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Why booth babes don’t work…

17 Jan 2014

“It’s a pretty indefensible practice,” says Spencer Chen, head of marketing and growth at Frontback.

“The hiring of young, college-aged females to dress as provocatively as possible to help promote…um, Ultra HD TV sets, Android tablets and Internet-enabled toothbrushes.

“It’s a relic of old enterprises, but that’s just the way they like their world. But what nearly every critic has failed to mention is a real concrete business reason to end the practice.

“Well, I do: Booth babes do NOT convert.”

Writing as a guest columnist on Tech Crunch, Chen is unwavering in his belief that booth babes, for all their sex appeal, simply do not work.

“How do I know?” he asks. “Well, I actually split-tested this a few years ago and the results were indisputable.

“If you have invested in a trade show to generate new business, using booth babes is a lead conversion boat anchor.”

So, why do most technology companies still use booth babes? For a few reasons according to Chen.

“First off, marketing departments in big companies are under-budgeted, under-staffed, and under-appreciated,” he writes.

“Most of the marketing teams that I have worked with are predominantly women, but it’s frankly not the battle that they choose to fight when they are constantly simply fighting for more annual budget.

“Secondly, related to marketing departments being under-budgeted, a marketing exec often would have to go to the sales exec for additional budget for these events.

“Once you do that, the marketing heads have to let the sales teams have a say in how these trade shows are run, and the sales guys love the booth babes (to be fair, the sales guys are the ones that have to stand in a booth for eight hours straight).

“Lastly, there still exists the “stripper and steaks” mentality in sales, where it’s less about the product and more about relationships and the art of the “close.” Booth babes have long been a part of this dog-and-pony show in this old approach to sales.

“The new startup enterprise players are obviously changing much of this mindset where the product is the only thing that matters and sales people now facilitate the deal, not close it.

“I am not here to participate in the bigger social debate on whether exploiting women as booth babes is bad for all of us in the long run…or if it’s simply wrong.

“I just wanted to state that if you were so inclined to take up this debate, I can offer you a sound business reason to support your opinion: Booth babes don’t convert.”

Do you agree with Spencer Chen, are booth babes bad for business? Tell us your experiences in the comments below

By Spencer Chen - Originally published on

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