June 18, 2012
Last week included an in-depth twitter discussion about sexism and the phenomenon of booth babes at tech trade shows. The discussion was rehashed on Twitter when AmberBaldet wrote a blog post on why she chose to leave a burlesque show being given at SummerCon. Personally I thought her blog post explained the issue of what’s appropriate perfectly. She didn’t argue about the performers or burlesque shows in general, but their relevance and appropriateness at a conference. So a twitter conversation ensued which I suspect motivated @corum to share his point of view regarding Booth Babes. Again, another article I felt was dead on and from a male’s point of view.
I think the general consensus regarding whether booth babes are appropriate is a resounding, NO, yet vendors still find it necessary to use this strategy. Even amidst complaints by conference attendees & public mocking on social media sites, vendors stick to their marketing guns and bust out the busty femaninas. Now I don’t have a marketing degree or know the first thing about marketing, but I’ve got to assume if the booth babe route is still used then there must be evidence that the strategy works. I mean, why a vendor chooses to purposely offend people unless there was some benefit makes no sense.
So here’s my challenge: I challenge vendors who use booth babes to share their booth babe ROI! I’m not interested in lead generation, because it doesn’t take much effort to scan someone’s badge or get a business card. I want to know, for the amount of money spent on booth babe talent, how much sales revenue is actually generated. Prove to us naysayers, once and for all, that booth babes are a financially sound investment…..a revenue generating investment. I don’t want to hear about the failure of sales when leads don’t translate into revenue. If that’s the case I’d argue you’d be better advised to invest in a better sales team than booth babes. I’d even go so far and challenge vendors to provide an explanation on how using booth babes are more advantageous than staffing booths with knowledgeable engineers.
My argument against booth babes has always been about effectiveness. Does the use of booth babes actually work to sell products or services? I acknowledge the argument that sex sells in certain scenarios (beer & car advertisements) and I am willing to tolerate and concede the use of booth babes if it can be demonstrated that booth babes lead to direct sales. From this standpoint many can then decide to continue to stand on the sidelines and turn their noses up at the practice but may have a harder time arguing against the business side of the equation. Show me that some thought went into the decision. Show me that big ‘ole titties are more effective than an engineer who knows her shit. SHOW ME THE MONEY!