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Trade Shows…ODT Style


I have been doing trade shows for the better part of my professional career. When I was in the freight and customs brokerage business I would walk shows to look for prospective customers, I wore a jacket, sometimes even a tie, it sucked. I walked everything from SEMA to the CA Gift Show, I learned how the companies would market themselves, usually in an uncool but appropriate for the industry way. At SEMA and AAPEX for example this was common place.


The car industry has made “booth babes” the norm, the expected, commonplace, and well, kinda cheezy and played out.

The next phase of my career I was in the promotional products industry, I owned a company that supplied Distributors who then in turn sold the product to large corporate clients like State Farm, HP and the like, its called the ASI or PPAI industry. I worked our booth for the better part of a decade reating relationships with the heavy hitters in the industry, it was a very corporate audience, dress was business casual or professional , this might help paint the picture.

All Biz Gear

All Biz Gear

While it wasn’t all bad by any means and we certainly found ways to have fun, get attention and stand out from the crowd, we were still confined by the standards and norms of the industry.

Well, then I started Outdoor Tech and our first trade show was SIA, it was, well, not super corporate. Production value of the booth were taken to the next level, the party WAS the show, on the floor, kids were hammered, athletes were doing dumb shit all  over the place, everyone was puffing, ON the show floor. It took a few years for me to make the full time transition out of the corporate show world, but I realized then, if you have to do 7 or 8 shows a year, you might as well make it as fun as possible and be a part of putting on a show, at the show.

Making your booth, products and marketing standout and having fun isn’t easy, trade shows are a grind, physically taxing, and you have to be “on” at all times, day and night. All the more reason you need to let go a little, make sure it’s organized in advance, and when it comes times for the show, let the games begin. Don’t give away a tote bag, give a vibrator like Trojan did at CES at got this response.

Photo Cred to tech.co

Photo Cred to tech.co

That leads me to Summer 14′, ODT Summer Show schedule:

Outdoor in Friedrichshafen,Germany

Agenda Long Beach and Agenda NYC

Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City

Surf Expo in Orlando

Interbike in Vegas


Now back to the first photo , I have wanted to use this particular method of trade show marketing since a friend of mine drove traffic to his booth at a show I was at in Atlantic City in the midst of the Anthony Weiner scandal. I finally decided to get off the pot and get’er done and I called my buddy, Robbie, first he laughed at me, then he asked if I was serious, and then he asked if I knew HE PRODUCED the urinal screens in his facility in Texas. It was too perfect, so Purple G got our order, and we became the official sponsor of the Surf Expo urinals, the unofficial sponsor at Outdoor Retailer, and a new tradition was born at ODT. People loved it, it was fun, and certainly was a conversation starter.

Here is the short list of ODT Trade Show lore promos or events:

Bloody Mary Breakfast in the Airstream (a long standing and highly popular one)

Beer Bong Races and Marathons (with Charlie in his Unitard)

Shoelaces (seems innocuous, but we usually throw them at people and litter the isle with them, people love it)

Condoms for #SummerofHelmet (and my 13 & 15 year old nieces giving them out saying “have a safe summer”

Urinal Screens

So next week we go to a new show, one we have never done before, Surf Expo in Orlando, come see us at Booth 1475, see what trade shows are all about, ODT Style.


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