Since 2005, I have had the pleasure of attending several iGaming conferences throughout the world — from Las Vegas to Cyprus, and everywhere in between.
When it comes to creativity at trade shows, there are not many industries that can rival iGaming. I’ve seen everything from naked women covered in body paint to chimpanzees playing poker in the display booth.
Having helped plan some of these events, as well as running the affiliate forums and being an affiliate myself, I’ve had the unique opportunity to work closely with both operators and affiliates over the years. And so, with CAP Euro Barcelona right around the corner, and CAP Euro London later this year, I wanted to share some simple tips on what affiliate managers can do to get the most return on their investment from trade shows.
1. Arrive with a Plan in Place and Close Deals On-Site. Trade shows in the iGaming business are great for meeting new affiliates. Equally important, but sometimes overlooked, is the fact that they’re also ideal for nurturing your existing relationships with the goal of increasing an individual affiliate’s current production.
Either way, it is critical to arrive at the show with clear goals in mind, and the motivation and readiness to close deals. Figure out beforehand what key affiliates you need to meet with, and prepare for what deals, CPAs, and/or MGRs you’ll be willing to offer them. Getting commitments during the show will give you far greater ROI than having to chase affiliates down via email and IM the following week.
2. Give Visitors an Incentive or Reason to Visit Your Booth. The importance of this cannot be overstated. As an affiliate who has walked around my fair share of trade shows, I can tell you that if an unknown vendor doesn’t give me a compelling reason to stop, I probably won’t.
You can increase your trade show traffic by either having something “outside the box” in your booth, or by running a promotion prior to the event enticing people to visit your booth when they arrive. Gaming affiliates always appreciate and remember a creative promotion or idea.
3. Attend As Many Parties and Activities As You Can. Selling your program is not strictly limited to when you’re in a booth. It amazes me when programs spend thousands of dollars to attend shows, and then never attend the social activities (where the real networking happens).
There is no question that those late nights are rough when you have to be up early in the morning. However, keep in mind that most affiliates sit behind a computer 60+ hours a week, so having face-to-face social time with others in the industry is a huge opportunity. I think I speak for most affiliates when I say that some of my best relationships with AMs and operators were a result of in getting to know each other at social functions, and not in a 30-minute mid-day meeting.
4. Have Giveaways That Work. If I never receive another deck of cards, hat, or pen with a gaming company logo for the rest of my life, I would be okay with that. When ordering giveaway merchandise for the show, try to order things that are either interesting or that affiliates will actually use when they get home. Be original, in other words.
Trust me: Most affiliates are not wearing branded gaming hats and clothes when they get home. On the flipside, however, if you give away something useful, and original, affiliates may have your brand in front of them every day for months to come. I would share a few good ideas here, but then everyone would show up with the same thing!
5. Be Remembered: Differentiate Your Products and Program. Whether it’s something unique about your booth, or some kind of unique aspect to your program, you should have something that differentiates your program from the others and makes it memorable.
Affiliates meet with many new affiliate managers and programs at every show. By the time it’s over, everyone is mentally and physically drained. Aside from the programs they already work with, affiliates are probably only going to aggressively start new campaigns with just a handful of affiliate programs they remember from the show. Do something, give something away, or have some reason for affiliates to remember your program when they get back behind their computers.
6. Follow Up Promptly (But Not Too Promptly). It doesn’t need to be said that following up is critical. Everyone knows this. The timing and means of follow-up, however, can ensure that you either do or do not make it onto an affiliate’s site. For example, if you’re going to follow up by email, don’t do it the day you leave. All this does is throw your email into the affiliate’s inbox along with the other 400+ unread emails from the week.
If you really want to make an impact and earn the business, this is how you can stand out from all the other programs: Identify who your top prospects are from the show, and send them something tangible with a thank-you letter and specific follow-up request. Remember, most affiliates live in an online world and truly appreciate getting something tangible in the mail.
7. This Business Revolves Around Relationships: People Are Everything! None of the above points means anything if you don’t have the right people representing you at shows. With so many options out there for gaming affiliates, it really doesn’t matter if you’re offering an extra 5 percent MGR or a higher rate to start. Someone will always be able to offer the same or better.
Most high-producing affiliates can get virtually the same type of deal with any program. They want to be able to trust their affiliate managers, and work with individuals who are outgoing, fun, and care about their success. Simply having the right people representing your program at a show can make all the difference in the world.