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Personal Space
Using a personality-assessment activity, Mirror Show Management Inc. wins over VIP prospects, surpassing its qualified lead goals by 340 percent. By Kelli Billstein
VIP Promotion
Exhibitor: Mirror Show Management Inc.
Creative/Production: Mirror Show Management Inc., Webster, NY, 585-232-4020, www.mirrorshow.com
Promotional Budget: Less Than $49,000
 ➤ Connect with VIP attendees on a personal level while demonstrating expertise as an experience-driven exhibit house.
 ➤ Conduct 24 "What's Your Persona?" experiences with attendees.
 ➤ Secure 10 new qualified leads.
 ➤ Sparked conversation about exhibit-manager personality traits and exhibit challenges through a dynamic in-booth activity.
 ➤ Completed 36 "What's Your Persona?" experiences.
 ➤ Scored 44 qualified leads.

There are some things that mere mortals simply cannot resist: touching cashmere scarves, eating those bite-size samples at the grocery store, and binge-watching "Game of Thrones," just to name a few. And, of course, it's impossible to resist a good personality quiz. If there's a series of questions that can determine which city we were meant to live in or which Star Wars character represents us, we're all over it. It's just one more way to learn about our favorite subject of all: ourselves.

Webster, NY-based exhibit house Mirror Show Management Inc. (MSM) took this idea and gave it a trade show spin when creating its VIP promotion for EXHIBITORLIVE 2017. This smart and audience-savvy strategy made each invitee to the MSM booth feel like they'd walked inside a pop-up Buzzfeed quiz that was exclusively for them. The creative approach catered to humanity's fondness for either/or questionnaires and helped the exhibit house to exceed its qualified lead goals by a whopping 340 percent.

Character Assessment
MSM has exhibited at EXHIBITORLIVE since 2012, and each year the woman-owned exhibit house raises the bar for itself, always aiming for a memorable and personalized booth experience (usually with a feminine twist, since its clientele is predominantly female trade show managers). Gearing up for 2017, the company's president, Donna Shultz, challenged her team to create a VIP promotion that would do three things: 1) create an irresistible, immersive experience that was technologically impressive, 2) demonstrate that MSM can deliver live data and insights, and 3) get to know the target audience on a deeper level, beyond the small talk and typical show-floor banter. This wasn't a pick-two-of-the-above entreaty; it was a show-me-you-can-do-all-three order.

"We're constantly challenged to up our exhibit game," says Kelsey Frank, account manager for MSM. "And we've been most successful when we've created opportunities to learn something about our VIPs, while the VIPs are simultaneously learning something about themselves."

The room Mirror Show Management Inc. designed for its VIP personality-quiz activation at EXHIBITORLIVE included a glass wall lined with electromagnetic panels that could turn from transparent to opaque with the push of a button, lending the space a sense of exclusivity.

Can I Ask a Personal Question?
To activate the "What's Your Persona?" quiz-style activity, invited VIP guests stepped atop a pressure-sensitive tile embedded in the flooring of Mirror Show Management Inc.'s (MSM) in-booth experience room, which triggered a series of 4K monitors to spring to life.

Answer me This
Questions posed to the exhibit house's VIPs ranged from silly to serious. One asked, "I'd bring this to a desert island: a) a roll of duct tape, or b) a case of rosé." Another read, "I'd rather have a: a) big booth in a bad location, or b) small booth in a spectacular location."

By the Numbers
After completing the assessment, participants met with staffers who reviewed the data on an 80-inch monitor. The staffer and attendee then discussed the importance of analytics and how MSM can assist exhibitors in executing data-driven solutions for their own programs.
The team floated ideas with themes that might satisfy the president's three-part challenge. But while most checked two of the three boxes, they failed when it came to getting to know members of the target audience. For a while, all the staff could suggest was offering a boring old survey. But then came the eureka moment.

"Why try to hide what we were doing? We thought, let's come right out and ask them about themselves," says Pete Stam, customer engagement strategist at MSM. "We decided to make the questions we were asking part of an overall experience. That idea evolved into the creation of personas, which we would map responses to."

From there, the entire VIP promotion fell into place. Questions were drawn up, four personas were developed (each using MSM's invented character, Tradeshow Traci, as a baseline visual to alter with styles appropriate for each persona), and an in-booth experience room was designed for the personality-quiz activity. In the end, the theme of the 2017 promotion asked a question that begged to be answered: "What's Your Persona?"

Very Important People
MSM carefully vetted the attendee list and identified 36 exceptional VIPs, each of which fit MSM's client profile for company size, trade show program scale, and the types of exhibiting programs implemented. Two weeks prior to EXHIBITORLIVE, these VIPs received an email invite from MSM that read, "See the sights, hear the sounds, and feel the excitement as you discover your unique persona." After clicking the invite's "Register Now" button, recipients filled in their contact information and could then reserve a 30-minute time slot at MSM's booth.

When the 2017 iteration of EXHIBITORLIVE debuted, Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas swarmed with trade show professionals. During show floor hours, it would've been easy to get lost amid the buzz and, say, forget the appointment one had made two weeks prior. MSM thought of that, though, and made sure its VIPs received an automated reminder via text message 15 minutes prior to their appointments. And as soon as VIPs caught sight of MSM's 20-by-20-foot island booth, aglow with activity under a 19-foot-long hot-pink banner, they were glad to have kept those appointments. The reception desk was topped with a pair of iPads that mirrored the "What's Your Persona?" activity so walk-up attendees without an appointment could get an idea of what MSM was doing.

There were also four versions of MSM's signature Tradeshow Traci dolls on display, which VIPs would learn about inside the 12-by-12-foot experience room that occupied the bulk of the booth.

Mapping People to Personas
The tour de force that captivated VIPs, the experience room, which could hold up to five people, included a back wall comprising three vertical 84-inch 4K monitors synchronized to create one giant screen that thrust 4 million pixels into VIPs' retinas as music pulsed through a hidden ceiling-mounted sound system. On the floor were three hexagonal, spring-loaded tiles, internally lit by LEDs, which served as the response buttons for VIPs to interact with the activity. The glass wall opposite the monitors was lined with electromagnetic film panels that, with the push of a button, could change from transparent to opaque for privacy and a sense of exclusivity.

Inside the room, VIPs stepped on the center tile to kick off a series of 14 multiple-choice questions delivered in a this-or-that format. Each side of the screen presented a different option, complete with whimsical animation, and VIPs stepped on either the left or right floor tile to indicate their preference. For example, the first question asked participants to choose whether they'd rather be front row at a rock concert or inside a jazz club. Another query inquired which exhibit-marketing challenge they focus on the most: budgets and timelines or design and experience. In this manner, alternating between light-hearted and work-related questions, the activity unfolded, and at the end a software program calculated each VIP's persona.

The four possible personas were Observer, Futurist, Adventurer, and Idealist, each with a different Tradeshow Traci avatar and a description of its exhibit-manager personality that splashed across the screen during the big persona reveal.

Persona in a Package
After EXHIBITORLIVE, Mirror Show Management Inc. sent VIPs a custom package containing a gift card along with a paper doll representing one of the four exhibit-manager personalities that were part of the company's "What's Your Persona?" activity.

The Futurist
"Futurists are the visionaries among us. You think big, never let doubts get in the way of your dreams, and are destined to achieve great things."

The Adventurer
"Adventurers are free-spirited and self-assured. Your spontaneity makes you the first one to discover new ideas since you'll gladly take risks to reap big rewards."

The Idealist
"Idealists are warm and supportive. You draw inspiration from those around you, always accentuate the positive, and are skilled at resolving conflicts."

The Observer
"Observers are analytical and have a great thirst for knowledge. You remain calm through almost any crisis, drawing strength from your knowledge of the facts."
There was one final question before VIPs left the experience room, namely which gift card they would like to receive. There were two options available for each persona, so, for example, an Adventurer would choose between a gift card for Dick's Sporting Goods or one for Athleta.

From there, VIPs walked to a space outside the experience room, where an 80-inch monitor displayed real-time data aggregated from the activity. An MSM staffer reviewed the data before explaining how important analytics are at trade shows and emphasizing that MSM can be of assistance in that department. A bar graph appeared on the monitor, along with other infographic representations of how the VIP data was shaking out as persona appointments accrued.

Before VIPs left the booth, they received a keychain strung with several small cards bearing helpful suggestions for personal betterment and work experiences based on each persona. For instance, Observers' keychains featured a card encouraging them to partner with colleagues who have complementary personas. The keychains also featured branded Bluetooth key trackers so exhibit managers on the go wouldn't lose their keys.

As one Sizzle Awards judge noted, "The entire experience was highly personal from start to finish. And limiting the activity to targeted VIPs made it that much more valuable and exclusive to participants." The experience ended up teaching VIPs a little something about themselves and a whole lot about MSM's capabilities as an experience-driven exhibit house.

To be sure that VIPs didn't soon forget their experience at EXHIBITORLIVE, MSM sent each participant a post-show mailer in the form of a custom package containing a Tradeshow Traci paper doll dressed in the outfit appropriate to the individual's persona, along with the gift card they'd selected and a personalized note from MSM staff.

Pop-Quiz Payoff
Connecting with VIPs, discussing data, and delivering a fun and personalized experience is all well and good, but it's just a castle in the air until solid results are calculated. And once those figures had been tallied, MSM was delighted to find that its VIP experience at EXHIBITORLIVE 2017 had paid off big time.

While MSM had anticipated 24 appointments in its booth, it packed in 36, thanks to the attention it attracted on the show floor. And while it aimed for a respectable 10 qualified leads, MSM ultimately secured 44. This amounted to MSM besting its goal by a substantial 340 percent. Added to this feat was the fact that these lead results were a 100-percent increase over the year before. As a bonus that would please their president, staffers brought back some great intel on its audience segment based on the persona responses and the myriad conversations that the activity inspired.

MSM's promotion revealed not only VIPs' exhibit-manager personas, but also that MSM was worthy of their partnership. It just goes to show that asking the right questions and instilling a little personality into your exhibit can lead to award-winning results. E

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