Tradeshow Booth – Split Testing Optimization

Results of Expo Hall Split Testing At Internet Conference In Vegas
(This was originally sent out as an email to my crew who are interested in Internet Marketing)

You are about to hear what turned into a huge marketing success in Las Vegas.

In 15 years of internet marketing, this is the first time we put up a booth at a conference.

You will read how we figured out how to split test an expo hall booth like you would a website, quickly and inexpensively.

Before we went I carefully studied what people were doing with booths.

You and I have both looked at thousands of booths at conferences.

If you look at Google images, you can see tens of thousands more.

They all struck me as having something in common.

They look like web pages.

Some good. Mostly bad.

They attract your attention or they don’t.

Your eye goes to the right place or not.

You see a benefit that attracts you.

You see a call to action that you respond to.

(most booths miss all of these)

Most importantly….

I realized NOBODY split tests their booths.

The only thing I could find about split testing booths was to have a booth babe or not, and one article about how they split tested what they said to people.


Here is what you will read below.

How we set up the booth.

The difficulty of how to handle Shannon’s appearance (a good problem).

How we did split testing in a booth.

If you want to skip to the meat of the split testing scroll down to:


We didn’t have much time to prepare for Pubcon.

I know the core Pubcon crowd well.

About half of them are friends of mine for the past decade.

A few of them don’t like me because I am so honest, white hat, and friends with Google.

It is the oldest internet marketing conference in the world.

But there’s 50% or so of the crowd that I don’t know.

Our core competencies cover pretty much everything in internet marketing.

We have even reached the level where we have a detailed algorithm where I can interview any company using the algorithm and figure out where they are on the steps to optimize their marketing.

The Algorithm is a natural sequence in optimizing internet marketing.

You would immediately know the sequence is correct if you saw it.

But if you haven’t analyzed the marketing of hundreds of companies it would be almost impossible to work it out.

Most companies are attracted by the thing they are looking for right at that moment.

In a conference like this, one guy could be walking around thinking he needs link building for his website.

Another guy is thinking that he needs to optimize his Adwords.

Someone else is thinking they need to finally get their products on Amazon.

Someone else is thinking they need to fire all their marketing staff and just do everything themselves.

So what message do you put on a booth that is going to stop the right people?

Our target are companies grossing $10M or $20M to $200M per year.

I know our market.

They are not usually fancy people, but they do have good incomes.

They are usually a CEO/Owner/President or a Marketing Director.

They are generally hella smart.

Once we get into a conversation with the right person, they get it, and want to work with us.

You would not have wanted most of the people stopping at our booth.

It would have gotten too clogged up with the people who would never be our right customer.

Otherwise I would have gotten a UFC fighter and fought him in our booth (not joking, I’ve done it on stage) or cut a girl in half once an hour in our booth, (also done that from stage at Pubcon).

Those things would have stopped everybody.

So Shannon my fiancé, and Roseanna who has been with me for 10 years decided to go classy and minimalist.

We went all blacks, whites and greys with a splash of color.

There is a photo of the booth at the end of this email.

It was nothing fancy, easy, inexpensive, looked unique, and got compliments.

Grey carpet and everything else covered in black.

On the front right of the booth was a little bar table where I was usually sitting.
On the table was a small, dense, colorful “loaf” of orchids and roses.

Way up front, on the left of the booth, was a 60 inch T.V.
This was my silver bullet.

See here is what happens at a conference.

You walk through and every booth looks the same.

After a day into the conference most of the people at the booths look hung-over and tired.

The popular brands are packed with people, but those people are usually their customers. This is great if it is your goal. I wanted to meet NEW people I had never met before, who were our qualified customers. Hence no UFC fighter.

One article I had read said they had split tested pretty girls in the booth or not.
They had realized that middle aged women who were good conversationalists beat the pretty girls.

If you study my history online you will see for past companies and events we have used some of the most beautiful girls in the world in our marketing.

We had my friend Kate who was the blonde girl that walks in front of police car and stops the movie in the first Hangover film.

I have used playboy bunnies, professional Salsa Dancers and on and on.

For Pubcon Shannon my fiancé was going with me.

Without bragging, she is stunning, and very curvy. What did Jessica rabbit say, “I’m not bad, I was just drawn that way?”

She also is a fabulous listener. In addition she set one of our link building records and knows the business.

So how do we dress her so potential new clients and partners don’t think we are just using a booth babe to get attention?

After looking at hundreds of photos of how women dress at internet marketing conferences we realized the clothes are not fancy. They are business casual and not too flashy. Our female target market also does not come to the conferences dressed like hippies either.

Shannon went out and found clothes that made her look approachable, pretty, and fairly upscale, but not overly wealthy. Too expensive of clothes also can scare away people looking for good value for their company.

I had on expensive casual super comfortable brown leather shoes. The kind you get at Nordstroms and gasp a little at the price, but then realize when you try them on that you can run in them.

I wore Lucky Brand jeans.

One day I had on an upscale, fairly bright blue t-shirt like you would wear sailing, and the next day a short sleeve button up black silk shirt with the same vibe.
Kinda surfer meets country club.


THE SPLIT TESTING – The exciting part.

To set the stage again:
– At Pubcon Internet Marketing Conference
– Black Minimalist Booth
– Bar Table
– Shannon looking pretty and fairly upscale
– Me looking surfer meets country club
Looking at booth there is a 60” T.V. on the front left.
Bar Table with me sitting at front right.
Shannon up front between bar table and T.V.

What message to present?

At most conferences people put up a huge banner.

Most of these messages have no benefit to the customer.
Most of them have no call to action.

These by the way are the two most important things you can have in any marketing message. Benefit and Call To Action.

Without them, they barely are even marketing.

Most internet/tech/web conferences have messages on banners such as:
Scalable disruptive growth hacking enterprise level cloud based CSRPD that pushes the competition into the retrosphere.


I walk through most tech conferences and am utterly confused by the messaging.

So to start with I know we needed a major benefit and a call to action, but which one?

So I sat down and started writing.

If you know my marketing you know I love to ask questions.

In a consultation with a new company we are working with, I often do nothing but ask questions the first hours.

How else are you going to know the details well enough to fix the problem?

Here is how you the split testing on a booth.

You take what you know about your ideal customer or partner.

You look to what other successful companies in your space are promoting to their customers.

You Google keywords around what you do and look at the Adwords Ads.

Most messaging we found was very bad, hard to understand, and used ambiguous techno speak.

Adwords costs for every click, so bad marketers usually end up getting out bid.
CEOs can write bad headlines on home pages, but usually ignore Adwords.
That makes Adwords ads a good place to look for copy that works.

Then you ask your team for ideas and anyone around you who knows the company and customers.

You then take video editing software.

It is actually way easier to do these days than you would imagine.

I ended up using Motion 5 by Apple because it more easily allows you animate text and animate arrows.

In the end we made about 40 different messages.

Remember this is primarily an SEO conference so the messages leaned heavily that way.

Here are some of the messages I tested:
The KPI To Manage And SEO Department?
Do you need Links?
Google Compliant?
White Hat?
The KPI to Manage and SEO Department
In 2 Minutes Per Week.
What Is It?
Optimize an Internet Marketing Department.
Guaranteed Increased Profit.
Do You Need B2B Leads?
High Value?
Scheduled Appointments?
Your Internet Marketing Department Optimized For Moe Profit. Interested?
What is your biggest internet marketing problem?
Your Email List Need A Highly Successful Copywriter To Increase Lifetime Customer Value?
Need More High Value Leads This Week?
Magnetic Content That Attracts Links Naturally

So how do you split test all these messages plus lots more?

You make huge text.

You turn it into moving videos on Motion 5 Apple Software.

You save it as a file.

You play it on the 60 inch T.V.

Think about it.

When you walk by a booth, you look at it for about a second or two before moving on.

I bet you it is even shorter than when we hit a web page.

You are already walking past a booth so tend to keep moving.

Then we did it for real.

Where did their eye go?

I watched carefully when we first set up.

The first thing they looked at was the T.V.

We naturally do this to look for danger, food, and mates.

The people walking by, men and women, first looked at the T.V.

They looked at the 12 inch high letters on the screen that were moving.

The messages unrolled themselves on the screen in different methods depending on what I was testing.

Some of them went plunk plunk plunk one letter at a time.

Sometimes the words and letters animated out as a scramble and then unscrambled themselves.

I can’t tell you which type of animation worked best as we don’t have enough data since I got so busy so fast.

The first half hour the expo hall opened, people saw the T.V. message, saw Shannon, then tended to walk away. The first half hour very few people walked by, and only 2 people stopped.

One was an ideal customer for us, the other was not.

Then a swirl of things happened at once.

The number of people walking by increased as the conference got going.

Shannon decided that after they looked at the T.V. and looked at her, she would engage them in conversation.

They would look at the moving text on the T.V.
If they were interested they would look at Shannon.

She comes across as approachable, confident, smart and pretty so this was extremely easy for her.

Important note, she wore flat shoes. This allowed her to be comfortable walking around.

If she had worn heels I am sure she would not have been able to move around as easy.

Heels would have sent the wrong message and attracted different people. She is 5’7” so is ok without heels. If she was shorter heels might have been important.

People would walk by, see the message, look at her, and she would ask them a few questions.

Pretty much everyone who stopped and looked at the T.V., then looked at Shannon, would start to really engage with Shannon when she asked them questions.

I think the messaging on the T.V. pre-qualified them.

We saw people looking at the T.V. from a distance.

Remember the letters were 6 inches to a foot high, so you could read them anywhere.

They were moving so you noticed them.

The screen was mostly black with white writing.

The eye generally moves from dark to light, and to bright colors.
Someone’s attention is definitely drawn to motion.

I have used huge red and orange buttons and red and orange arrows for years to drive people’s attention.

That is exactly what we did here.

I used red arrows on the screen (and tested other colors as well).

First came the large text message.

This was a benefit or a question about one.

Then came a large message such as Ask Him, or Ask Them.

Then a big red arrow appeared and started moving toward Shannon and I.

Shannon is more approachable than I am so they naturally would go there.

I did a public talk to 200 people at 2:00 P.M. on advanced organic Google compliant link building.

I figured I would have plenty of time sitting in the expo hall to finish my presentation.

At about 30 minutes after the expo hall opened we hit a critical mass.

It all just clicked.

I kept hearing Shannon say, David can help you with that.
(She calls me David and not dk)

Then someone else would be waiting to talk to me.

I would pre-qualify them.

I was there to find our next ideal client or partnership deal.

No apologies about that.

So I politely asked them questions about what their site was about?

Is it an ethical honest product run by an ethical honest company trying to help their customers or not?

This is a make break on who we work with.

When I get into a conversation with someone about their site the entire world shuts off except the person I am talking to.

So I would go into a mind meld with the person asking for help and nothing can get me out of that universe.

I go through my algorithm to figure out as quickly as possible.

The goal is to find that one thing that will most help them increase profit, improve the valuation of their site or company, or accomplish whatever goal they are going after.

I quickly realized these were turning into long conversations so we started scheduling appointments for later in the conference.

We were only there for two days.

Then on the first day of the conference I spoke on Google Compliant organic link building. The talk went great.

I actually learned a lot as a speaker that I had never discovered before.

But that drove another 4 very qualified potential customer/partner companies to the booth.

Here is a summary of the results.

Shannon ended up speaking to an uncountable number of people.

I had initial conversations with probably 30 people over two days.

We ended up only having time to have second meetings with 4 of the people.

There were more than I should have met with but ran out of time.

A total of 34 people were tagged as deserving another good conversation.

I have still not had time to personally follow up with all of them.

From the conversations going on now with some of them, our overall marketing at Pubcon was unquestionably a success.

The problem is knowing exactly what message they responded to on the T.V.

The event as a whole went way better than I could have possibly imagined.

As a result the speed of people coming to our booth to talk to me was absurd.

There were some unpredicted variables.

I would be talking to a $200M company about their biggest issue, and a friend would walk into the booth and hug me. Not bad, just unexpected.

AuthorityLabs, one of our partner companies, set up next to us.

We took down the curtain and pole between our two booths.

This created a more active interesting environment. Authority labs they played bean bag toss onto a board. They are a great company that is loved and trusted. All of that changed the vibe of the setup, and made it all more informal and fun around us.

I believe both of our booths success were enhanced by us interacting.

I personally sent over at least 4 companies and told them to become AuthorityLabs customers.

TallBox and Authority Labs also created a social hub.

We have a lot of common friends that are celebrities in the industry.

At once point there was a crowd of mutual friends that I refer to as “the crew” almost completely blocking the isle in front of our booth.

I think this worked to our benefit because it slowed people walking down. Then they had a chance to read my screen and see if they were a match.

People are also interested in what is going on where they see a bunch of happy friends interacting as a group.

All of this with “the crew” and Authority labs could not have been engineered or controlled, and was just a lucky happy side effect.

In the end we got extraordinarily busy with conversations that are going on with new and potential new clients.

That is why it took me 10 days to get this out to you.

The event was unquestionably a success.

I believe we figured out something about expo hall/ conference marketing that is brand new.

If someone has done split testing of messages/benefits live at a booth I am unaware of it.

I think that the synergy between the messaging on the T.V. , the size of the lettering, and who Shannon is made it work.

Some of the booths I saw appeared to never have anyone visiting them when I glanced over.

If it had been just the T.V. and myself I still think it would have worked much better than a regular booth. Maybe 200% or 300% better.

I think just Shannon without the messages on the T.V. would have worked again 200% or 300% better than a regular booth without the big screen messages.

Together it appeared to work 10X as good as a regular booth or maybe 20X or 30X better.

We will probably test this more an events in the future if I can get enough of a break to go market more.

I sent you this email series to open up a conversation for partnerships and clients.

Do you have a marketing problem?
Do you have a marketing question?
Do you have a great product and are looking for a marketing partner?
Something else?
Does your marketing director need some help?

After reading this if you would like to chat send me an email.

> What are you looking for?
> What do you need?

Love you,
Talk again when I have time.

dk – David Klein