Exhibiting 101: How Poor & Sexy Makes Your Brand More Real
Amidst a sea of deep tech and software startups, the verdant bush of the Bonaverde stall acts as a siren call to foot-weary punters and industry leaders alike. What was it about us that was such a drawcard to visitors at the 2018 CeBIT startup hall?
Exhibiting, as it turns out, is easy! Eyes blindfolded, one hand behind our back. Just be sexy and poor. Be different!
That's easy enough to say (right?), but in reality hard to action, particularly for products and services which, at face value, target only a niche market. We were lucky, I suppose, afterall coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. But through this, there are learnings for all businesses exhibiting, although of course the challenge will always be there.
Through honest trial and error, we have learned that a clearly defined message, and above all a means of interaction with your audience provides that-intangible-something which they really relates with and engages them! It's an incredibly effective way to breaking down personal barriers, and getting that sales cycle rolling; and importantly, it's a great way of gauging how your product is received in the marketplace.
Check out this brief video of our stall, and its surrounds, and maybe you'll get an idea of where we're approaching this blog from:
See anything different?
An endless wasteland of sterility. And then: BOOOSH! Bonaverde heaven!
Out of an entire hall of European and international business visionaries, entrepreneurs and mega-corporations, Bonaverde appeared to have missed some sort of memo: were we really the only company to hand-construct our stall? Put nicely, the stall most emphatically looked hand-built. But hey, we’re a startup, and still have to roll up our sleeves whenever it’s needed. Which as it turns out can be quite frequently -- even for Europe’s (and once the world’s) largest consumer electronics fair!
But in reality, our stall rocked -- we just didn’t realise why until the dust settled!
In all honesty, we might’ve been a little self-doubting, nay nervous, at the time: after the incredible hours spent each day building our stall in advance of the opening day, and finally setting down our tools, glancing about us at all of those other booths, beautiful, sleek, pure white and well branded aesthetics -- and with near-comical horror mentally comparing this to our organic, mistake ridden, rough cut, protruding screws, wonky, health and safety hazard of a structure. Yet laughably, and with immense relief, we without a doubt had by far the busiest (and dare I say the BEST) stall; engaging, entertaining, interacting with and interesting visitors for the entire week of the expo.
Well, guess we were our own biggest critic! It was charming, a comfy living room with couch, TV, a Berlin and Philips Lamp connected to Google Alexa; a well appointed kitchen with an iPad controlling the Berlin machine via our Coffee Concierge; a co-working meeting space; a live interview ‘lounge’ (where we received widespread and numerous news coverage, as well as generating our own video content); and our coffee bar sporting over 10 Berlin machines, constantly churning out a huge variety of our coffees to showcase.
Perhaps most importantly, it was the enthusiasm and true passion of the people representing Bonaverde at the event which made all the difference in distinguishing ourselves from other stallholders!
In retrospect, our popularity at CeBIT should have come as no surprise. After all, we know from our fledgling crowdsourcing campaigns how passionate people are about the product, the vision and the possibilities of Bonaverde. After the first day at the convention the realisation dawned on us: we were so distinctly different from what everyone else was doing, and this was exactly why we were so appealing! Bonaverde unwittingly acted the perfect foil against everyone else’s pure whiteness, and their heady, disruptive, conceptual digital services. In fact, it seemed in hindsight that we were one of the few physical appliances on show in our hall at all -- and we stood out like dog’s bollocks, so to speak, on this merit alone.
Transcending this, both our stall and our product experience was real, sensory, fun, primal, technological and engaging all-in-one. It’s no secret: The not-even-abstract “idea” that a beverage appeals to virtually everyone in a very fundamental way -- particularly when contrasted against something a little more conceptual or niche such as, I dunno, financial software or something.
And of course, at face value, we know it’s easy when at the end of the day our core end-product is providing a beverage -- I mean everybody needs a drink right?!
But the key take-away point for you, dear reader, is that we offered something significantly more than our core product, more than just a beverage.
People loved all of it: our convergence of tech, service, appliances and humanitarianism. The tactile journey, the spectacle of the roast-grind-brew experience, the drive to one day achieve our Direct Trade mission using IoT connectibility, block-chain, RFID, crypto-currency and smart technology, pay-as-you-go services, the story, the weird punk-rock corporate aesthetic, the coffee, everything!
We targeted the human in all of us. If this convention -- one tailored towards consumer electronics and the latest and greatest digital trends no less -- could still definitively bring out the humanity in everyone, imagine the possibilities of scaling this to everyday life! There were crowds of the students visiting CeBIT as well, and many were quick to remark on the insane, if not incredibly innovative convergence of so many different technologies and concepts into one entity. That’s the point: not the coffee, but the excitement generated around the concept in general.
The sheer numbers of people from all walks of life who were interested in our vision to change the supply of coffee as an industry, merging technology, consumerism and the Berlin product itself as a vessel, galvanised our belief in our cause to change coffee together. The simple act of a coffee tasting at such a conference acts as a measuring stick as to how the merger between business, technology and consumerism is very real. It was a very approachable concept: Harkening back to our inclusion of machines in a mock-up of familiar environments, such as the living room, the Google Alexa, the sofa… it was all very relatable, easy to envision and palatable, but still futuristic -- and that resonated with people. The coffee broke down the barriers, but the possibilities with the product and the technology were what really captivated and excited all of our visitors.
So when people were exhausted by the overwhelming availability of information at CeBIT, what did they do? They became their true selves: humans. It is a part of ourselves we cannot deny. After lunch each day at the event, the exhaustion set in with the prospect of yet another few hours at CeBIT evaluating abstract services, content churning, cresting waves of consumer trends, software, technology -- conversely, something so humble and approachable as a coffee, a cool product, a good cause, relatable and real all came as such a welcome relief amidst it all. And people were drawn to it in droves.
The funny thing is, we combine so much of the technology which was present in the hall, but we delivered it on a level so much more human and compatible with the individual. We connect in a very real, and primal sense. And we believe that’s the key to success when exhibiting: keep it real, approachable, interactive and exciting.
Importantly, the confluence of humanitarianism, service and product all drove home that emotional value sets your coffee apart: we are very aware now that "Coffee is more than just coffee", the Berlin captures this all-in-one. It’s a journey and an experience. And there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to communicate your emotional value as well when it comes to exhibiting.
So mayhaps our stall was this “so Berlin”, derelict, awkward, poor-but-sexy company -- distinctly at odds against the clinical whiteness and calculated perfectness of other tech-startups and stall holders at CeBIT -- and yet the proof was in the pudding: our stall was the single busiest by a country mile, crammed with people entranced by and loving watching, understanding and engaging with our product in action, our humanitarian vision, our Coffee as a Service Model -- the lot -- it clicked with people, and it’s all because we’re relatable and relevant to everyone, despite vast differences in consumerism needs. Make it something for everyone.