Exhibitor 2010 Series: Part 2 – Guerilla Marketing

During mid-morning Monday, I attended an intriguing session with Dax Callner, Using Social Media & Guerilla Marketing to Drive Booth Traffic. The examples and case studies shared opens path of creative exhibit marketing that furthers brand awareness, increases exhibit presence and attendance and pushes the envelope on traditional marketing and creativity.

Callner cited a recent video by Lady Gaga, which has gained a ton of viral attention, that pushes the boundaries on creative expression and integrated sponsorships, and proves that a delivered experience with content merits can be monetized with little detraction of substance value to audiences. An exhibit experience needs to be developed with your brand messaging as the nucleus in a format where creativity and content will rule.

Tossing aside tactics of traditional marketing routines, in signage, graphics, booth personalities and presentations, guerilla marketing for tradeshows extends beyond the philosophical and literal boundaries of your exhibit space. Can your strategy bend the rules and challenge propriety by saturating audiences at the welcome reception or the restaurants that skirt the convention center? Can you hack the system to exploit traditional barriers as simple obstacles that can be evaded? Identify the regulations. Define them. Defy them. But don’t break them.


Audiences feed in to forward actions, and your exhibit, despite size or location, can generate improved traffic and, more importantly, increased perceptions as creative influencers. Guerilla marketing for events needs guidelines for success however:

  • Don’t kill ideas as unfeasible – find the feasibility
  • Don’t annoy people (unless they are your competitors)
  • Develop a game plan that enables flexibility
  • Pilot ideas- try stuff out, then abandon it.
  • Measure impact
  • Have fun

Despite its title, the session didn’t generate many ideas or examples regarding the use of Social Media, in its current form, to generate booth traffic. However, the point was made that events ARE social media. Face to face meetings are the essential core that drives the social engine. The virtual networks and environments that are surrounding us are simply tools to enhance your existing presence in the marrow of interaction.

While many case studies shared related to high profile, technology based exhibitors, a question was posed in regards to guerilla marketing for small business. While no definitive solutions or ideas were presented, I believe an outside the box approach can be implemented despite limitations to budget or booth presence. I also believe that packaging guerilla marketing with proper social media structure can increase the ‘virality’ and audience impact.

What can your exhibit strategy do to extend boundaries and draw attendees? Can you utilize digital messages in locations where physical marketing is restricted? Can you transform attendees into brand surrogates?

For those who attended, what were your takeaways from this session? Can you cite good examples of guerilla marketing that you’ve seen at an event? What are other ways to challenge standards of traditional tradeshow marketing?