My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Sunday, Nov 11, 2010

When a competitor has the upper hand just let yourself go bananas.

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When I was eleven I told my dad that for Halloween I wanted to wear a dress and a turban made of fruit. You know bananas, grapes and such. He asked me why and I told him that everyone was going to be dressed as Superman and Batman and I just wanted to stand out. Being a good parent he went on to explain that people will make fun of me for wearing a dress and asked me if I would consider dressing as something else. It was then that I realized that he thought I wanted to dress as Carmen Miranda but in fact I wanted to dress as Milton Bearle impersonating Carmen Miranda!

I think about that every now and then, not because of the way the dress hugged my curves but because of how many people got the joke…and those who didn’t just enjoyed the spectacle and pageantry of my costume.

A few months ago I was given the challenge of creating an experience at a trade show where like my previous story, there would be a lot of Batman’s and Superman’s (ie: a slew of ordinary yet expensive trade show booths) and like when I was eleven there was really only one way to tackle the situation.

So last month at the Paypal Innovate Conference I took my own eleven year old dress wearing advice to heart and abandoned the idea of competing head to head with the other exhibitors and instead of trying to outspend the competition at the show (or any time) the obvious way to stand out from the crowd is to change the rules and make the other exhibitors go bananas!

This was accomplished with my friends (OK we are more then friends) at FreshBooks not having a booth at all but rather a stand…and not just any stand but a Banana Stand…and not just any Banana Stand but an almost exact replica of the Bluth Banana Stand from the TV show Arrested Development.

This idea not only changed the rules but created a two fold connection to people. Those who were fans of the TV Show made an automatic connection and got very excited by the stand, took pictures, told their friends and most importantly had a good time. Those who didn’t know of the show still appreciated the spectacle of the stand and obviously enjoyed the shot of potassium that they got from the over 1000 Free Bananas (with FreshBooks Stickers on them) that were given out as part of the booth experience.
This idea was popular with the people at the event and resulted in a considerable amount of attention (online and off) as well not only reminded a lot of people that “There is always money in the Banana Stand” but also that FreshBooks is a great way to get that money faster!

…and as a final note to the this story you may be pleased (or not, who really knows) to know that the stand was left in the careful hands of a fan who really appreciated this sort of stuff. Yep, this was kinda the ultimate trade show premium for one person 🙂

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  2. Just curious, how well did it convert to paying customers? Did you track?

    • We never report numbers publicly but I can say that everyone was very happy with the results of the show.

    • Angsuman,

      Don’t you know? There’s ALWAYS money in the Banana Stand! Great job Saul. I do have one question: What comes first, the budget or the idea?


  3. Nicely done!

    I actually did something very similar some years ago with my first startup. We participated in a very rigid trade show and we decided to contrast instead of compete. It actually worked out pretty well as we got much more attention than the fancy stands of many of our bigger competitors. The idea was also right for our pocket, we ended up spending roughly $100 USD for the whole thing.

    An old pic here:

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  5. Pingback: Go Banannas! Get Attention! | Attention! This Book Will Make You Money

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