If you’re online and involved in social media, you’ll soon run into the question: how to manage those online relationships? After all, you don’t really KNOW these people that you’re connected to. You don’t HANG OUT with them on weekends. You don’t PARTY with them.
But they’re still in your life. Sort of. Your digital life, anyway.
It’s an interesting question, and there’s no one answer. But I did run across a slide show from Heidi Miller that addresses the question. I didn’t get to see or hear her presentation, but the slides will give you a lot to think about:
When speaking in Jacksonville at the EDPA’s annual conference earlier this month, I asked for a show of hands to see how many bloggers were in the audience.
A few hands went up. I expected more. Many more. Not sure why…maybe my expectations are unrealistic. Or maybe it’s that I’ve seen the value in having an active blog. It keeps your mind sharp, it keeps you in front of a growing audience, and it it lets people know who you are and what your expertise is.
Yet many companies simply don’t consider blogging as a valuable marketing tool. Here’s how I see blogging in terms of helping promote a tradeshow appearance or to enhance a tradeshow marketing schedule.
It gives you a place to tell your audience about the new stuff (products, service) that you’ll have at the show.
Blogging is a platform to invite any partners that may have at the show to discuss their products and how it ties in with yours.
It’s easy to insert a video into a blog.
You can easily post photos of visitors to your booth.
You can give reviews and opinions of the show and other products and services.
Your blog is a ‘home base’ for all things show-related. Post documents, downloads, press releases, etc.
Having said all of that, blogging is not to be taken lightly. It’s a significant committment in terms of time and energy. And if you are going to set up a blog for your company, it’s important to make sure that you have new material showing up regularly, whether it’s every week, three times a week or just a couple of times a month.
But once you’ve made the committment and the process of blogging becomes part of your routine, you’ll discover that it’s a great outlet for all sorts of things. You can post slides from a presentation, videos from your company, how-to’s and informational tidbits that educate and illuminate your audience.
It also allows you and your company to gain more visibility within your industry and target audience.
Blogging isn’t the end-all and be-all of online presence, but it’s a valuable marketing and positioning tool.
What is there to love about tradeshow marketing? After all, it’s expensive, it’s hard work and you have to travel and set up stuff. And then stand for hours a day talking to hundreds or thousands of people. And then tear it down, pack it up and head home.
So what’s to love? Let’s count the ways…
Opportunity: a tradeshow is a great opportunity to meet people who, in most cases, have PAID to be there and WANT to see what you’re showing off.
Learning: when you’re attending a tradeshow you’re going to be exposed to hundreds of new products and service offerings in your industry.
Competition: while the booth across the aisle may be competing with you, it’s easy to feel a kinship with him. After all, they’re in the same boat as you: trying to keep their business going and thriving. By sharing stories and getting to know each other, you can connect better to the community that you all share.
Travel: If you don’t like to travel, scratch this from your list. But if you do, getting on the road for several days is always great – if for nothing more than a change of pace.
Challenge: the simple challenge of putting your best foot forward at a tradeshow amidst all of the other exhibits is unlike other marketing challenges.
Challenge 2.0: If you approach the next tradeshow as a personal challenge, see how well you can do in your sales, your presentation skills, listening, answering questions. There’s a lot to learn about your interpersonal skills engagement on the tradeshow floor.
Opportunity 2.0: At a tradeshow you have access – if only for a few moments – to CEO’s company presidents, marketing managers, etc., any of whom can open great doors for you if make a good connection. So…how can you make a connection?
Market Research: Your booth visitors are a great source of information – if only you ask. Do a survey, hand out questionnaires, have people demo new beta products so you can get in a little product testing while pitching your newest stuff.
After Hours: Whether you’re in Vegas, New Orleans, Anaheim or Buffalo, there’s always a new place you can check out after the show. Take a client, get to know a colleague a little better. After hours at a tradeshow is a great opportunity for deepening relationships. And, uh, y’know…for having some damn FUN!
What can you add to the list? What do you love about tradeshow marketing?
What? You’re done already? Seems to me that you just got started! I mean, there’s so much left to do. Why, it felt like just yesterday that June arrived, all full of too many Oregon rainclouds and green grass. Now we’re already past that Thanksgiving turkey carcass and ready to wrap and then unwrap presents. Holy Christmas, indeed!
So what did you accomplish, 2010? Your Facebook website passed 550 million users and more than 3 million active business pages. But there’s still plenty of room to get involved. Your Twitter users passed 17 million, and thousands (probably tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or even millions) of companies are seeing the value in the real-time customer engagement that you facilitate. But still some company bosses think it’s kid stuff. Right. Well, in a year or two, those folks will be wishing that had seen the light in 2010.
Speaking of carcasses, I see that MySpace did a complete makeover earlier this fall. I keep getting invitations to go back to my page, but the few times I’ve bothered it hasn’t intrigued me much. So…probably not. Sorry.
Personally, it was a challenging and enlightening year. But aren’t they all? I bought an iPhone during spring so that I could see what the fuss was about. And of course, to see how that whole smartphone thing works. After all, how can I blog about mobile marketing and tweeting and stuff if I wasn’t personally involved?
And as for the iPhone itself, so far I’m only mildly impressed. Yes, it’s only a 3G (got it right before they announced the 4G) and it has a few minor issues. But overall, a nice piece of gear. But I’m already thinking about what I might replace it with when the contract winds down.
‘Twas certainly a good year for some personal-growth-type stuff as I continued to expand boundaries. It was great to be involved with a number of live speaking gigs and several webinars (thanks to Classic Exhibits to helped promote them), topped off by the presentation at the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association annual conference in Jacksonville, Florida earlier this month. I hope/plan to see more of those in 2011.
As for the Great Beyond, 2010, you claimed some of the Greats indeed. We said goodbye to folks such as J. D. Salinger, Leslie Neilsen, Gary Coleman, Tony Curtis, Eddie Fisher, Patricia Neal, Dennis Hopper, Frank Frazetta, Lynn Redgrave, Fess Parker, Don Meredith, Dino De Laurentiis…the list is too large. Can you just hold off for a little while so we can enjoy some of these people while they’re still around?
So, 2010, you give way to 2011. What can we expect? More of the same? Or perhaps some new thinking? Oh, you’re right. It’s up to us. WE have to decide to change. You don’t just make things better because the days on the calendar have flipped over.
Okay, well…let me think about it. And see if I can come up with a blog post that’s actually WORTH reading!
He’s an author, public speaker, blogger, TV guy, publisher…and more…and he’s just 30. I caught up with Scott Ginsberg this week to talk about the last ten years and see what he’s got up his sleeve for ’11.
The latest Tradeshow Marketing Tips newsletter is a ‘short-list’ of our favorite social media resources.
There are places to get started blogging, photo-sharing, doing online social media research, and more. You’ll find video-sharing sites, web conferencing, event promotion sites and things that we’ve used over and over—along with a few items that we’re just learning about. If you have a resource to share – please do! Just leave a comment on this post…and thanks!
As I mingled before the keynotes at the EDPA Access 2010 annual conference last week in Jacksonville, Florida, I talked with a lot of people. Of course, since my badge shouted ‘SPEAKER’ it was a natural topic to discuss what I was speaking about (social media), and to inquire about the state of social media in their business.
Social media has been a ‘thing’ for a few years now. Back in ’07 it was commonly referred to as “Web 2.0” but that name has faded in favor of “social media.”
And still most folks I talked to are barely involved.
I understand, to a degree. There are obstacles: lack of knowledge, lack of time, lack of manpower, lack of resources.
And even though I met one person who proudly told me that they had turned an intern into a full-time Social Media Marketing Manager six months ago, I was a bit surprised that so few exhibit companies seem to be involved in social media.
There’s a lot to be gained by getting started now:
getting ahead of your competition
gaining better understanding of your market
a higher level of engagement from customers
an improved bottom line
And if you don’t start now, it’s a pretty sure thing that a lot of your competitors are starting or are already involved. They’re blogging: helping customers and potential customers solve problems, find answers to questions and positioning their company as the go-to expert. They’re Tweeting: driving traffic, finding new blog readers and potential customers. They’re on Facebook: creating event listings, sharing photos of exhibit builds and set-ups, client functions and much more.
And besides, you don’t have to jump in all at once. Talk with your staff, find out their level of interest. Do you have a ‘digital native?’ – someone who is adept at moving around in social media? They’re a likely person to take the lead for your company.
Work your way up to one of the social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
In the wake of the presentation I gave last week at the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association Access 2010 conference, I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about what it takes to build community.
In the event industry, it’s my opinion that social media is an extremely useful tool to promote shows, create and connect with communities, and foster deeper connections while attending shows.
It seems that in one sense the social media world is just getting started with connecting at events. But with each new story, I sense that the ‘connecting’ is getting more involved and the ‘connectors’ are becoming more adept at the connecting.
And then this morning Paul Castain’s timely blog post on ‘How to Build an Online Community!’ shows up. Paul is a terrific connector and has built a large online community, and in this exquisitely useful post he shares what has worked for him.
If you’re looking to build a community around a specific event, there are some slight adjustments I’d make to his overall plan (which has a lot of great ideas).
If you’re attending a tradeshow, one suggestion might be to create a specific ‘virtual tradeshow website’ just for that show. It’s an approach that would make sense for those larger expo shows you attend, but likely wouldn’t be worth the investment of time or money for small, local or regional shows. Derek Mehraban of InGenex Digital Marketing shares his story in a recent TradeshowGuy Blog podcast.
If you choose not to create a virtual tradeshow website, make sure that you’re online with a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. If you have a good presence on LinkedIn, include that as well.
Don’t forget the media: connect with industry bloggers and trade publications ahead of time. Let them know what new products or services you’ll be unveiling at the show. The press are attracted to new and shiny objects, so if you can offer something new you have a much better chance of getting some press mentions.
In the run-up to the show, collect your in-house list of clients, friends, acquaintances and prospects. Send out an e-mail blast a couple of months ahead of time asking people to ‘like’ your Facebook page, and follow you on Twitter and YouTube (if you have a YouTube channel).
With the show a month or so away, send another email reminder asking people to connect with you online. At this point, it would be appropriate to include a link to a short video about what they might expect at the show or a blog post promoting your appearance. Remember, you’ll get more response if you slant the article or video to ‘what’s in it for THEM’ and try not to make it so much about YOU.
Keep publishing: videos, blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates/photos, etc. During your planning, be sure to use a tool such as Hootsuite.com that allows you to schedule posts ahead of time. This will free up your show time to focus on the actual show, interacting with folks and sending out real-time tweets or posts (“just met @clientXYS at the show!”). Make a point of mentioning people by name or Twitter handle so they’ll feel loved.
With a couple of weeks to go, invite people to your booth (if you’re exhibiting), or to connect with you at a Tweet-up or other meeting. Find opportunities to connect face-to-face.
During these face-to-face meetings, collect business cards or other contact info. Schmooze! It’s fun!
During the show, try and shoot some timely videos, such as testimonials, customer or visitor interviews and post a few of them. Hold back a few for posting after the show.
Once the show is over, do a wrap-up or two. Post a few videos. Send out a thank-you e-mail with links back to your show follow-ups. Send physical thank you notes to those folks that you felt you made a great connection with – and those that you’d like to make a better connection with. A cool tool for card follow-ups is SendOutCards.com (yes, that’s an affiliate link).
As Paul points out, it’s great to have all of those online platforms, but the key is to keep engaged. INTERACT with those folks in your community. Respond to their questions. Reach out with an offline thank-you or phone call. Give content away with no strings attached. Find out what your community’s ‘pain points’ are and work to resolve them. Work to move those online connections to an offline relationship or friendship.
When it comes to building a community around a tradeshow, keep in mind that those folks you’re connecting with will become more active during show time. Work to leverage those folks to stay connected with you via Facebook or your newsletter.
You’ll find that the first show will likely fall short of your expectations. Don’t worry. Social media connections take time. Keep at it. From my observation, as exhibitors and organizers keep at it, each show becomes more successful than the last and the connections get deeper and wider.
With social media connections, you’re in for the long haul. Or you’re likely not in at all.
Due to popular demand (okay, I had a couple of people ask if these items would be available and for some unknown reason I’m able to accommodate them), here are the slides and the slightly edited live audio recording of the recent presentation I made on social media at the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association annual conference. This was in early December in Jacksonville, Florida. I had a damn good time. I hope you enjoy this.
Note: you should be able to listen to this in ‘real-time’ and follow along with the slides. The presentation is about 45 minutes (with Q&A) and there are 90 slides so you’ll be clicking through, on average, about two slides per minute.