In my last post, I recounted the disproportionate buzz received by the "XJTAG Girls", a pair of sales models stationed in the booth of XJTAG, Ltd., a supplier of IEEE 1149.1 boundary scan development tools. The surprisingly strong reactions to this classic trade show strategy prompted me survey our community about the propriety of the XJTAG Girls for a B2B show like DAC. Since I'm not certain how persistent these free survey sites are, allow me to replicate a snapshot of the survey results and comments from the official results page below. A total of 63 responses were received; 8 of these were written comments.
Which "booth greeter" strategy would YOU go with?
Question: What is/was your reaction to the XJTAG Girls at DAC 2009?
- Waaaay too naughty / inappropriate
- OK for consumer car or boat shows, but too much for a B2B show like DAC
- Neutral - if you've seen one booth promo, you've seen them all
- They were an obvious success and I give XJTAG a hat tip (while my boss/S.O. isn't looking)
- The winner with 27.0%, 17 votes
- I plead the 5th and/or this issue is above my pay grade
- Other (please specify)
NOTE: For completeness sake, I've replicated all comments from the "Other" part of the survey for reference below. As of this writing there were also 8 comments made on the original post. In general, the comments ranged the full gamut of "inappropriate" to "obvious success+hat tip", with more blog post comments falling in the neutral camp vs. the survey.
Analysis & Commentary
- While "obvious success+hat tip" received the most votes (27.0%, 17 votes), if you combine the negative categories of "naughty" (22.2%, 14 responses) and "car & boat shows only" (22.2%, 14 votes) you get a net negative sentiment on the XJTAG strategy (I'll reveal my personal answer shortly ...)
- It's also interesting to note that "neutral" drew relatively few votes (12.7%, 8 votes), and only 2 people chickened out. The low neutrality score indicates the "short skirt" strategy certainly created strong reactions one way or the other, indicating it's a particularly sharp double-edged sword.
- Ask yourself this: did all the chatter about XJTAG make you wonder, "JTAG? Isn't JTAG over 1,000,000 years old? What the heck could they be doing with JTAG?". I must confess these exact questions did enter my mind as I was heading back over to the show on Tuesday of DAC. They prompted me to recall that we [Cadence] have a JTAG Universal Verification Component (UVC) in our Verification IP portfolio, and thus I was inspired to go ask XJTAG what they were about. My point: their combined booth + branding strategy did get me to think about them -- a company I had never heard of before in a little 10x10 booth, hawking a seemingly ancient technology -- and go speak with them in a meaningful way. This is more than I can say for dozens of other booths of any size at DAC.
- Some background info on XJTAG:
- This was XJTAGs first DAC, and possibly their first North American trade show ever, since the executives I spoke with were unaware of DVCon and DesignCon. They were thrilled with the responses their booth was receiving: both in terms of the "retail" leads scanned by the women, and the more qualified leads derived from detailed discussions conducted by their technical employees (symbolized by the large stack of business cards the execs were piling up on their table).
- About the uniforms themselves: if you can believe it, the XJTAG Girls used to sport even racier uniforms. Putting aside for the moment the skirt length and heel heights of the current uniforms, you have to acknowledge the efficacy of its graphic design: the gold-on-blue lettering is high contrast visually, in a very large font, and the name+logo is replicated on all four sides of the uniform. Consequently, the slightest passing glance will fix the "XJTAG" name and logo into your brain. In fact, by the Monday afternoon of DAC, the term "XJTAG Girls" seemed to be an instantly recognized identifier for these women vs. something non-specific like, "those girls in the miniskirts". And yes, while the cleavage exposure of the uniform is modest, it obviously shows a lot of leg, which combined with the effect of the high heels captures the attention of any passer by, male or female (recall the double edged sword factor noted above).
So if a "short skirts and high heels" strategy is not a fit for B2B shows like DAC, what are some best practices for more staid booth greeters, and other draws like clever demos, games, magicians, food&drink, etc.? Allow me to tackle this question in a future survey and follow-up post ...
- My personal survey response [drum roll, please]:
- For a consumer show -- especially if it makes obvious sense for the product (i.e. you are selling recreational equipment like jet skis or any "summer-y" sporting gear) -- the "sales models in eye caching uniforms" approach would be a legit way to go. However, for a B2B show like DAC, I think this approach is simply too distracting for all concerned. Consider:
- Some percentage of prospects (22% if you believe my survey) will be put off by the display to some degree, and a subset of this number will be deeply offended. Suffice to say that in a B2B context, i.e. at DAC, you want to avoid offending anyone, and in general the some of most common promotional terms in EDA are "compatibility" and "interoperability" -- inclusive words that implicity reach out to all comers. In contrast, in the consumer arena I'm sure the gentle reader has their own favorite (or infamous) examples of brands that use "offensiveness" in some form as a strategy to build buzz and pre-sort prospects compatible with their brand while simultaneously repelling those who are unaligned (and thus would be hard to satisfy or support anyway.)
- While you may be able to get a ton leads this way (and XJTAG certainly did), I bet the vast majority of the "retail" leads from the scanner will be the names of lonely guys far from home who just wanted to talk to the friendly models (Digression: IMHO the XJTAG Girls themselves did a great job of making people comfortable, and were very professional in general -- don't go hatin' them). I further assert that even the more qualified "business card exchange" leads that were collected from the qualifying discussions with core employees will be a lot of work to more deeply investigate later. Granted, this can be a nice problem to have, especially in this economy. But in a B2B / DAC context, and given how limited follow-up Sales and Technical Field resources always are, coming out of an event like this I'd rather have a handful of very well qualified leads than a whole pile of uncertain prospects.
Joe Hupcey III
* During my assignments in the OVM World booth, I had the pleasure of working with the woman shown on the right hand side of the photo above, Ms. Nicole Daryanani. Nicole works an an event organizer, and also does booth greeting and modeling as well. She did an excellent job for us in the OVM booth, being proactive in greeting prospects as well as handling event logistics and catering management. I'll touch on her role more in the upcoming "booth draw best practices" post, but in the mean time: hire her!
* As of this writing there were also 8 comments made on the original post, and here are the comments collected by the "Other" survey response:
They were merely attractive, as you can see from the photos, not scantily clad at all (unless you live in a Quaker village). Somebody forgot there is no such thing as bad publicity, better to ignore it. The derogatory references that have been made against these two women could be taken as slander.
Bad for industry impression
Fantastic. What the hell is wrong with nice looking girls? People should stop being so [uptight] and just enjoy them. Hell, most chicks even like looking at hot women.
I think this is perfectly appropriate since the majority of workers at all levels, in tech-related industries, are men. Companies should do whatever they can to maximize profits; this starts with marketing; clearly this was an effective marketing tool!
Take another look at their picture. Fine looking women, but not so unbelievably striking that everyone should be talking about the beautiful girls. You see, it takes more than beauty to be booth babe. You have to be smart, pleasant, and filter those prospects. If you can get the XJTAG guys to comment on the girls, their answer may be surprising.
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I did invite XJTAG and one of the models to comment via email. I have not received a response as of this writing.]
I think the XJTAG girls are fine and I don't understand what all of the fuss is about.
Why Cadence didn't have booth babe ;-)
They were fun to look at and I'm glad they were there, but doubt they had a significant business impact.