LegalTech West Coast 2014: A Vendor’s View of the Exhibit Hall

LegalTech West Coast 2014 was Everlaw’s first experience having a paid presence at an industry trade show or conference.  While AJ, Greg, and I have all attended these types of events before, it’s an entirely different experience when you’re the one staffing the booth (rather than the one shamelessly stuffing swag in your overflowing tote bag).  Here are a few of the things we noticed that we probably wouldn’t have before.

Booth design really matters.

We spent a long time working on our booth graphics, and we were very pleased with the outcome (thanks to our great designer Kat!).  So were our visitors, many of whom commented immediately on how much they liked how our booth looked.  But there was something subtle that proved even more important than the visuals: the layout.

With less than 100 square feet to host your guests, your booth has to create a space that’s inviting and intimate without being awkward or crowded.  For software or hardware products, you also need adequate space to demo to multiple people simultaneously (and preferably separately) without losing the ability to attract window shoppers as they pass by.  It’s ultimately a delicate balance, and one at which few booths excelled.

We used a simple backdrop, matching podium, and Ikea furniture to create a welcoming space.
We used a simple backdrop, matching podium, and Ikea furniture to create a welcoming space.

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The best swag > the best product.

As an attendee, this might not seem that counter-intuitive.  As a vendor, however, it’s hard to make peace with the fact that your countless hours of product refinement are no match for the few minutes you spent selecting the right stress ball or travel mouse to carry your brand.  Seasoned attendees will quickly hone in on the best stuff, however, passing bowls of candy and rows of pens as they beeline towards the metal water bottles and battery-powered toys.

We’re particularly fond of our swag, of course!
We’re particularly fond of our swag, of course!

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Attendees ask very, very good questions.

When trade show attendees kick the tires, they aim to deflate them.  Is there an area where your product isn’t as strong as you would like?  They’ll ask about it.  Is there a user interface interaction that isn’t completely optimized?  They’ll click on it.  Did the internet connection just go down?  That’s when they’d like the live demo, please.  This isn’t just Murphy’s Law at work; trade show attendees are savvy buyers, and they know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Don’t exhibit unless you’re prepared to bring your A game!

Greg and AJ don't even have a B game.
Greg and AJ don’t even have a B game.

Overall, we really enjoyed exhibiting at LegalTech West Coast 2014.  While certainly smaller than other similar shows, the Exhibit Hall was lively, the vendors were talented, and the attendees were fun, knowledgeable folks.  Now we’re looking forward to LawTech Silicon Valley in just a few short months!