Trade Show Visitors

Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows and Events - Part 2

In part one of “Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows & Events”, we covered the importance of selecting the right events that match up well for your business and how to plan for them to maximize your opportunities. In this part two edition, we will highlight the components that address team preparation, engaging booth visitors, networking and follow-up plans for a successful event.

Create a winning team that makes your company shine

Committing to a trade show, conference or event means you have an investment in it which requires the right team of people to represent your company. You’ll need to have a well-balanced team consisting of those that have good customer service and selling skills, technical acumen, and an ability to interact with visitors. The last thing you want to do is assign someone to attend who is scared out of their mind to meet people. And, don’t just send your sales people without first defining their roles and responsibilities. In fact, your entire team needs to know exactly what is expected of them and what the objectives are for participating in the chosen event.

Remember, attending an event isn’t a free vacation – it requires preparation beforehand and attentiveness while at the event. Prepare your team by getting them excited about representing your company and enthusiastic about the opportunity of engaging with prospects to generate business opportunities.

Visitor engagement 

At most trade shows, aisle traffic can be heavy and scheduled times for exhibit hall openings can result in a flurry of activity that is short lived. Because of this, you will want to be fully prepared and ready to engage with visitors to determine who is a prospect and who needs to be encouraged to keep moving. Wasting time on non-prospects means you are missing opportunities to spend time with those who need your solution offering or product. To avoid this scenario, quickly assess a visitor through a few qualifying questions to determine what to do next. Do it professionally and with courtesy as some visitors may represent partnership opportunities, become future prospects or result in good media contacts.

For those that pass your qualifying criteria, have an action plan in place for next steps. Capture this in your CRM system so that follow-up plans are properly executed. You’ll want to do this for all of your visitors so that your CRM status codes indicate whether a visitor is a non-lead, prospect, partner, media contact, etc.


It's more than a trade show - harvest the opportunities

Take advantage of the entire event beyond your exhibit. Trade shows normally coincide with a conference that includes educational break-out sessions and many networking opportunities. These represent great ways to meet those who may not stop by your exhibit. The food court is another place to mingle with others and introduce yourself while taking a break from your booth responsibilities. Many times, great conversations take place at break-out sessions, special networking events and in the food court. Don’t miss these opportunities. Put together a scheduled plan to attend these as time permits while at the trade show or event.

Follow-up for succcess and reap the rewards

Getting the most out of trade shows and events boils down to your post-show follow-up plan. An alarming high percentage of trade show leads are never followed up. It’s very easy to return from an event exhausted with a shifted focus on catching up in the office instead of executing a follow-up plan. Without a system or plan in place, it’s not hard to understand why this occurs. But, it doesn’t have to be this way and you should never find yourself in this situation.

Too much time and effort have already been invested by your company to forsake this process. A follow-up plan must be developed that clearly indicates what will occur with every contact met at your event - - including who will do it, when and why. Because you captured your contacts at the event with your CRM, you will already have their statuses and be on your way to implementing an effective follow-up plan.

This activity is where your potential pay-off will occur. This is where you will determine if your event was worthwhile and if your investment will generate a healthy return. This is where it all happens to ensure you get the most out of your trade shows and events.

GE Booth

Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows and Events - Part 1

Every spring and fall, the trade show and event season gears up with a flurry of activity, hype and promise. It’s an easy trap to fall into with the lure of event venues, popular keynote speakers and even the pressure to “be there” because your competition will be. But, before you jump right in, take the time to determine how trade shows can be a strategic marketing component for your business and then decide how best to approach them.

The right show with the right audience
Determining which shows make sense for your business will require some effort on your part. Research those that match up well with your buying market so that you can decide what type of presence is necessary for your company. Take into consideration opportunities beyond exhibiting such as landing a spot as a speaker and strategically participating in networking sessions throughout the event. Don’t just go to a show, throw up a booth and expect instant success. Be smart and selective.

An action plan with clearly stated goals
Once you have identified the trade shows that match up well with your offerings, define your show objectives early on and use those objectives as the drivers for everything you do in preparation and execution of your trade show presence. This includes agreeing on what you hope to accomplish, how you will meet your goals and the measurements necessary to ensure the objectives are met. Your action plan will help keep you focused on the primary goal of participating in the target event.

Gain visibility and be known
With your initial plans in place for your trade show, you’ll want to turn your attention to promotion opportunities available to boost your show visibility. Through pre-show mailers, e-blasts and at-show promotions, your company will have several opportunities to make attendees aware of your participation. Give them a reason to visit your booth, attend your presentation session and meet with you at the networking events.

The 3 second rule
When planning for your exhibit display, keep in mind that you have only 3-5 seconds to capture the attention of those walking the aisles. Visually stunning graphics with a few key message points will help make the connection to those you want to draw into your display area. Attempting to tell your entire business story on a booth is a mistake – leave that error to your competitors! And, plan an exhibit that is inviting, open and free-flowing. This will allow for a more pleasant visitor experience.

Trinkets and trash are for amateurs
Why spend money on giveaways that will end up in the trash or given to the family dog to chew up after the show? Choose giveaways with a purpose and that reflect well on your company and brand. Make it relevant and meaningful to your business. Cheap stuff of inferior quality will not bode well. Go with substance that makes a great first impression.

Part 2 of “Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows & Events” will cover team preparations, engaging booth visitors, networking and follow-up plans for a successful event.

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Summer Slump

How to Avoid the Summer Slump

The summer season is probably the most anticipated time of year:  school is out; baseball season is in full swing; the weather is warm; pools are open; people head to the beach; vacations are taken…and more.  It’s also a time of year when we find ourselves busy with “other things” that can easily distract us from our business.  There are those who’ll say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter – it’s summer and no one does much business this time of year.”  And then others will say, “Let’s just wait until summer is over and hit the ground running after Labor Day.”  There it is:  the summer slump.  Here’s how to avoid it.

Revisit your marketing strategy & plan
This is a great time of the year to do the things you may not otherwise have time to tackle.  Right off the bat, revisit your marketing strategy and plan.  Compare what you have already accomplished this year against what was planned.  Then, you can revise accordingly:  what worked well?...what didn’t?  Look at what you have planned for the second half of the year and determine if that is still realistic or requires some tweaking. 

Tighten up your marketing toolkit
After revising your marketing plan, review your sales and marketing toolkit to see what needs to be refreshed, added or even removed.  Pay careful attention to the tools that are helping you connect well with your market and consider tossing out those they do not.  Can your existing tools be improved or are you missing any that would help you achieve your business objectives?  Taking the time to update these communication tools with fresh content and the right messaging will ensure your team is properly equipped to win new business.   

Refresh your website
Now turn your attention to your website.  It’s easy to neglect your site while busy with other priorities, so use the summer months to spend some quality time with your website.  In all likelihood, you’ll need to refine the content to maintain messaging consistency with your sales and marketing toolkit.  Update images, graphics and videos along with links so that your site performs at its best.  While you’re under the hood, review your title and meta tags along with your meta descriptions in case these need to be revised.  This will help maintain your organic search rankings so that your business can easily be found. 

Obviously there are other areas you may need to spend time on, but the point is to maintain a proactive mindset without falling prey to the luring summer sun.  If you use your summer to address these key marketing areas, the dog days will be your friend!

Feel free to share this on your favorite social media sites and email it to a colleague or friend.   

Peak Performance Requires the Right Marketing Fuel

Sales and Marketing Management magazine recently published our article on how to properly fuel your sales and business development engine.  Download it here.

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Roadmap Implementation

Implementing Your Marketing Roadmap - Part 3 of 3

In parts 1 and 2 of our Marketing Roadmap series, we covered the critical aspects related to designing and constructing your Marketing Roadmap as the new year approaches. With design and construction completed, it’s time to put your marketing roadmap in action.

Focused with a purpose

This is where the “rubber meets the road” – the implementation stage. When you put the specific tactics of your marketing roadmap into place, your plan comes to life. Working through your roadmap requires discipline with a constant focus on your primary objectives. When you do that, you’ll reach your stated goals strategically and avoid veering off in the wrong direction.

Staying on track

As you make progress, you’ll want to perform routine checks that will help determine where change may be required on a project or re-prioritizing a particular marketing tactic might be necessary. While the primary framework of your marketing roadmap remains unchanged, you do want to have enough flexibility to make any required adjustments that will improve it. Stick with it and commit to working the plan.

Capture successes

When successes occur, capture them and document how they occurred. You will want to know why certain things worked well and whether or not those accomplishments can be replicated. Compare actual performance results against those that were planned. Take the time to analyze these situations as they may represent excellent opportunities for a more efficient marketing implementation process.

Supporting the team

As you work your marketing roadmap, make sure you are supporting your internal customer – the sales team. Your marketing efforts are providing the fuel for your sales engine – don’t deprive your production engine from operating at its highest level. When working your plan, ensure that your sales and business development team is receiving exactly what they need from marketing. And, be sure that you have reciprocating communication channels established so that your sales team provides marketing with input that will help the team be successful.

Move it forward

Venturing out without a plan to reach a desired destination is risky and not usually considered a wise move. The same can be said for having a strategic marketing plan that sits on a shelf. You have to work your plan to get results because the process is a continuous one. As you do, be flexible and adaptable. Be willing to make changes when and where they may be required. Capture successes as they occur and capitalize on new opportunities. Having this mindset and commitment to your marketing roadmap will deliver the results your business needs.

We have now covered the essentials behind marketing roadmaps: Design, Construction, and Implementation. Taking this approach to your marketing planning and execution will help ensure that your new year starts off on the right track and continues to progress along the pathway to your desired business destination.

Feel free to share this on your favorite social media sites and email it to a colleague or friend.   

Mktg Roadmap Construction

Construction Progress for Your Marketing Roadmap - Part 2 of 3

In part 1 of our Marketing Roadmap series, we covered the importance of designing a Marketing Roadmap in preparation for the new year.  By now, your design work is finished and you are well into the construction phase of your marketing roadmap.

Build for success

As you build out your roadmap, stay focused on the connecting points to your market.  The best way to know which routes to include is to drill into the market data and intelligence that indicates the market behaviors, trends, and habits of your buyers.  

  • Consider where your market gathers information to make buying decisions (because that’s where you’ll want to have a presence) 
  • Review your existing client base so that you know why they value your product or services
  • Analyze your competition (yes, you need to know what they are doing) to determine what kind of marketing efforts they may be performing that is working for them 
  • And, look at your own business to see how well it aligns with your market to match up with potential buyers and stand out from competitors  

This information should prove to be a goldmine for helping you know the best way to bridge the gap between your offerings and your potential customers. 

Preparing for roadblocks, the unexpected and detours

When finalizing your roadmap, make sure you plan for the unexpected or obstacles that can hinder your plans.  For your business, it could mean aggressive project schedules, a new competitor, a lost customer, budget cuts, a challenging new technology, and the like.  Although it is nearly impossible to avoid all obstacles, being ready for the unexpected will help reduce the impact.

Sometimes the plan takes a detour based on unforeseen occurrences.  This is why preparing for the unexpected with a contingency plan is important.  When this happens, remain flexible and adapt to the situation.  These potential setbacks may actually turn into opportunities.    

As you begin to wrap-up construction of your marketing roadmap, take the time to review all of the components to ensure you have the right strategy and tactics for achieving your business objectives.  Give attention to the tools you’ve included that will help you connect with your buying market and be sure you have the resources in place to implement and manage the plan.  With your marketing roadmap near completion, you are one step away from putting the plan in place to drive revenue-generating opportunities.  

In part 3, we will address Marketing Roadmap ImplementationFeel free to share this on your favorite social media sites and email it to a colleague or friend.   

Outsourcing 2

The Value of Outsourcing Your Marketing

The concept of outsourcing isn’t new, but the trend continues to gain momentum.  From a marketing perspective, it means gaining the professionalism, expertise and deep experience of a marketing resource versus hiring someone and carrying them on your payroll.  As a result, having this kind of resource can provide you with a quick ramp-up to implementing marketing initiatives centered on business growth.  Being able to tap directly into a professional marketing resource for collateral development, brand initiatives, customer communication projects, digital marketing, public relations, event coordination, website design and more is a huge advantage.   
 
It is also a less expensive option to hiring a full-time equivalent.  You’ll have fee structures that bring a level of predictability through a defined scope of services.  And, the arrangement is often flexible allowing you to modify the scale of services to match your business situation.  Plus, your services model provides inroads to supporting marketing services that can be bundled with your monthly agreement or used to augment project work. 
 
The trend of outsourcing continues not only in popularity but in practical application. 
Companies that choose to outsource their marketing function are able to remain focused on their core competencies while trusting the expertise of a marketing professional to work in parallel with them.  The value is there and companies will continue to pursue these advantageous opportunities.
 

Feel free to share this on your favorite social media sites and email it to a colleague or friend.   

While in the waiting room of a doctor's office, I noticed a couple of framed posters on the wall that caught my attention. With an emphasis on sports medicine, this particular office is well known for their expertise in treating both athletes and those who enjoy moderate sports activities.

As I approached the large posters, I was immediately struck by the testimonials each one projected. The first was an image of former swimmer Amy Van Dyken. Beneath her picture, the text read "4 time Olympic Gold Medalist". However, that had been modified when Amy autographed the poster. Next to her signature, Amy had marked through the number 4 and written 6! But, here's where the eye-opener comes in - - next to that, she wrote "thanks to you". The endorsement now stated "6 time Olympic Gold Medalist - Thanks to You"; directly attributing her success to the sports medicine doctor.
 
The second poster was one of former Major League Baseball player, Jeff Bagwell, when he played for the Houston Astros. Next to his autograph, he wrote "Thank you for helping me make it to the World Series." Wow! That's the type endorsement you just don't see every day.
 
Your business really isn't that different from this sports medicine doctor. Granted, you may not have access to the same "star power" of a celebrity endorsement, but if you're doing a good job for your customers, surely someone will want to boast about that on your behalf.
 
Endorsements are powerful and can be used in many ways such as your website, in newsletters, brochures, etc. All it takes is a simple quote, a comment or something similar that states your business delivers what you promise and your customer receives the expected result - maybe even more!

Even if you are not a golf fan, stories about the Masters tournament played at Augusta National will interest you. Some tell of the personal side of a player like Phil Mickelson and his family while others remain centered on the game itself. Beyond the stories, though, is a mind-boggling business that makes this a big time event.

Tickets for the tournament days are nearly impossible to obtain unless you know someone. Practice round tickets are only available through a lottery system. It's all highly controlled by the tournament because they can do it. And that's how they like it.

Why? Because the demand is there. Plus, they like the prestige and tradition that are synonymous with the Masters.

For an operation that is only 'public' a few days out of the year, the tournament can turn a buck. It's done strategically and very effectively. Food and beverage options are very inexpensive considering the venue and the process for obtaining a quick meal is simple and easy. That's all by design.

But, rather than mark up food and beverage items beyond reason, it is the merchandise that sells like crazy. Nowhere else can you buy authentic Masters merchandise but at Augusta National (of course, there are those who resell on eBay). Lines of patrons file into the pro shops to grab whatever gear they can with the coveted Masters logo on it. You name it and they have it - golf shirts and tee-shirts to ball caps and ball markers. There are towels, flags, playing cards, belts and more.

Just as quickly as the merchandise flies off the shelf, it is restocked by fast moving clerks. It's an amazing process as the clerks know that everyone in the shop is there to buy something. They don't have to persuade anyone. It's a dream come true for retail selling. Imagine the margins on these products. Tee-shirts are $26, ball caps are $24 and golf shirts are $68. With the buying power that the Masters undoubtedly wields, the profits must be extremely favorable.

Even though this entire operation is an extraordinary one, it doesn't happen automatically. The Masters tournament understands their market. They understand demand and they know how to sell right into it - without really having to sell.

That's where some businesses miss it. They think a product will sell itself or that demand will somehow be there. That's not always the case. Sometimes you have to create it. And, oftentimes, you have to sell it. However, when everything is aligned (strategy, marketing, sales and service), you will reap the rewards.

Wouldn't it be great to be the 'Masters' of your market!

Yep, it appears Denny's is at it again. They must be on to something that is working. A new advertisement is launching to promote another free meal for their Grand Slamwich. As they did during the Super Bowl ad, Denny's will be offering a freebie to those who bring a friend who could use a good meal. The idea is to promote 'acts of kindness'. A good idea, no doubt, and one that will continue to boost their already high brand favorability.

Some may be asking why they would bother with another free offer. In marketing, there is no more powerful word than 'free'. And, it works. It's obviously working for Denny's because they wouldn't bother investing in another promotion of this type if the first had been unsuccessful. Plus, they understand the importance of consistency. The Super Bowl promo could have easily been a one-off, one-time deal that we soon forgot about. But, no, the marketing pros at Denny's recognize that and are ready to pull the trigger again. When this ad hits, there will be many consumers who recall the Super Bowl promotion and thousands upon thousands who will recall excellent service and quality food when they partook of the free Grand Slam meal back in February.

This is likely to create a lot of additional buzz for Denny's. That's only part of what they're after. It is the buzz that translates into revenue dollars that will be the real measure. I'm betting they'll please a lot of hungry patrons while bringing a smile to the company's bottom line.

 



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