How to make the SHRM Annual Conference a Lead Generation Extravaganza Extraordinaire

At the SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans last week I made a special effort to learn more about the lead generation plans of the vendors exhibiting in the Expo hall. On one side of the attention-grabbing pendulum you have the Monster, CareerBuilder, OC Tanner group with very high production values complete with themed uniforms for staff, fuzzy toys, and towering island booths; the other side of that pendulum swing were those vendors (who shall be nameless) who had a table, pens and sometimes did not even have a live person staffing the booth (which is pretty shameful IMO).

One example of a SHRM Expo exhibiting effort done well is that of Mangrove Employer Services. Mangrove created a program that made people cross the conference floor to find their booth. The thing I thought was so smart about Mangrove’s strategy is that they incorporated a way for the attendee to experience their solution - actually use it.Mangrove  

Here are the highlights:

  1. Rich Cangemi, ceo, had the original idea: Make each of the SHRM attendees an “employee” of Mangrove and send them information on a paycheck that was waiting for them. To collect their paycheck, attendees had to visit booth. Their pay varied from $2 - $500!
  2. Incorporate a special themed program called “Boycott of Time Suckage” complete with a dedicated website (
  3. Get the IT department to set up a page that will incorporate individual and secure Employee ID and password and get ready to assign each attendee with one.
  4. Develop a direct mail postcard with individual instructions on log in information, what to do and how to receive their paycheck.
  5. Set up a “help line” that would re-direct any questions to the business development team to assist in finding the paycheck, which of course gave them the opportunity to start a conversation, to gather information and qualify opportunities for further appointments – BRILLIANT.
  6. The attendees who found their paycheck online – came to get their money – real money!
  7. They also had a list of people that received postcards and the amounts of their paychecks – and were ready for the frantic “Am I on that list too?” Of course they were!
  8. The team was also equipped with a quick one or two answer “Time Suckage” survey that they asked the attendee to participate in.
  9. Success, success, success

The pre-show planning began in November last year. All of the departments were in on it so that everyone on the team knew what was happening - show coordinators, graphic designer, agency, shipping, IT, Sales, Marketing, PR and Finance departments.

Now, wasn’t that a better plan than giving out pens and squishy stress balls?

Linda Athans, Mangrove’s marketing manager stressed the importance of tying the entire experience to Mangrove’s product offering – showing how seamless their Employee Self Service offering is – and using the experience to create opportunities for their prospects to interact with the business development and sales team. Appreciative SHRM attendees took the time to speak with the booth staff while getting their “paycheck” – providing their opinion and insight on what is happening to them at work – and providing great sales leads.

Mangrove provides a great case study of marketing as a conversation starter.

I am not saying that any of the other companies at SHRM did not have well strategized plans; I am saying that I noticed this smaller payroll company who had one busy booth, certainly rivaling larger vendors with bigger budgets.

Well done Rich, Linda and team!

Post by Rita Jackson

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