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2 Elements of a Successful Virtual Meeting

Virtual meeting technology platforms abound, but creating a successful virtual meeting architecture takes more than clicking “Connect.”   To ensure a successful, educational and engaging virtual meeting, make sure you consider these two important meeting-architecture elements.  Large Group Interaction During any meeting, it’s easy to get lost in the… learn more >

2 Ways to Create a Digital Trade Show

You did a great job.  Your team designed an excellent exhibit.  It’s an exciting representation of your brand and you can’t wait to show it off at your next tradeshow.

And then … the trade show is cancelled. What’s a Marketer to do?

Good news!  You can still leverage your hard work by creating a digital version of your exhibit and invite your target audience to experience your brand virtually. 

The question is … what does that experience look like?

Here are two digital formats that combine your beautiful booth design with all of your digitized assets to create an immersive brand experience. 

Real-time Rendering In A Browser

This framework transforms your 3D architectural booth model into an online walkthrough. It’s like a VR experience … without the headset.  

Your exhibit model is positioned in a 3D World … a world visitors travel through using their mouse, arrow keys, or tab key. “Information” icons float near product stations to let visitors know, “There’s a learning opportunity here!” Clicking an icon opens a pop-up window that delivers brochure copy, close-up images, charts, graphs, etc. Links to video assets open in a separate browser window. 

These 3D walkthroughs are accessed directly through the user’s browser, so they don’t need to download and install any special apps or software. Visitors simply enter the space and move around freely … almost as if they were on the show floor. 

Microsite Fly-Through

For brands with extensive video assets–like product demos, expert interviews, or mini tutorials–a microsite approach offers a more streamlined viewing experience.

The microsite background is a still frame taken from a fly-through animation of your 3D exhibit render. Using their mouse, visitors embark on a linear journey through your exhibit frame by frame. Pausing the scroll pauses the fly-through; this allows users to control how quickly they move from area to area.  

Pop-up windows appear at strategic points, offering product and equipment videos. These videos are all hard coded into the microsite and play with a simple mouse click – no need to follow a link to open a separate window. 

For visitors who don’t wish to take a linear journey, top-bar or sidebar navigation panels allow them to jump around the exhibit and access videos from drop-down lists. 

Extras

Just like any online project, the functionality of your microsite is limited only by your desires, imagination, and budget.  Additional features could include:

Pixel tracking that generates visitor metrics Interactive surveys Meeting scheduler Links back to your primary website … and much more. Final Word Regular updates keep the digital exhibit fresh Reps can leverage it during sales calls throughout the year Each visit is a clear, consistent, and interactive brand experience.

Whatever format you choose, a digital version of your trade show exhibit gives you the chance to connect with your target audience before, during, and after your live trade show event … even when it’s cancelled.   

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Presentation-Rehearsal Pro Tips

In today’s connected world, virtually all information is at our fingertips … or voice command. In response, our collective attention spans have shortened exponentially.

The result is the demise of the “Corporate Presentation Rehearsal.”  In performing circles, rehearsal is alive and well. But in corporate circles, rehearsing a presentation is often seen as a time sink and relegated to running through notes over lunch, during a commute, or in an office taking to the wall.

What follows are four Presentation-Rehearsal Pro Tips when preparing an effective rehearsal structure.

Rehearsing is a MUST:  You may have brilliant ideas, but if you cannot communicate them, they are worthless. Harsh but true. Furthermore, your value is directly linked to the value your audience places on your presentation. Rehearse out loud:  You must rehearse out loud in the space where you will be delivering your remarks, or one that is highly similar. How you hold your body; how you interact with the mic; how your voice feels in the actual environment; how you interact with visual support; none of this can be replicated in an office or cube. Do not memorize:  Few people can effectively memorize a 20-minute presentation and deliver it with spontaneity.  You may wish to script key parts of your remarks–and refer to notes at specific moments–but for the most part, work from bullet points and know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Your audience will have an easier time connecting with you as a human being if you are, indeed, speaking and acting like a human being. Give yourself a break.  While it’s important to look professional, give yourself permission to make mistakes.  If you’re properly prepared, a flub will not make you appear off-track or confused … it will make you appear normal.  How you handle a flub or technical error says more about you than the actual error itself.  When errors occur … and they will … simply correct yourself and move forward. If quizzed about it, the audience will most likely not remember it.

There are many other ways to prepare for a business presentation (take a deep dive into this subject here), but if you accept the fact that you must rehearse, in real time, in an appropriate space, and allow yourself to make mistakes, you’re well on your way to becoming a better, more successful speaker.

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Unpeeling the Onion of Event Success

MPI recently published a blog entitled, “Event Planning & Unpeeling the Cultural Onion.” It explores the importance of understanding how your target audience’s cultural experiences drive their actions and reactions.  The “onion” metaphor is apt; we all have multiple layers of attitudes; some are easily detected near the surface, while the ones closest to our core are stronger and harder to detect.   

But while analyzing your target audience’s hidden attitudes is important, it’s equally important–when creating trade show engagement programs–to look inward. When you reveal the unknown and/or unspoken needs and desires of your internal decision-makers (and yourself, for that matter), you’ll create trade show programs that are perceived as successful by your entire organization. 

Here are some questions that may help you “peel” your Senior Managements’ onion:

How do event goals align or differ between various layers of management, i.e. what spells success for your C-Levels, as opposed to Senior Management, Marketing, Sales, etc?

It’s common to assume you know the answer to this question.  If you unequivocally ask each level of management, “what spells success for you,” their answers may surprise you.  Then you can use their responses to re-engineer your approach to trade show messaging and engagement.

What attitudes influence how your team operates, and how do these attitudes affect their creative processes? 

We’re all limited by our peculiar experiences.  It’s important to understand your team’s talents, as well as their limitations.  An outside POV may be necessary to help move the needle on this. 

What is the generational/cultural/racial relationship between your team and your target audience? 

In today’s multicultural “woke” environment, defining these limitations can reveal valuable correlations, as well as harmful disconnects. Witness South Dakota’s tone-deaf marketing campaign from last year, “Meth: We’re On It.” 

What kind of historical data do you have about things that worked well?  Is that data relevant today?

We live in a world consumed by data; but data has a shelf-life.  What was true five or ten years ago … even one year ago … may currently be irrelevant or detrimental to your goals.  

Do you know why a past engagement program didn’t work? 

If you don’t know, fixing it will be difficult.  Again, an outside POV may be the answer.

Finally, it’s easy to allow your personal biases to color your perception. Therefore, it’s important that when you quiz various levels of management, you listen with an open mind to their answers.  

Only then can you uncover what they may not be telling you, and how the unspoken attitudes that lie at the core of your management’s personal “onions” will shape the perception of your trade show program’s success. 

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The POWER OF “Why”

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk … “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” is one of the most viewed YouTube videos of all time. It clearly outlines how great leaders communicate the “why” of what they do, and how this drives people to connect with them on an emotional, aspirational level.

Trade Show exhibitors must also clearly communicate the “why” of what their companies do to drive attendees to connect with them on an emotional, aspirational level. 

A common marketing tool is the customer case study. But case studies are often logistical and devoid of “the why.” To improve their story-telling value, consider enhancing your case studies by expanding their “why.”

Start by detailing your featured customer’s “why.” What makes their company tick; what makes them feel fulfilled.    Next, describe the challenge that’s keeping them from living up to their “why.” How does this make them feel?  How is this specifically keeping them from their goals? Now detail how your solutions helped them solve this challenge, and how they were once again able to continue realizing their “why.” Lastly … and this is important … close with how helping this customer fulfilled your why. This approach not only keeps your story customer-centric, it transforms an otherwise dry recitation of facts into an aspirational Success Story.

Sound pie-in-the-sky?  Ask Apple, Harley Davidson, Disney, Nike, or other top global brands.  

Actually, you won’t need to ask them because they have so successfully embedded their “why” into our collective psyches, you can answer that question yourself.

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Perfecting the Tradeshow “Ask”

An Exhibitor Magazine article, entitled “Asked & Answered” by John Baker (former SVP and COO of American Express), discussed the power of persuasion and shared a “6-Step Asking Formula” for getting what you want, every time.

The formula defined a clear procedure that professionals could follow when “asking” their superiors for something, e.g. a raise, extra resources, or larger budgets.

Here are the 6 Steps in brief:

Step One:    Define clear objectives … know what you want

Step Two:    Clearly ask for it.  Don’t be coy.

Step Three: Support your “ask” visually when possible, i.e. photos, charts, etc.

Step Four:    Strengthen your “ask” with “best reasons,” i.e. what’s in it for them.

Step Five:     Stop Talking.  Be quiet and gather feedback.

Step Six:       Share.  Provide additional details when appropriate.

What’s striking about this process is how it can be extrapolated to guide trade show attendee interactions.  For example:

Step One – Define: You cannot communicate everything about your product in one booth interaction. Your prospect won’t remember most of what you’ve said. A better strategy would be to define your understanding of the attendee’s need or interest and stick to that narrow focus.

Steps Two – The Ask: Ask the attendee for permission to present your capabilities, making sure to indicate how much time you’ll need to share them. This respects the attendee’s time and is more likely to secure their undivided attention.

Step Three – Visual Support: Trade show demos tend to long, sprawling affairs. Think back to point #1 and don’t get trapped into showing your whole demo. Use only the portion needed to make your point, satisfy the attendee’s needs, and set the table for future follow-up. 

Step Four – Strengthen:  When you’ve identified a pain point, strengthen your message by supporting it with proof points like real-world outcomes that you created for another client.

Step Five – Listening:  Ask yourself: “Am I actually listening and absorbing what the attendee is telling me? Or am I letting my mind wander while waiting for my turn to talk?” Active listening can help you identify important buying clues.   

Step Six – Share: Now is the time to record notes of the conversation in the lead capture app or device. Provide as much detail as possible so that any one on the sales team can effectively follow-up after the show. .  

In-booth attendee interactions require a clear understanding of prospect needs, the ability to concisely convey your solution story and skillful attendee management. Incorporate the six steps into your attendee engagements and elevate your personal style.   

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4 Ways to Refresh Your Trade Show Engagement

Exhibitor Magazine recently ran an article entitled, “This Old Exhibit: How to Refresh a Tired Booth.”  In it, the author offers practical ways to “refresh” your existing booth and make it appear that you’re offering something new … even when you aren’t.

All good advice.  But even more important than carpentry is communication. What worked last year may not work this year … or next. 

Here are 4 ways to refresh your tradeshow communication strategies and get your story heard.

Rethink Your Pre-Show

Attendees routinely create a “must-see” list to optimize their time on the show floor. Pre-show communications are the surest way to make that list. 

Email remains useful, but newer digital tools, like IP Targeting and Geo-Fencing, cost-effectively increase the frequency of your outreach and connect with audiences when they’re most likely to act … when they’re on the floor nearing your booth. 

Revitalize Your Engagement

Ask yourself; “What do I want attendees to learn?”  Now put yourself in their shoes: “What would make me want to visit an exhibit?” Focus on issues that are keeping them up at night, and how your solutions solve that issue. The key to accomplishing your messaging goals is to plan your target audience’s experience every step of the way, including next steps. 

Revisit the Front Line

You know the adage: have a positive experience, you tell two friends; have a negative one, you tell 30 friends. No matter what you’re planning, staff interactions control attendee reactions. In-house staff often do not fully appreciate the importance of their role in making your tradeshow a success. Creating accurate attendee-experience outlines, setting clear expectations, and conducting detailed pre-event training (including role playing) goes a long way toward ensuring performance consistency.

Revamp Measurement

The event is over and it’s time to feed the sales funnel and prove the value of your efforts. 

Can you:

Put a number to the value of learning at your event?  Show how that learning impacted business decisions?  Show the value of your contribution to the sales pipeline?  Demonstrate other ways your event moved the needle on key corporate objectives? 

“Feel-good” anecdotes lose impact in a few days; hard data is forever. Make sure your measurement tools and techniques generate meaningful metrics that make everyone–from the C-Suite to the front lines–happy and moving forward. 

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Increase Your Tradeshow Hook-ups

Exhibiting at trade shows is a lot like using the popular dating app, Tinder.  If you’ve never used Tinder before, here’s (briefly) how it works:. Photos of nearby users appear on your screen. You make a split-second judgement to hook-up (swipe right), or ignore (swipe left.).  Rinse & Repeat.  Attendee… learn more >

What Are The New Differentiators?

A recent article in Inc. Magazine revealed what Gen Zs want most from managers: care, trust, and support.  Managing “the whole-self” of employees is the new norm. These attitudes are not limited to Gen Z; they are shared by Millenials and Gen Xers as well.  Coincidentally,… learn more >

Is Your Brand a Haven of Trust?

This year’s Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ETCEF) featured a session, lead by Dina Cappiello, Editorial Director & Group Head at Edelman D.C, entitled, “Storytelling in a Fake News World”. During her session, she said, “People are looking for reliable sources. Exhibitions can be a… learn more >

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 >

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… learn more >