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Three Critical Communications Concepts

In the November issue of Forbes, Kathy Caprino explores three critical communication concepts that help strengthen relationships, forge stronger bonds, and improve communication skills. These key concepts also enable you to engage, inspire, and connect more powerfully with your target audience at tradeshows and events. Listen… learn more >

Speaker Tactics That Generate Attention

There is only one thing worse than a rude audience at a corporate meeting; a polite one. They smile, make eye contact, but their attention is elsewhere.

The goal is to create an engaged audience. Here are a few proven tactics that generate audience attention.

I.  Write Your Own Introduction

Your presentation begins with your Introduction, not when you start speaking. Therefore, write your own and have the Moderator deliver it. Here are the hallmarks of a successful introduction:

Keep it short. Don’t detail your resume. Focus on relevant experience. Insert a teaser. Feature at least one benefit the audience will derive from your talk. Review pronunciations. Flag tricky words and review with the moderator. Make it appropriate. Who or what’s the focus of your talk? Hint: It’s usually not about you.

II.  Grab-em!

During the first few moments of your talk, audiences decide if you’re worth their attention. You must grab them intellectually and/or emotionally.  Here are some suggestions:

Provocative statements. Say something surprising. “By this time next year, 5 of you in this room will be dead.” (beat) “Statistically speaking, that is.“ When it comes to meaningful and fun quotations, the Internet is your friend. But be careful.  As Abraham Lincoln said, “The internet is not always a reliable source of facts.” Stories & Anecdotes. Everyone loves a good story. The best ones keep the listener in suspense. Find an appropriate one. “Imagine my panic just three weeks ago, I was awakened at 3:00 a.m. by a phone call … from our biggest client!” Tough questions. Ask a difficult question … then answer it. Conflict/resolution is as old as the hills because it works. “What goes on in the mind of a soldier who returns home–after years living as a POW?” Polls. No matter the format, polls involve everyone, demonstrates that you value the audience’s opinion, and generates meaningful metrics. “Please raise your hand if you’ve needed tech support in the last 12 months.” Props. Oprah Winfrey famously illustrated her dramatic weight loss with a wagon of animal fat equal to her weight loss. This single visual aid told the whole story. Literal, analogous, or direct, well-chosen visuals create a powerful hook for your whole presentation. “You may be wondering why I’m wearing this crash helmet?” Demos. A product or service in action captures attention, proves effectiveness, and directly involve audiences. “Who would like to try it for themselves?”

When you use these types of attention-generating tactics, your presentations will have greater impact, you’ll have more fun, and audiences may begin to look forward to your next presentation.

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How to Increase Attendee Dwell Time

If increasing attendee dwell time in your tradeshow booth has become your responsibility, here’s a powerful solution: an electric dog fence.  

You know the kind …a dog collar that delivers a mild shock when they attempt to leave the yard.  In this case, as each attendee enters your exhibit, you slip an electric collar around their neck, and when they try to leave …. bazinga.

A less “stingy” (and less litigious) approach is to create and deploy a clearly defined engagement, education, and connection process. For many, this means greeting an attendee, asking an open-ended question, and being a good listener. This is 100% valid … but … what then?  What is keeping them from leaving your exhibit?

Answer: Process. This means more than “next steps” … it means a series of activities that build in relevance and cause attendees to feel they are moving toward a specific, well-defined, relevant objective.

Think of your booth engagement as an “If-Then” flow chart. Initial engagements tell you about the attendee. Now you can guide them to a relevant next step, like a targeted case study or specific demo, etc.  After that, you can choose from a selection of relevant steps. The point is, at each level, you have choices.  This is pull vs. push marketing. When the attendee feels they’re experiencing information that makes increasing sense to them, they will become their own electric dog collar.

Of course, every well-defined “process” must include escape hatches to release prospects who are not qualified. This is the hallmark of a successful engagement program; it separates the wheat from the chaff, and maximizes a rep’s engagement time in the exhibit.

Interactive apps on attendees’ personal mobile devices are emerging as a popular tool to accomplish this.  The mobile app:

Enhances interactions within the booth. Appeals to a Millennial, always-connected mentality. Delivers relevant information in a familiar, easy-to-digest format Increases dwell time with “live” interactions that enhances the mobile app experience.

Mobile apps also live long past the booth engagement and create avenues for future engagement and education.

Of course, it would be great if the app also delivered a mild shock when the attendee tried to leave your booth.  

Ah … a marketer can dream  …

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Keep It Engaging

You’ve just accepted an invitation or assignment to give a presentation. What is the very next thing you should do?

   Develop an outline    Create slides    Define what your audience cares about

If you didn’t pick 3, read on.

People everywhere are the same; they are more likely to engage with material that’s relevant and useful to them.  Put yourself in their shoes … would you actively engage with a presentation that offered irrelevant or useless information? Whether it’s a 10-minute high-level overview, or a 45-minute keynote, ask yourself: What value can I bring the audience? How can I make their time spent with me worthwhile? The easiest way to answer these questions is to …

Ask Them

If presenting to peers, or a well-known segment of your own company, your familiarity gives you an edge. However, you must still do your homework. Ask your peers what they’d like to hear or learn about. Even though they know you, or at least know of you, people still like to feel like they’re the ones driving the car. Establishing two-way communication like this will help you gather important information and build a valuable rapport weeks before your presentation beings.

For audiences you do not know, you must do even more homework. Look past website marketing-speak and search for online peer discussion groups or articles that speak openly and honestly about current challenges, trends, and points of contention in their industry. It’s important to understand what they value most, and what keeps them up at night.  When you have a clear picture of this, frame your content by creating a link between their values and pain with topic. Your audience will be immediately drawn in. Wouldn’t you?

Be Conscious of Diversity

Learn the male/female ratio of your audience; age ranges; ethnicity; religions (if applicable); cultural differences; etc. This information is invaluable and will help you develop a presentation that’s inclusive.

The success or failure of your presentation may boil down to using the right personal pronoun or visual.

Much of this is intuitive, but it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of complacency. It’s always what you don’t know that will come back to haunt you.

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Gamification is Here To Stay. What Now?

Popular studies, supported by real-world experience, remind us that everyone everywhere learns and retains information better when it’s delivered using the elements of game theory.

So … now what?  Break out Yahtzee™ and Chex Mix™?

Even if you’re a believer in gamification, implementing it is a challenge.  What style of game?  What’s the reward?  Is there a reward? How long should it be?  Physical or electronic? Person against person or machine?

When considering these questions, it’s clear that industry and target audience directly influence the activation.

This blog provides a “next step” on your gamification journey.

There are 5 styles of games, defined by Gamasutra –  a leading game developer.  Here they are, along with a short profile of the type of person to whom each appeals, as well as the industries in which that game may find traction.

Game Type: Accomplishment

Player Profile: Games that involve rewards, both internal (pride, knowledge, etc.) and tangible (physical prizes, monetary, etc.). Industry: Banking, Surgeons, Doctors, Government, Construction, Business

Game Type: Imagination

Player Profile: Games that appeal to a target audience’s empathy, and predisposition toward pretending and storytelling. Industry: Education, Nursing, Nutrition, Architecture, Design, Hi-Tech, IT

Game Type: Socialization

Player Profile: Games that appeal to a target audience’s desire for camaraderie and group identification. Industry: Agriculture, Horticulture, Public Safety, Construction, Nursing, Education. Business

Game Type: Recreation

Player Profile: Games that appeal to target audiences who like to have fun and “get away” to adjust their physical, mental, or emotional state. Industry: Health & Fitness, Industrial, Manufacturing, Construction

Game Type: Subversion

Player Profile: Games that appeal to target audiences who consider themselves renegades, and who like breaking social or technical rules. Industry: Hi-Tech (all industries), IT, Design

This list is not exhaustive; and industries are repeated.  Tradeshow classifications are also not finite (e.g. the classifications “Business” or “IT” encompass dozens of subdivisions).  Furthermore, many gamification strategies must and should include multiple types of appeal, e.g. integrating accomplishment, socialization, and imagination in one game activity, etc.

However, this list should give you food for thought and set you on a clearer path toward identifying the type of game that will appeal to your target audience, connect with their personalities, and metaphorically (or literally) communicate your brand promise.

For a deeper dive on the subject, take a look at our white paper, Gamification: Winning the Engagement Challenge at Tradeshows and Events

Happy gaming!

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4 Ways to “Go Digital” at Events

The annual CMO Survey unfailingly offers useful information to dissect and analyze.

A key takeaway this year reveals that event marketers continue to increase the use of digital marketing tools in their tradeshow and event programs.  While the average company invests one out of ten budget dollars in marketing[1], the CMO Report projects that in 2018, companies will increase their digital marketing budget by 15.1%, offset by decreases in traditional advertising.

Face-to-face marketing remains the most powerful way of connect with target audiences and build brand at live events, but here are four ways to “Go Digital” at your next tradeshow or event.

Pre-show Web Scrubbing: “Web Scrubbing” metaphorically “scrubs” the Internet to gather detailed data about keyword searches that identify individuals and companies in search of specific product or solution types. This data enables marketers to intelligently expand their target-audience outreach pre-show, quickly identify high-value targets at-show, and feed their CRM system post-show.

 IP & Mobile Targeting: Advanced IP geo-fencing enables marketers to target a client’s or prospect’s office IP address weeks before the show.  This enables marketers to drive their target audience to put their exhibit on a “must-see” list. Mobile geo-fencing targets mobile devices at or near the event site.  This enables marketers to connect with targets when they have the greatest opportunity to act … when they’re at the show.

Interactive Mobile Apps:  Interactive mobile apps for AR, VR, and interactive touchscreen interactions are popping up everywhere, especially in verticals that highly regulate attendee engagement & education; the technology itself drives the draw.  The handheld nature of most electronic devices also enable companies to upscale interaction and storytelling without dramatically expanding their booth size or rearranging their floor layout. And since custom apps are easily gamified, interactions and learning become fun and memorable.

Bluetooth Beacons:  This is a low-cost, low-power way to engage attendees at-show via their mobile devices.  As attendees approach an exhibit (or anywhere you install a beacon), attendee mobile devices receive Bluetooth alerts about special booth promotions, demo invitations, product coupons, etc. These alerts can be interactive, gamified, or designed to build community. They also reach attendees when they are steps from your exhibit.

These are only four  ways marketers are integrating digital tools into their tradeshows and events.  It won’t be long before “digital apps” becomes as ubiquitous at tradeshows as colorful booth signage, roasted almonds, and the $7 hotdog.

[1] 2018 CEIR Spend Decision Report

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Top Tradeshow Engagement Tips for Booth Reps

You discover that you are in charge of demo-kiosk engagement at your next tradeshow.  You know you’re good at one-on-one interactions, but you don’t have much experience talking to small groups in a non-traditional environment, especially when your audience is tired, distracted, and willing to give you only 2-4 minutes of their time.

Here are some helpful tips to create effective in-booth demo-kiosk engagements:

Anticipate your target audience’s top 3-5 questions. What do your prospects routinely want to know?  Use that knowledge to build a short, 1 to 1.5-minute overview of your product/service that answers those questions.  Some attendees will “self-qualify (walk away), while others will ask additional questions. Those people are your targets. Tell stories.  Many sales reps focus on features and benefits, However, human beings respond best to relevant stories. Frame your remarks with a story about how a specific company was experiencing a specific challenge, including how your product or service helped solve it. Include your attendees in your demo. The pressure to engage on a tradeshow floor often causes reps to talk more and listen less.  Be sure to ask your attendees about their companies, about their role, and about their current challenges.  This approach includes the attendee in your presentation and increases their dwell time. When one attendee asks a question, deliver your answer to the entire group.  This is incredibly important. Make sure to repeat specific attendee questions for the group to hear, and then aim your response to the entire group as well. This ensures that everyone feels included. Have a clear next-step.  When the conversation is over, know exactly what you want attendees to do, e.g. moving to an additional demo, signing up for a trial, setting a future appointment, etc.  The point is … have specific next-steps in mind.

An effective demo-kiosk engagement strategy is the single most value-generating activity at a tradeshow.  Do your homework, be prepared, get a good night’s sleep, and put yourself in the proper mind-set for the day.  

And stock up on Altoids.

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The Care and Feeding of Social Media: A New Paradigm

Facebook is currently in the spotlight. But whatever new regulations or controls may be put into place, Facebook, as well as LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram, et al, will continue to have two things in common; they will continue to crave content, and they will increasingly need… learn more >

5 Tradeshow Trends Every CMO Should Know

LinkedIn recently published an ePaper entitled, “5 Trends Every CMO Should Know.”  The content was drawn from trusted industry sources, and each trend was accompanied by an inset detailing how CMOs can use LinkedIn to take advantage of each. This blog will do the same, but with a… learn more >

5 Top Tips to Improve your Exhibit Demos

Seeing a product or service in action is a proven way to further a sale. Naturally, many companies choose to feature in-booth demos in their trade show exhibits. Here are 5 Top Tips that help ensure that your in-booth demos effectively engage your target audience and… learn more >

The Year of Empathy. Do you have it?

The start of the calendar year ushers in an onslaught of business predictions. After reviewing the marketing trends expected for the coming year, it appears that 2018 will be the Year of Empathy. “Empathy,” in marketing terms, kicks experiential programs up a notch by offering brand… learn more >

Four Strategic Building Blocks to Event Success

The New Year is almost here, and with it comes a flurry of expectations. Use these four strategic building blocks to jumpstart event success in 2018. Traffic Building Attendees routinely create a “must-see” list to optimize their time on the show floor.  Pre-show communications are the surest… learn more >

The Challenge of Walking the Walk

When was the last time you challenged your team to embrace the value of “risk taking” or to defy the status quo and engage in “innovative thinking?” These aren’t just edgy statements. They’re bold calls to action, designed to inspire and guide our teams to excel. And yet, several… learn more >