Monkey Innovators! Wait…What?

Get ready to get your Innovation On!

Get ready to get your Innovation On!

Are we running or flying in 2014! The afterglow of the holidays did not even get a chance to occur before I was flying to the first show of the season. I hit a smaller show which was as well attended as ever even with all the weather delays and cancellations. Next on to the big decider for the year!

Yes attending CES for 7 years in a row has proven my theory! Tradeshowgypsies are great watchers and purveyors of the show scene and energy, even with the said, 150,000 in attendance. All the hustle and bustle and booth antics come to a stop when that eagle eye of tradeshowgypsy takes over, to not only see what is going on but feel the energy! Yup, it was buzzing at a high-frequency and in vivid HD-3D-with voice commands! WOW! What a great start to the year!

What does this mean? It means hold on to your magic bag gypsies it is going to be a wild year of “innovation” new 2014 buzz word! There are so many great start-ups who have grown and are now in the running with everything they can get their hands on to either be a part of or support the large food chain of electronics. Granted this is one show and it has an international appeal and maybe your market is not quite there. It doesn’t matter, the fact is that once innovation hits, it is like wild-fire, everyone gets inspired and the energy changes and companies who have had R&D back in the depths of your trade show equipment closet, are now asking you to move your stuff, they need the space to “innovate” or get left behind.

If you get into the 100th Monkey Effect; which some say is a false set of data, etc. etc., and can be found on Wikipedia (such a valuable resource of somewhat correct information) with several people cited as saying, yes or no if you have not heard the theory. Basically the gist of it is, one day said monkey washes his sweet potato and after a time monkeys on an island start washing their sweet potato too. How does this happen? I think that when innovation and inspiration spark it lights more than one candle! But as a gypsy, what can I say, I am with the Monkeys! As an observant tradeshowgypsy, watching one company design a (whatseewhoozit); and traveling to Europe to see a similar (whatseewhatsit) sitting on a counter of a start-up; well could be copying, could be the nature of the product and the industry next step; could be anything, but no matter what that innovation is moving!

That is how my year began! This week is still moving at warp speed – this time it is me who is in the innovators position!

I wish you health, happiness, luck, and a GREAT, GREAT, GREAT trade show and event year!

(Image used in this post is from http://www.hundredthmonkey.org/)

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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!

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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Lessons on love, joy and the power of dreaming from the world’s oldest CEO

I have not done this in the past, but I really liked this and would like for more people to see this article. This is an exceptional way of doing business … success comes to those who love what they are doing!

Pam Grout

“Behold infinity every day and all that you see shall be given you.”—Glenda Green

I’m writing a story this week about Denver’s Rockmount Ranch Wear. It’s a six-decade business that was started by “Papa” Jack Weil who joyously ran the company until he was 107. He showed up every day, sat at his little wooden desk in the front of the store and was widely regarded as the world’s oldest CEO.

He wasn’t, as far as I know, a student of metaphysics, but the reason his business was so successful and that his snap-button Western shirts are the go-to shirt for everyone from Eric Clapton and Tom Hanks to Robert Redford and Paul McCartney (he wore not one, but two different Rockmount shirts the night he hosted Saturday Night Live) is because Papa Jack believed the following things:

“It’s not who you are that matters. It’s what your dreams are.”

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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!

2013 – The Race is ON!…wait…What?

running gypsyJanuary 2013 is here!! Yippee, whahoo, can’t wait to get started, last year was so stressful!

ZZZZIPPPP…did you hear that?  Yup, that was that beautiful new rug that was underneath those ready to dance feet that was just snatched away and packed back into the cart!  There seems to be new challenges for the gypsy coming into play; the addition of figuring out where the cuts have taken place and in which market segments (all is not as it appears); tighter venue schedules, switching staff, and the latest electronic shuffle game is in play! Yes, those dreaded nuts out there shifting from it’s a good thing to it’s a bad thing; the speculators of the world economy and outlook! This makes for a fast year of switching from show to show and making the most out of one gypsy!

So, here we go! This year is going to require that a gypsy have magic at the ready because things can change in a flash.  Make sure to commit early and save money in all early-bird cases, this is critical and so is extending those dollars to include extra marketing initiatives. Get those executives or technical specialists to speak and keep involved in their respective industries, too many changes occur and this is one way to make sure everyone has the same information.  Get the best communicators out on the road and that includes some of the R&D and engineering folks as well; if they are going to survive the uncertainty they need to support the company by getting in on the “what’s really happening” conversations so they know what to develop and how fast!  Times like this call for smart/creative “LEADERS”, people that have the vision and guts to take on the world and say, “not only are we going to try we are going to succeed; we are smart and innovative and we are going to work together and make it happen!”

As a gypsy, sometimes the feeling is that this type of issue is for the upper management teams to decide, but if you are a keen gypsy you know that you can not only help get things done, but put out into the world at large the innovation taking place in your company with exuberance and confidence. Make the dollars count so that there is enough to get as many events in as you can and make sure you are not going because you have been doing an event for years, expand and review other events that may have come into the market/industry.  Don’t shy away from suggesting that you hold your own event, and get the industry together to have an “innovator’s day” or and internal “success meeting”.  This takes you gypsy to plant the seeds and nurture them to make sure you have a great garden come the end of the year, of well spent dollars, excellent customer service, and new business growth.

The 2013 kick-off show for this gypsy is next week and this show always gives me a gauge as to how the year through at least mid-summer will go.  Last year true-to-form people were anxious and wanted to know more, more, more as if they could not get enough information because time was running out, the squirrels had found the nuts and were hoarding for a long year. Watch your audience and feel their energy, find out what they are thinking and if it is not what you want at your show or event, make the necessary adjustments and get it going in the right direction, make it more personal, talk to people, make appointments, get the right people together and set press appointments. COMMUNICATE!

All gypsies on deck, and make sure you are ready to move quickly and that all of your equipment/show collateral is in order, organized, and packed extra careful (shipping/receiving will be extra aggressive to keep up), this show year is going to be a fast paced race to the finish! Make sure you stay in good health and keep your wits about you when that shuffle game appears; you have the magic, use it!

 

 

Twas the week before…wait WHAT?

Twas what?

Twas the Week before Christmas – a  BAD but almost funny – Trade Show Gypsy Poem

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through warehouse
all the creatures were stirring, especially the mouse.
The crate locks were missing the bungee cords hanging with care,
In hopes that St Fixit soon would be there.

The sales staff were nestled all snug in their cubes, While visions of bonuses danced in their heads.  (You know these folks are dreaming/drinking!)

And Assistant in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just rattled our brains for a long winter’s inventory.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the step ladder to see what was the matter.
Away to receiving  I flew like a flash,
Tore open the garage door and threw up the latch.

The moon on the “ruts” of the new-fallen snow
Gave the view of the ruined objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a huge honkin semi, and eight broken crates there.
(Ok maybe a stretch on that one)

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Driveit. (Fixit is AWAL!)
More rapid than eagles his curses they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them documented names!

Now Demolished! now, Smashed! now, Pounded and Fractured!
On, Clobbered! On, Splintered! on, on Defective and Disaster!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now trash away! Trash away! Trash away all!”

(Ok, so I skipped a few verses!)

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
 (Writing myself up right now!)
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
He gave me that look to know I had a lot to dread.(Writing him up right now!)

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the dumpsters, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose, (WE WON’T GO THERE)
And giving a nod, back in the semi he rose!

He sprang to his seat, to his radio gave a whistle,
And away he drove like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

 or maybe it was

Happy Christmas to Me and to you “a good luck with that Gypsy!!!

MAY YOU ALL HAVE THE MOST WONDERFUL OF HOLIDAYS – AND ENJOY YOUR LIVES TO THE FULLEST! AND MAY WE ALL HAVE A VERY, VERY, VERY PROSPEROUS 2012!!!

 

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