Trade shows, conferences, conventions, exhibitions, expos, and events. These are some of the typical ways marketing teams reach targeted audiences face-to-face in an effort to boost sales. Or at least they were until March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization (“the WHO”) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, which brought all such gatherings to a grinding halt and hurled marketing executive into survival mode. Some companies tragically suffered, many shut down, and a few persevered. We were very fortunately one of the latter.
“How were you able to survive?” you might ask. Ironically as a start-up company, Knightscope was already very good at making the most out of every single investor penny. Years earlier, we began focusing on the virtual sale, limiting in-person demos to very select clients that represented large-scale deployment potential. We then systematically evaluated the plethora of potential ‘big events’ we could attend each year and selected those that maximized our opportunity to get in front of the right folks, be it by geography or a specific industry. This meant that we would participate in 4-5 per year and spend the bulk of our time on phone calls, emails and Zoom meetings.
The pandemic catastrophically eliminated our ability to allow anyone to physically “meet” our products and “kick the tires,” so to speak. We had to think and act fast. At first, we tried to create an online virtual showroom hoping people would find it new, fresh and engaging. Unfortunately, with everyone confined to work from home people quickly became Zoomed-out and Teams-traumatized. The last thing they wanted to do was dive into another online meeting. We decided to go in another direction and create a hybrid virtual and physical event that would protect the physical well-being of our team, yet safely allow potential clients to see and touch our Autonomous Security Robots (“ASRs”) in person - and so was born the Robot Roadshow.
Knightscope’s Robot Roadshow (“Roadshow”) was launched to provide communities, potential clients, investors and members of the media across the United States an opportunity to see Knightscope’s ASRs in a fun and futuristic way. It takes place completely inside a self-contained, space age, climate controlled “Pod” - a mobile, expandable showroom as seen in the image above - for people to experience all things Knightscope in an interactive and in-person format. We call each one of these events a “Landing.”
Since ASRs deliver real-time, actionable intelligence anytime and anywhere, our clients and their security teams have the ability to detect anomalies and react smarter, safer and faster to potential threats. A Knightscope expert can remotely show off these capabilities inside the Pod using three 80-inch displays and a Zoom connection. Participants simultaneously interact directly with each of the ASRs; speak to our team members live for questions, demos and information; and view the Knightscope Security Operations Center (“KSOC”) user interface in action. There has never been a charge to participate in or visit the Roadshow. Each location is different, but there are approximately 25-50 guests that visit per day, so attendees are encouraged to book an appointment ahead of time.
From a logistics standpoint, our driver usually arrives the night before for setup and then departs after packing up around 4:00pm on the day of the event. The entire event is completely self-contained (including electrical and Internet) and requires no outside assistance for load-in or load-out. We also clean and disinfect everything throughout the day for everyone’s safety.
As of this writing, the Robot Roadshow has made 77 landings in 24 states and Washington, D.C. allowing attendees to experience all the technology that is helping to protect the places people live, work, study and visit from Hawaii to Texas to North Carolina. A short video of a past event hosted by the Los Angeles Police Department may be viewed here. In 2023 we added our newest K1 Hemisphere and devices from our newly acquired blue light emergency communications company.
In a nutshell, because it is successful and safe(er)! Attending trade shows has many benefits, but they come at a significant cost. Trade shows enjoy the benefit of a two-prong revenue stream. Not only are attendees paying registration fees, but vendors are also paying for their booth space, furnishings, Internet, electrical, drayage, and anything else the venue requires. And the hope is that once there, the right person walks by at the right time with the right need and is in the right frame of mind (not grumpy from walking around a convention center all day, not “hangry,” etc.) to buy what you have to offer. And unfortunately, more foot traffic does not necessarily equate to more sales. Despite the investment of exhibiting, you are simply not guaranteed any sales leads.
Roadshows are smaller and more intimate, giving us the opportunity to take our products to our clients, thus creating a more personalized experience. They allow us to visit multiple cities in a very short time frame to take deliver Knightscope’s message, generate brand awareness and improve product and service knowledge. People are not generally wandering around, stumbling into our Pod and talking to someone for 5 minutes just so they get some cool swag. They are there with a purpose and have typically already seen a demo and are well into the purchasing process, so they are now in the seeing-is-believing phase of the discussion.
The Roadshow is an event that potential clients volunteer to host, so multiple stakeholders and decision makers within the host organization can get their skin in the game. This is important because we can better gauge interest levels and intent by the networking and interactions that take place during each Landing. And because we “own” the Roadshow, we also control the guest/attendee list and all communications surrounding their experience. They’re not distracted by competitive booths, so the risk of losing that lead is almost nonexistent, which drives higher close ratios.
If we had to distill the benefits into a Top Ten list, it would look something like this:
1. We’re able to go direct to our audience at their convenience.
2. The Robot Roadshow is consistent. Aside from holidays, we’re on the road almost every week.
3. It’s cost effective.
4. We provide a safe and controlled environment to validate the need and move forward.
5. It builds trust and retains relationships longer.
6. Persistence demonstrates strength and longevity.
7. We get more candid and direct feedback from end users.
8. Hosts invite their own network of local colleagues, increasing lead generating potential.
9. Motivates Knightscope team members and helps us win new ones.
10. IT WORKS! We close more sales as a direct result of the Robot Roadshow.
If you’ve not caught up with the Robot Roadshow yet, you can track its whereabouts and sign up to attend at www.knightscope.com/roadshow.