There always seems to be something new in the promotional products world. I recently was introduced to Matt McCabe of PromotionalProducts.org, who consented to be interviewed for a brief podcast.
Do you march to the beat of a different drummer? Or do you fall in behind other exhibitors, advertisers and marketers lock-step, following the same marketing and exhibiting methods that have been used for years?
I first heard the phrase ‘march to the beat of a different drummer’ when I was a pre-teen – just about the time I started to learn to play drums in the school band. Just about the time I was recognizing rock drummers such as Dave Clark, Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts.
YES! I thought. I play to a different drummer! Even though I had no idea what it really meant. I just assumed that it was a cool to march to your own beat – whatever that beat was.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not always a good thing to march to your own beat. Some people do that and end out on the fringe, where no one wants to follow and the audience is sparse. As a marketer, you’re looking for the largest possible audience for your specific message. For some products and companies, that market is in the millions. For others, it may be much smaller, in the hundreds or even dozens. Or less. Just depends.
Marching to the beat of a different drummer means to follow your instinct and gut as much as it means to follow the numbers or stick to a ‘tried-and-true’ path. In the conclusion to ‘Walden’, Thoreau writes, “If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.”
The creators, inventors and marketers who marched to a different drum were also ones who changed the world. Look at the life stories of folks like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, 3M’s Art Fry (who invented the Post-it note), Alexander Bain (fax machine – in the 1840s! – look it up) or one of many others who saw things differently.
At your next tradeshow, look around. Who is doing things differently? Is the wacky company that’s making a giant 7-foot-long shoe out of cardboard in their booth? Is it the company that chopped a VW bus in half to make a mini-micro bus to fit in their ten-foot booth? Is it the exhibitor that chopped and painted an industrial storage container and made it into a unique booth?
What grabs your attention? What draws crowds at events?
Now: what can you do in your tradeshow marketing efforts that show off your extraordinary beat to a different drum? And how can you do that in such a way that it gets people attention, invites them into your world, shows them that you are different in a good way, and yet doesn’t cross that imaginary line into fringe or bleeding edge?
And if you can do that, will you tell the rest of us how it’s done??
Here are the slides from the July webinar I did as an introduction to Social Media:
Thanks to the 5 dozen+ that attended the webinar last week – here are the slides!
By Kipp Bodnar
A quick look at items such as:
- Pongr/QR codes
- Facebook SMS
- Live Stream
- Customer Interview
- Live Tweeting
- 24/7 Interactive – Will Burris
- Virtual Partner – Tiffany Odutoye
- Social Business Strategies – Nate Riggs
- An OnScene Production – Eric Leslie
timothymclain lists a number of tools you can use, including…
by Susan Friedmann
A person suffers a near-fatal allergic reaction and tweets about it. Company responds with a solution. But the response was clumsy; the target tweeted more about the negativity…and it snowballed.
By Chris A. Harmen
- Use Technology Every Day
- Live Audience Polling
- Decide Which Social Media Site To Use
- The Right Technology Tools
Are you flirting with tradeshow disaster?
You may recall a little rockin’ song from the late 70’s by the Florida band Molly Hatchet called ‘Flirtin’ With Disaster’ – and when it came on the radio the other day it got me to thinking that in many areas of our life that’s exactly what we are doing!
Flirtin’ with Disaster!
So, are you baking up a Recipe for Disaster with your tradeshow marketing?
For instance, does your tradeshow planning look anything like this recipe?
4 medium bars of budget confusion
1/4 c. selfishness
1 tablespoon lackadaisical approach to planning
2 teaspoons bad booth design
7 pounds of inappropriate giveaways
3 oz. untrained booth staff (may be substituted with surly and/or disinterested staff)
4 tablespoons of planning brain freeze
Mix together for just a short time, spread unevenly on show floor and let percolate. For maximum results, feign interest in your visitors, discard most leads as ‘not for us’ and invent a story for the CEO as to why the show was unsuccessful.
Note: by using just a few of this recipe’s ingredients, you can still achieve a terrifically disappointing tradeshow experience!
Guest post by Heidi Thorne
Since I’m known on Twitter for having information on green marketing, my friend “Tradeshow Guy” Tim Patterson asked the question, “Are there items in the promotional giveaway world that are truly ‘green?’ And if not, that’s a story in itself!” It sure would be.
It really comes down to how do YOU define a “green” promotional product? Currently, defining what is green is all over the place. One can call a reusable bag or water bottle green because it would be reused several times and not immediately make its way to a landfill. For the most strict green marketers, a reusable item is a cop out. They might not be happy until the item has been made of plastic derived from organic non-food supply corn grown in the United States in a factory powered by sun or wind that is employee owned and gives 10 percent of its profits to charity.
Because it is so difficult to determine if a giveaway is green, some time back I developed the Green Promo Score Sheet which is available for free download at GreenPromoScoreSheet.com. It helps you assess the “green-ness” of your giveaway based on over a dozen factors such as if it is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, organic, fair trade, etc.
If you do decide to go down the green giveaway path, make sure that you select a giveaway that matches your objectives or purpose. For example, if your company is promoting that you are using alternative energy, don’t give away something that uses standard batteries! You might want to consider a flashlight that uses dynamo power (usually a crank which you turn to provide power) or solar.
When purchasing green promotional products, ask your supplier if he tell you what makes the item green or ecofriendly if specific claims are not made in the offer. Here is an example that I saw at an area business’ expo. They were giving out “natural” canvas tote bags to hold literature. Kudos for using a reusable product. But that may not have been the optimal choice for this event that was touting green products. Here’s why…
A lot of people think that if it’s cotton, it’s natural and therefore organic. Not so! Standard cotton production is not very environmentally friendly. It uses large amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and water. Organic cotton production uses non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, manual or natural weeding, and water saving techniques.
Watch for vague words in product descriptions such as natural, ecofriendly, or green. These need to be defined.
The number of green tradeshow giveaway items available is increasing all the time. While labeling standards are still in a state of flux, it pays to find out why a product is green before you spend your green.
About the Author
Heidi Thorne is a promotional products and social media marketing consultant, specializing in ecofriendly, USA and union made products. A variety of more ecofriendly promotional products is available at her PromoWithPurposeShop.com shopsite. For more information on how to green up your marketing, visit her blog at PromoWithPurposeToday.com.
7. Poor Follow Up on Leads
Why would you bring your own rope to your hanging? And, yet, the vast majority of exhibitors spend considerable cash preparing and participating in a trade show and then neglect the leads they gathered at the show. Well, either they don’t value the leads or there’s no plan on how to handle them. Most of the time it’s the latter. What’s the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
8. No Daily Booth Preparation
When your in-laws come to town, you spend days cleaning, organizing, and stressing over dust bunnies. Three days later, you don’t care anymore. There are dirty dishes piled in sink and clothes draped over the recliner. The same scenario happens for most exhibitors. They polish and preen for hours before the show opens, and then by Day Two, they ignore the smudges, the carpet boogies, and the stray candy wrappers.
Every day is a new day in Exhibit-Land. Like Disneyworld, it’s gotta look perfect before the guests arrive. Assign that task to someone every day and create a checklist. Otherwise, it won’t get done, or the person with initiative will do it and resent it.
9. Partying and Socializing
It’s a trade show. You’re suppose to socialize and party during the off hours. But . . . and here’s the BIG BUT . . . you need to be smart about it. First, you’re on company time. Even when you think you’re not on company time, you’re on company time. That’s just the way it is. If the company expects you to socialize with clients, then socialize and be on your best behavior. If someone has to tell you what that means, then you shouldn’t be socializing with clients.
Second, trade shows may seem like a friendly gathering, and they can be, but they are actually a competition. What you say, where you say it, and who’s around when you say it, can have painful repercussions for you and your employer. We are all on high alert for hints, innuendos, and outright gossip about our competitors. It’s amazing what someone will tell you, or someone next to your will reveal, after a few drinks.
Finally, and this should go without saying, socializing should not interfere with your show responsibilities. Pace yourself cowboys and cowgirls. Showing up at the booth sweating tequila (no matter how good the tequila was) isn’t attractive.
10. Packing and Unpacking
I know. You’re tired, and you want to get back to your room, the airport, or home. That’s understandable. We all feel that way. But how you unpack or pack your booth will make your life much easier or much harder. You know deep down in your heart that it’s the right thing to do. Ultimately, the key to any successful trade show is planning and organization.Your exhibit is no exception.
Carefully unpacking the exhibit and organizing the packaging materials makes the assembly go faster and the repacking much easier. You eliminate the head scratching that invariably occurs at the end of the show. When you take the time to repack the exhibit right, you ensure that the exhibit arrives at the next destination in good condition and ready for the next show. Think of your exhibit as yarn. You have a choice. You can either toss the loose yarn in the case and hope for the best. Or you can wind it carefully into a ball.
11. Participating in the Wrong Shows (not participating in the right shows)
This one is tough. Too often, you never know until you participate. It’s kinda like “Mystery Date” where you don’t know if the person on the other side of the door is “dreamy” or a “dude.” The best advice is to ask your suppliers or strategic partners who may participate in the same show. What’s their take on the trade show and has it been beneficial? If possible, ask for specifics such as lead numbers, sales from the show, and promotional ideas. What works and what doesn’t work.
In the end, you have to decide based on your own experience. Sometimes the show would have been better if only you had done this or that. That’s fine. You’ll make the adjustment next year. Other times, it wasn’t a good fit because you’re selling candy at a diabetics convention.
What you don’t want to do is allow tradition or momentum to dictate whether you participate. Just because you have (or haven’t) gone every year, shouldn’t determine whether you go or don’t go this year. Take the time to evaluate your marketing goals and determine whether the show contributes to those goals. If it does, then go.
12. Not Walking the Show and Talking to Competitors, Suppliers, and Potential Partners
It’s tempting to just hang out in your booth. After all, it’s safe and comfortable. But trade shows are two way streets. Potential customers are there to learn and discover new products, services, and suppliers. You’re there to work with those customers . . . but you’re also there to learn and discover as well.
Every show is an opportunity to improve your “game.” What are your competitors showing? What are they saying? Are there any new products or services which would benefit your company? Are there trends you’ve overlooked and need to study and implement?
No one is asking you to spy, but friendly conversation goes a long way with friends and foes alike. It’s all in your attitude and your approach. Don’t be afraid to say “Hello!” and ask how the show is going. You want to be seen as warm and friendly, and not as a medieval fortress with the drawbridge closed. Obviously the same rules apply as the “Party and Socialize” section — namely, you need to be smart about what you share (and don’t share).
13. No Pre-show Marketing
This may be last, but it’s certainly not least. In some ways, it should be #1 if only to get your attention. There’s no reason, absolute no reason (unless you want to fail) not to have a pre-show marketing plan. You can spend a little, or you can spend a lot. At a minimum, you should contact your customers to see if they are attending the show. What they tell you may influence what you bring to the show and what you feature in your graphics.
Beyond that, the opportunities are limited only by your imagination and your budget: from pre-show mailings and emails to advertising and contests, and from show sponsorships to industry press releases. You already spend much of your time trying to attract attention to your company throughout the year. Take that energy and creativity and apply it to your trade show marketing. If there was ever a venue for taking risks, it’s a trade show. The conservative, Namby Pamby approach rarely works in trade show marketing.
Be bold and beautiful my friend. The show starts in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Guest post by Mel White, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits
Mistakes happen whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned trade show veteran, but you can avoid the 13 Most Common Trade Show Mistakes by following this advice. So, let’s take a few minutes, while your competitors are reading about Lindsey Lohan or watching reruns of Jersey Shore, to super-size your trade show marketing skills.
1. Going Too Big
We all want to think we’re the big dog on the block, but we’re not. If you’re new to trade show marketing, starting with an inline 10 x 10 or 10 x 20 may make more sense. You learn what works — from graphics to display configurations — before investing in an island exhibit. For example, you’d be surprise how many folks think they need an enclosed conference room only to discover that their clients are more comfortable with an informal meeting area.
Most organizations participate in multiple trade shows each year. There’s usually a pecking order to those shows where some are more important than others. It may not make sense to “go big” at the secondary trade shows, when you could invest that money in your main show (where you’ll generate more leads and kick the bejesus out of your competitors).
2. Going Too Small
In general, smaller exhibits get less traffic than larger exhibits, if for no other reason than location. Bigger exhibits typically are centrally located, closer to the entrance, and along the main aisles. However, the largest benefit of bigger exhibits is square footage and height. Island exhibits can include presentation area(s), multiple kiosks, seating areas, ample storage, large format graphics, overhead signage, product displays. While these are still possible in inline displays, the space limits how much can be done.
There’s a school of thought that says, “At the very least, match the square footage of your main competitors.” Here’s another idea . . . determine what you want to accomplish at the show and what it will take to exceed those goals, and then design a booth that achieves them. It’s not rocket science folks.
3. No Specific Goals
For whatever reason, some companies are on autopilot when it comes to their trade show marketing. If you ask them what they want to accomplish, their response it usually “increase sales” or “generate more leads.” Really? If those are your only goals, then you might as well toss in “World Peace” and “Ending Global Hunger” too.
Chances are your trade show goals coincide with your overall marketing goals. The skill to execute them in a 3D face-to-face environment. That’s where working with a knowledgeable exhibit professional makes all the difference. Just because you are a superstar at marketing, it doesn’t mean you know diddly about trade show marketing or exhibit design. A smart trade show professional will spend much of their time asking you what you want to accomplish.
4. Cluttered Graphics
Think back to the bulletin boards in your elementary school classroom. Does that memory make you smile? That’s very sweet . . . now do exactly the opposite for your trade show graphics. All that clutter may have been perfect for developing minds hyped up on Elmer’s glue and Crayola crayons, but our older brains can’t process that much information in 3-4 seconds. We need clear, straight-forward messages. That doesn’t mean your graphics can’t be colorful, witty, and creative. They just can’t be thematic chaos. The message should state who you are, what you do, and what problem you are solving in less than 4 seconds. Everything else is just pretty paper on a package. We like the pretty paper, but we like what’s in the package a whole lot more.
5. Giveaways for the Sake of Giveaways
It’s funny how free pens, stress balls, and rulers can give us an inferiority complex. They have them. We don’t, so we feel like a second-class citizen on the trade show floor. At the next trade show, we have trinkets, and we spend half our time giving them away just to justify having them in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. I like free stuff. But the free stuff better have a purpose. A bank that gives away nifty calculators. Smart. The chiropractor who gives away a pen shaped like a spine. Also smart. But when a software company gives away plastic water bottles. What’s the point?
The same rules apply for prizes or drawings. The drawing should create a buzz at the show, and should serve as a mechanism to engage potential clients in conversation. Fish bowls where attendees drop off business cards to win an iPod attract leads, but not quality leads. Do you really want a stack of unqualified leads for your sales team to sort through? Probably not.
6. Booth Staff Not Trained
I know you’re telling yourself, “My staff knows the products and they know the company, why should I have to train them?” True. Now recall the last time you went to the mall to shop. Those employees knew the products, and they knew the company. Did you feel like you received exceptional service. Did they approach you promptly, ask you open-ended questions, listen, and show you exactly what you wanted? Probably not.
Training before the show and before the show opens each day ensures that everyone understands the mission, that everyone knows their role, and that everyone gets their questions answered. Think of a trade show as a job interview. Every person who walks in the booth is deciding whether to hire you (or not). Can you really afford to lose a sale?
Stay tuned for the rest coming up next week!
(previously published at Tradeshow Tales, the blog of Classic Exhibits, and re-published with permission)
Guest Post By Steve McMains
Trade shows are great ways to promote a product or the brand identity of the company. Apart from that, you can also use a trade show to measure your competitors, there marketing tactics and their latest product development trends. Many companies that cannot afford to go for extensive market research or those who cannot directly communicate with the target market on a regular basis should go for different trade shows.
However, it is not enough to participate in a trade show to get the most out of it. You must prepare well in advance to end the show successfully. Here are some common mistakes done by many new companies along with tips to avoid them for better result.
Open your booth to visitors: Do you really think setting up a great looking booth is enough if the visitors do not feel comfortable? Many trade show participants often sit tight behind a 6 ft table and wait for the visitors to get in. However,smart marketers remove the table and try to get the visitors inside. In this process, you are actually walking a few steps ahead your competitors. This makes your booth more approachable to a prospective customer. If you really need some tables,get some bar-height pedestal tables so that your representatives can communicate or demonstrate the product in a one to one environment.
Keep enough space for visitors: Many new trade show participants often keep the booth crowded with their own representatives. They keep them to tackle heave traffic in the booth. However, there is hardly any need to do so. There is no need to put as many representatives as you can. It is always great to put smart people who can easily identify prospective customers from a crowd and can attend the visitors accordingly. You must remember that you have a very limited period and thus, there is no need to entertain the whole crowd. If you find that a very particular time of the day, you will get huge traffic, you can arrange for more work force. However, once the situation is over, it is better to remove the excess.
Polite, smart and ready to solve problems: This subheading tells all about the quality of your representatives. If the visitors do not feel that the representatives are warm and approachable, there are high chances that your trade show will turn out to be a failure. So make sure that they greet visitors with a warm smile and ask your representatives to keep their cell phones switched-off. While selecting your representatives make sure that they are well dressed and have a good sense of decency.
Company and Product knowledge: We often see that companies hire people from different agencies to represent them in a trade show. These people often do not have enough information about the company or the product. If they are your first line for interaction with the visitors, this is not a problem. However, if they are the only people representing your company in the trade show, there is a problem. If you hire these people, make sure that they know whatever they are supposed to know and put a person of your company present there so that people can approach him or her for further information on anything.
Event marketing can be very profitable. It just needs some more attention from you.
Steve is a media professional and writes for different online publications on media and advertising industry. For more information on event marketing, he recommends you to visit http://www.adweekmedia.com/
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steve_McMains