What’s your popcorn?

popcornAs I look around the exhibitors area at the FL/GA Lutheran Educators conference, almost every exhibitor has a bowl of candy on their table, usually peppermints, chocolate kisses, peanut butter cups, or some assortment.  The theory is that people will see the candy, stop at the exhibit to take a piece, and then learn about whatever the exhibitor does.  But how effective is that when everyone is doing the same thing?

At every conference we go to as exhibitors we give away popcorn.  It costs a little more.  It’s more work – we’ve got to bring a small microwave oven and pop bags and bags of the stuff throughout the day.  But it’s worth it because…

  1. It’s unique. I’ve never seen any other exhibitor give away popcorn.
  2. It’s a draw. People can smell it all over the exhibit hall and come looking for it.
  3. It’s a conversation starter. I see people snag a piece of candy from other exhibitors without stopping or even making eye contact with the exhibitor. But when people stop by our exhibit they often say something like, “Hey, I thought I smelled popcorn somewhere.” Some will ask if they can have some.  Lots of different things, but they usually say something which invites us to engage them in a conversation.
  4. It’s memorable. People remember OurChurch.Com as the popcorn guys.  It’s a part of our branding.
  5. It draws people back. Some people come back 3 or 4 times during the conference for more popcorn, which is fine with us.

What are you doing to stand out from everyone else?

If you’re response is, “Our [product] is what makes us stand out…” (For churches insert worship service, community, or something else. For schools insert teachers, education, or whatever fits.)  …it’s great that your product/service stands out, but the problem with that is people have to experience your church/school/product/service first.

What are you doing that nobody else is doing to stand out from all of the millions of other things screaming “Try me!” at people?

What’s your popcorn?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

3 Responses to “What’s your popcorn?”

  1. You are correct that Popcorn is unique and you don’t usually see something like that… maybe you should do Steaks, then they will really keep coming back :) or at least I would….

    Although food is good attraction getter, I still prefer tangible items with our information on it. Pens, Pencils, Stickers, notepads, or anything. This past summer I was involved in two school awareness events. I put together a video http://animoto.com/play/obaoYt138JScVCEqjOssVA# and put them on dvd’s with a created label that had our Name, Address, Number, and url. This way they would not have to look our information up and even if they do throw it away, they will see it one last time.

  2. Mmmmmm… steak. Maybe we’ll get a George Foreman Grill before our next conference. Video is a good way to get people’s attention and stand out from the crowd.

  3. I was really thinking about your article until I got to the steaks part. Then I lost track.

    This is a great idea. I just hope you don’t go to the next conference and everyone else is now giving away popcorn!