2013 Is Really the New 2014!…Wait…what?

Are You Kidding ME!

Are You Kidding ME!

The show season is not winding down contrary to popular perception. More events are moving into the November/December timeframe as it seems there is a surge in “let’s get ahead” mentality. As the holidays all get shifted earlier and earlier and overlapping all over the place, the same thing has happened with tradeshows!

Organizers have figured out that hosting events November/December are no longer for that particular year – they are giving their sponsors and exhibitors the jump on the next year! Exhibitors and sponsors alike are using that platform to promote the next year’s “available soon” products; or announcing the new product taking orders NOW! The end of Q4 which tended to be the lagging month for some has now become the Q1 intro to business revenue! Garnering clients who they can get to before the first of the year!

Your booth is hanging on by its last bit of floral wire and duct tape and now you have to make it look new with little to no budget left; and make the best out of products that have been packed and repacked 20 times over and handled like unpacked toys on the toy aisle! Now we have to make things look like we are progressing to the next year with a fresh look!

Yup, can’t get engineering to give you one more thing, budgets are on lock down, and you will be using whatever you have left even if chewing gum and super glue are in the mix!

Well, here is one little idea that might help get you through this year with the shift already taking place – generate show buzz! Take a little note from all the movies that are promoted – send out short snippets through social media channels to get those teasers out there for Q1 products. Get your most dynamic speakers on that platform whether it be in actual speaking sponsorships or in your booth with scheduled meet the expert time invitations! PR needs to step it up here and get those press appointments on the show floor! Lead generation can be significant if you are targeted with your invites and promotions. Your ROI will be much more direct with this kind of promotion than if you leave it to the organizer to draw in target clients who you would like to see in the coming year.

With all of this shifting around of product promotion/placement/pricing – many will say, “yeah this has been around for years”. Well, not in every industry and market segment and certainly not as aggressively as it is right now in 2013, check out the show line-up for the end of the year in whatever industry you are in and you will find many more events in those last 2 months than ever before. 2014 is definitely already aligning with even more fever; just ask any organizer working to get a venue!

How to work with this little nuance “wrench in the ringer”? Well gypsies here we go, AGAIN! Need a new potion for this one. So we will throw in a little “new” into the mix to kindle the fires for next year until we can rearrange the graphics, budgets, new booth, marketing campaigns and that little thing we call a marketing plan! Sit down with your management, sales, BD, engineering, and marketing teams and get the word out the tides have turned and let them know that you need something to feed the restless early adopters as the holidays are not the only dates that are jumping way ahead to gather business early!

Oh, and keep track of how you make your miracle because end-of-year reviews will want to know how you made the company money! By saving them money of course!

You can do it gypsies – you are the magic-makers of the company!

SHOW BUZZZZZZZZZZZZ….Wait…Why?

Now that is SHOW BUZZ!

Now that is SHOW BUZZ!

I cannot stress enough about the value of creating show buzz! You know that viral little hum that you hear either prior to the show or on the show floor.  You want that buzz to be loud and attract as many attendees as possible. Having this sound also brings in media and higher-level attendees!

What generally happens is this task is left to show organizers. With pleading efforts to exhibitors/speakers/sponsors/media to help spread the word; this often falls on over-worked ears!  However, one way for organizers to help with the request to participants, is to have something ready for them to send out! Short-sweet and to the point. Where, when, why and big news.

As a recipient of the announcement, this should get in the hands of Business Development, PR, Sales Staff, and Newsletter lists.  This is often a one email blast from a marketing member.  The rest of the team should be targeting every one they can get their hands on, at every call, blurb at the end of the email; Come see me at “XYZ show/conference”. This also helps the staff members that may not have time to call everyone to set meetings.  Seeing that someone is going to be at the same event you are often sparks that quick “let’s set up something at the show”, text or email. I’ve seen/had this work numerous times on LinkedIn.

Organizers often do countless blasts, promotion at other events, and media trades to get the word out but often it is the true participants that drive the quality of attendees because they are working with these clients all time and/or know who they want to attend.  Customers, right? Yes, we say/hear it all the time, we want more customers! Great, who are they? I need names…departments and staff change like socks these days and only individuals working directly with these companies know who is wearing a new logo!  So send the organizers lists if you have them, often they will do the leg work and send invites.

Sales/BD teams:  When you are having a difficult time getting to see a client, use a show to meet-up. Find out if they are going if you can and if not get an invitation ready to personalize. Often times companies host a meeting room or have one on the show floor. Find out how they are participating and get on the list to meet with them.  Making that face-to-face introduction is invaluable and can set the stage for a more formal meeting.

Marketing teams: Invite media, your favorite writers/editors to see what you have and meet with them to discuss why it is important. Don’t be shy to go after the big guys, after all you want your business to grow, and take leadership positions. Having articles written/blogs posted/social media activated – you guessed it you smart marketing gypsies…. SHOW BUZZ and an extension of ROI for your shows.

Gypsies get out there…start the hum…! I love that sound!

 

Marketing/Sales/Social Reach?…Wait…What?

In the Blink of a Gypsy Eyelash!

In the Blink of a Gypsy Eyelash!

Yes dear gypsies, your marketing/sales/social reach for events! Internal or external events require that an events/tradeshow/conference manager is also in the marketing mix as far as branding and assuring that all the marketing and sales touch points are met.

With that said, some companies have individual marketer’s that manage each segment of this process or some use the Product Marketing team/manager  and sales to make those contacts. However, we are in the age of more with less and this task often falls to you, or it just falls!

We all know that having a certain marketing campaign needs to assure that all the pieces that are created have the same language, or that the PR efforts are coordinated with the right editors and media groups to keep the message flowing. However, what if there is nothing new, or a campaign is on the down side of fizzle.

Well, it is time for more gypsy magic to make something happen out of very little to nothing.  We are a clever bunch, so we generate SHOW BUZZ! That’s right, we create the buzz for shows so that we have something new to say to those few unaware customers, or maybe secondary customers, partnership alliances, and even suppliers. With social media venues and blogging we can generate a, Did you see? or Did you know? message in the blink of a gypsy eyelash! Thus planting the seed, assuring that readers are given just enough information to want to attend the show/event.

The ROI for shows and events is so mysterious that when we really get down to the numbers it is extremely difficult to pinpoint that actual touch point that linked the customer with the sale. To help our sales teams we try our best to add more oomph to each event. One way is to make sure we have another value-add quantifier. Keep track of these touch-points for sales –  partnership alliances, media, analysts, supplier relations, and dare I say it…the competitive analysis that goes on at shows with those mystery guests (engineers in plain clothing – no logo), that go around and gather intelligence. Find out at the end of the show what can be added to show reports that might be of value for either the next show you are participating in or the next year show. Try to keep the “gossip” to a dull roar, as show buzz is different from the latest acquisition speculations. Get those numbers as well to find out if you are getting this type of activity at your events, and if not, why? If so, why?

In the PR world of making companies have the best possible message, reputation, and product lines; there definitely needs to be a trail to information. Keep a timeline to make sure things flowing smoothly with “completely accurate” information. Integrity in your writing is essential to keep the company out of trouble with media and analysts that are just waiting for a “OOPs” quote. Keep things clear and direct, save the fluff for the promo items! Verify your information and make your announcements of participating in a certain event or show a big deal. If your announcement consists of, “come visit us in booth #…and win a …, well that is as much effort as your attendees will put. They will come by and get scanned to win the ….”. That is not a big deal, that is a lame hook and will garner many sucker fish!  If you want customer attendees or VIPs, send a limited release press release to those individuals you want to set meetings with, and make it a personal invitation to see/hear about ….. product/service, and get your teams to collaborate with due diligence as to why those people would want to meet with you, what are they doing in their organization that would warrant them coming to see you.

Show BUZZ – don’t forget to get into every speaking opportunity you can get your hands on, these are critical to being a “real” player in the industry you are in, and you reach that critical social media touch-point by having someone film the session for a webcast/YouTube video and future marketing activities. Having this option is always left for the 11th hour when someone thinks of it, and I know you gypsies have your hands full of daggers as it is, and adding one more to the mix may take someone out! YIPES! But do consider it, and make it an option to find a college intern to help you out in the city you are in, however make sure to get clearance from your legal departments or corporate marketing to assure there will be no issues with making this video or hiring an outside contractor.

Sponsoring a meeting space on the show floor can be extremely valuable to you and your partners by splitting the cost and having that VIP status meeting space. It looks professional and certainly is convenient to have several meetings in one day with the right people. But make sure you do not neglect to have a booth as well if you have products/services to show.  Having the booth gives your VIP the value that you have in your products/services by either having a booth space large enough to have a meeting space in your booth and it gives the impression of having invested money into your product promotion because you have a great product/service.

Ok, my gypsies I am out on the road again this week, off to Viva Las Vegas for Interop! Always interesting to feel the vibration of shows in Vegas.  They can be off the charts or way down…I have an intuition this one is going to be OFF THE CHARTS!  I can hear the wheel spinning already!

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Wait…what? Making a FIRM Decision…I’ll get back to you on that…

decisionDecisions are often difficult in uncertain economic times. The catch-22 of; we all know we have to work, and the “what if” projections make business struggle, even the smallest firm decisions become difficult.  The plans that many organizations may have in January often shifts, by March and so on and so forth quarterly throughout the year. Therefore, creating a plan that is financially sound which will still meet the needs of the shifting budgets and marketing efforts is more challenging than ever.

We hear all of this on a daily basis. The rhetoric makes me crazy, because I am one of those gypsies that believes in self-fulfilling prophecies. You say it, hear it, write it enough and WHAP! you are dumbfounded as to why it happens! Well, I say enough is enough, time to get down to real business sense here and make smart decisions that will keep companies not only in business but visibly active and not sitting on the fence waiting for the next rock to make contact.

In order to be smart about things, decisions and show selections have to be done early enough so that you can plan and if absolutely needed cancel.  Where in the past sometimes the dates for such things could slide, they often cannot now because of the “the bird-in-the hand” financial commitments that are done for everything involved with shows/events.  Some insurance that can be used is to check into what opportunities for early marketing exist with the show/event so that if there is a penalty you can capitalize and still get marketing out of your deposit before the event or after cancellation.  Ask, if non-exhibiting sponsorships are a possibility that you can apply your deposits/exhibiting fee to, should anything occur. There are many ways to work your gypsy magic, make sure you ask the questions before sending in your application and get the options  in writing.

Getting a firm decision seems to have evaded many management teams and they are waiting until the last possible moment to make that commitment or are in hopes that things will pass and just go away. Meanwhile, the cow is in the next pasture and could very well end up on someone else’s table!

Early commitments do save money and can bring great benefits if you are vigilant and keep up-to-date with those emails that might get thrown out before they get read. Get in on the social media marketing extensions and PR opportunities to begin marketing immediately, upon sign-up.  Consider how much is spent in social media/network lead generation and that will take some of the burden off of your event costs/ROI and this information may also help to bring insight for your management teams.

Well it is, very true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and I always have my wagon squeak free! I do not like being a pesky gypsy, so I work to make/get commitments done early so that the persistence does not get overwhelming. I do this straight from the heart to assure I have done the best I can do and so that fellow gypsies will continue to do business at shows and events. I am in hopes that management teams become champions once again and kick the indecisiveness to the curb and help the staff keep their organizations healthy and growing.

My wagon is hitched up to attend a show in Anaheim next week…(Spring Break)…always fun to see the mayhem of hotel guests that need to work the next day and those that are vacationing.  I tend to make the spring break shows an adventure and make sure I allow myself enough time for everything, that way there is no frustration and I can enjoy my work and travel!

Happy Decision-making and Safe travels gypsies!

MIA Marketing….wait…Where?

Marketing $$ where are you?

Yes, gypsies in all the mayhem of traveling from show to show while packing and unpacking, did you remember your marketing? So many times we all get so caught up with the actual logistics and sales leads that the marketing gets left unaccounted for.  How do I know, you say? The crystal ball of course :)

Crystal ball used for seeing like a magnifying glass at this point from all the marks on the marketing budget spreadsheet! If your marketing is missing in action better let out the hound, finding all of those pieces, he will be on the hunt for a while!

So, all of those dollars spent on a show divided by however many leads = ROI, right? WRONG – you have to factor in all the marketing that was done pre/post show both on the cost and return. How many touches were done per customer? Did you email blast your group and new product to the moon (it could happen there are many agencies that do work in that industry)! Did you send thank you for attending or see you next time to the new leads and the mass email blast? Was there a press release involved? All of this needs to go into the number of times your company brand came across the desk of a potential/existing customer. Did your sales team have a miraculous discovery of where the initial contact point was made to lead to the sale?

How many ads did you place both in print and online? No way to know how many print hands saw your ad, unless it is catchy enough to have someone actually say, “I saw your ad in… pub”, but we are humans and humans can be a very tangible spices that will remember what they see and touch way before what they hear. The market has thinned in the printed pubs no doubt so people are seeing and touching fewer, that means they are paying more attention to the print even if it is to get to the website for detailed info – touching them twice. So you gather the number of the publication distribution – and say 15% actually hit the hands and eyes of your customer base – that can still be a good number.

Online trackers can help you out with how many times you had hits on the specific pages dedicated to your product release/press release/show code or more detailed reporting if your site is database driven.

All of these numbers can give you an idea on budgeting for next year how many touches per customer do you want to expend those marketing $$ on and where was the biggest focus (product/market) for the prior year? Do you want to stay there? Are things changing on the ole organizational goals and objectives plan? So many questions to consider and if you have some back up internal research to look at that can really make a positive difference as to how the organization makes the decisions for the next year and improve on the return.

Your new and challenging social media sites as well are a new venue that is not easily tracked other than establishing good following group and getting quality followers – not an easy task but necessary! Once again depending on your organization getting the price estimated early on is crucial to assure that all your marketing for shows and campaigns are well accounted for so that decisions can be made with more than just an “I think we should do” plan.  Also, planning ahead can save a fortune!

GOLD COINS –gotta love em!  Doing all of these things in the “slower” months of the holidays  – can pay off extensively throughout the following year.

If the company thinks they can scrimp and cut any of these elements to the marketing program – they will feel the pinch! (OUCH!)  Whether a self-employed gypsy or huge organization – everyone is now having to play in the same mediums in order to reach their customers – there are so many different individual preferences – “Old-Boomer-X-Y Baby Gens” involved in business that there is no one full-proof invest my marketing dollars in this medium and poof marketing done! We are after all a society of options = double-mocha skinny-light-whip – vente coffee please :)  What is that? Or you online guru’s how many apps on that iPAD or Smart Phone? Watch out for that Guerrilla – that marketing ape is serious when it comes to creative ways to do marketing, which can go amuck if it gets too creative and appeal to some but can backfire on others!  Guerrilla Marketing – innovative/creative-low-cost marketing in the more with less world!

So shake that crystal ball again gypsies, and take another look, are you missing your marketing?

Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Show Manager, Management – wait…WHO?

Team Gypsy ROCKS!

When it is all said and done we gypsies do it all! Whether we are in marketing and selling to our internal stakeholders (sales and BD) and ultimately our external audience with marketing materials or products we are selling. If we are BD gypsies, we are selling, selling our business solutions to executive teams to review or to the sales gypsies to make the contact and go in and close the sale. Management is always selling to the level above them, or to the investors making the case that they are running the business well or introducing new business strategies. Management has the added sales responsibility to sell their business plan or model to keep people working! Sales the masters themselves! Well let’s see, there is that pipe-line thing, and the quota log, not to mention that horrid CRM that sales always argues, do you want me selling or data processing? :)

Selling is a unique skill that we all do no matter what our function is, we are always selling what we do to someone. With that said, I can say that the training we get most often in selling begins at birth. Can we sell our doting parents on holding us for hours or a little snack here or there. Hummm where are those M&Ms…oops digressed! Sales, we have all been doing it forever.

Bringing the sell into the event or show takes definite finesse, courage, tact, and know-how. Ok, where is that magic dust…by the looks of my crew in their shirts right out of the package they are going to need it! I had many a show that I wished the magic ironing wand was handy! How you look, does play a significant part in sales! Make sure you are dressed appropriately for your sale – if my tambourine’s are on sale I wear ribbons, if my latest software product is moving I wear a suit – black of course!

What is your selling style? Are you shy and looking at your feet? Are you too “sexy for yourself” and arrogant? Are you talking so much your customer is in the ooo..eee..oo..ah.ah…mode trying to get a word in edgewise? Are you so high up you get nose bleeds and wonder why?

Take a step back and really look at your selling style. In most cases if you are shy, that is a tough one to overcome but it can be done with just a little magic dust, and confidence boost of the simple fact that should you talk to someone with your head up and eye to eye they will not hurt you! No biting or clonking on the head…nothing! The worst that can happen is NOTHING…you had that looking at the floor!

Mr/Ms Too Sexy for Yourself – GET OVER IT – nobody cares about you – they care about their needs in business! Stay out of those hair “product” fumes and get that Botox to relax – you are frightening people!

Motor mouth…slow your role…take a deep breath and zip it! Let your customer talk, give them a rest from your voice. They will not buy if you are killing them with too much information and telling them what they need – as you miss the entire point of it is “THEIR” business, they might have an idea or two as to how they are doing business, what their budgets are, and an opinion on doing business with you and your company.

Ok, now that the staff is taken care of – Show Manager Extraordinaire – Support your staff, don’t micro manage them to the point they disappear or are so fearful of you that they hate shows because of YOU! Kindergarten rules – treat others as you want to be treated. If someone is unprofessional or not doing their job and their boss is there, mention it in a nice way…something like, hey dude(ette) get your bubba (ette) over there under control before I shove them in the swamp for the gators! (Oh, did I just write that out-loud)? ;)

Management – Take the time to say thank you before the show starts – give a pep talk, don’t just show up to be seen and “motivate” by intimidation – make the effort to acknowledge how much work these events are and encourage YOUR “team” to have a great event!

Ok, I have now given my strongest words of wisdom to all levels – now you can all have great success at your shows!

A side gig…wait…What?

Sing it Gypsies!

Conferences, trade shows, events, summits, workshops, webinars, virtual shows, etc. etc. etc!

B2B, B2C, Nonprofits, User Conferences, Internal Stakeholder Events, Suppliers Summits, and Your Wedding!

OK, gypsy? Have you had too much Pino Noir in the back of that wagon? What is the wedding doing in there?

No, I am not talking to myself, I know you are smart and can figure this one out. The common thread in this tapestry unites all gypsies; it is not a side gig .. M.a.r.k.e.t.i.n.g! Sing it loud gypsies!

Yes, beating the drum, rattling that tambourine and occasionally shaking that, errrr…giveaway jar! :)

You can put your soul into a new booth with fantastic graphics and bring in the latest in the whatzeehoozit product line, but if you do not market and get the word out that you will be at an event, you just spent a ton of the clan’s gold for a hit-or-miss return.

As for your Wedding, if you do not send out invitations in whatever form they are going out these days (TWEET), you and your SU (spousal unit) will enjoy a lovely evening of DJ 86 and pounds of shrimpets! Same goes for shows, send out invitations!

There is a responsibility that exhibitors/sponsors have to their respective organizations to get the word out that they will be exhibiting at an event. Add the little details of what or whom they can see when they come by your noted booth number. Get the word out to your sales teams they are on the phone, sending emails, face-to-face negotiating; give them the details so they can pass them on and have them add it to their signature line for a few weeks.

With the plethora of mediums available now, to get the word out quickly, it is best to do it “early and often” (yes, pun on Voting message by Al Capone!). Make sure you are aware of dates that would pertain to your possible invitees – expiration of FREE or Discounted registration, hotel deadlines, and should you be having a side event, the dates for that as well, especially if it is a “by invitation only” soiree.

The show organizers will work like mad to get the attendees in that you want to see, trust me I KNOW! Sending emails out to countless lists, print ads, digital banner boards to garner local attendees, teaming with a variety of organizations not to mention making calls until ear lobes are hanging to their knees. This is all fantastic and wonderful and does work, but there is nothing like sending out the message to your partners, clients, potential clients, and vendors/suppliers to really get the full benefit of an event that is tailored to your needs as an organization.

Mastering the art of marketing for events is not difficult it just takes a little “communication”. Extend that marketing reach at a show and establish your brand as an active player or leader in the industry.  Get involved with show organizers to help promote your event with Press Releases, White Papers, Success Stories, or through their Online Website (very reasonable costs generally for posting marketing materials, or for banner ads, and they usually last from 6 months to a year!)

When white papers or news sections are published on these sites, people to come to them. Whether through a web spider or through viral referral of a certain speaker, people find these sites. Ask for a banner on the news page or sponsorship page if you are sponsoring, tons of hits always, as the conversation goes like this, “did we see them at XYZ show last year? See if they are on the list, oh, look they have a banner ad, click…voila!” Long-term marketing garners an extended ROI for your show investment.

Don’t forget to add all of this up gypsies, it can come in handy during planning sessions, budgets (eeeeueww) not my favorite thing, and certainly those smart goal sessions for performance appraisals where you are trying to justify your %  of  $$ coming in to the company when your job is spending money!

YOU fantastic gypsy have saved your company $$$$$$$$$$$$$s, ok, maybe not that much, but certainly quite a few when you find ways to extend your show dollars and a much longer return on your investment with your online marketing.

An outstanding gypsy on alert (thank you Marty) sent me this great link to an interesting report on event marketing done in 2010! This definitely has inspired this tradeshowgypsy blog!

Yes Link is safe :) Fascinating Event Marketing Stats from @HubSpot and
@ConstantContact. Download this awesome data for free: http://bit.ly/q90UfP

Trade show gypsy has arrived…

The Trade Show Gypsy Has Arrived!

This blog has been a long-time coming, the winds have finally blown this gypsy wagon into blogging for the good of all those people who have dedicated any amount of time and efforts to trade shows, conferences, workshops, and industry events!

The face-to-face interaction is human nature, but the mobile network has now added a new dimension to the gypsies bag of tricks! Just one of many topics up for discussion.

I hope to reach that audience who can laugh, (after the fact of course), “show-stories”, and share tips on how to make shows work for you. Sales, marketing, business development, company rules, marketing, ROI, logistics, contracts, and personal career tips to make those trips pay off and fun.

And for campfire stories the glamorous (maybe not so much) things that happen as traveling gypsies through the variety of airports, airlines, hotels, conference centers, and the ultimate review in trade show food!

It’s a start!

 

©Tradeshowgypsy 2011-2013- Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to tradeshogypsy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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