Trade Show Success

For some of you, exhibiting at trade shows is a critical part of your marketing strategy. For others, you may be thinking of participating in the future. Hopefully, I can provide some helpful information to make your experience beneficial.

There are some real benefits to trade shows:

  1. It is economical – it costs approximately $350 to get someone to your booth and to enter into dialogue with you. Compare this to the over $700 it costs to generate a prospect from the field.
  2. It provides a visual and experiential experience for attendees through hands on demonstrations that have the ability to engage all of the senses.
  3. Currently, trade shows are seeing a decrease in attendance, but those attending tend to be decision makers.

Trade show exhibiting can be very expensive, so it’s important that it not only be a tactic of your overall marketing strategy, but that you have a strategy specifically for trade shows. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Exhibit for the right reasons. Are you looking to find new customers, sell more to your existing clients, introduce a new product or service or reposition your brand?
  • Evaluate past shows. What were the results? Were the demographics of the attendees the same as the demographics of your ideal client? Was the traffic what you expected? Did you generate revenue?
  • Space is important. Booth size needs to have sufficient space to accommodate staff, the physical exhibit and booth visitors.
  • Invest in your booth. It needs to be a magnet to draw people in, with great graphics that communicate who you are, what you do and what your offer is. A great booth can actually help to pre-qualify attendees. In addition, your booth should reflect the benefits you can bring to visitors – increased productivity or competitiveness, efficiency or increased profit.
  • Consider setting appointments, pre-show, using integrated direct marketing (mail, email, microsites, social media). This can help you determine how much staff and marketing collateral will be required during the show.
  • Staff is critical. Those manning the trade show booth should be approachable, friendly, confident, intimately know the company’s products and services and be a great communicator.
  • Engage top management in your planning. Consider giving them a specific role at the trade show, such as meeting with VIP customers or high level prospects.
  • Focus on collecting good information so that your follow-up staff has the facts to effectively move an interested prospect into becoming a customer. It’s also important to make sure your sales staff, or follow-up team, is sufficient to respond within 7 days to A-level prospects. If your staff isn’t sufficient, consider outsourcing.
  • Measure! It’s important to know if the trade show was worthwhile. Did it generate quality leads? Did it provide A-level prospects? Were the demographics of attendees the same as your target demographics? Was attendance what you expected? Was your booth and messaging effective? These measurements can help you determine if attending this trade show in the future will be worthwhile.
  • Be open to new trade show opportunities. Consider new trade shows, particularly if you are entering a new market or have developed a niche market.

Exhibiting at trade shows can bring opportunity, but you must be prepared with a strategy to make that opportunity pay off! When you’re ready to put your trade shows ideas in motion, we’re here to help.

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Collaboration or Confrontation?

For those of you in volunteer leadership positions in your community, I’m hoping you are in an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation. A place where everyone is working for the good of the community at all times – never forgetting that a rising tide will raise all boats.

Over the last year, in my volunteer leadership position, I’ve had the honor of working with many leaders who were all focused on collaborating for the good of the community. Unfortunately, I also experienced a few who were more interested in confrontation than collaboration. I understand that everyone has an opinion. I also understand that while we may all agree on the end goal, we will have different methods of getting there. Not wrong – just different.

What I don’t understand is the posturing, negative commentary and hostile environment that some feel they must create in order to defend their turf or pound their chest. Do they think that if the goal is met, it is due to their sole efforts? That’s not likely. Anything important that occurs in a community is usually because of the joint efforts of the leadership in that community. Why do we keep forgetting that?

Let’s use a basic example: We all agree that we need transportation, infrastructure and quality educational institutions in our communities. So, why would we continually shoot ourselves in the foot by arguing about the journey we need to take to get to the results we want? To make it worse, we do that arguing, and name calling, in the public media. So instead of presenting a united front where we can accomplish that end goal, we present a divided region that continually is left with the crumbs.

Why can we not sit down, discuss, debate and come to agreement on a plan of action that incorporates the best of all of our viewpoints? Once that plan is developed, we can then all work toward it – according to the action steps we’ve defined. I’m betting that we would get more of what we want instead of less than what we need.

Just some food for thought!

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We Remember!

Today is 9/11 – a day that for the last 13 years has been etched into our memories. We will always remember those whose lives were taken from them by a senseless act of terrorism. We will never forget those heroes who sacrificed their lives to bring down a plane into a field rather than have it take more American lives. We remember!

In August, I had the privilege of visiting the 911 Memorial and Museum in New York City. While the site memorializes such a great loss to our country, the way in which it was designed and built is just amazing. Every little detail of the fountains means something and honors those who lives were lost.

One thing that continues to stand out in my mind are the little white rosebuds that are placed each day in the names of those whose birthdays are on that day. That small touch of remembrance of their lives carries such tremendous impact.

Hearing the recordings of voice mails left, seeing the remnants of a building destroyed and viewing video footage of the disaster left an impression on me that remains fresh.

We all remember where we were that day when we heard that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. For some of us, that day is another memory alongside of the memory of where we were when JFK was assassinated. Two very different events, but events that were executed by evil people, events that impacted the world and events that will remain in our memories forever.

To those loved ones who were left behind that day 13 years ago, my sympathies and prayers go out to you. We remember!

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Volunteer!

In 2 more days I will be completing my year as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. This year has been a year of great change within the Chamber. We have conducted a 4 month national search to hire a new President, restructured personnel and programs and took some stands on some very controversial political issues.

At events that I’ve attended this past week, I’m asked by most everyone if I’m glad my year is over. That question has caused me to really stop and think.

While, all of those changes took a lot of time that I was not expecting to devote to a volunteer position, I believe the benefits have far outweighed the time and effort required. I have received far more than I gave.

But, isn’t that usually the case in almost any area where you volunteer your time and efforts? It starts by you giving your thoughts, ideas, money and time and it ends with you realizing how enriched your life was made by that volunteer effort.

This past year I have had the opportunity to better know those I’ve been serving with over the last few years. Some friendships have deepened and new friendships have begun. I had the opportunity to meet some very important people who I would have never had the chance to meet. I went to Frankfort and to Washington to advocate for the Chamber’s positions and experienced, in greater detail, how our government works – or sometimes doesn’t work.

While I always felt that I was a leader, this past year developed my leadership skills even further. I also have become rather proficient at public speaking on the spur of the moment. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the reporters who cover our region and see just how quickly news can happen.

I had the opportunity to give my input on the type of leader our Chamber needed and met with the most powerful of business leaders in our community to get their input, too. And, while they put their shoes on just like the rest of us, having the chance to interact with them was special.

I’ve seen the dedication of our Chamber staff, who are so often quietly in the background making sure things go smoothly, scripts are written and events are successful. I’ve seen healthy debate over differences of opinion and I experienced unhealthy name calling over the same issues. Funny how differences of opinion can cause rational people to act in irrational ways. But, that’s human nature, I suppose.

Like every other volunteer effort in the past, I received so much more than I gave. I am grateful to the Northern Kentucky business community who gave this old dog the opportunity to learn some new tricks and meet some wonderful people. From the bottom of my heart – thank you!

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Loss

Lunch with a friend, who is suffering a personal loss, prompted me to write on this topic today. One thing I know for sure is that loss is hard. Whether you’ve lost a loved one, lost a job, lost a friendship, lost your home, lost a competition or lost your self-respect, loss has hit all of us at one time or another. And, if you’re lucky enough that it hasn’t up to this point, just know that at some time in the future, it likely will.

Loss leaves us with a hole. Sometimes it’s a hole in our heart for the death of a loved one or the loss of a friendship. Sometimes, it just causes a heavy blanket of sadness or grief and sometimes the inability to act. Other times it leaves a hole in our bank accounts or causes us to hang our heads in shame.

Loss also will normally involve change, which is another word I’ve blogged about previously. Change is the result of having to deal with the loss. So, now we have the two most dreaded words in the same sentence – “loss” and “change”.

I have decided that about the only thing I want to lose is weight. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have the self-control to change my eating habits to attain that loss. Oops, there I go again, using those dreaded two words in the same sentence.

A loss usually is followed by grief. Yes, it’s normal to grieve something we’ve lost. Many of us know the grief of losing a beloved pet. While others, who are pet-free, may never understand why we grieve. Heck, even graduating from college can trigger a grief response because we are losing one thing (our college years) and having to change to adapt to supporting ourselves in a chosen career.

The larger the loss, the deeper the grief. Since grief is very personal, we will all grieve in different ways. Some grieve openly while others do it privately. There is also not a timetable for dealing with a loss. It may take others longer than some to “get over” something. And, some things we never get over – we just learn to adjust.

HelpingGuide.org actually details the 5-step process you will go through when dealing with loss:

  1. Denial – “This can’t be happening to me.”
  2. Anger – “Why is this happening to me? Who is to blame?”
  3. Bargaining – “Make this not happen and, in return, I will _____.”
  4. Depression – “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  5. Acceptance – “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If someone like HelpingGuide.org has identified a process, then surely grieving a loss is normal. For some reason, just knowing that we’re not alone – that others have gone through something similar – makes us feel better. Remember the old adage, “Misery loves company”? While I don’t think any of us wish to see anyone else suffer, for some reason it helps us to feel that we’re at least “normal” because others have gone through this and survived – and some have actually thrived.

When loss comes knocking at your door and forces you to change something, I hope you’ll remember that you’re not alone. Others have gone before you and others will come after you. Here’s hoping that those who have gone before will reach out a helping hand and lend their wisdom. And, you can do the same for those who follow.

I’m praying for my friend and hope that she found comfort, and help, in our conversation today. I hope she also believed me when I told her that someday she would look back from her new normal and be proud of what she worked through and what she will have accomplished.

 

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The One Thing We Can Count On Is Change!

When did the world start changing at such a rapid rate? For our industry, I almost think it was when desktop publishing was invented.

In the printing industry, we were used to clients having us scan their photos on flat bed and drum scanners. They would then spend a lot of money to do all kinds of color corrects. The photos in every publication had to be perfect.

Well, along comes desktop publishing and the ability to purchase a desktop scanner. All of a sudden the photos that clients were using in their publications were grainy, blurry and off-color. However, they were okay with that because they had taken control of that portion of the production process and were saving money. Perfect photos were no longer a requirement.

Follow that up with all of the page layout programs and suddenly the receptionist became their in-house designer. We would receive files that were incorrect, but we would correct them and proceed with the projects. Again, the design wasn’t flashy, but the client was saving money and had control. So, they were satisfied.

As I look at the world of advertising, I see something similar happening. Social media, along with television and radio channel fragmentation have begun to make advertising agencies take a look at their current business models. They tell me they hear that the client doesn’t need them anymore for television or radio spots because the television and radio channels are providing the creative services. They tell them they no longer need their PR services because they can handle it themselves via social media.

So, as printing companies before them, advertising agencies will need to adapt to a changing business environment.

Now, I’m sure this hasn’t happened solely in the printing or agency world, but those are two I’m familiar with. We are now looking at 3D printing, which has been predicted to revolutionize manufacturing. No longer will you need long manufacturing runs to produce something that may not sell.

Developers and creators can take a 3D model and scan it, or develop CAD drawings and have them output in hours by a 3D printer. They can then take these pieces and show them to focus groups or clients and get feedback. All of this will lower their development costs, and allow for full customization of products.

Even logistic companies are starting to get a little nervous, as local 3D print manufacturing may cut back on the products that need to be shipped to customers – they can just pick them up at a local office. Once technology came on the scene, the pace of change has accelerated. It’s hard for a business to determine if their business model will even make sense in the future.

All this does is stress the fact that we need to decide what type of business we are in. Are you married to the idea of being a printer, an advertising agency or a manufacturer of widgets? Or, are you in business to provide “something” to a client and make a profit doing it? We must be willing to continually reinvent ourselves so that we remain relevant in the marketplace.

This is obviously just my opinion and others may strongly disagree. If so, I’d love to have you comment and share your ideas in motion!

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Are you really that good, or is he just that bad?

We are entering the season of political advertisements. Here in Northern Kentucky, it is starting to feel like the political season is never-ending. But, it is increasing as we are in a ramp up for this November’s election.

As I listen to the political advertisements on television, I am amazed that a candidate would think that I would vote for him/her when their entire political message is “I may be bad, but my opponent is worse”.

They no longer seem to share their vision for our city/state/country, but only want to share what their opponent has done wrong. And, realize that whatever their opponent has done, has been magnified, exaggerated and distorted. It’s very hard to know where to turn for true and factual information.

At this point, I would vote for a candidate that spent their paid advertising dollars telling me what they believe, what they intend to do, what they stand for, what they have accomplished in the past, why their ideas matter and what they stand for. Let the other candidate do the same and stop this negative campaigning and mud-slinging.

With this in mind, think about how you do business. Do you sell your products and services by bashing your competitors? Or, do you sell your products and services by telling the story of what you can do that will benefit your prospect and customer? I’m hoping you sell by sharing your story, not by bashing your competitor.

This brings to mind a recent incident. I needed to replace a significant amount of carpeting in my home. I decided, in advance, that I would visit the two locally owned and operated carpet companies in Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky.

The first store I visited, I was greeted and given assistance. The carpet I liked was beautiful. I shared with the sales rep that I was visiting another carpet company and shared the name of that company. He immediately went into over-drive telling me that I wouldn’t be happy with the other company and any other negative comment he could come up with. I left and decided before I pulled out of their parking lot, that I didn’t want to do business with them because all he did was criticize his competitor.

I drove to the other carpet company and was promptly greeted and assisted. When I shared with that sales rep that I was looking for carpet at his company and one other, he immediately stated, “Well, you can’t go wrong with either company. Both are fine organizations.” Before I left the building I knew that he was the sales rep I wanted to do business with.

I bought my carpet from him and he was not the lowest price. I was looking for value and a person I could trust. He was confident enough in his company, products and services that he could compliment his competitor. That’s a class act!

Are you a class act? Are you threatened by a competitor, or do you use them to up your game and become the best choice? Always sell from a higher level. Tell your targets what you can do for them and why your products and services are a great solution for them. At the same time, always be willing to tell them when your organization isn’t a good fit for a project and be willing to refer them to the company that is. After all, we’re trying to build long-term relationships that are built on trust, aren’t we?

 

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