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…

 

 

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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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Making a small show generate big ROI!…Wait…How?

small

Crazy like a fox…small show big ROI!

When attending shows it is always interesting to take into consideration all the aspects of what it takes to pull one of these events off successfully!

Hosts that have smaller shows might attract smaller groups of attendees. Therefore, they work  to assure that the groups are vertically focused and will prove to be the gold nuggets when it comes to lead generation. A smaller show does not necessarily mean smaller companies, often larger OEMs that have changed their methodology want the quality of vertical leads rather than the quantity.

Attracting and promoting to certain market segments or industries often takes many hours of research and decision-making by the hosts. This is not an easy task, but as an exhibitor or sponsor it is also your responsibility to make sure your ROI balances out if you are not going to garner hundreds of leads, (REMEMBER: Quantity is not necessarily QUALITY!) and can cost many hours of culling through contacts and risk of contaminating your CRM with junk leads.

Use all your mediums of contact to help you get the word out that you are exhibiting/speaking/attending! Get on the phones, email, text, social media and make sure you don’t fall for that old adage of, “why would we invite our customers to see our competitors”? This is not going to do you any good, your competitors already know your customers and generally you invite people you are not already engaged with so you can provide them with a benefit of a personal invitation and tour of your product lines.

Call on those hard-to-get-in organizations that your competitors are working with, or that one that everyone is fighting over, get them there with YOUR invitation. The sales industry, no matter what market, is intertwined and that is what brings out the “healthy” competitive way to target prospects. If your organizations are too closed off and worried about your customers, the gig is up! Those customers/potentials know you are worried and so do your competitors! Inviting prospects to shows is one way to add another touch point for clients with that personal contact that makes your customer service memorable. This type of contact also ensures your organization is secure in its products/services.

Make your mark by generating the leads you want to see, as often the general lists that are definitely helpful and industry specific may not hit the exact group or person you want to see. This is a venue for you to target many clients at one time and your organization has taken the time, money and efforts to get you out there, so make the most and best of a small show. Get those vertical leads, they are out there! The hosting organization has also invested many hours targeting the audience they feel you need to see, and the money they invest and the work involved in marketing to large groups to host a small show is significant.

Small shows are also a great place to garner partnerships. The more intimate venue will help you learn about new innovative companies coming into the market that might have a solution that would work with your product/service or possibly be a new supplier with a better solution and rate.

Make the most out of your events Gypsies! Face-to-face interaction and seeing exactly what is being offered is critical to making good decisions and making the right contact within sometimes overwhelmingly large organizations. Don’t let a small show fool you or take ROI expectations down.

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!

Gypsy Fun…wait…Where?

Bring it on…let the games begin!

It was in here, I know it was…the fun, who didn’t pack the fun? Now that fall show season is in the throes of getting old and the gypsy Frisian horse can see the barn door (your office and time off the road!) – try to keep focused but light-hearted.

You have had those show’s that everything that could go wrong sends you over the edge; the staff that is cranky from being at several shows and still nursing achy feet; and the boss that is getting the figures on the show actuals with that frightening look and a post-it note that says – “blood pressure pills – bottom drawer!”– Yeah, all of this can put the wet blanket on the last shows for the year. But, you have to step up to the stage gypsy!  Time to break out the tambourine and mandolin and start dancing and smiling!  Those end-of-year leads are critical and the industry shows for planning are still important – you can’t let things fizzle!

Time for the magic powder that works better than a Margarita on Cinco de Mayo – extra potent fun in the booth – granted things can go amuck quickly as everyone is pretty slap happy at this point so just know that you could lose control and may have to do some “we won’t do it again bows” at the end.

EXAMPLE #1: one year we had the sticky head guys as a promo item…”Dart Man” – nice hanging banner sign designating aisles up above our booth had a great graphic — a TARGET!  Needless to say there was a line down the aisle launching the darts at the sign – thank goodness people didn’t notice until the last day of the show and we were not excommunicated from the show! (FYI – DartMan’s sticky top makes a great lint grabber for those table cloths!)

EXAMPLE #2: Defense Show –  Incoming…yup the pop rocket nurf things – pretty soon there was a full-blown “and the rockets red glare” going above the booths – though the glare was just from the amount of rockets that were synchronized to go off by a variety of staff in every booth on the show floor at the reception!! Looked like nurf confetti!

EXAMPLE #3: Booth had stuffed animals the kind that people kill for on the show floor for their kid(s).  The company that brought them was from Asia and they brought a “mascot” outfit of a huge Panda Bear – all good until they put it on and it appeared to be so top-heavy that it made the mascot look tipsy and he was handing out the coveted animals and trying to gather the leads – people were literally chasing him down the aisles and trying to steady him so he could hand them an animal – the greatest thing was he gave up on the hand-held scanner and was having people drop their business card down the pants of the costume in exchange for the animal – you gotta want it is all I can say!

Don’t be afraid to have some fun on the show floor – add a game – you see golf standard games out there to win the putter – add in something extra, harder shots through your booth – I always thought a moving hole would be great, but have not been able to figure out how to make it happen maybe a robotics show could help with that – something fun…get the medical robot chasing people for an autograph or add voice!  Have a photo-op with a variety of cardboard cutouts or a model if the budget allows – something…add some fun – there is only so much “official business” people can take, and this is the time for some light-hearted ideas!

Yeah…the image…let me know how that gypsy booth soccer game goes – 🙂

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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
rememberd!

Never miss the opportunity to connect!

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!