I don't know that very many people will be interested in this like I am but I'm going to add this to my WDYTYAL analysis. I learned alot about how differently the consumers in America approach a "booth" at a genealogy conference vs. the way consumers in England approach a "stand." Perhaps any readers might glean something else here that we can learn about how to create a stronger genealogy community.
Broad Sweeping Generalizations Alert again:
The first thing we noticed was that very few people would take a flyer or sign up for our newsletter. We found this really different than American conferences. Like I said in the earlier post, in England they would look and analyze you, perhaps even pick up a flyer and read it, and then put it back down. In America I think we are in too big of a rush and everyone just wants to collect the contact information to be able to look at your website later. Perhaps it is a greater sense of environmentalism, or perhaps minimalism too because in America, two or three people in a group would each take a flyer, but a group in England would only take one to share. The question I was left with though is how do people remember what they saw at the show so that they can utilize these resources later?
Likewise, the British stands had very talkative displays, signs with paragraphs and paragraphs for you to read. In America I'd been taught that you have 3 seconds to catch their eye so you keep your display clean (which we're not terribly good at since we give the user so many options) and put the details down on the table or in the flyer. Again, it seemed I had a minute or two to catch a British person's eye. They would really stop and look. It was so refreshing. Perhaps I brought some of that calmness home and that is why I haven't been frantic to get these blog posts written immediately. Social Networking has given us Americans an even stronger sense of being hectic, so I've just been getting back to my British roots.
I thought it very interesting that there weren't many flyers or bowls of candy at the booths. In the States, we fill up big bowls of candy and hand out stacks of flyers. At WDYTYAL there were generally a few pieces of candy sitting on the table with the rest stashed behind a sign if there was candy at the stand. I generally think that candy doesn't attract a person to your booth for the right reasons, so it was interesting to see the differences there.
The biggest difference though was just in the way people interact with stand representatives. It was utterly fascinating. In America we go bounding up to people, all bright and smiley and engage them with what we are doing. If someone has to stand there for very long, they get impatient so when there are lots of people at the booth, you try to talk to a few people at a time, telling them to "let me know if you have any further questions." In the States, people will stand and soak it in a little, and then if they do want more information, they'll wait until you are free, but they expect to at least catch your eye quickly. If you were not to approach a consumer who came to the booth, you would be seen as standoffish and the American consumer would assume that you didn't want their business, or would be too hard to work with.
British consumers are the complete opposite. It seemed they don't want to be approached as much, they wanted to browse. And the people working the stands wouldn't talk to the consumer unless they were talked to. It was almost as if the person working at the stand was there as a servant--let me be at your beck and call. They stand at attention, quietly waiting, in case you need anything. In fact, when we looked away to another customer, or said "let me know if you have any questions," I think they were put off and would leave. It was as if I was a servant in an episode of Downton Abbey, or perhaps more closely, one of the shop girls in the Britcom Are You Being Served. The "shop keepers" were very attentive and would literally stand there for 5 minutes or more not saying anything. After a long while, at the most, they would say "Are you ok there?"
Well if you know Erin and I, you know that went against every grain of our bouncy, smiley selves. I felt like I was hovering to stand quietly at attention. It was against everything I naturally do. So we were in for a bit of a culture shock that way and found it a fun challenge to try to adjust. One time it was quite amusing, while talking to Dick Eastman, a customer came up, and in his generous way as he always does, Dick stood back so that I could attend to the other person. When I didn't say anything to the customer, but rather stood there, and then after a few minutes asked "Are you ok there?", I think Dick thought I was being rude. He wandered off so that I could be more attentive and I never had another chance to talk to him. I'm sure we'll have a good laugh next time I see him.
I'm sure there were lots of other things that were different, the use of color, the constructed stands (one conference organizer I talked to who had done shows in the States said she thought Pipe and Drape was strange :) I think it was nice to have a real wall to hang things on), the proper British spelling, and many other subtleties. I had several people tell us that we would be successful just because we were American. I'm not so sure. I got the impression that younger people loved the Americans more than the older people do.
I've traveled to most every continent on the earth, and we have customers from every continent (except Antartica :)) I love British TV, we've all listened to British music, of course British fashion is very influential here, etc, etc, I didn't expect our cultures and especially marketing to be so different. But with some further study I think we've generally got it figured out. The jury is still out, and the orders are still coming in but I think we'll be going back to WDYTYAL but with a whole different approach. It was a great experience and really exciting to get to try out something new. The world isn't as small as we had thought and that makes it all the more fun doesn't it?