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Weekend: Inbound Fun at the Philadelphia Auto Show: Signups, Offers, Education in Action

The Philadelphia Auto Show is a great weekend event; like auto shows everywhere, you can sit in the latest models, switch all the radios to Bluegrass, and check out a few prototypes along the way. Even more, we had some fun noticing how the different manufacturers approached marketing at the event. (Sales probably don't happen right on the floor but there's some of that too.)

Conferences, expos, fairs, (trade) shows aren't traditional Inbound since they likely have entrance fees, advertising perks, larger or smaller booths, and other paid ways of improving your position, but when people are in the door the playing field levels out and the basics kick in.  

Just like how SEO influences click rates and ad fees, organic methods such as filling the top of the funnel, good customer education, and following up are all critical at events. 

Fundamentals need to be covered here as if a lead was looking through results on a search page. Below are a few points from the 2017 Philadelphia Auto Show and feel free to comment with your thoughts too! 

Filling the top of the funnel, capturing interest, and drawing just the right crowd.

NSX Driving Simulator

(Future, very future, Acura NSX Customers?)

The most fun exhibits were interactive connections with the products, Virtual Reality driving simulators. It is exhausting to keep talking about how important video is only to have it quickly replaced by how important Virtual Realty is, but VR definitely captures attention. 

However, it is worth noting, the line for the VR booths didn't exactly have potential customers. Many were too young to have driver's licenses. While drawing a crowd is important, it is essential to draw a qualified crowd. These leads couldn't use the product for a few more years (and the NSX isn't in continual production, complications abound.)

Without reducing the overall crowd that has been brought in, how can more qualified people be invited to participate?

At Jaguar/Land Rover, instead of VR, they had one of their signature SUVs open for tours and were actively filling the top of the funnel by reaching out and offering gifts.

Meaningful promotion and educating customers. Think about the impression an offer leaves.

At the Jaguar and Land Rover area, mainly Land Rover, concierges were asking folks if they'd like to sign up, take a tour, and get a gift. A good plan, reaching out and actively getting emails for follow up. 


(The classiest of unbranded clip-on camera lenses.)

The offer is where this funnel falls down. Smartphone/tablet snap-on camera lenses were given out after you tour a car. While a cute gift, these cheap lenses don't exude the quality and class that Land Rover should be associated with. Fun? Maybe. Useful? Well, a lot of folks were walking around with dedicated DSLRs or Mirrorless cameras. One might expect a high end buyer to be using a high end camera. Some more persona understanding is needed.

The lenses also aren't labeled so they don't allow reconnection with the brand. David Alberico did have a good suggestion, what if they asked folks to take pictures of the car on the tour, with the lenses, and then share (Snapchat style.) Fun, engaging, and promoting. 

Does this offer seem like it would work? How would you adjust this offer?

Education should be factored into this. While the tour has some good information, it is more a side thought, a perfunctory requirement for a freebie, rather than a connected part of the overall message. Each piece of the marketing should flow into the next.

Outreach, education, and takeaways that all reflect the brand, forming a narrative that leads and customers keep reconnecting to.

Most of the the showcases had comparable traffic, making it hard judge results at glance, but Mazda had excellent grasp of the overall funnel. 


(The real video isn't this blurry we promise. Maybe a different lens...)

Instead of VR, Mazda placed videos all around their floor paired with physical exhibits of their craftsmanship for engaging browsing.

Their salespeople weren't actively reaching out in the same way the Land Rover folks were, but they did have a product specialist walking around chatting with people trying out different cars.

This specialist, Ben, actively engaged with potential customers, demonstrating and discussing with people.

Rather than talking about options or color availability, this product specialist was answering how best to use auto-unlock doors, how to easily handle groceries when approaching the backdoor, he was explaining workflows right there with the product on-hand.  

He was funny and didn't dodge questions when people were confused. His in-depth education was selling better than the glossy basic information many of the other dedicated salespeople run through time after time.

What is a comparable example you have tried? For example, have you tried educating with a service provider or product creator rather than skipping right to a scripted conversation with a salesperson? 


(USB drive for a non-2016-Macbook computer.)

Last, Mazda's takeaway is more old fashioned, a usb drive keychain, but it has elegance and has a connection to the brand. (A catalog is loaded on the drive that will likely be formatted over quickly. Maybe that is part of the plan so it is reused over and over and over?)

Have you been or are you going to the Philadelphia Auto Show? Did any exhibits stand out amongst the others?