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The "Plant Person Test"

  • B2B Marcom

  • I am moblogging from the annual paean to all things Semiconductor, Semicon West. in San Francisco. This event brings semiconductor manufacturers and their materials, equipment, process, and technology suppliers together in an efficient and fun setting. Well, at least I think it is fun!

    The surprising observation from the show floor is that there are a remarkable number of exhibits that DO NOTmake it clear WHO they are or WHAT they are purveying.

    A trade show is a fast-paced cacophony of competitive confusion. At this event there are literally THOUSANDS of causes vying for a person's attention. Someone walking the aisles typically gives each vendor only one or two seconds of attention before deciding whether to engage or to move on to the next vendor. If an exhibit does not ring the bell immediately, the customer will likely walk right on by.

    For years I have used what I call "The Plant Person Test". At most exhibitions there are companies that rent tables, chairs, vacuum cleaning services, and decorative plants. Their staff work the same exhibit hall all year long. Week after week exhibitors move in, rent some plants, then move out. The Plant Person doesn't care who you are, they just need to get you your plants, then retrieve them for future use. Their unique perspective makes them the ideal test "customer".

    When my exhibits are finally set up, I grab a Plant Person and ask them two questions, on the spot, live without a net. I ask, "Who's exhibit is this?" Next I ask, "What do they sell?" If I don't get really good answers almost immediately, I know I've failed in my mission to design an effective exhibit.

    I am pleased to say that we passed the Plant Person Test at this show (see our exhibit in the attached image). Please consider your upcoming exhibit designs and subject yourself to this brutally-telling test. It will be worth it.

    And be sure to thank the exhibit vendors. They work really hard to help make us all look our very best.