The Sixties were an incredible decade. From the beginning to the end of that ten-year span our worldwide culture grew and expanded at an incredible rate that no one standing at the precipice of 1959 could have foreseen.
As a country we saw pop music go from bland to biting, the Vietnam War, political assassinations, the rise of the counterculture, recreational drug use, casual sex, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, civil rights legislation…
You can hyperventilate just trying to talk about it. Thousands of books have been written about the Sixties.
But this is not a book. I just wanted to set a little context for what the Beatles did with marketing their ‘brand’ in the 60s.
Well, maybe not their marketing exactly, but the essence of who they were. It’s what people saw, felt and heard. So in a way they were marketing.
The Beatles came out of working-class Liverpool. There were a lot of other bands out of the Sixties that started in similar circumstances – looking for a way out. Look at The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds, the Dave Clark Five, Chad and Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Animals, The Zombies, Herman’s Hermits, Manfred Mann and other Sixties bands.
On this side of the pond we had Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Righteous Brothers, The Turtles, Tommy James and the Shondells, the Ventures, The Monkees, The Mamas and the Papas, Lovin’ Spoonful, Simon and Garfunkel and more.
But in looking back at the music, the photos and music chart listings from that time, very few bands were able to sustain anything beyond their initial ‘look and sound.’
Not the Beatles.
They evolved, changing from mop-top pop teen idols in ’64 and ’65 to experimental psychedelia in ’66 and ’67 that incorporated worldwide influences, to mature radio rock in ’68 and ’69 to a rootsy farewell in 1970.
From “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Ticket To Ride” to “Paperback Writer” to “Penny Lane” to “All Your Need Is Love” to “Strawberry Fields Forever” to “Rocky Raccoon” and “Back In The USSR” to “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” to “Come Together,” “Something,” “Octopus’s Garden” to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” to the final LP ‘Let it Be.’ (Yes, I know that Abbey Road was recorded after Let it Be…don’t quibble…I’m on a roll)…
And that’s just the music.
How about the looks they incorporated?
Early 60s: skinny ties, identical suits, Beatle Boots, identical mop-top hair cuts that were more than cutting edge.
Mid-60s: casual, relaxed mod clothing, individuality…to the psychedelic look of the Sgt. Pepper album.
Late 60s: more individuality and variety. Paul moved to more conservative clothes, John let his hair grow (until he shaved his head in the early 70s); Ringo was always dapper; George was the uber-upscale hippie.
Few of their contemporary bands can claim that type of evolution in music or looks. Which is probably why they are much more ‘trapped in time’ than the Beatles, who remain timeless in many ways.
When you picture Paul Revere and the Raiders you conjure images of those three-cornered hats and the Revolution outfits. Think of the Dave Clark Five and you picture those black ties and coats. And so on.
By the time the rest of the rock bands of the mid-60s tried to play-catch up it was too late. They were already pigeon-holed to a time and place.
But not the Beatles. They led the way, changing fashion and music by being true themselves, true to their creative spirits and urgings. The ultimate test came in 1970 when, to continue to be true to themselves, they had to disband. They had been together for over ten years. They had changed the world. It was time to move on.
As a company or a personal brand, are you being true to yourself? Or are you jumping in the slipstream looking to catch a ride on someone’s coattails and hope that they eventually fade away and leave you standing alone?
Do your customers ask questions at your tradeshow booth?
Are they curious about things like flavor, color, delivery time, production values, technical details or design elements?
Do they want to know MORE?
Of course they do! That’s what customers do. They’re curious. They give feedback. And often it comes in the form of a question.
At your next tradeshow make a point of writing down questions that your booth visitors ask about your product, service or company. This can be beneficial for a number of reasons.
First, you get more insight into what’s important to them. Yes, you may already know a lot of those questions. But pay attention and see if any of those questions are new. Are they bringing up things that you haven’t heard yet? Is there an indication that your customers are shifting desires around your products? Do they want something new? Can you find out now and provide it before your competitors?
Next, you can compile those questions and put them on your website or blog. By creating an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page or post on your site, you’re reaching out to those visitors who are interested in learning more. While a specific visitor may not have that particular question, by browsing your page or blog post they get a chance to learn more about your products – and especially to find out what’s important to other customers. They may find out a new way to use your product or service that they hadn’t thought of before – which makes your product more valuable to them.
You can also use questions as market research. If your customer are asking questions about something that your company DOESN’T provide, it gives you some insight into what the marketplace is interested in. Maybe it’s time to look at developing solutions to those problems they’re bringing you. Which gives your company a wider reach in the market.
So many businesses look at questions as a nuisance – something to be avoided.
Not you – you welcome them, right? You welcome them because it gives you more opportunities to learn about your market, and gives you a leg up on the competition (who are trying to avoid those questions).
Make a point to keep track of as many of those questions that come up at tradeshows. Take them back and share them with your sales and marketing team, management, designers, product gurus…whoever can benefit from having front-line questions that are burning in the mind of those clients and potential customers. And you know those questions are burning because they took time to stop at your booth and ask them!
Treat questions as valuable bits and pieces of information. Tradeshows are a great place to field questions – make sure you’re doing it on a regular basis.
It may seem like a no-brainer…but did you get photos of your last tradeshow booth set-up? I mean, did you really get enough photos so that you can answer any questions that may come up before you have to set it up again?
Since the advent of digital photography over a decade ago, taking dozens of photos of any business event is much easier and cheaper than the old days of film. And it can be extremely useful.
Let’s say you are a couple of months away from your next booth set-up and a question comes up…
“Did we set the booth up with the widget graphics on the right side and the service graphics on the left? Or was it the other way around?”
“What difference does it make?”
“Well, the boss wants to know because he needs to make a recommendation to management on how we’re going to set it up this year. Plus he needs to know how much room we had behind the back wall for storage. And he wants to decide if we’re going to have to get another table for the literature or if what we had last time worked.”
“We can either set it all up and take half a day to figure it out – and bug the guys down in the warehouse to get everything out and clear a space…OR…we could just pull the photos out of my computer…”
Which would you rather do?
Chances are at some point you’ll be glad that you took a lot of photos. Whenever I’m at a show where our booth clients are set up I make sure to get several photos, including close-ups that reveal how things were set up. And no matter how many photos I take it seems that a question comes up that makes me wish I’d take just a couple more!
Plus, photos give you a good excuse to post the best ones on Picasa or Flickr and invite your clients or potential clients to come by and see your cool booth.
Photos can come in handy other ways, too:
sharing with management so they can see what the booth looked like
helping the graphic team design upgrades
showing the repair team what needs fixing
documenting where things went (did that layout work? Or do you need to do it differently next time?)
showing which clients came by and posed (handy for blog posts)
put on the cover or inside a show wrap-up report
to prove damages if necessary
general archive purposes
No doubt you can think of other reasons to have several photos of your booth on hand. Take pictures from all angles – you never know when someone might ask how much storage room you have behidn the back wall.
All you have to do is pull out a photo and show them!