How We Demoed to 3,000 People in 3 Months And What I Learned
By Barmak Heshmat
As an early-stage startup, nothing is more exciting than showing your product to the market for the first time. It’s like watching your newborn say his/her first few words. However, since the budget is tight, you must get creative to get the most out of what you have. We started showcasing at CES and GDC with a 100sqft booth this last quarter and here is what I learned:
1- Eliminate any friction between the experience and the user.
Complicated interactive demos, small-font posters, and twisting and turning traffic flows in booth design are all considered points of friction when you are trying to maximize your flow of people with a small booth. Nobody wants to guess what your product is and how to experience it.
We eliminated all of that: super simple backdrop, brought the product right upfront to the aisle facing outward, just used recorded looping videos.
2 — Think as much about the exit and output of the booth as the input.
We learned that it’s not just about grabbing attention with catchy booth designs and creating long lines, but also about how you process the traffic on the back-end. Don’t get me wrong — it’s great to get input traffic, but that’s not the end goal. We used business card apps, brochures, QR codes attached to calendly app and same-night follow-up tactics to email back interested parties and book the next meetings during the event. The idea is to create a memory for the customer and establish a line of communication.
3- Keep an extra charm for VIPs.
Not all interest is created equal. Of course, you need to do some prep for the event so you know who the higher-profile visitors are and set up private meetings with them, but the problem is that in most cases based on our experience, a lot of high-profile visitors are also just randomly in the crowd. These are higher-value leads that should be treated with a slightly different tier of experience. When you are demoing with a 100 sqft booth, there is no luxury of “let’s go to a private meeting room.” That’s just too much time and distraction as your booth is going to be swamped with crowded. Here is where real-time tiering helps. We used the back part of the 100sqft booth as a place where people can take photos with the backdrop, talk while standing, and see a little extra smaller demo. This was really helpful, and it allowed us to create a memory and sense of exclusivity that allowed us to engage deeper with our higher-profile targets while not disrupting the flow of the line.
4- Leverage primary adopters as hubs for secondary exposure
As a company that has an experience-based product, one of the challenges is always giving access to the customer before they commit to adopting new tech. On the other hand, as a startup, you have limited resources and capacity to send samples or demos around. We found out that we don’t have to fight this fight alone. The early adopters of the tech are one of the best advocates for your product. This is a more sophisticated version of the word-of-mouth idea, but it really pays dividends. Treat your early customers well and negotiate with them to see if they are open to exposing your product to other parties. This has helped us to scale to 6 different locations around the world and have hubs where we can send interested people in the region to see our products.
If you are interested to learn more about our product and journey, please visit www.brelyon.com.