Another Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference is in the books, Nov. 13-15, and from what attendees are saying, Garmann Miller’s custom putting green was on par. Each year, a new interactive component is debuted at its 30-foot trade-show booth. The display is part of an overall brand strategy to convey GM’s culture, provide a memorable experience to conference-goers and create more conversations on the show floor.
Sure, a chance to win a tchotchke with a stroke of a putter isn’t a novel concept when it comes to trade shows. It’s how GM put its spin on it that made it a hit among delegates. One unique element was the custom L-shaped miniature golf hole that Wayne Colman, a K-12 planner for Garmann Miller, built by hand in his garage. Add in a couple grassy hedge walls, a glowing neon sign, two staffers dressed as Masters caddies at Augusta National, a signature leaderboard, logo argyle socks, Garmann Miller golf pencils and yes, a dancing “Caddyshack” gopher, and you got an experience that folks lined up for.
“Garmann Miller’s booth at the OSBA Capital Conference was a joy,” said Brad Herman, superintendent at Lucas Local Schools. “I always love visiting their booth to see the great theming and interactive opportunities. This year’s putting challenge was a true challenge.”
The green, complete with a mini flag and cup with the Garmann Miller cube logo, was five feet to the corner and then seven feet to the hole. There were 412 competitors who took aim with 78 sinking the ball on their first try. A GM logo golf umbrella was the top prize, and those who missed on the first swing got to try again in true “Price is Right” hole-in-one-or-two fashion. For the 61 hole-in-two winners, attendees chose between a logo poker chip ball marker and tees or a logo bottle opener. To promote the #creategm hashtag, winners got their photo taken with a three-foot tall gopher character.
“The booth was fun and engaging,” said Amber Ballard, a school board member at Norwood City Schools. “Every time I walked by, there were people having a good time and cheering each other on. Different than any other booth in the convention hall. Great way to bring folks in and make your company memorable.”
The competition factor was key in attracting visitors to the booth. The raucous cheers for a hole in one and the disappointing groans when it just missed were heard across the expansive floor. According to Phil Metz, facilities director at Celina City Schools, it’s what led his team to take their best shot against each other.
“The Garmann Miller booth was a challenging opportunity for the group from Celina City Schools,” Metz said. “We are all competitive by nature and used this opportunity to see who the best putt-putt golfer in the group was!”
Another experience at the booth was a guess-the-number-of-tees competition. While many of the 131 were close to guessing the correct number of golf tees in the jar, Eric Moore of Arcanum-Butler Local Schools landed a “hole-in-one” with his perfect guess of 286 tees!
The “Swing for Swag” golf theme was a follow-up to GM’s “We Just Click” 2021 OSBA campaign, which won first place in the Promotional Campaign category at the 2022 SMPS Heartland Regional Conference Pinnacle Awards Gala.