Perhaps the First Practical Business Application of Live Caricatures
Most people consider caricatures more whimsical than practical. As beloved as the art form is by those who appreciate an exaggerated portrait, it isn't exactly an integral part of most business plans. Few think a caricature might help land the next big deal, and most business-minded folks consider it a simple amusement that belongs on family trips to the theme park, nowhere near the corporate conference room.
This thinking is rapidly changing, however, as a growing number of businesses are taking advantage of this unique service in a truly practical business application in the corporate world. Live digital caricatures, specifically those performed on-site at trade shows and industry conventions, are becoming increasingly popular as a practical service for generating draw to brand messaging, products, and services displayed in trade show booths and exhibits.
While it may be difficult to see the practical value of this at first glance, it's difficult to deny once examined. Due to its unique nature, this practical application is also arguably superior to many of the other self-promotional goods and giveaways that corporations and brands routinely spend healthy budgets on when trying to gain attention from prospective customers at B2B events.
According to the 2012 study "The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy" published by PricewaterhousCoopers LLP, there were 273,700 industry conventions and 10,900 trade shows in the United States alone in 2012. The trade show and convention industry is undoubtedly a necessary part of the fabric of B2B commerce in the world, so it's no wonder that so much money is spent preparing for these events: $280 billion dollars spent in direct spending related to corporate functions in 2012 alone.
B2B is difficult because unlike direct-to-consumer marketing, businesses are harder to advertise to by traditional means. This is why trade shows are so vital. At trade shows, corporations and brands are able to erect temporary storefronts on the trade show floor allowing them to network with their prospects like traditional face-to-face customers. But gaining attention for more than a few seconds can be daunting with a showroom full of competition all vying for your prospect's attention. That's why nearly all booths and exhibits provide some form of giveaway to help draw in guests for a longer chat.
Common giveaways are mugs, keychains, t-shirts, USB drives, pens and the like. Occasionally, businesses get a little more creative, offering something more exotic like a free back massage. The challenge is finding something that 1) creates real draw to a trade show booth, 2) advertises for the brand, 3) creates a real opportunity for customer engagement (i.e., time), and 4) is personalized enough to create real impact. Live digital caricatures are one of a few services that actually meet all of these criteria.
So what exactly are live digital caricatures? Like traditional marker-on-paper caricatures, digital caricatures are drawn on location by hand. The difference is that digital caricatures are drawn on a digital tablet and displayed on one or more large screen monitors. The large screens both entertain passersby and pull people in who want a caricature. This allows real, natural engagement to occur between the person being sketched and the booth attendants representing the sponsoring brand. Also, those waiting in line are engaging the brand to and creating networking opportunities.
After the sketch is completed, it is printed out and often provided to the guest as a name tag lanyard which the guest wears for the duration of the convention. Guests become voluntary walking advertisements for the sponsoring brand since a full color logo is included on every sketch. Unlike nearly every other giveaway, sponsoring brands get a bang for the buck at several key stages of customer engagement while creating a growing awareness of their brand.
For brands looking for a good way to create draw to their trade show booths, engage prospects once there, and leave them with a giveaway unlikely to end up in the trash, live digital caricatures may be something for companies to consider.