. 2
Techworld exhibitors carefully plot their strategies
Conventions for community bankers mean a flurry of information and bags burgeoning with pamphlets from exhibitors offering the latest and greatest products to improve bankers' operations. And ICBA Techworld-goers are anxious to gather as much new industry information as possible, and most set aside a large bloc of time for opportunity. Still, all admit they can't visit every single tradeshow exhibitor.
"I make as much time as I can to see everyone on the exhibit floor-because nowhere else can I get as much banking information in one place," says Russell Carothers, president and CEO of the Citizens Bank in Winfield, Ala. "Gathering that information would otherwise take several months and several trips. It's something we should all take advantage of."
Exhibitors, too, understand the value of working ICBA's Techworld floor and consistently vie for the limited amount of exhibit hall space-determined more by space capacity of the particular convention facility than by the location in which conferences are held. ICBA consistently sells out its Techworld booths two to three months in advance of the convention. This year's Techworld show during the March 10-14, 2002, convention has proven no different-selling out all its 176 exhibitor slots in December.
Catching Their Eye
The solid number of exhibitors showing their wares at the convention gives bankers much to see and learn. But vying for bankers' interest is no easy task, and exhibitors carefully plan their arsenal of gizmos and trinkets to catch attendees' eyes. With the influx of technology exhibitors, software is a popular giveaway, as have been phone cards or free Internet access CDs. Of course, all bear the company's logo. The age-old strategy: The longer bankers keep and use such takehome items, the more likely they are to remember the exhibitor and its products, particularly when its salesperson comes calling.
Unanimously, bankers say they want quality items, even if they are small tokens. Top-ranking tradeshow trinkets include golf paraphernalia, pens, markers and note pads. Whether items make it home or to the office, one place exhibitors hope not to see them is in the trash bin.
One marketing move exhibitors employ is "pre-mailers," the special invitation letters inviting attending bankers to visit a booth. Typically, the invitation mentions a free gift or drawing. Sending such tempting reminders before Techworld is a tactic many bankers say they like, because it helps them schedule their convention time and pick the booths they'll visit.
Robert McCabe, CEO and executive vice president of New Vienna Savings Bank in New Vienna, Iowa, says he keeps an eye out for mailings providing basic product information and beckoning him to a certain booth. He says he typically brings such cards along and visits those booths first. "What I look for in freebies is not an office product or gadget but rather an item I can use personally or at home."
It's difficult to determine what trinkets or giveaways will win over bankers. Many appreciate high-quality pens for the office, while others prefer items that aren't for work.
"I personally like to get the golf stuff," says Paul Stanosheck, vice president for the Sate Bank of Odell in Nebraska. "I always look for golf towels, balls, tees, golf tools [such as] a ball mark repairer, golf pocket knife and nice golf hats."
Outside the golf paraphernalia, Stanosheck says he also keeps an eye out for interesting drawings for interesting gadgets. Now he particularly looks for Palm Pilots. Yet, one of the giveaways he still uses today is a wind jacket ICBA gave convention-goers at the 1999 convention in San Francisco.
Marti Tomson Rodamaker, president of First Citizens National Bank in Mason City, Iowa, says a grand prize is a good attraction-- and diamonds are always nice. She doesn't mind sometimes walking away with nothing. …