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Crab Hats Were a Tough Act to Follow: Tales from IMS 2011 and My Freshman Year at IMS 2012
When I first joined Strand Marketing back in February, I took over our key accounts in the RF/microwave industry and, I’ll admit, I was a little concerned that I might not fit in at IMS in Montreal. While my previous position was in the complex financial services industry, now I’m managing more technology-type shows and I was a little lost with all of the new terminology that was being thrown around when I arrived—diodes, modules, cable assemblies, attenuators… What? I’ve learned a lot in the last few months leading up to my first IMS show, not the least of which is that engineers do, in fact, have a great sense of humor and are more open to creative marketing ideas than one would think. While I’ll admit to being relieved to have June behind me, nothing could have felt more gratifying than to witness all of our hard work pay off in the form of stopping some incredibly smart people in their tracks.
For a bit of background, allow me to rewind a year. For San-tron, Inc., a manufacturer of RF and microwave coaxial connectors and cable assemblies out of Ipswich, Massachusetts, one of Strand’s key responsibilities is creating and managing their IMS giveaway contest each year. It was clear that the bar was set high for me this year after last year’s “Crab Hat” contest in Baltimore. In 2011, contestants were asked to grab a San-tron Crab Hat, take a picture of themselves wearing it, and post the picture to San-tron’s Facebook page to have a chance at winning an iPad. What engineer would do that, you might ask? Well, the contest just won’t end as it still plays out on Facebook! A dedicated fan even went the extra mile (more like extra thousands of miles) to create a 27-page PowerPoint presentation of the Crab Hat celebrating Chinese New Year in Taiwan, dining on lobster in Boston, and crossing Death Valley, among several other amazing places in the world that most people could only dream of visiting. The mastermind and dedicated fan behind the world-traveling Crab Hat is Francois Rivet, who even gave a formal presentation at the San-tron booth the first day of the show this year.
Needless to say, seeing Francois’s random posts of the Crab Hat here and there over the last year, I knew that I had a lot to live up to in Montreal. So this year I introduced the “Score Big with San-tron” giveaway contest where contestants would have a chance to win a Samsung HD Video Camera by ringing their San-tron Cow Bell as loud and as close to the booth as possible after receiving a random email alert. Contestants were instructed to come by the booth and get their badge scanned by San-tron’s contest coordinator, Sharlie, for a chance to win. Out of 4,118 non-exhibitors, Sharlie scanned over 600 names—the most leads obtained in San-tron’s IMS history. It only took the first half of day one of the show for people to catch on to the hype of the contest, and by day two the competition was heated and people were sprinting down the show floor aisles. Consolation prizes were San-tron foam hockey masks. Will they be as popular as the Crab Hats? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but chalk one up for the freshman. What will I have to come up with next year in Seattle, though?
In addition to helping San-tron, Strand designed booth graphics and released daily news stories for Custom MMIC, Laser Services, KCB Solutions, SemiGen and Vaunix. A big thanks to the Microwave Journal for picking up these stories in their daily eblasts during the show and making our clients look good.
I did a lot of running, walking, and eventually, some limping that week and I’m hopeful that my feet will make a full recovery. Exhaustion was fully expected, but what I wasn’t expecting was the strong feeling of camaraderie among all of the exhibitors. I am thrilled by the interwoven relationships and recognize that each year the IMS show plays an integral part in keeping those relationships alive. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting various engineers, too, and I was able to gain a deeper understanding of what makes them tick.
In addition to working hard at the show, we had a lot of fun kicking back and exploring Montreal’s bars and restaurants. If you missed the bongo girls at the Journal’s party at Sir Winston’s Tuesday night, be sure to check out our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/StrandMarketing).
Thank you to everyone for welcoming me with open arms. I’m already looking forward to Seattle 2013!