Infinity Woven Products’ recent “poker run” at IBEX was a successful example of using “gamification” at a marine trade show. The concept was simple: The manufacturer of woven vinyl flooring would distribute hands of Texas Hold ‘Em at five stops in the show. The winning hand would be flown to Atlanta to participate in the Porsche Experience, where participants get to drive new-model Porsches around a track with a Porsche Drive Coach at their side.
Infinity’s goal: To convince specific clients to see the company’s new products in a new, compelling way that involved a game of chance and potential payoff.
“The initial concept came out of a conversation where we wanted to showcase the diversity of boats that Infinity flooring fits,” Warren McCrickard, Infinity’s director of strategy, corporate development and communications told Trade Only Today. “We’d launched a flooring for aluminum fishing boats in partnership with Lowe Boats. We felt that IBEX would be the best place to show this off on the docks. We’d also seen growth in the OEM segment and aftermarket for our internal mat kit process where we can cut, bind and snap kits for boats. And, we thought, if we’re going to put two boats in the water, why not set up a third to honor pontoons, the marine segment that has really skyrocketed our company?”
A number of boatbuilder clients had already complained about “floor fatigue” and having to see too many new products from Infinity and its competitors. McCrickard wanted to find a way to make seeing its products engaging and even potentially rewarding. “Our OEM customers were honest that they were getting burnt out looking at all the design possibilities with floorings,” he said.
McCrickard approached IBEX organizers with the idea of a poker run. They weren’t aware of any other company that had tried this type of gamification at the show, so they encouraged Infinity to proceed. The initial signup only attracted 10 people, but McCrickard realized that he could target another 40 existing or prospective clients coming to the booth with the poker run game.
“We had one card at hotels where pre-registered guests were staying, one at our booth and one at each boat on the water — five in total for a complete hand,” said McCrickard. “For those who were not pre-registered, we had two cards in the booth, pre-selected at random.” The clients started at the booth and then went out to the three boats to get the other cards, at the same time seeing the new products on the boats.
Infinity had a rep on each boat to explain the new products. There had been some initial concern that the boatbuilders, Lowe, Scarab and Misty Harbor, might not want competitors on their new models, but McCrickard said that was not an issue. All 50 hands, many being held by prime clients, were collected by Wednesday morning, so Infinity had its target audience seeing its products. It held a Facebook Live event on Thursday to announce the winner.
“One of the side benefits of the poker run is that it made us more human, more real as a company,” said McCrickard. “We were just people having a fun time with our customers, not selling them a product. This allowed us to have better follow-up conversations after the show. By seeing a diverse line of boats in the water, the OEMs were also able to visually see how we can manufacture our product in myriad ways to their liking. We showed them that we are more than a high-design face fabric.”
Teresa Phelps of G3 Boats won the poker run with a royal flush. She gifted the Porsche Experience to her son, Kelby. Infinity hired a photographer to document the day.
“This may sound cheesy, but we felt it was the perfect amount of investment for our company,” says McCrickard. “Cost wise, it added a few thousand dollars to our bottom line expense, but the effort more than paid off. It also gave our employees something to all rally around and be excited about. We’re already talking about a new event for next year.”