Power of Persuasion: What’s gender got to do with it?

December 1st, 2010 by Frank Damelio

What’s gender got to do with it?

As a tradeshow lead generator, my job is to stop traffic at my client’s booth, show a quick magic trick that showcases their brand, and finally to introduce qualified prospects to my sales team.  It’s a number’s game.  I’m able to increase leads by 25% to 100%.  That’s quite a range. Why the difference?

Professional tradeshow lead builders calculate a stop ratio for each show. If I am asking attendees walking by our booth to stop for a moment so that I can show them something amazing (as I fan my cards), how many out of ten will actually stop and how many will ignore me?  My worst ratio ever: less than 1/10, and my best 9/10.  Again, that’s quite a range.  Why the difference?  Gender.

The lowest 1/10 stop ratio was for my client Vencom at a Yankee Dental Conference.  While there were hygienists and students attending, my job was to stop dentists.  At this show, most of the dentists were older men in conservative suits with dour faces.  The best ratio I experienced was at ASHRM where I had to stop hospital risk managers, most of whom were women with nursing backgrounds.

When Fidelity asked me to build leads for them at the AFP conference  they told me that the large majority of attendees were male.  I selected my female lead builder Clair Park, and her stop ratio was better than 9/10.

This experience is not unique to me.  My fellow trade-show lead builders concur: Gender matters. 

At least on the trade show floor, women will stop for men and men for women with far more frequency than the opposite scenario.  This has little to do with age, looks and approach and much to do with the opposite sex. 

Application:  If you work tradeshows, have a male to approach female attendees and have a female to approach male attendees.  A good stop ratio is vital because when attendees walk by your booth without hearing your message, you are burning your tradeshow dollars. 

Off the tradeshow floor: Do you think the same dynamic carries over to the networking arena?  Will a man have more success breaking into a conversation, when the conversationalists are women? How about vice-versa?  Weigh in with your thoughts here.

Amusing side note: To a lesser degree, stop ratio is also determined by industry.  For example marketing professionals are more likely to stop than are plastic surgeons.  Of the hundreds of professions I’ve targeted, dentists were the hardest visitors to stop, and they smiled least.  I remember one dentist who actually was smiling.  I stopped him and said, “look around at all the faces.  Not a smile to be seen.  Why are you smiling?” He smiled even more broadly and replied, “I’m retired”.

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2 Responses to “Power of Persuasion: What’s gender got to do with it?”

  1. Kenneth A. Jones Says:

    Hi Frank,

    thank you for the great info and it makes sense, as I can tell you that at the aviation trades shows that I have attended, most of the attendees are male and all booths have females at the booth. They may get a guy to come over to the booth, but as soon as the guy ask a technical question, it is all over. This now gets into the question of how much to you educate these people in the product, or are they just the cheese in the trap. Once the member of the opposite sex is lured in, then direct them to a line to talk to the technical people. You don’t want the blonde bombshell talking about something they do not know about.

    That is my 2¢ worth.

    Ken Jones

  2. Jason Kallio Says:

    I agree with Ken that nothing is worse for your company brand then if the person is clueless. Your staff needs to know how to flow people through your booth. Also, if you all have is a pretty girl handing out a brochure, then you’ve wasted your money. A trade show is not an event. It’s a process.

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