Extend Your Reach… Wait…How?

YES HelpSo many shows, so little time and worse yet, only ONE of YOU! Yes, this is a common ailment of Event Managers in every industry. Whether you are working with meetings or large trade shows and conferences, there is still only ONE of you. Extending your resources can mean doing a little research and certainly knowing you can ask for help and pay it forward. Having the type of expertise Tradeshowgypies have is a unique and extensive resource in of itself. Your management, organization, personal and communication skills are only a few of the key elements that can be shared with teammates/partners/vendors/suppliers to get more work done.

Gypsies have been known to barter on occasion and this is how you can extend your resources. You say, but I don’t want more work! No one does, but sharing the load with your internal teams and external resources will help everyone and often produce a better outcome and solution. From experience and observation Event Manager’s take on too much and are let down when they know things could have been done better. Large shows can have so many things going that you need help! If you do not ask, you will not get what you need.

Sales teams and product reps who are regional can be extremely helpful and valuable to reach out to local attendees. Work with your sales team to drum up a message that benefits them in their sales and lead generation. Quality and quantity gets all marks checked in the business model for shows. Cold-call emails from Event Manager’s get trashed or worse alienate potentials as junk mail offenders.  Offer a giveaway at the event for responses to your sales sent email.

Engage your partners or reps to get the show buzz going for each event with a participation nod to them at the event with a stand of their datasheets or a promo item relating to the partnership product/service. Limited to what you can handout? Turn it around and support them when they have an announcement. Find out if your team can add banner ads to their blog for a week or give them something that gives them social media visibility.

If you want to go New Technology, look into renting a BEAM at your show and travel around the show floor with someone from your office or your helpers can get people to your booth with follow-me messages as this is a REAL Person not an Avatar message.  My last show had an attendee from another country who could not make it to his speaking slot and used the Beam to give his presentation. Others showed up on the show floor too! C-Level staff can rotate in and out and be escorted to key customers. That helper may just be a robot! *Steve Ernst – Event Presence is the vendor at SCCC and is Awesome to work with! http://eventpresence.com/

Partners and suppliers are happy to help promote if they have a ready-made message or graphic. In your announcement of participation at the show-event, include a thank you to partners/suppliers who are a part of your product/service. If logo and promotion materials are on a restriction, send a letter of recognition for their support. Those things add up and it never hurts to include a social media shout-out for great service.

Extend your reach and get better results, get those bartering skills honed gypsies!

 

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It Takes A Village…Wait…Where?

Village Road-Warriors!

Village Road-Warriors!

The world of shows has taken off! There are more shows than ever, as the streamlining of the “one-size-fits-all” type of show has branched out into many different market segments and technologies with their own events. The changes have set organizations into, ‘It’s Go Time!’ This requires a village of company teams to manage a show schedule effectively.

No matter what area of industry people are working in, from Medical to Wearable Technology products; shows and events have changed and added several new elements to the “just exhibiting at a show”! (Which those words are an understatement, in the word “Just”…way more to it than implied).

Technology has quite a bit to do with how shows and events have changed, because marketing has had a redesign, at least 500 times over in the past 10 years! Technology has driven the need of having many touch points to make an impact. Having immediate posting and video during real-time live events, with the availability to carry information at literally “warp” speed; companies have had to extend their physical reach to accommodate the competitive aspects of technology’s fast-paced immediate access. Watching the competition is just as important, to what is being said, or not said, to get the competitive edge. During shows this is immediate!

Making your mark in shows means an all-out blast of participation to maximize your return-of-investment. This can certainly be a strain on your resources and physical hours in a day!  Especially if your village consists of only you and family members and friends you can talk into helping you as a startup! Sometimes you just need an extra set of hands, someone who can tweet while you speak at an event, someone who can take pictures of your booth with customers in it to post in your tweets, take care of logistics and vendors, numerous how-to’s and do’s. Maybe you can use a little consulting or contracting help, ask TSG!

Extra effort in larger companies to make sure everyone is tweeting, blogging, posting and speaking done with little incentives can help. Generating show buzz and visibility where you are during events can bring in attendees you may miss with an email.

With all of this going on, getting a booth on the show floor brings it all together. This is where your home base is going to payoff. This is where your customers can see and experience your product/service, where you provide your differentiator and your value, where you make that face-to-face contact that you need to make the deal! This is where you can get media to get the in-depth view of what you are doing to get into articles/blogs in your industry with post-show ROI. The sales aspect is where your team takes on the competition and makes the “pitch” for your products/services with real-time information. This is where sales can shine instead of looking for the nearest chair! Energy matters! Put your feet in the attendees’ shoes, ooowiee! So make them want to stop and maybe have a place for them to take a load off for a few minutes, NO CAMPING!

Deciding on what sponsorship options may get the most visibility and attention is a huge decision. Many groups say, “whatever” pick something. This can pay off if you take the time to look at your option and find out if the napkins at the reception are really a big deal or if having a banner hanging from the stairs is the best option. This all depends on the show size and what kind of graphic you use to garner attention.

Tip: Getting the little cocktail napkins with your logo at the reception? Why not add more than your logo on the printing. Like a Notes List with numbers and lines on the napkin. Instead of all of them going in the waste bin, many will walk off with your logo/website and business notes. Add fun pens to the tables (Note: make sure your pens write on your napkin! Do a Test run.)

Hanging Banner – Get more than your Logo on it! Visual learners make up 65% of the population! Create visual graphics that people remember. How many banner signs do your remember? What did they have on them? What would you remember? I know many corporations have certain limitations to meet corporate guidelines, but if you are investing thousands of dollars on a sign, make it something ROI worthy! Get it going on Social Media by making it interesting enough to get pictures taken with or of it, and then it goes viral! Extra ROI with more marketing reach.

I cannot stress enough that it takes a village to make your money off of a show. Gathering leads and cards is not your show value; lead gen is web focused and financially tied to revenue generation. So the village needs to reach out with, pre-during-post promotion! Your organizers have a general view of attendee base, but your group has the direct line to who they want to see and who they want to see them! Send invites – notices – save the dates – meet-ups! Get a giveaway-raffle going, or special gift for people who come in with a code or an invite. Gather the invites that came in and get an automated thank you set up for after the show. Every touch-point counts.

All of the details of events can be overlooked and the results come back that the “show sucked”! Exact words I have heard, and said myself. But in retrospect of course, you get what you put effort into. Granted one person has only so many options, but knowing how to maximize what you have and what the options are can really make a big difference.

So gypsies, you are doing a phenomenal job and your businesses are working hard to keep up with the changes. See you out on the road – be happy, healthy, and remember something’s are out of our control (shipping) and we are the willow…we will bend not break! Watch out for that forklift!

Look out for what is happening here at Tradeshowgypsy (TSG)! The Business…

 

 

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!

Giving It All You’ve Got! Wait….How?

One month – 15 shows
4 people Instead of 2
… We Got This!

Well Gypsies it has been awhile since I have posted my pearls of … trade show cents! This has been a very busy show season with many new shows that have come up. An interesting trend is taking place in that many larger companies have developed new industry supporting organizations that are now hosting their own meetings/events. This is in competition to the already established larger events and it seems everyone is converging in various parts of the country at the same time on the same topic.

However, the interesting and great thing about this is that the audience groups are different in many cases because there are different levels of staff going/participating in events and a whole host of partners who are coming that may not have been able to attend the larger events due to cost. The leads can be much more focused and the quality vs. quantity is taking place.

This new trend is creating a new challenge for groups, with recourse allocation. After pondering this, I have decided that there are a few ways to manage this effort, as I am hearing this so often on the show circuits; “We just don’t have enough physical resources to cover a show”. Well, here are a couple of ideas that might help in extending your reach wherever you may need to be globally. Come in as a non-exhibiting sponsor to set your brand and let the industry and major customers know you are involved, if you can get a speaker for a session if you don’t have anyone to speak, get your BRAND out there and get a link posted on the show site to a video of your product/services/company. Get your show organizers to publish your press releases and do one specifically for each show. Keep the ball rolling until show time by doing a virtual giveaway for attendees of the session. With social media being the name of the game, do your giveaway through Twitter or Facebook.

Would you really like to have a presence on the show floor so that you can also display your solution/service/product or just keep your competitor from talking you down! Hire help, there are enough contractors out there (speaking from personal experience – tradeshow gypsy for hire!), that work in these industries and are well-versed in technology or any industry service who can staff a booth for you, even if it is to run a “short video of your CEO talking the talk, Engineering Wizard talking tech, or latest in Visual Eye candy of your product line/industry (you know the fun stuff – fashion, real candy, travel, health, fitness…the list goes on and on!)” and take real leads and these people know enough about the industry to be able to get the leads to you in time to follow-up as a show specific hot lead. Don’t miss out just because your arms don’t reach and you don’t want to hire models or gimmicky presenters.

Take a look around at all the consultants or people out of work in your industry. These people want to work, and if there is a show for a week they can cover you can definitely generate an ROI with an industry experienced individual that knows how to speak the language and be responsible enough to work a booth. Worried you won’t get your monies worth? How many contractors would take the gig to mess up a possible long-term opportunity or recommendation from you? They are going to give you their best! How about adding in a hiring event! Show organizers love when companies are hiring and having this in your booth has so many benefits and you can possibly share internal costs between divisions!

What about booth costs and setup – get a small booth that your contractor can setup a few banner bugs a table some pens and a monitor (most expensive part) and voila booth; don’t feel like you have to shoot-the-moon or don’t show up.

These days being there is key and making sure your staff is not all gathered like cattle talking amongst themselves and saying how bad the show was! Get the staff that go out into the aisle and stand in front of your product and bring up your speaker. You know the, “Hi, how are you doing? What do you do? Let me show you what we do” the sales conversation starters. If you can supply a technical person that is helpful of course, but if you don’t have the resources, get a good contractor and your territory sales person to commit at least a few hours. You will get your speaker some traction (or be able to get on the speaker list for next year by supporting this year), your brand leveraged, sales leads and get a good feel for the show. This will help determine this is a great vertical for us, or a genuine lead grabber, or it could be an industry innovation venue where the industry really comes together and ideas are shared and new products are developed.

Don’t miss out just because you don’t have the direct hires for your company.
Let’s face it everyone is trying to sell to everyone in one capacity or another when you are on the show floor. Be helpful to everyone, you never know who talks to who and the whirlwind of company buyouts and staff changes and media/analyst chats! Make the show what you want it to be; get people engaged and excited about your participation with or at this event!

If you hire contract staff make sure you give them a prep talk even if it is through online briefing of the what and what not too’s – and send them plenty of business cards and materials. Make sure they have what they need to put your best information forward.

Well onward gypsies, fall show season is in full-swing! Pack an extra sweater and short sleeve seems the weather is a bit fickle this time of year; and of course your magic, and a pumpkin (bread) just in case the plane is delayed!

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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!

Show justification….wait what?

ROI or Leads...Chicken or Egg?

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, trade shows are too expensive, we cannot justify the ROI, we won’t get any leads, etc. etc, etc.

So is it the chicken or the egg first? Are the leads and networks forming through online resources only, or is there some human interaction needed?

Shows are meant for interaction and you get what you put
into a show. If you are expecting the organizers to get customers there that you want to see, you are asking for the gypsy crystal ball method.

The organizers work with publishers sometimes or they have
their own lists, but only you know your customers or those hard to break into clients that you want to see.  Let the organizer know, send them a “SPECIAL” invitation, or let the organizers know you would like to see a speaker from that company, you would be surprised how effectively that request can be accommodated.

Now that you all are shaking your heads and saying, “oh no way, they are MY customers; I don’t want the competition to talk to them”.  Well I am here to tell you, if you are that fearful of the competition taking your customers, you need to check your product and your confidence level. Step-up to the plate and walk them around the show floor if they are your guest don’t just expect them to come in with their pass and find YOU, humm who was the guest again?

Have a meeting prior to taking them out on the show floor preparing them for what they are about to see; even if there is a new product release you were not expecting, do some due diligence when YOU get to the show. There is a high probability that the customers are already talking with your competitors.

Now for the leads,” new customers, we want new leads”!

When I have my trade show buying shoes on, I justify shows 3 ways – Lead Shows; Branding Shows; and Industry Shows.

Lead Shows – Generally the shows that are kind of
multi-industry/market segment where you have a show that has either heavy traffic and you know your organization has marketed to target companies to get them there or you are in cities that have a pretty good saturation of your customer-base.

Branding Shows – These shows are those shows that might have several of your competitors there, and market(s) you may want enter, this is an
excellent way to have a campaign or a new product release.

Industry Shows – These shows are important are often smaller
more niche shows that have a vertical audience but most importantly speakers from industry providing market intelligence to get the facts for short and long-term planning. It also does give the opportunity to discuss with peers, partners, and industry experts products/solutions.

ROI – Well you save money by having a captive audience of several elements for marketing, sales, and business development all in one
place.

Leads are not the only way to generate ROI, networking and
branding are critical to long-term revenue.

How many times have you said, yeah I talked to this person
at such and such show, or I saw them speak at such and such conference? Even at shows where I could roll a bowling ball down the aisles often I have contacts from the other exhibitors that are new to a company or have changed companies and I have been able to reach out to them at a later date because I met them there, ROI just paid off for the future partnerships/business.

Face-to-face events put contacts in memory much stronger and
longer than a phone call or even virtual event; you know that guy with the
crazy tie and thundering voice, or that woman with all the show crates, hanging off the edge of her booth, with a hammer in her mouth…ah yet another tale of the trade show gypsy to come.

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