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Is it Time for a Marketing Rethink?

Times change; technologies change; people change; attitudes change.  Ask yourself … are you making engagement marketing decisions based on past assumptions that may no longer be true? For example: Assumption: Augmented Reality (AR) is too expensive. Reality: It’s more affordable than ever. Assumption: AR is too involved. Reality: It’s… learn more >

Account Based Marketing: The New Tradeshow Edge

Trade show programs typically rely on a shotgun approach to generate individual leads. Account Based Marketing (ABM), on the other hand, focuses on infiltrating highly-specific, target accounts.

New digital tools are bridging the gap, delivering personalized attention, hyper-focused message outreach, and micro-relevant content to high-value clients prospects in advance of the show.

Here are three ways to integrate ABM tools and tactics into your next trade show:

Pre-Event Intelligence Campaigns: Powerful search and analytic tools scrub the web to learn the awareness level, interest level and buying intent of your target prospects. This ultra-specific data enables you to tailor your pre-, at-, and post-booth engagement programs to better identify, connect, and follow-up with high-value target prospects.

VIP Lead Management: Major clients can be tough to nail down for meetings at trade shows.  “Smart” lead management systems recognize high-value clients or prospects when they enter a booth and immediately send instant text messages to Sales Reps so they can be on hand to give these VIPs special attention.

Activity Personalization: Interactive apps (product demos, sales tools, games, etc.) can be designed to include special sections personalized for key clients. By integrating client logos, specific competitor pressure points, hyper-focused industry challenges, and client-centric goals and aspirations you’re demonstrating your level of interest and commitment to winning their business.

Incorporating ABM strategies into your trade show programs is all about taking the marketing tools and tactics you use to fill your sales funnel on a macro level and re-engineering them for information to guide and shape your engagement strategies on a micro level.

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Tradeshow Experiences: Size Matters

A recent CEIR article mentioned how interactive technology can expand a trade show attendee experience without having to expand the size of the booth.

This is good news … more bang for the buck.

But interactive technology is not a panacea.  If it isn’t used properly, it is the perfect way to drain a budget.

This blog identifies “interactive technology” challenges, and offers ways to solve them

Cost/Benefit

Challenge: You can easily pay too much for interactive technology that doesn’t deliver the desired results.  

Solution: Knowledgeable event professionals:

Help marketers define their objectives … Educate them about what interactive technology can and cannot do … … and then leverages the positions the interactive tech within a clear engagement strategy that is designed to deliver a specific result.

No Tech is an Island

Challenge:  If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.  Placing an interactive kiosk in a booth, or arming reps with app-loaded tablets, isn’t enough.

Solution: When interactive technology is positioned within a well-defined and properly-implemented overall attendee engagement program, it cannot help but generate maximum ROI.

One-off

Challenge: Interactive technology that’s show-specific is worthless at 5pm on Day Three.

Solution:  Ask yourself:

Can sales reps use this tech in the field?   Can we update content?   Can it play on different devices?

Interactive tech that’s designed to be used outside the booth, for months or years to come, truly amortizes your investment and delivers real value.

In the final analysis, the success of interactive technology on a show floor depends on careful research, strategic partnerships, and intelligent implementation.

Just like everything else.  

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If it Ain’t Broke…Fix it Anyway

The aphorism, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is sound, practical advice … that isn’t.  

If you own a car, manage an IT network, or run a business, you know that “preventative maintenance” keeps inexpensive problems from becoming expensive ones.

Trade show engagement programs also need “preventative maintenance” so they can easily and quickly adapt to changing attendee expectations, a changing marketplace, and a changing world.

However, after experiencing trade show success, some Marketing Executives adopt an “ain’t-broke/don’t-fix” attitude.  It gives them one less thing to worry about.

Which is fine … until it isn’t.

Does this mean companies must scrap previous trade show strategies and start fresh each time?  Not at all.

Here are three proven preventative maintenance tactics that inject forward motion into trade show engagement programs:

Reinforce the Front Line:  If a rep talks on a show floor, and there are no attendees in the booth to hear them, do they still make a sale?  Trained Professional Engagers expertly intercept attendees in the aisles, use predetermined criteria to identify qualified prospects, and connect them with reps to have detailed sales conversations.   Enhance Storytelling:  There’s a big world of trade show engagement ideas out there to fit all types of messaging.  As the world evolves, so must your storytelling. Consider adding interactive media, sensory activities, one-to-many edutainment, or cause marketing (to name only a few) into your marketing mix.    Extend the Experience:  1) Video is the #1 way people prefer to experience the Internet. 2) Social Media craves content. 3) Tradeshows and events are the perfect place to generate relevant video content to feed social media channels for months. BONUS: Gathering that video can also become a great booth attract.

To conclude, ask yourself three questions:

What are your desired trade show outcomes? What are you doing to achieve them? Are you willing to wait until they “break” to “fix” them?

Now substitute the word ”furnace” for “trade show” … and ask again.

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What’s Your Story? Making Better Connections

Many articles have been published in business journals lately exploring how to “tell a better story.” Most use a business or client meeting as their setting.

Nowhere, however, is the need for powerful storytelling greater than on a tradeshow floor.

In a matter of seconds you must intercept, engage, qualify, and connect with attendees. A provocative opening line is great, but then what?  A powerful story creates and cements connections.

A major pitfall to avoid is telling a business story “for no reason.” This means, the content is self-referential and does not contain a clear “intent to connect.”  You’re talking “at” an attendee, and not actively connecting with them.

So what makes for a good “story” on a tradeshow floor?  First, let’s explore “content. Your stories should:

Pre-address the issues you know your attendee will have, e.g. “I know what you’re thinking…” Inspire the attendee with your company’s vision in action, not just a bald statement of fact.  A mini-case study with compelling results supports this goal.. Include organic and specific “next steps,” e.g. step up to a demo, set an onsite visit, etc. Share proprietary or new information the attendee can use.

Now let’s explore how you tell your story.

Transition from being a mere narrator to being a true storyteller. Don’t offer a sterile laundry list of events, “Then this happened, then that happened … ” Share the emotions that compelled you and your client to act; “Their supply chain was filled with bottlenecks, and Dawn was getting intense pressure from her Senior Management.  Her coffee consumption went through the roof and the situation was starting to impact her health … ”

When you include useful content, clear next steps, and frame it with real-world emotions, you you create stronger connections.

Bottom line: Don’t be another spectator in your story; be the driver and invite your listeners to climb aboard.

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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 with a willingness to be changed by what you hear. Ms. Caprino shares a quote from Alan Alda that details the difference between “listening and pretending to listen.”

Listening = waiting for your turn to speak Truly listening = allowing yourself to be changed by what the speaker is saying.

This is never more important than on a tradeshow floor.

Many reps feel that their #1 job is to communicate their company’s message … which often causes them to not truly listen to their prospect.  If they had, they would have discovered important information that may have “changed” what they were going to say, and subsequently been more relevant to the prospect.

Before you speak forcefully about something, frame it with a value statement. On a show floor, you have minutes, sometimes seconds, to catch a prospect’s attention. This often results in reps appearing to come on too strong.

To mitigate this, frame forceful comments with a value statement.  For example, “We feel very strongly about this … for us, it’s a matter of honesty and integrity … so it’s important for me to be clear about where we stand.” This statement reveals control, and turns forcefulness into a virtue.

Meet the listener where they are and speak from an understanding of their needs and mindset. This one practically writes itself. This is good advice for any relationship … personal or professional … but especially on a show floor.

Some keys to doing this are 1) Validating what they say to with statements that reflect their viewpoint; 2) Replacing “why” questions, that may appear judgmental, with “how” questions that probe their feelings about solutions; 3) Be open and honest about your desire to build a stronger relationship. Unless you ask for it, you may not get it.

The more you communicate an understanding of your listeners’ viewpoints, and the more respect and compassion you radiate, the stronger and more satisfying your relationships will become.

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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… learn more >

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… learn more >

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. … learn more >

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… learn more >

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… learn more >

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 >