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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… 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 a firm hand at the tiller.

To satisfy these needs, savvy marketers across most verticals are leveraging their tradeshows and events to generate content: customer testimonials, live product demos, expert interviews, PR roll-outs, etc. This content is invaluable, one-of-a-kind, can be easily controlled and focused, and can feed your social media channels for months to come.

Here are three Best Practices for keeping your social media community healthy and strong:

Tip #1: Live Moderation. It’s important to moderate the responses your social media posts generate. Answering questions, clarifying positions or adding expert advice to an ongoing discussion does more to keep a conversation positive and active… it may convince a potential client to give you a call.

Tip #2: Stay Calm and Carry On.  If an online discussion takes an unwanted turn, it’s important to remain calm and avoid “fighting back.” There are no winners in online arguments; taking the high road always pays off in the long run.

Tip #3: Proactive is Best.  If (or when) an online dispute arises, be proactive. Putting your head in the sand and hoping the argument goes away is never a winning strategy.

Tradeshows remain a rich source for social media content, but it requires a steady, alert hand to ensure that your social media audience always sees you at your best.

Post well.

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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 different focus; each Trend will be accompanied by ways CMOs can use tradeshows and events to take advantage of each.

Trend 1: Measurement is becoming more sophisticated.

According to a recent Content Marketing Institute study, only 57% of Marketers can prove their marketing leads to sales. CEOs, however, continue their demands for hard ROI data.

The methods for acquiring ROI metrics are myriad, but carefully planned and executed engagement programs in a tradeshow exhibit generate tons of qualified, sales-ready leads. This enables the sales force to maximize follow-up and avoid wasting time on 100s of simple badge scans. The result: cost-per-lead goes down, data-driven ROI goes up.

Trend 2: Account Based Marketing (ABM) enables precision targeting at scale.

Everyone knows it’s important to personalize marketing efforts, and nothing is more personal than a face-to-face client meeting to explore existing needs and desires.

Tradeshows are the ideal time and place to hold these meetings. Marketers can create personalized VIP exhibit experiences that guide them through specific solutions; you can schedule personal, off-site dinners; and on a higher scale, your in-booth experience can be crafted to build maximum “buzz” to reinforce positive perception of your brand.

Trend 3: Influencer marketing extends reach.

People believe their peers, and tradeshows offer the perfect place for trusted influencers to enhance your brand. When clients or prospects on the show floor see respected industry influencers delivering quality content in your exhibit, your credibility soars.

And since influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online method of connecting with your target audience, capturing these in-booth interactions on video enables companies to extend their reach globally. More about this in Trend 5.

Trend 4: Native advertising drives engagement.

Native Advertising is an offshoot of Content Marketing, and savvy marketers know that successful programs deliver relevant, educational information prospects can use.

This is never truer, or more effective, than on the tradeshow floor. Face-to-face in-booth engagement programs that educate attendees about important industry topics position exhibitors as thought-leaders, and as a trusted source for solutions.

Trend 5: Video is the New Content King.

This one may evoke an ironic chuckle. This “trend” has faithfully reappeared every year since Internet bandwidth supported streaming video, which has been … for a long time ago. But the irony is offset by an important fact; tradeshows are arguably the most cost-effective place to create quality video content for your brand.

Consider: everyone and everything is one place at one time … employees, product demos, customers, prospects, industry influencers, the press, etc. A well-planned and executed tradeshow video creation program generates tons of interesting and relevant video assets that can be leveraged online for months or years to come. Furthermore, the activity surrounding video content generation can be designed to enhance the overall booth experience.

Conclusion As 2018 continues, CMOs can choose to sit back and monitor how these trends play out. Or, they can seize the day and evolve their tradeshow and event programs to leverage them.

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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 successfully communicate your important messaging.

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 2-minute overview of your product / service that answers those questions.  This will enable several of your group to “self-qualify,” i.e. walk away.  Others, however, will be prompted to ask additional, specific questions, which takes them further down the sales pipeline. Frame your Solution Story with Relevant Context. Outline how a specific client experienced a specific challenge; then illustrate how your product or service solved it.  Even if your job is to present a product how-to, avoid discussing bits and bytes on a show floor; you’ll generate greater interest. Include your attendees in your demo. Your rep’s know their products inside out and often monopolize the sales conversation. This is an example of “push” marketing. To avoid this pitfall, design demos to deliberately focus on the attendee; ask them about their companies, their role, and their current challenges.  This information will keep your rep’s solution storytelling on point and relevant. When one attendee asks a questions, deliver the answer to the entire group. This is incredibly important. There is nothing more off-putting than having a booth rep focus on a single attendee who is clearly a “good lead.”  They are tacitly telling everyone else, “You’re not important to me.” This behavior could damage your company’s brand image and decrease referrals. Have a clear next-step for the attendees. This could be general, such as directing them to another demo in the booth, or more specific, such as urging them to sign-up for a trial, schedule an onsite demo, or opt-in for future contact.

An effective demo station engagement strategy is probably the single most value-generating activity at a tradeshow. For more details, View the document

It pays to do your homework, properly prepare, get a good night’s sleep, and put yourself in the proper mindset for the day. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to stock up on Altoids.

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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 experiences that are framed in a relevant, personal context for your target audience. And

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as one of the premiere tools to help create empathetic experiences.

The irony here is thick, of course, but let’s leave that for another article. The point is that AI does provide a remarkable capability to learn audience preferences and behavior patterns in real time, and then adapt to their specific needs and learning styles.

Like any technology, it’s important to remember that AI is merely a tool. And it’s more important to know how to create an empathetic experience than to focus on the tools you’ll use to implement them. Pity the carpenter with the newest tools who cannot conceptualize a table.   

Here are some helpful tips that will help exercise your “empathy” marketing muscles:

Walk a Mile in their Shoes: Before you brainstorm experiential activities or programs, put yourself in your target audience’s shoes.  Take the time you need to fully understand their needs, wants, challenges, as well as their fears, hopes, and dreams. Fully define them; map it out; organize a focus group.  If you lack a detailed, personal understanding of your target audience’s life–their context, if you will–your experiential programs will lack the personal context they crave.

Back it up with Data: While developing this clear, emotional roadmap for your targets, analyze how it tracks with relevant study data.. Connections between the emotional landscape you’ve defined and current survey data will suggest experiential frameworks you may have never considered, and will drive your ideation sessions.

Role Play:  Using the emotional portraits you’ve created, assume the role of your target audience(s) and put your interactive ideas on their feet.  How does it make you feel?  Is this experience addressing your personal needs?  Make sure to play different roles; does your experience accommodate different points-of-view? Are you recognizing and validating their feelings, or does it feel like a prolonged “all-about-you” commercial?

Outside the Brand:  Cause Marketing has played a large part in brand experiences for many years, and its importance is growing exponentially. When you make it easy for your target audience to support a worthy cause, while at the same time getting what they need, you are well on your way to converting a lead into a customer, and a customer into an advocate.

The emergence of Millenials as a major market force, with increasing pressure from Gen Z, makes it more important than ever to migrate away from brand-centric experiences and toward consumer-centric, empathetic experiences.

In short, move from asking yourself, “What are my target audience’s challenges and how can I help them succeed” to “What is my target audience feeling, and how can I help them feel better?”

 

 

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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 way to make the list. Email campaigns are a mainstay of many marketing campaigns, but if it’s the only tool in your arsenal then make 2018 the year you branch out. Digital plays like location marketing and geo targeting can increase the frequency of your outreach and connect with audiences when they’re most receptive to receiving your message. Social Media can play a big role, too. Evaluate your posts with a critical eye. Are you sending out “us, too”, scrollable messages? Or are you making your outreach click-worthy?

Audience Engagement

Whether you’re hosting a corporate event or participating in an industry expo, the question that should drive all planning is “What is the attendee journey?” From there, the goal should be to connect audience members to a branded experience at every touchpoint along the way. That’s the key to creating a brand immersion and achieving important messaging objectives.

The Front Line

It’s an old adage but in an age of instant communication, it’s more true than ever: if your guests have a positive experience, they will tell two friends. If they have a negative experience, they will tell 20 friends. Whether you are organising a corporate conference, an experiential campaign or a VIP party, your event staff should reflect your brand values. All too often, hired hands and even corporate staff don’t understand the importance of their role. Creating accurate job descriptions and conducting training before arriving on site goes a long way toward ensuring performance consistency.

Measure Up

The event is over, the team is debriefing and it’s time to prove the value of your efforts. Can you put a number to the value of learning at your event? Or how that learning impacted business decisions? Can you show the value of your contribution to the sales pipeline? Or demonstrate some other way that your event moved the needle on a key corporate objective? Feel good anecdotes last for days or weeks at the most. Hard data is forever. Make this your first business resolution of the new year: To develop meaningful metrics and a data capture plan for every event in your 2018 program.

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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 years ago we asked event marketing professionals to rank the attributes their management valued most in an employee. The top three attributes, by a landslide, were:                                              ● Positive Thinking ● Being a Team Player ● Creative Problem Solving

The three lowest ranking attributes were: ● Outside the Box Thinking ● Calculated Risk Taking ● Creativity

The disconnect is staggering. How can we value creative problem solving and at the same time devalue outside the box thinking or calculated risk taking? Is management sending mixed messages? Telling us one thing: “We value creativity!” And then punishing us when we step outside the bounds: “Stick to the tried-and-true!” Perhaps.

Or, possibly, the fault lies within ourselves. We’ve all been guilty of being so focused on checking off boxes that we don’t engage in the behavior we’re being asked to emulate. Who has time for innovation? And so it is we, not our management, who devalue the message.

Most of the time, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Which is why third party experts exist. A fresh pair of eyes and an independent point of view quickly recognize disconnects. They know how to push boundaries without breaking them because they’ve already taken the journey.

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Are You Maximizing Your Meeting Content?

“Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I’ll spend the  first four sharpening the axe.”  – Abraham Lincoln The metaphor is clear … proper preparation results in an easier process and an improved chance for successful outcomes. But when it comes to creating attendee… learn more >

Are Your Globalization Efforts Being Maximized?

While nothing will ever replace face-to-face interaction, the desire to “globalize” your tradeshow exhibit via the web has never been stronger. The ubiquity and standardization of streaming media makes pushing content out over the Internet simpler than ever. If this sounds like a daunting task,… learn more >

Speaking Engagement? How to Hook Your Audience

What’s worse than a rude audience when you’re speaking to a live audience at a conference or sales meeting? A polite one. They smile, make eye contact, but their brains are busy entertaining thoughts of anything but you! Naturally, you can’t guarantee that every audience member will… learn more >

How Adding “The Why” Supercharges Case Studies

Simon Sinek has one of the most viewed YouTube videos of all time. It’s a TED Talk called, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”  In essence, great leaders communicate the “why” of what they do, rather than the “how” or “what,” etc. Simon’s mission has expanded into… learn more >

Do Your Booth Attendees Feel Like They Belong?

“Throughout history, humans have been connected through group experience: hunting together, building together, parenting together … Marketing can make a profound impact when it says ‘yes, you belong,’ bypassing the need for ‘proof.’ ”   Forbes Community Voice – May 2017 This quote was taken from a… learn more >

Does Your In-Booth Demo Make Sense?

“Sensemaking” is the process by which people give meaning to experience. This concept has made the rounds of Information Science for decades, and has been applied to various disciplines, most notably by Karl E. Weik who applied it to “Organizations.”  He defined sensemaking in organizations… learn more >