Attention-seekers: Vendors at business expo at League event find creative ways to stand out

From popcorn to alcohol, party games and party costumes … vendors are doing whatever it takes to get people to stop at their table

Ken Dominguez, a senior account executive at Ocean Computer Group in Matawan, said he has been coming to the New Jersey League of Municipalities conference for a decade or so.

This year, however, was different. He brought a popcorn machine along with him. The impact has blown him away.

His booth, usually lost in the mass of nearly 1,000 vendors at the massive expo hall at the Atlantic City Convention Center, has been very popular this year, he said.

Giant Jenga at SSP Architects’ booth.

“It definitely draws people over,” he said — saying there has been a “night and day” difference from years past.

Will it convert to business? That’s not clear. But Dominguez said he’s got what every salesperson wants — leads.

“One of my main goals for a show is name recognition, (and) that’s what I’m getting. Even if I don’t get to talk to them, they are seeing our name. That will help down the line.”

Trade show trinkets, of course, are nothing new. And, if you want a pen, a water jug, a squeeze ball — or some leftover Halloween candy — this is the place to be this week.

And, if you’re looking for more than those traditional items — they are here, too.

Tammy Stouchko and Marcus Rosenau, principals at SSP Architects in Somerville, brought a lifesize Jenga game — much bigger than the smaller ones they handed out in previous years.

VIncent Ferraro in costume.

“The connection is easy,” Stouchko said. “It’s a game that most people know — and it’s an interactive game that brings people over. It makes us stand out.”

And it speaks to the service, Rosenau said.

“It’s about building,” he joked. “That’s what we do.”

Of course, not every gimmick is connected to the product.

Vincent Ferraro of Mazza’s Flooring in Hammonton dressed up in a big green costume that was … well, something no one really was sure of.

That didn’t stop people from approaching him and asking to get a picture.

A Woodford Reserve bourbon prize.

That’s the trick — getting people to come over to your table.

A few folks used a tried-and-true method.

Peoples Security, a bank and trust in Piscataway, was giving away a bottle of a top bourbon: Woodford Reserve, for those who partake.

Grotto Engineering Associates in Clark was giving away an enormously large bottle of wine — a 5-liter bottle of Col Di Sasso, an Italian Cabernet.

Each had only one bottle to give away — a small price to pay in exchange for the hundreds of business cards they will collect.

A 5-liter bottle of wine.

John Pagano of Peoples Security said it’s all about planting seeds for the future.

“We’re trying to make connections, and this helps us do that.”

It’s the first time Peoples Security has used the promotion. And it certainly won’t be the last, Pagano said.

The same holds true for Dominguez at Ocean Computer Group. The popcorn machine he picked up for a “few hundred bucks” will come back next year. Perhaps with another addition.

“I didn’t realize how many people this would attract,” he said. “I’m going to need to bring someone just to hand out the popcorn.”