Spencer Chen did an A/B test on the efficacy of "booth babes" at a big trade-show, staffing a booth in one part of the floor with scantily clad models, and another with older women recruited for their people skills, dressed in professional attire.
The results were clear for Chen: the "grandmas" generated far more sales-leads and conversions than the "babes." What's more, the kind of attendees the "babes" attracted were less valuable to Chen's companies: rather than roping in executives with purchase-decision power, they brought in young "IT nubs" who just wanted to get their pictures taken with models in sexy outfits.
Importantly, Chen's point isn't just that booth-babes turn off women at trade shows, but that they also turn off men, and he says he has the data to prove it.
The results? They were great. The booth that was staffed with the booth babes generated a third of the foot traffic (as measured by conversations or demos with our reps) and less than half the leads (as measured by a badge swipe or a completed contact form) while the other team had a consistently packed booth that ultimately generated over 550 leads, over triple from the previous year.
Everyone on the team was genuinely surprised by the results but duly convinced. It was like showing some hardened sales reps a new golf swing. I was able to replicate this a few more times throughout the year with even better results since we had a chance to further optimize our new “staffing plan.”
Booth Babes Don’t Work [Spencer Chen/Tech Crunch]
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.