Conjuring Ideas for 2013 or Reviving 2012…wait…When?

What’s next?

Now is the time gypsies to get to work on 2013, and it is the time of year when magic is required just to make it through the end of 2012! Might I also interject that for us tradeshow gypsies a general election plays havoc on our companies and management teams. No matter what the economic situation is, or the political affiliation, people are always wound like a clock and have a hard time focusing on the NOW of business.

So break out that cauldron or tarot deck, this is going to require major dancing under the moon magic! The end- of-the-year has several events that should not be neglected. At the beginning of the year people are more enthusiastic to start a new year on the right foot, but at this point they have been on their feet way too much and are almost …errrr…cranky!  So, time to pull out all the stops for the shows/events that lead all the way into December. Time to make them fun and interactive!  Get a giveaway gift, it doesn’t matter if it is the latest in light-up widgets – stuffed animals – or electronic gadget, find something that can add to the sales story!  Bring in some history and have the background information and images or products that say this is where we started and most importantly have a Live-Wire Person that can engage with people!

I have to give credit where credit is due – I had a gypsy garage sale this past weekend – my family came to help me. I have an antique radio from the 1930s and was not going to sell it in my general garage sale but it is very heavy to move so there it sat. My brother took it on as his project – he had stories that kept people entertained and interested in purchasing it! One he used was, “can you imagine listening to this radio on December 7, 1941, listening to the announcement of Pearl Harbor”! This was a fantastic sales pitch and kept people in my garage buying all kinds of antiques that I had mixed in with the other treasures! He is not in sales, and he missed his calling I say! Thanks JV!

Anything to grab your staff and the attendees is needed to get things going, if it is too late for 2012 gear into 2013 planning. Team up with an interesting company that will draw in more attendees – for instance if you provide a service or a product that is a part of a bigger part – see if you can get access to that product for display –even if it is a car! Many car companies would like to demo their cars to large groups of people, see what you can do to reach out to your customer or end product companies. (Let me know if you want a contact on this one, I thought this was an excellent idea (not my original idea, but one I just had to pass on). Thanks DB!

No curses necessary – only a little creativity and enthusiasm to revive and reinvigorate 2012 and get ready for 2013! Have fun! Let us know if you conjure up a great brew or idea!

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Wait…When? Dog Days of Summer- Get Ready for Fall Shows NOW!

Catch! There is a show out there!

Yes, this summer has been quite hectic for this gypsy with my physical move to the land of the lizards, but I do love it out here. The mayhem of the move is over and this gypsy is ready to gear up for the fall show season. Right now this very second, if you have not filled in all of your show kits…get on it! Don’t miss those early-bird rates! For some of the early fall shows those dates have expired and you will be paying more, but get in there and get that part done!Registrations are the same way for staff that is “thinking” about attending this or that show, get your justification in and make sure to include the fact that if you sign up at the early bird rates you will be saving $$.

Hotel rates for shows, get the show hotels and save the rental car!  The way shows are going now, organizers are being held to the penny with hotel room allocations.  With the squeeze going down the line, the organizers are limiting their room commitments, so don’t miss out on a great rate and the convenience of being co-located or close to the show.  Nothing like a great hotel and great rate that sometimes extends a few days prior or after the show should you have more business or want to add in some R&R time.  (My favorite hotel in the world is the W in San Francisco).

Working with engineering and product planning teams should be going on as well to find out what level of campaign will be taking place in the fall. Find out if there are other opportunities at the events that offer speaking opportunities or involvement of internal PR groups. Start sending out tidbits and help to generate show BUZZ. Nothing like engaged exhibit companies to create a buzz for a show; that is what makes a show successful and generates attendee participation.

Social media is a great platform, but people still have to READ and SEE your post, so nothing works like a personal viral type of promotion with personal recommendations or invitations.  So get the word out there, tell people where you will be and if you are going to have something special to show them or talk to them about to peak their interest.

It is not quite time to break out the sweaters (here I sit in 108 degree weather)…especially with the heat wave all over the map…but maybe a few new “trade show shirts” should be added to the budget and ordered for the staff for fall! Inventory your giveaway products and maybe check out those graphics and booths to make sure nothing has been smashed or is missing.  Also a check to make sure products are still applicable to your shows on your signage is always a good idea.

Gypsies, on a side note;  All I can say is … I really do not like election years, it throws people into a tizzy over the various “issues” and the show industry gets over-taken by budget cuts in anticipation of the election or worse the “wait and see’s” that will kill a show because organizers cannot wait to book, and the 11th hour sign-ups might have missed the boat and sunk the ship in the process.  So, get your bats out (or maybe the dog in the post) and fight for your budget, products, business and MARKETING, the low numbers at the end of the year will not help anyone, no matter how the election goes, so let’s get ready to rumble!

The week before…When?

End of The Year Details

This week – get organized on Monday figure out what really needs to get done and don’t get looped into tasks that are not yours.  Set priorities and if something else comes in get clear direction as to what takes precedence for your time.

You are taking inventory of equipment that needs to be replaced or fixed, getting graphics in for printing that need to be done for the beginning of January, figure out product schedules for things that need to be ready to go out before/as soon as the new year hits. Set shipping up for those first few weeks of shows in January which most likely need to go out by the end of this week or mid-next week to get the best pricing.

Tuesday and Wednesday take care of as many meetings or calls that you can get through while working on the Monday list of priorities. Thursday, spend that day giving/getting approval to anything you have that has to be done by the end of the year.

Friday – yes it is here already, just that quick, finish up on the decisions, clear your desk – get that office space in order to come back to a fresh start new year.  If you have opportunity to make that must-do/follow-up list for your first day back try to get it done or going before you leave.  (Things like flight reservations that are 1 -2 months out to get the best pricing/early-bird rates/follow-up on new product release status to coincide with marketing campaigns).  If you have time off – please try to make sure you don’t leave things that could possibly draw you back into the office, for just a couple of hours that turn into 10!

If you are working during the two weeks that are considered – “Holidays” – you can spread out your cleaning and to do lists – but get those end-of-year decisions in order before everyone leaves; that will take an immense weight off of everyone involved to get things ready to go without any “maybe’s” or should have’s causing any undue stress to anyone.  Take this time to get your office and planning organized and figure out what worked and what can use improvement. For me this is my accountability time – I am not a fan of accounting but I go back and make sure everything was done and done correctly; this also helps me establish personal goals and objectives for the next year and to break up my least favorite task I add in researching fun ideas for the next year.

I am a fan of cutting out or printing pictures of ideas and attaching them to folders of projects that may go all the way through the year so that I have fresh ideas for each event.  I also put a folder together called “A Wing and a Prayer” for those ideas that may be a bit far-fetched at the moment but could possibly be made into something that applies in the future. I only keep no more than 20 – otherwise I would be known as an idea addict! I can keep tons saved electronically, but I don’t look at them as often so I don’t keep too many there either.  Although, my printed pieces are also reminders of electronic folders that I may have stored in order of (themes – different industries – venues – etc. etc.) I keep only those that really held my interest.

All I can say is hold on to your hats the winds of change are coming for next year as technology does not stop or slow down for anyone and trade shows are taking on an exceptional way to show this technology and get innovators together to collaborate and compete in everything from the latest Smart Phone App to the smallest processor that can fly the plane or pop the toaster! I look forward to seeing what everyone has been working on, and meeting the innovators in 2012!

Gypsies – Now that we are back from the 2011 trek and at the long-term camp for a few weeks – clean that wagon up, groom that pony, and make sure there are enough provisions left for the rest of the year and enough gold set aside for the next year.  OOOH and make sure those dancing shoes are shined and ready to go – as soon as the work is done, a good nap and pedicure/manicure is done; this gypsy is going out for some dancing fun!

Gypsy Successes …wait… When?

GREAT WORK! THANKS!

There are times when a gypsy feels like the outcast of the staff – having to live out of a display crate and travel from show to show; it can sometimes be very disconnecting from the going’s on at the office and home as well. As frustrating as this can be at times, there is the glimmer of “life is good” when things go right and even more than right at times when you least expect it, and your company is recognized with an award, and you know that even at the simplest level you contributed.

Only gypsies know how much effort goes into putting the best possible presentation of an organization out front with the right display, message, people, and products/services.  When everything clicks and a show is buzzing with activity and especially in your booth, there is a sense of more than pride and satisfaction, it is that feeling of a “job well-done” and the behind the scenes details have all meshed together to weave the perfect design that says YES!

This week I was at a show and noticed that even with the few glitches that hit, the show was clicking and everyone felt it – not a huge event but a successful one and the energy that was generated was positive and if I could bottle it up and send it to every show I would!

This to me is an indicator of what is “really” going on out there in the business sectors – people not only are working but they want to work and be innovative.  They want all the politics internal/external to just go away to the far corners of the atmosphere and just turn to dust and let them get on with work.

My feeling is that all the hard work that people do really needs to be recognized! Even more so now that companies have decided to give staff the work of 2-4 people – granted the social pressures of keeping up in all technological fields and trying to get back into that leadership position is that catch-22 of being able to meet the stakeholders needs; ALL – Investors, Board of Directors, C-Level, Management, Staff, Suppliers, Partners, Customers etc. etc.; is almost impossible to navigate the huge chains of hierarchy that have established themselves into companies. Even the mid to small companies can face the same pressures just to keep in business.

With staff working so much, the visible difference I saw was a bit disturbing in that it has definitely taken a toll on employees as they are physically not faring well and mentally they are fried and innovation is being stifled, and bringing in the “new” kids on the block has not helped either as their work ethic is different and they are befuddled with the amount of work/results that are expected out of them almost immediately.

With all of this noted – show successes give me hope that given the level playing field companies are more apt to succeed with having staff meet and get peer recognition. Face to-face discussions sparked all kinds of ideas and a bit of rejuvenation by the end of the show.

My little trend study indicates the days of internal competition needs to fade – there are not enough people/business sectors to compete between each other. I was told once this internal competitive model was used to motivate internal staff. My feeling is that the staff left has neither the energy nor the inclination to be motivated in this manner any longer. Companies that have figured this out and have now teamed internally are succeeding and their staff appears much happier and healthier than those that are still pulling and tugging for the leads or business between internal teams. I would like to see this teaming model take hold and really get the ball rolling again!

Show successes for the gypsies whether hosting, sponsoring/exhibiting, or attending – in certainly directed for the good of ALL – that is how we are all working now, rather than can “I” get this sale and kudos to ME, it is, ” if I get this sale I keep engineers, marketing, finance, etc. etc., functioning thus I have a place to work as do they”!

Keep up the great work everyone, we will be even better in all ways if we just keep moving forward and know that YOU ARE APPRECIATED for your contributions that are now benefiting the entire team/industry with the achieved successes!

When the time comes…wait…When?

Time to Choose!

There is a whole schematic that goes down when organizers are finding just the right date and venue to host an event.

There is the ever prominent dart throw on the calendar, who else is hosting something at that time tact, and the availability dates at the chosen venue. Basically, all three are done initially to get the ball rolling. Having events set up 1 to 2 years in advance is such a luxury these days, as many of the venues are running pretty lean as are many show organizations.

Once the date, venue, and subject of the year are selected, the promotion begins and the speakers are solicited as are the exhibitors/sponsors for events. Unless it is an internal event and there is not a bag of gold coins required from anyone; let’s just say let the games begin.

What I call the booth haggle begins, trying to secure that perfect booth space for the best price with of course as much marketing as you can get! But, the haggle has now become less common in the past 3 years.

There are many shows that have firm/fixed pricing because they have secured their venue, priced their operational costs for marketing, staff, services, catering, decorator, AV provider, etc. etc. etc., and trust me the list does go on! With firm/fixed priced shows it is a good way to really give a clean number for your budget estimates; it basically is what it is!

With the haggle shows there usually is a little leeway usually about $500 more or less, that sales people can play with, however this has become a much smaller margin with the “lean, mean, economic machine” eating us all alive! So be aware that what was the norm of the past 5-3 years is now a whole different ball game, they really may be limited to the fixed rate or not more than $100.

Should you stop doing shows because they are so costly? NO!! NO!!! NO!!!

If you are organizing – just plan better, get your venue selection to work with you to get those fixed costs set so you know what you are dealing with right away and avoid those last-minute (VERY COSTLY) add ons!

For both organizers and exhibitors – make your graphics last longer, send fewer staff or keep the travel down to fewer non-local staff, keep those printed materials to a minimum (shipping is so crazy right now) don’t send pounds of literature, send smaller cards with a website, send a dedicated laptop with LCD and have them register to get the materials sent to them right out of your booth if you have internet, if you don’t have email access, set up a form to register and have one of the office gypsies send out the requested literature by email the next day!

Make the smaller cards fun or graphically memorable but keep your costs down in shipping and printing, but don’t miss out on the Branding opportunities.

Out-of-Sight-Out-of-Mind!!! IT IS SO TRUE!!! And people at shows have nothing to do but talk and if you are missing, they will be more than happy to give out scenarios as to why you are NOT there and why they are!

The job markets, company layoffs, and acquisitions have had people popping into new logo shirts like the Mad Hatter, so you have to keep up with everyone and where they are and what position they now hold! Critical to maintaining your CRM and assuring your data does not become obsolete.

Industry people talk, they are a captive audience and that is what they are there to do, communicate, sell, and BRAND!

Keep your company visible and actively engaged in your respective industries, don’t fall through the cracks and lose ground. Organizers, hang in there, we need you!

High Season ….wait…When?

Magic Packed!

Well tradeshow gypsies, get your magic bag together it is FALL SHOW SEASON! Gotta love it! There are times during the year when shows escalate and sometimes gypsies do not remember what city they are landing in next. After the 3rd show in a row you are not sure if you are looking at your flight number, booth number, or hotel room number; a few times standing in front of my booth number in a hotel YIPES! Luckily only once someone opened the door after my frustration of putting in my key a couple of times; and they were a fellow gypsy that completely understood the situation.

Having your due diligence done, your white board filled in, and your folders filled with printed/dated orders; you have done what you can do thus far. Now it is time to break out the brain yoga and get your flexible mind in gear. Here is where those great creative skills, everyone is always targeting on your performance review, get to shine!

This show gypsy tried to fly in the day before setup day because so many things can go wrong and this would always give me a little more time to deal with any issues.  If you can get to the show floor the day you arrive and get your badge/floor map and any addendum/check to see if your freight is in your booth; that is a time saver and gives you a little more time until you meet your labor/or set-up yourself in the morning.  There have been times when time is wasted when picking up exhibitor badges and your labor is already at the booth and on the clock, if you are lucky and have specific instructions they may start without you, but more often than not they want to see your smiling face. If you are flying in and doing setup the same day get ready to “move-it-move-it” or “hurry-up-and-wait” it could go either way depending on your show and shipping.

When you unpack and set-up for the show, remember it is much easier to tear down quickly if you have your packing boxes and they are in your tiny storage area where you can pull them out and get things packed easily. REMEMBER SHOW ETIQUETTE – no tape guns etc. until the show closes. You know there is always that one customer that walks up at tear-down…always!  Some shows are on a point system and you can lose points for tearing down early and you can jeopardize your booth space selection for the next year, it is a big deal if you are the tradeshowgypsy doing booth selection!

Also, if you have to wait for your show crates, bugging labor in a gruff manner is not going to get you anything but last. Make sure you are professional and courteous to your fellow gypsies they are on the road, and dealing with all kinds of people, and you want to be one that they remember for being nice and helpful. Don’t expect them to be rushing because you planned your flight poorly, they have to support ALL the exhibitors and you are just one of them, put yourself in their shoes.

Looking forward to this fall, seems as though business has a good grasp of the value of face-to face business and how valuable shows can be, even though they are running lean and mean, they are out there and the economy can only get better if companies are doing business! This gypsy is happy to be a part of this industry that deals with real people instead of strictly online communications!  GO gypsies  GO! Great to see companies taking the bull by the horns and doing business and using those innovative skills to help us get growth back on the map!

The Gypsy DIET!…wait When?

Dessert and Wine and Bread! OH MY!

The answer to that is now! The Gypsy diet while traveling from camp to camp basically sucks! No other word fits.  Eating habits go completely out-of-control when traveling. My particular diet goes into extremes; either not eating all day because I am so busy while living on Starbucks or conference coffee! YIKES!
The other diet extreme for me is eating every meal. Breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings or networking events are deadly. In either case, not good, it can throw your entire being into a crash! GYPSY DOWN!

Having at least an inkling of a game plan will help immensely. I would like to say that I have been adhering to this for years and the plan is completely fail-proof! Alas, not! I fluctuate and sometimes do really well, but other times lack of planning leads to either weight gain or weight loss in the wrong way which always comes back with a vengeance when I get home. Causing at least a weeks’ worth of corrective actions~AYE! (yes I worked for the government at one time).

Eating late after the show floor closes; and having large over indulgent meals with your colleagues or customers, can disrupt your sleep and really take your health and resistance down. Having show-floor food from a variety of $15-20 dollar pizza, hot dogs, mystery meat sandwich or even the questionable, how old is this lettuce salad; can also put you in a bad way immediately or later. Add in those, great smelling  show cookies, smoothies, popcorn and late night dinners with a few glasses of alcohol; 5 lbs later eerrrr…suit a little tight?  Bloated and feeling like the forklift hit you the next few days makes for one grouchy gypsy.

You are experiencing, “self-inflicted abuse”, with no sympathy from anyone! NOTE: This is not at all events, there are many events that have great food, in fact really great food, which you have to manage quantity because for some reason you get really hungry at shows, and they have salad to dessert! All that business being conducted I guess ups the appetite! 😉

When I do plan, I break out the go-away powder, cast it all around me to get rid of all bad eating habits that might come across my traveling path!  With the spell cast I begin when I get into the airport! I buy a bottle of water – and 2 bags of almonds. (Yes, you can bring them from home, an empty water bottle that can be filled once you pass security and pack a ziplock of almonds/nuts). I do not, I buy my water and nuts thus kicking off my official work trip; skip the soda and peanuts/pretzels on the plane. If I have to buy lunch depending on my destination, I do like to pack my own sandwich and apple slices avoiding junk food or $12 sandwich and chips or something that will alienate my seat-mates on the plane. (Pesto sandwich or garlic/onion-based anything!)

Once I get to the hotel, often, much later than scheduled, I do skip that meal, pound down the water and if hunger pangs hit me I eat a few nuts. Next morning, I have coffee as that is my normal habit, I do not eat breakfast early, I eat about 10:00 – 11:00 and try to get some protein, egg omelet type meal. I also buy a piece of fruit to have on hand for later in the day (skipping the heavy-duty junk/or great food), I try to keep to my normal schedule. I eat dinner before 7:00 and make sure to add as many veggies as possible and try to avoid red meats, sticking to fish and chicken. Now the biggy…the glass of wine or dessert! I love a glass of wine with my meal usually once maybe twice a week; but not every night, for me this will pack on the weight and sluggish feeling like nothing else! Too much alcohol indulgence (for me one glass is more than enough) it also will take down my guard; “oh, just a little piece of dessert”, or into what I call “tweet” mode; not as coherent as I need to be for the next day. Note your co-workers morning after mood and you can tell what the night before might have held for dinner, it can really take its toll.

On my good behavior shows, I plan what dinner meeting or night I will indulge and make my choice carefully, a glass of wine, bread, or dessert not all three and in many cases just one. Painful, I know when all are so readily available and you are at a great restaurant or dinner event!

Managing those meal meetings?  Try to avoid meal times for meetings, but if you cannot schedule accordingly, keep it to one a day. Still not working because of the short timeframe you are trying to meet several people? Ok, meetings at all 3 meals for 3 days – stick to your normal eating habits, if you don’t eat breakfast, don’t eat – drink your coffee and keep talking or listening; take a writing notebook to keep your hands busy and document your meeting. I find it is less annoying than a laptop/tablet/netbook sitting in the middle of the table. Lunch and dinner eat as close to normal as possible even if it means stripping off half of your would be pizza. When your normal eating timeline has passed and you still have a late dinner meeting; eat a piece of fruit and some nuts on schedule; you will not be as hungry and can order light and nurse that one glass of wine with a side glass of water and avoid the Tweet!

These little things do make a big difference for me. Everyone is different, but if you can stay as close to your normal eating habits as you can that can at least help to keep you healthy and of course that svelte gypsy figure.

FYI – GYPSY Workout coming soon – now that one will be funny! 🙂

I hope this post will garner some really great ideas we can all share.

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