The Best-of-the-Best! Wait…Who?

Best-of-the-Best on the Show Circuit!

Best-of-the-Best on the Show Circuit!

Kind of a long post but filled with my Tradeshowgypsy pearls of wisdom!

Well gypsies we are in full-swing Spring show season! Shows have been phenomenal this year thus far. Industries are buzzing with new innovative technologies and products; and have a moving target market segment thing going on. Organizations from the Enterprise groups to Start-ups are engaging with everyone they can get their hands on to determine what the next steps will be and in what market segment. Watch out; here come the magic words! “Research & Development” (R&D). Yes, I said it, the words that have been put on the back burner for so long that everyone thought it was just an obscure part of the stove!

Research and development, future planning with those hit or miss ideas that are worked on behind the scenes and schedule of immediate products. For the first time in a long-time I heard the R&D phrase used by several larger organizations that are now speaking to the fact that teams are now formed, and working on not only the latest in technology but those long-shot ideas that may or may not pan out. Companies are looking to jump into markets no one ever thought they would be in, but investors and growth cycles are screaming for NEW ideas, not just NextGen products.

The NEW-R&D model is also being done through solicitations on social media. I am sure you have seen them on a variety of sites and blogs. Such and such company wants to hear from you, they want to know what you think about a specific issue or in general on certain technologies, projects or future needs. They offer all kinds of things for contributing viable ideas. Data mining online is in fast and frenzy mode, and why? You guessed it, one way it is used, is for R&D planning!

Shows are now adding a bit of extension to this by hosting Hackathons and Hands-On Labs to display working products or developed solutions generating that right on the show floor solutions excitement. The value-add is huge when you can display a great application of working product or solution and have qualified staff to answer questions! Shows are the perfect venue to get a demo out to larger groups and provide answers by qualified customer service staff. Get your participation off to the press to garner even more promotion. Some products/services do not lend themselves to this type of display, but a video trailer of working product and an appointment calendar do great! Check out your Hackathon teams to find the bright stars to bring into your company.

Though I am an occasional card reader/clairvoyant; ok most of the time they are business cards and “oh man here they come, I&D with that – your freight is lost look”!  I do know one thing for certain, people want to work and are creators at heart, and nothing can stop that from happening. Where there is a will there is a way, and in most cases, several ways; and by encouraging the best-of-the-best of those hardworking internal staff to contribute their ideas and reward them for them, is innovative and keeps the best staff working for your organization long-term and the wheels turning for growth. Companies know this; they just get caught up in the tangles of projected quarterly revenue and forget that taking the next step/next gen is only one way to keep moving forward. Taking the brainstorm sessions seriously with a variety of options is the way to go beyond having just the next step into discovering new directions and spinning up with continued growth momentum. Shows often are huge brainstorming sessions if you listen closely!

On the gypsy side attending/hosting/managing/working shows; getting to see and hear about all of this is exciting! Thus validating our tradeshowgypsy contribution to the world! Assisting companies to get the word out, and find the right people, products, services and customers to drive this creativity, and really put it into practice or on the shelves. The show floor is not only a great medium to “market” but to learn, so here are the other ways the best-of-the-best can bring more value to their organizations through shows.

Sales and Business Development staff, who really pay attention and make a show more than just sore feet and the “same old thing” can bring in new dollars and growth information. Often sales and BD go to a show because they are sent, or feel they “have” to go because it is within their territory. They attend with no real incentive to add any extra effort to just being there as a body in the booth. Unless, they are some of the few who know the secret to really taking advantage of the magic that occurs on a show floor!

Companies rarely train staff in this area, and feel it should be intuitive, or a part of the J.O.B. Errr…guess what? You are wasting your money sending people to shows who don’t want to be there; who would rather talk about the internal company issues to their co-workers than to engage with the customers walking by their booth; who complain they could be more effective making calls or back in the office; and often rely on a few leads from people they already know. Big surprise here, staff who think this way are probably right, they have set their expectations and their level of effort so the results are what they expect.

However, best-of-the-best staff who know how to work shows, know the more people they talk with, the more NEW business they can generate! The diamond leads at a show are often in camouflage of a general badge – yes they do that! When you engage with them and give them your full attention, they will fess up and pass on a real card with genuine contact information.

Encouraging sales teams with rewards to get a sale off the show floor; or see who gets the highest number of quality leads; or certain product leads; any of these ideas can be a great way to spark that competitive spirit and generate some excitement in your booth. Sounds silly or non-professional? Watch two sales staff go after a game (darts, checkers, cards, video anything, doesn’t matter) they are a competitive lot! This is a skill! Encourage it and incentivize with a reward and watch your shows become much more effective. This will help keep sales staff from just showing up for booth duty like a death sentence! This also generates what I call “Booth Buzz” that feeling of enthusiasm when you walk up to the booth and you know the people there are not only welcoming but happy you walked in and are ready to find out what you do and tell you what they do! This creates a viral effect, people congregate where they see more people, just a natural state of human tradeshow behavior “show sheepness” (yes I know, not a real word, but you know what I mean!)…it just happens.

The people who represent your company at the shows should be your best – the kind of people who can form a TAG-TEAM and go after everyone who walks past the booth, having people who are technical in nature, who are sales and know a real-customer, who are qualified to talk to analysts/investors/press; who can work with and respond to the general requests and marketing inquiries. Sending BD or product marketing to the talks and listen closely to the opposing perspectives, take notes, talk to speakers, and take into consideration what is going on internally for your organization. This may require show staff to take turns because it can be grueling, especially if the speakers are bad.

The key is to gather as much information as the show has to offer. This can be 2 people; they just have to want to be there and do a little due diligence and be ready to switch off to make the most out of the show. Not saying it is easy but it certainly is easier when staff know why they are there and want to be there.

A RED FLAG issue – SEND SPEAKERS WHO ARE DYNAMIC – if the speaker is your boss and they are let’s just say a little on the lessor side of dynamic – help them out! Send them YouTube videos of competitors who might be good speakers and let them know they will be there; or find a motivational speaker encouraging good speaking habits. If you feel weird about doing that and think they may be offended. Send them a video of a Customer who might be there who may have a video giving a talk (hopefully a good one) and let them see the energy of the person in action. All of this can be found on the web either on YouTube or often on Company sites! Let your high-level speakers know who their peers will be on the stage so they are prepared and ask organizers for stats on attendance for speakers so there are comparable numbers you can provide.

Video their presentation too, so they have something to work with the next time! This is just a good way of planting the seeds to get a little enthusiasm going before their presentation and gives them a little background for the show and the presentation. This can become a standard practice of doing a little extra for them so they have something to generate interest and energy for their presentation. This also helps keep them from having to watch the hall clear when it is their turn to speak as they pull out their 30 slides of 20 bullet points each! Also keeps your gypsy head intact!

Pull the team together at the end of the show (get away days are notorious for everyone bailing before the end of the show, if this is the case do it the night before), preferably in a group as you get a lot more feedback than through an after the show meeting as people rarely take notes and will provide minimal information. This feedback is crucial to making the decision to not only invest and return to that particular event, but to check into new possibilities of product development, pricing, promotion, product release planning; you name it, the information is valuable if it doesn’t just go by the way side or in a folder called; yes we attended this show; or, this show sucked!

Don’t let staff skate by on generalities, find out why, if they say we didn’t see new customers; find out what they did to invite people they wanted to see; or if they scheduled a side meeting. Who did they meet at the show that they didn’t know prior? Could anyone they may have met be a partner/supplier? What are attendees doing in their businesses and could it be a new area we should be looking into? Some of this can be programmed into lead machines but rarely do teams take the time to get real details entered? Let staff know this is going to happen and to keep track of who and what was said. Get the goods before you leave the show; this also helps generate ROI for the event and value for the company.

The key to making this all work is to spread the lessons-learned throughout the organization; generate a show report and bring it up for group discussion and real consideration with all levels in all departments. Often organizations just want the numbers of leads to go into the funnel of lead generation after a show – there is more value to a show, you just have to do the work to make it viable and not rely solely on the leads. Shows are costly and having real participation and engagement with all the best company resources is the way to make those dollars work for the company. Get the staff inspired and send people who enjoy working the shows creating a win-win for everyone. Then spread the word, often there are many value driven connections that occur and really do tie back to a financial conversion through a conversation at a show.

Well gypsies, back home to the wagon circle to regroup and sort through my own notes, leads, and do laundry! But get ready this is not only spring show season but spring break for traveling families and college students! Lots more folks in airports and hotels, give yourself the gifts of leaving early, a little bit more patience, and maybe some noise cancelling headphones!  Travel safely gypsies!


Making Friends along the way!…Wait …Who?

First things first… Shout Out to the new gypsies I met this week and the inspiration for this post… Gabriela, Kristina, Kristine and  RN…:)

Tradeshow Gypsy Friends ROCK!

Gypsies unite! You are unique, qualified, capable, and extremely necessary to any company!

There is nothing like a friendly face that is enjoying the same work that you do; and sometimes suffering the same agonizing or annoying issues that occur. Everyone who is working in events/shows/conferences knows that the nuances that can happen are often extremely stressful and completely unrecognized by your own internal teams. Rarely is this career path understood for the amount of work it takes to do a great job with shows and events. You have to love routine and chaos in order to do this job well!

A show gypsy is a special kind of person that can manage everything from VIP communications to a creative X-Acto Knife. Tradeshow Gypsies have to be gregarious, flexible, patient, organized, tenacious, mechanical, and clever in order to survive the road and internal teams! We are immediate decision-makers and have the make-it-happen attitude (preferably without any bleeding involved; especially yours)!

Event managers are usually a part of the marketing team; and often cast off as the one who has the easy-party job, because you get to travel; you are deemed the “booth babe/boy”- non-technical; the “person” that fields the attendees that come for the swag, etc. etc., etc. When often what really happens is; you are the sales representative, the first contact in company communications which is often technical, the critically important approachable individual at that helm of shows making important decisions; and you are missing holidays, weekends, and home activities. However, if you love this career, those things don’t matter; you make the exceptions to do what you love, you thrive in this environment.

Great show/event managers have mastered this whole process so that it appears a seamless operation with often a complete disregard for the amount of stress that is associated with assuring the most professional appearance despite the uncontrollable issues that occur, all the while working to keep costs down and generating revenue while you are at it!

Take heart dear gypsies, you are not ALONE! This is why it is extremely important to be meet your peers out on the road and make friends and support each other. Gypsies need that support system so that if anything goes wrong you have help or if you have time to have a cup of coffee or put up your feet with a glass of wine after hours, you can pal up! (I’d say go out and party, but we all know we are too dang tired to do that, and all we really want is a foot rub and sleep!)

I love sharing and talking with other Gypsies and helping out where I can, I have lifelong friends from all over the world and we have worked/known each other for 15 years. All of us have exchanged helping each other from scissors to setup and even rescue from illness. Your internal teams can of course be life savers too, but sometimes they are not there when the initial/after work is going on for the main event.

So gypsies, now that I wrote a book…errr sorry about that…take the time while you are on that show floor to definitely meet your booth neighbors and as many other gypsies as you can! We love our job, but it does get lonely if you do a lot of shows and you can burn out on a job you really like if you don’t make friends along the way!

Multi-talented and qualified…wait…Who?

What else do you need to know?

TRADESHOWGYPSYs that’s who! If you have ever worked with a corporate entity on shows or hosted events for a large group you know how talented you have to be to make a show/event happen.  You are a program manager, project manager, buyer (vendor), vendor manager, site selector, negotiator, sales, marketing (all aspects of marketing), VIP assistant, technical sales (you know what products are in your booth or are showcased at the event), budget manager, and then just your regular show/event manager to make sure the timing of everything kicks off correctly even if it means using your own carpentry skills.Don’t let anyone pigeon-hole you into a category of “you JUST do shows”; there is no such thing! Coordinating all the staff and travel schedules is another area of expertise that takes quite a bit of finesse especially if International dignitaries or VIPs are involved, there can be clearances that need to be managed and don’t even get me started on custom’s for shippers! You are also often the first line of Voice of the Customer – they will ask for you on the show floor and unload good or bad.

I heard a manager telling his events manager that he should be glad that he gets to travel with such a great team of sales staff.  I noted a look of disgust and made it a point to stop by this event manager’s booth and ask him how things were going. He was so frustrated with his staff being absent and non-helpful and treating him like a servant that he quit right there on the show floor. He was packing his laptop when I came to his booth. I asked him if we could chat before he left. We did and I hope he felt better about everything he did, as when we spoke he really did feel as though, shows were such a lame career direction he had taken and he was questioning his skill set entirely. FYI-honorable mention…you know who you are, congrats on the latest gypsy role!

Being the Tradeshowgypsy that I am I believe in shows and know that face-to-face discussions generate a long-term business deal and can really establish an organization in the rankings of status and brand or provide vendors/attendees with much-needed human interaction.  But, I also know that hosting events in any capacity takes a huge variance of skills and certain mentality to deal with continual change, critical/creative thinking, and personalities.

Now more than ever before shows have taken such a bad hit because of a variety of abuses that have taken place. Event hosts and managers have to include upper-level negotiation skills with their internal groups to get events approved and through a number of divisions.   Hosting organizations have to wait longer periods of time to get confirmations or have to send specific details very early on to get them through the systems.

None of the gypsy skills are to be taken lightly as there are a number of other positions within organizations that do not require near the level of skill and are regarded as a higher position.  What I am saying here gypsies, is Don’t Sell Yourself Short! Keep track of all of those little details that you have to add in and those discussions that take place and who you are now working with to get events internal/external off the ground.  Make sure you are beating that tambourine hard and loud for yourself, no one else will and the will cast you off to a quiet corner.

Keep your skill levels up as well, as social media and web marketing are every bit a part of the position as well and if you haven’t been engaged with this leaving it to the “web department” get ready because that has also been added to your task list! Figure out how to get training through your organizations or from your library or community college.

I know gypsies, as if you had nothing to do but shine the silver buckles on your shoes or rearrange the tarot deck…now you have to justify your gypsy existence! Make your case a good one and make sure you add in every single one of those skills to those performance reviews too!

Fall season is in full-swing, document now, you won’t remember later!

Wait…who? Strategic gypsy!

Keep an eye on the ball…or budget?

Getting strategic in a creative gypsy way. Yes it is time to reevaluate the numbers and get ready gypsies; we are ALWAYS the targets for budget cuts. This happens mid-year just as you think you have your “annual” budgets and plans set. Management teams are called in for that dreaded mid-year review to determine what is working and what has fallen behind or off the roadmap!

Ok, gypsies here is where you come in, before the meeting happens, time to gather the clan of sales, product development teams, and have a detailed list of the shows and events you have scheduled for the rest of the year. Your strategic bones cast show this happens every year just like Christmas. Be prepared ahead of time and save yourself some angst. Find out what products/services are still on time and those projects that might be lagging; figure out how your marketing campaigns are doing on the timeline. Get input from your sales team and find out how the markets they are selling into are doing and if they feel the shows that are left for the end of the year are still viable and the reasons why.

Having a report ready defining your shows and allocations are important when it comes to defending your budget and having a contribution to the budget reduction (you know that is also coming will need to have some kind of offer of budget sacrifice, savings, or proof of financial benefit).  You need your champions to strategically go to battle with you. Having backup contributions from team members gives you that strategic edge to be ready to work with management so that you don’t lose money or have product marketing and sales ready to hunt you down.

Stressing the importance of evaluating the shows correctly is critical to doing the organization justice. Educating them in the fact that shows are so much more than “number” of leads.  Often management teams will see shows and think “cut, cut, cut” and when sales goes out to the customer the first thing they hear is; oh are you still in business? We heard you cut this product line? Sorry we went with your competitor they are stronger in the industry and we talked to them at XYZ show, they thought you were out of the industry too?  Humm, imagine that, your competitor using this to their advantage.

Not that all shows are a must exhibit/sponsor, but talk to your sales/product development teams they may be speaking or considered a leader or expert in the industry and if your company isn’t supporting them or backing them with a booth on the show floor, it can appear they are the only person that is working on the project or feels the importance and any other marketing may fall flat.

Keep a keen eye gypsies, mid-year review is here, time to pull out the shell game, and make sure you have something to put under them, there is no way you will be taken this year, you are ready!

New Year New YOU! ….wait Who?

2012 Makeover

Yes I have decided the gypsy needs a makeover… you know, new workout routine, wardrobe, and hair doo. Ok, maybe just a few changes to freshen the old cart, and the gypsy up a bit! This is going to be an interesting year for businesses.  An election year seems to spark the competitive nature of business and also gives people who push to be innovative and go out on their own.  Just a personal observation. So first – make sure your suitcase is in good shape and if not get a new good one that you like, you have to be happy with the functionality of it, and the look, it really does make a difference when you see it coming around that turnstile.

I attended CES this year (Computer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, NV; I decided maybe it is time to rethink the show plan.  The crowd was a mix of ages which we all know makes a huge difference in accommodating business and human capital requirements.  As I was fighting for my personal space to hear a variety of presentations I noticed the aggressive nature of the crowd and the real enthusiasm to learn and know more about all the new products and services.  Trust me I am a little gypsy but I am mean when it comes to holding my ground and not getting shoved aside, I bite!  Or at least shove back!

So gypsies it is a New Year, make note to watch the shifting of the wave of business to become more active. Good news really, but make sure you know your stuff because you have a much more educated and inquisitive group out there; and to my personal appreciation, the playing field is equal when it comes to the knowledge base of the attendees, all ages, genders, ethnicities etc. etc., everyone wants to learn more, and do more!

Workout – yes my gypsies it is workout time, make sure you are in good trade show shape! Get those legs strong, break out the pedometer and make sure you are up to those 10,000 steps a day because you are going to have many shows to choose from and many airports, show floors, hotels, company campuses to make your way through this year.  Also make sure you throw in some arm exercises in there, holding that lightweight tablet, smart phone, laptop – yeah light weight alright but hold your arms in that same position for about 6 hours at a minimum and you will know what I am talking about!  Take a little yoga too, not only will you need the patience for the taxi lines; shuttle busses, and lunch line, but you will need a little flexibility to maneuver your way through the crowds. Lastly, get those abs tightened up to support your back, because standing on that concrete with a rag on it will take its toll.

Food and Water – I met someone at CES that broke out a lunch sack – smart! You betcha! He had asked his hotel restaurant for a sandwich – fruit – water – he had brought from home an insulated lunch sack and had them fill it because he didn’t have a refrigerator in his room; otherwise he said he goes grocery shopping before each show when he comes in from the airport.  That is one smart gypsy – you eat better, don’t spend as much, avoid the lines and can eat whenever you have time or spot a seat!  Worth carrying the backpack in my opinion, take a few less promo/pitch items in the morning come back in the afternoon if you must have them and eat well!  DRINK WATER – LOTS – there is nothing like a show floor and all that talking to dehydrate a person – coffee is not enough to sustain a body, you will get those 3:00 drags and feel wiped out by the end of the show if you don’t drink enough water. Take a few vitamins too – you know there is fungus among us, get that hand sanitizer out!

Lastly – Sleep – Yeah, I know that is just a dream! So many things to do in such a short amount of time, and be social to the wee hours – shows are notorious for having those 6 to 2 hours.  Get moving and ready to be on the bus, taxi, breakfast meeting by  7 and the ball is rolling all the way to the dinner that ends at 10 and your colleagues, customers, or friends you haven’t seen since last year say “let’s go out” everyone is still on the adrenaline rush from the show and can’t stop talking! You go and there you are at 1:00am looking through glassy eyes at your email and as you collapse in bed the voices keep going or you are still online in your head.  Off goes the alarm at 5:30 so you have time to answer anything that came in from the coast and fluff! OMG – where is that magic dust! (Eye drops – that get the red out, roller thing that de-puffs those under eye bags, yipes; and the erase the night before concealer to cover the dark circles and that is just the eyes! Sometimes there are not enough products on the planet to cover a 4 day show! So pace yourself – get some sleep!

As for clothing – pick your favorite logo wear or business attire and a couple of great sensible trade show shoes! That is the most important part of a gypsy outfit! Having ill-fitting shoes on a show floor is the kiss of death for your show.  Take a few different pair to change out each day it really makes a difference as your feet will swell and keeping your feet in the same position in your shoe will hurt!  Do some of those 10,000 steps in the shoes you are breaking in for your show BEFORE the show to make sure you can still walk at the end of the day.  Take a few padded Band-Aids just in case a pinky toe or heel gets aggravated.

Ok my gypsies a long post to kick off the year right even though many of us have a few shows under our hip scarfs already!  Looking forward to an outstanding 2012 show year!

Budgeteers?…wait Who?

Budgeteers – Defend your Show Budgets!

Here we go, time to set up budgets for 2012! Yippee! Well, maybe that is a bit over-the-top in enthusiasm. Personally, this gypsy is not an accounting enthusiast, and budgets were like a bad dentist appointment for me. However, the best thing about budgets is really going through the shows that were done during the year and really seeing how much work was done and what accomplishments were made during the year. Also, the discovery of new shows on the horizon and working with teams to figure out the road map for the next year and possible new market segments to discover!

Try to always keep everyone working toward the same goal as they are each dependent upon each other to get a successful product development and release, actual sales, and ultimately customer retention. Often teams will disagree on costs as their budgets are also in question, marketing is often cut FIRST and looked upon as fluff, and certainly shows are a huge target.

Make your case!!!
Visibility and branding, having online presence is fantastic, but if you neglect the face-to-face business and the actual visibility of the product by media, analysts, investors, buyers, partners, and competitors (aka stakeholders); the product/service can be considered vapor ware or only talk, (just ask your competitors, they will be happy to tell everyone you are not at a show because your product/service does not actually exist).  Buyers remember what they see or touch; what they read can often be only the first step.

Online shopping is great if you have a commodity product that is already been “viewed” and “tested” by others. Where does it start? By someone seeing and testing it somewhere, often at a show!  Whether it is at a CES electronics show, a Chicago car show, or a LA hair show – people “human beings mostly” want to get their sensorial experience with a product or service before they buy it or recommend the product for purchase by their company. If you have products that are pieces or parts of other things such as a computer module for a plane, car, tank, cell phone, pace-maker – still engineers; mechanics; heart surgeons want to see what the product is and what make it something they would design with or use!

How to work a budget for shows is dependent upon your business model– some budgets include travel and staff numbers; others are purely show costs and logistics.  In either case take a look at your costs from the previous year for each show, this includes shipping which is a large part of the costs. The shipping also has a glitch, should the shows be back-to-back, on short turn-around, and across the country or international. Take a look at the schedule and figure out where you can do double duty on the graphics or schedule bi-yearly or quarterly updates rather than show by show. Campaigns can add their own nuances with video and marketing collateral; keep the graphics general and build around it with “accessories”.

Now is also the time to touch base with your shipper and I&D company. Find out what the costs are going to do in the upcoming year. The rates will vary on the location but having that information will also give you a more accurate budget. Make sure to include some extra $$ for equipment rental; such as extra electrical for XYZ product demo, equipment replacement, should your crate be smashed or lost.

Shows to some are a big-ticket item that is unbearable to comprehend. This gypsy loves shows and can also be a bit baffled about having to rent a certain type of lighting (dependent upon the convention center rules) – at the hefty rate of $35/each per day! Use your gypsy smarts, go to the nearest home improvement/electronics store and buy them for much less. Now is also the time to do an equipment review and figure out what needs replacing or updating, get those costs in the budget. New wheels for that wagon, horse replacement, and of course a new paint job! This was a rough year!

Include your team! Talk to sales to validate shows, and make sure that you get the people who are not going to tell you that shows are a waste of their time and their feet hurt; if that is what you hear, make sure they are not on your show staff for the next year! Get the sales staff that knows how to work shows and include the engineers/speakers and get their feedback on past/new shows. Speaking slots are often tied to show exhibits and rightly so, you need to have the space on the show floor to back up your speaker and support their efforts so be selective on your speaking opportunities, make them worth everyone’s efforts.

Save dollars by planning early. Add $$ for those shows that come up out of the blue, at least 3 per year – also be ready should your company be an acquiring entity.  Keep your team engaged because there are always those program/product managers that are in the know about product releases that can get into the mix on the show schedule.

Make sure the budget is ready for the red pen, at least twice. Do not get disheartened, for some reason that is the mode of operation and the game to get the budget done. I will not ever understand that process but there seems to be no way around it, as the reviews go through several hands, several times! Give yourself some padding – not absolutes on the numbers! Shows have no absolutes, remember? – “You are the willow you will bend not break” and that includes the bank!

Good luck gypsies – dig through that wagon and find your sword – you are now the Budgeteer defending your Show Budgets! 🙂

People Along the Way…wait…Who?

Image by Ambro

Smile and Say HELLO! (Image by Ambro)

One of the best things about being a tradeshow gypsy is meeting all the wonderful people along the way.  I have traveled the globe and have friends all over the world because of shows! I am a very fortunate gypsy!Meeting these people has given me lifelong friends and business alliances.

I have met people in the line for coffee at a Conference Center Starbucks that I am still in contact with, and I have also cut a sales deal at the Chicago airport while on a delay.  Making acquaintances is not very difficult, it takes a smile and a hello, that’s it; what takes work is establishing the relationship that will be long-standing.  Take the time to follow-up with people all the time, when you haven’t spoken with someone in a long time, so what, say hello! Find them and let them know you thought of them today and catch up on what is going on in their life and career.

Having business contacts is a valuable asset to any one in business at any level, the one thing that makes our jobs easier is to have people we can count on to help us or listen to us when we are struggling and share in the successes.

Extend your network with social media and stay active. Sometimes you feel like you are talking to yourself, and then one day you get a message from someone that says, I saw your post, or read your blog and you have a new contact!

Shows are a great way to make so many new contacts in such a short amount of time, at all levels and functions, not to mention markets. Learn something new from all your contacts, listen to them, ask them sincere questions and people will want to talk to you. One of the error’s that I see people make that turns away others is they walk up and “tell” the other person about “their” business and what “they” should be doing offering “constructive” criticism (NOT!).

For some reason shows attract many experts that want to tell groups how the business should be run, instead of listening to what the groups are doing and taking note of the direction the company is going. Having opinions is always a prerogative of an individual but knowing when to offer them is the nuance to having a good experience with a contact that you can reach out to or someone that will delete your message or not answer your calls.

Exceptional people make my job such a passion that I hope to always have a career that is involved with shows at whatever level.

Today is a special day because I lost an exceptionally great colleague today who also happened to be my neighbor after I moved into a house that unbeknownst to me was next door to his and I sat in an office right across from his. He was an exceptional engineer and encouraged his staff to be innovative and was a very good teacher. He always had a great smile and laugh! He will be missed by many people. But I am very glad that I was able to have known him as a professional colleague and a friend! DW – you are always

Never miss the opportunity to connect!

In search of a meeting…wait…Who?

In Search of A Great Meeting!

Attending a show can be quite overwhelming. First thing – register and sign-up EARLY – you can save all kinds of $$ by getting early-bird rates and even free passes. Between the sensory overload of crowds, graphics, speakers, and models in a variety of attention getting costumes, the entire show can go to waste walking it with the deer-in-the-headlights look and missing the real business!. Getting an idea before-hand is really a very critical element to attending a show and getting the most for your money and time.

Getting your hands on the exhibitor list is the way to start – taking a really thorough look at the program to get into the sessions that would be most beneficial; and attending networking events is just as important. The goal is to see as many people as possible within the show days and schedule meetings for the future; show meetings are good as an initial step, but having follow-up meetings are critical to keeping the momentum going.

If the show is very large make sure to register for networking after show events early or set meetings weeks in advance. Meetings set on the show floor have a lot of competition and often meeting space can be bumped with just one breath, so make sure to have a back-up meeting venue available. Scope out any upper or lower floors for possible tables/chairs/café’s – also if your hotel is attached to the convention center check those areas as well.  If the show is smaller – set one-on-one meetings, and ask your organizer if they have a meeting space or press room that might be available.

Selecting sessions – if you are the sole attendee and there are sessions that occur at the same time, let your organizer know and see if you can get copies of the slides or talk, and then determine if it is worth sitting through half and half. The best case scenario is to have enough staff attend to cover different sessions and/or customers to get the full benefits of a show.

Sales gypsy to sales gypsy – taking time at a booth when you are selling something instead of buying, take as little time as possible but get to the decision-maker as early as possible to deliver a small-business card size message to give to clients –the card is less likely to get thrown out in the piles of literature that always ends up in the miscellaneous, “who picked this up pile!” Follow-up right after the meeting with an email with a note letting them know how much their time is appreciated and  after the show is over give it at least 2 days and then get back to your sale.

Should you be in one of those situations where you are attending and exhibiting – this is where the work really gets intense with doing the double-duty of planning your short attendee time and keeping your booth active and staffed. Get those meetings on a schedule and let your booth manager know if you have a meeting that needs a work-around or meeting space if you have it in your booth.

The ominous competition..da.da.DA!….what to do when your competition is close by and you want to set meetings. SET THEM FIRST Just know you cannot do one thing about your customer going to a show and talking to the competitor(s). You have to be able to back-up your product/service and make sure you have touched that customer first, even if your meeting is set after they have talked to your competitor, you set your meeting early and make sure you are prepared. On-the-fly meetings happen all the time at shows, but if you can get your customer bid in and are prepared you have already beat out your competitor.

Networking shows that are generally the entire industry; getting together and discussing issues and progress. These events are an excellent venue to garner data and research for future planning. This also gives companies an idea of industry changes and if competitors are still aggressively pursuing the same direction or if they could possibly have turned into a possible partner. Organizational alliances are also formed and gather at this type of event; participating assures that your company is active and recognized, supporting the entire industry/market segment.

So attendees – go forth and conquer and get ready for follow-up and  success!


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!

Stock photography….wait….Who?

Melissa Glasgow Photography

The gypsy blog is a pleasure to write and hopefully help a few show gypsies out there, that might benefit from some how-to’s and how-not-to’s  and last but not least, how did I get into this job?

With all of that said, I have decided to bring a professional photographer into the wagon to help me out, to add some real images to my blogs.  She contributed the Weather Gear image and I look forward to getting more Melissa Glasgow photography into the blog 🙂!/pages/Melissa-Glasgow-Photography/118664931563948

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