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The Good, the Bad, and the Oops! of Intersolar 2014's Event Marketing


Last week I wrote about the kind of event marketing that I'd hope I'd see at Intersolar 2014. Well, I'm back, and I was pleasantly surprised in some cases, not so much in others. Here are my highlights of the good, the bad, and the oops! 

Hands down, SolarEdge wins the most creative engagement award for hiring a vaudevillian act that was more than just escaping from a straight jacket on a unicycle while juggling knives and pins with his female partner. Not only did these two juggler/acrobats entertain, they also wrote, memorized, and performed a comedic script that talked about the challenges of today's inverters and how SolarEdge was the solution. Somehow they also managed to work a PowerPoint slide show in the background as part of the act. The script was so knowledgeable about SolarEdge that I first thought that these two were SolarEdge employees who did vaudeville as a hobby. The act drew a consistent crowd and they kept them there. Kudos to SolarEdge for standing out and educating.  

If you're the only solar company sponsoring the World Cup during Intersolar, you're definitely going to draw a crowd to your booth, especially if you have several television sets and refreshments. Yingli took full advantage of their multi-million dollar sponsorship of the World Cup, airing the games. In a sort of Deja vu moment, Yingli received double exposure with the Intersolar crowd (their true target audience) watching the game on TV with Yingli's logo flashing on the field's sideline advertisements. That being said, I think this crowd was watching the game more than the sideline's banner ads.

I also liked that Yingli printed these table tents that showed the links to their social networks. If you're exhibiting, here's an inexpensive way to gain followers from a very relevant and somewhat captive audience.

Here's a good engagement tactic: Get passing solar advocates to write something on your booth wall. In this case, Bonfiglioli used a dry erase board and asked people "What's YOUR wish for solar energy???" The board was pretty full, although I will say that after I wrote my wish, nobody from the booth engaged with me about what I'd written. So it seemed like a great tactic, but if you're trying to zap my badge or start a conversation about your inverter solutions, that part didn't work. 

Yes, yes, yes, please demo your product and show me how easy it is to install. That makes me stop and listen and learn. This demo was from SnapNrack, but I saw several demos this year, particularly from the racking companies.

Better yet, don't just give me a demonstration. Challenge me to install a product faster than you or your peers. Case in point, KB Racking ran a speed test and posted times to beat. Their signage could have been nicer looking, but that's minor. They did a lot with a small amount of space.

Many companies served beer this year, and that's great. But Japanese industrial inverter company TMEiC wanted to be authentic to their country and brand, and poured premium sake into a beautiful "masu" cedar box that I could take home. A little yellow card explained that people in Japan often drink sake from these masu boxes, not just the little ceramic cups we typically see here in America. Delicious, though once again, no one actually talked to me about their inverters as I sipped this delectable and memorable treat. However, they did zap my badge for future e-mailings.

Unirac and some other brands sponsored these little "solar panel race cars" known as Solar Rollers from non-profit Energetics Education. These little remote controlled solar cars recharged themselves under "solar" lamps and raced around a track that was built with Unirac railings. There was also a race car that had Unirac's name on it. The race announcer did include some verbiage for sponsors, but I think people were more focused on the cars. 

Canadian Solar drew attention to its booth with its new "Maple Solar System." It's a 3 to 10 Watt solar panel with two external combo batteries/light/USB chargers. Selling for $54.99 at the show for the 5 Watt version, it was a cute toy, but I've seen better designed solar chargers on the market with more portable cases for recreation. This kit is designed to mimic a mini-home solar system and may be educational for families considering solar. However, I wonder how quickly that bare solar panel (with sharp plastic edges) would break with rambunctious young kids and curious pets.

Under the Oops! event marketing, we have three poorly printed and placed signs. In the first from Unirac's new RM Roof Mount, someone chose the wrong color for the font so that it's barely readable.

With ZNSHINE Solar, furniture was placed in front of the text, which was probably too wordy and long anyway for a backdrop.

Finally, Solar Park Korea had a large but simple (and probably very inexpensive) booth, but the long signs that reached from floor to ceiling felt like a wall, preventing people from getting in, and similarly, it prevented staff from interacting with people passing by. A quick fix could have brought the signs up so that they were above people's heads. As a result of the "wall," it seemed like there were few people who ventured inside.

And if you really want to get attention during Intersolar? Find out who's musical in your company and try to get into "Solar Battle of the Bands." More about that next week. In the meantime... UnThink Solar.

Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant and the author of Solar Fred's Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact him through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.

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