Smart Phones Reduce Cost of Printed Handout Materials at Trade Shows

Smart Phone with book cover

Engaging passers-by in an interesting way about your product can encourage them to take a photo of it with their Smart Phone and save you money that would otherwise be spend on cards and single-sheet handout materials.

At the International Knife Show in Atlanta, I was exhibiting my knives as well as announcing the publication of my new business book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.  Because the softcover version of the book was not available at the time of the show, I only had a copy of the book’s cover to represent that product.

A very successful approach was to engage teen and 20-somethings who were walking by with an opening line, “I have something for you.” In almost every one of 50 such approaches, I would attract from one to three people at a time to my booth. Although I was there to mostly promote my Hovey’s Knives of China Cooking Knives during the three-day event, I also wanted to advise this potential audience of readers about my book and how it could be useful to them.

The concept of selling books wearing a cooking smock standing behind a table filled with Hovey at blade Show 2018some rather intimidating cooking knives is an unusual way to market books. Authors are usually thought of as appearing in their worn tweeds or maybe in a sports shirt and tie, rather than demonstrating a 10-inch cooking knife and talking about business books. In addition it is a hard to sell non-fiction books of any sort to this age demographic that you actually expect them to read. Nonetheless, I was successful in attracting these potential customers, because what I said had the solid ring of a truth that they knew, but no one would talk to them about the realities of the future job market.

This truth is that they are about to enter, if not already in, the worst job market in generations so far as having any claim to job security goes. The old social contract between Employee and Employer is now long gone. In this evolving gig economy much work is going to be strictly job oriented with employees being added and dismissed as they are needed. Millions of jobs are going to be eliminated by automation in the coming decades. Even knowledge workers face the risk that they will be replaced by lower-paid workers from a variety of countries.  What sold this hard-to-sell audience, was that the only future that they could be sure of was the future that they could control with their own hands.  My book would show them step-by-step how to start a series of businesses throughout their lives to accomplish immediate objects, plan for longer term certifications and degrees, and ultimately while working at their professional jobs have their own business already running quietly in the background ready to be thrust into high gear when they got that dreaded pink slip in their 40s or older.

This message was delivered to each of them with about a minute of animated roll playing at the end.  I assumed the roll of a company personnel officer informing them that I had great news. “You don’t have to come to work tomorrow. Or any other day either. Here is your severance package. This lady will help you get gather your personal things. This gentleman with the large pistol will receive your keys, company ID and escort you to your car. You have 20 minutes to leave the property, and don’t ever come back.”

Receiving this cheerful news is almost guaranteed to send a person into one of the deepest depressions that they have ever experienced. Instead of crawling down a dark alleyway towards alcoholism, drug use, obesity and early death; you rev up your already established business, stomp on the accelerator and roar down the highway towards a golden future that you control with your own hands.

This message sold very well to this age demographic. To provide a constant reminder of my book, I suggested that they take a picture of it with their smart phones, and 49 of the 50 complied. Many were pleased that they had a chance to use their phones for a serious purpose that could impact the rest of their lives. Almost to a person, each of them wanted to shake my hand and thank me. No one, it seemed,  had ever given them such a compelling message about the future job market and how they could prepare for their own futures.  A key point was that the ultimate objective for their later-life business was to discover something that they loved to do so much that they would do the work even if no one paid them to do it and make money at it.


Not only did the teens get this message, but their parents and grandparents did too. Although smart phone use is almost 100 percent of today’s younger population; the older generation’s use is not quite so universal, but is probably on the order of 65%, I would guess. More than half of the baby boomers’ photographed my book too; not to buy it for themselves; but to give it to their grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Encouraging the smart phone capture of business cards and printed materials  has the advantages that your information is now on a device that the younger segments of the population very commonly use. The fact that it is on their photo page means that each time they or someone else looks at their photo files, this image will show up and remind them of my product. Unlike business cards where only one is usually taken, the phone image can be shared through a person’s entire phone-texting list, if desired.

Action Plan to Get More Phone Capture of Your Print Materials

  1. Create a compelling one-sheet graphic with vital information large enough to be read on a smart phone.
  2. Designate a “grabber” at your table to engage your target audience, but only if you have a compelling message.
  3. Your compelling message should be one product or vital service that you offer that is directly linked to your graphic material. If the person is interested you may inform him about other things your company does or other products.
  4. Think of one or two critical questions regarding your product to ask the person standing before you. Tailor this question to their age group.

The e-book version of Create Your Own Job Security will be available August 1. The print date for the soft-cover edition has not been set, but advance orders may be made by using the Pay Pal button below.

Create Your Own Job Security

Generally available for special promotion price of $10.99.


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