Putting your money in Trade Shows? Plan carefully. Trade shows receive mixed reaction from entrepreneurs, in part because they poorly plan for the event.
I experienced the good and the bad of trade shows at the New Mexico Governor’s Summit on Economic Development. Let me explain: conference participants were required to collect booth numbers from exhibitors in order to be eligible for prizes. While this ensures traffic on the exhibit floor, it certainly does nothing for qualifying that traffic. Many of those who passed by my booth wanted “the number” and could hardly bother with a courteous reply when asked a question. Classification: bad.
As a former broadcaster, I’m familiar with prize pigs, the name that we gave to freebie seekers. At a show I tend to spend my time more constructively with prospects who might be interested in my product. I strike up a conversation, find a bit of common ground, and see if my product can fulfill a need.
There are those who maintain that disseminating any information is good; people who believe information sells make sure that the prize pigs also get brochures and handouts. I disagree, maintaining that’s a waste of perfectly good money.
I find that I over-estimate the information I will use from the conference exhibit floor. No matter how valuable the brochure, if I don’t review it immediately following the show it lives in the file of the conference bag or in a pile. When I eventually review the piles, the majority of information (which I have now lived without for some time) is trashed. Am I so different from everyone else?
On the other hand, qualified prospects represent the good of trade shows. This conference focused on energizing the entrepreneurial economy. How exciting to talk with dozens of people interested in a product, looking for true solutions to a problem. The energy generated by such an exercise makes the futility of the prize pigs worthwhile. It goes back to return on attention. How do you prefer to spend your time?
Disclosure: As a member of the Board of Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance, AIBA, I manned that booth.
One quarter – time enough to produce an effective public relations campaign. As my clients face fourth quarter, a frentic-paced time of year, I suggest a forty-minute evaluation based on three key questions:
- Where do we go from here?
- What is the successful outcome we expect as a result?
- What is the next action we must take?
Let’s say, for example, that you eect to focus on one major public relations campaign in conjunction with an event. Blogger friend and marketing troubleshooter, Mary Schmidt, AIBA Executive Director Rebecca Jo Dakota and I implement this suggestion in conjunction with Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance, AIBA, next week. AIBA is hosting an annual event, the Keep it Querque Gala at Los Poblanos on Monday, November 12, 2007.
Step one involves developing a list of potential results such as: feature story around the event, backgrounder on keynote presenter, FAQ’s, blog submissions, letters to the editor, news notice published, general feature article in local paper, calendar item, news release, website submission, forum posting.
As Step two, prioritize the items listed above. Break each item into tasks, assigning the person responsible and a deadline. Simply make a spreadsheet with these columns : item, person responsible, deadline.
In Step three, designate the next action item and begin to move forward with it.
Does it work? We’ll let you know. At the very least, this is the agenda for our October 5th meeting. My preview with a couple of other trials this week says yes. So, if you want to maintain focus during the Holidaze, take these three questions, and run!
New Mexico’s largest networking event for business women, the 7th Annual Celebration of Excellent Women, brought some 300 women together this evening. The Celebration got its start in 2000 when the Presidents of WE, NAWBO, AWC and EWI chapters in Albuquerque decided to host an “event.” Diane Furie, Event and Meeting Planner was instrumental in planning the celebration; it has continued to be a success.
Billed as an opportunity to meet, mingle, chat, network, celebrate, nibble and imbibe, the 2007 event managed also to honor seven women:
- Deb Austin, Office Alternatives
- Kay Ballinger, Catalyst Financial Management, LLC
- Martha Doster, Martha’s Body Bueno
- Mary Ellen Merrigan, Connecting Point Communications
- Mary Rothman, Advertising Art Design Studio
- Mary Rutland, Human Resources by Mary Rutland
and, as the Original Excellent Woman,
- Diane Furie, Diane Furie Event and Meeting Promotion
According to the program, The Celebration of Excellent Women “showcases excellent business women that we appreciate for their professionalism, reliability, strong sense of community and desire to mentor or be a role model for those that follow in their footsteps.”
The certificate reads:
“Some women have a special quality about them. They give more and can always be relied upon. They see more and share that vision with others. They make life better for those whose lives they touch. These are Excellent Women. One of them is Mary Ellen Merrigan. September 20, 2007. Thank you for all you do. Albuquerque is richer for it.”
As an “Excellent Woman,” I am honored, proud, and also humbled. To the organizers and the committee, thank you!
Herding cats can be easier than getting your branding in line. Just ask Jill Duval of New Mexico WOMAN. Jill and her staff took time this week to take a look at an ongoing process: bringing a new look and tagline to life.
New Mexico WOMAN, an independent magazine of 19 years, encompasses three other events and a directory. Like any small business, the operation involves more ambition than people to fulfill it, implying a constant juggle of time and money.
After a decision to cohesively brand all elements of the operation, Jill and company began implementing the pieces. It’s a major project for an existing operation. Here’s a sample checklist:
- All materials carry the look
Letterhead, postcards, magnetic signs, nametags, internal communication, products, collateral pieces, external communications like advertising, website, customer service communications, co-branding communications, direct sales communications
- A digital file exists for all collateral materials
- All employees can access all materials
- The website mirrors the look
- The brand message is clear
- The communication of the message to clients is consistent
- The communication of the message by employees is consistent
- There are product mix/service innovations in place that enhance the brand
- There is a plan for focused communication of the message
- There is a formal checklist in place internally to insure continued improvement
Brand is everything you do. Hence, my original premise: for an existing organization, transforming brand is akin to herding cats.
Brandweek Magazine keeps me abreast of advertising news and offers food for thought. The Top of Mind Perspectives and Commentary frequently catches my attention. Last week, September 10, 2007, the “Got Tagline?” commentary from Mike McGinty, creative director at Groove 11, caught my attention.
McGinty commented: “Too many companies approach taglines without thinking…. …”if any of these outfits did actually stop for even a second and analyze their own taglines, they’d see just how insipid, inappropriate or indistinctive so many of them truly are.”
In an article that made me laugh out loud, McGinty hammered about what works and what doesn’t. Some of his picks for what works include:
Every kiss begins with Kay – Kay Jewelers; this advertiser marries the brand name with the product benefits and the emotion behind it.
OR, You are now free to move about the country – Southwest Airlines; Here’s a tagline that offers a relevant twist on a familiar phrase.
AND, Get the door. It’s Domino’s; As McGinty points out, this is a pure, simple experience-driven tagline.
The laughing part came as McGinty discussed fast food taglines. He pointed out that Church’s Chicken uses: Gotta love it; McDonald’s I’m loving it, and suggested that you check competitor taglines before you finalize yours.
I find most taglines to be vague and non-descriptive; here are some such samples from local publications:
Compass Bank, Just a little better
Martha’s Body Bueno, THE place to shop
Casa de Rosa Assisted Living, This is living
Dillard’s, The style of your life
Bank of Albuquerque, The banker makes the bank
Here is a list of the Top 100 Taglines of all time. Taglines clearly say what you do and should tell users why they care. Check yours. My rule is, if you can substitute your competitor’s name for yours and the statement is true, then you have a problem.
The launch of the 51st Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race is just hours away. This premiere event brings together a community of balloon enthusiasts from across the globe.
While luck plays a part in this race, raw pilot skill, always an advantage, is now augmented with technology. Fourteen teams in Brussels, Belgium can be tracked in near real-time. Three USA teams are competing; should an American team win then next year’s event would be held in the US. Meanwhile, launch order for this event has been set; once balloons are airborne, images and positions will be updated every 15 minutes.
Thanks to Skype, team communication is quick, easy, and most importantly, very clear. In fact, weather advisors from all over the world collaborate with pilots and their chase crew using Skype.
Only a few sports offer this combination of skill, technology and marketing. If you’ve never viewed gas ballooning, you owe it to yourself to take a look.
If you should miss this event, in early October, another gas balloon race, America’s Challenge, takes place with a launch from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Field on Saturday evening, October 6. Meanwhile, good luck to all gas ballooning competitors.
Recently a speaker from the League of Women Voters discussed authenticity and stated that was the one quality she wanted to see in political candidates. I found myself thinking about authenticity in marketing and business.
Authenticity requires vulnerability, the willingness to be open, truthful and sincere. Genuine. Authenticity in marketing requires truth in advertising and presentation. A number of recent posts from consultants in organizational development discussed authenticity. The Free Management Library offered additional insight on the subject.
Social media and its transparency supports truth. Companies and people find it difficult to “pull one over” on consumers in today’s world. Yet, authenticity is lacking. More than ever authenticity is cited as the catalyst for customer loyalty.
Not surprisingly, books are written on the subject. Beyond-Branding: How the values of transparency and integrity are changing the world of brands, is a compilation by 14 authors. Read more and download your free chapter here.
Authentic branding strikes a chord, causes a response from the target audience, and resonates at the cellular level.
Ultimately, a quote from Barbara De Angelis, Internationally recognized expert on human relations, sums up authenticity: “We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.”
Not every guru offers advice that applies to small business owners. Some consultants deal in buzz and corporate speak; others operate in an atmosphere devoid of real world experience; there’s theory versus reality, confusion versus clarity, spin versus real marketing conversation.
Fellow blogger and marketing troubleshooter, Mary Schmidt, and I grabbed some face-to-face time this week to catch up and talk marketing. Turns out that we both keep a short list of real experts, those who’ve managed the leap to real conversation.
High on my list of real guys is David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, how to use news releases, blogs, podcasting, viral marketing and online media to reach buyers directly. His latest blog post recommended Steve Chazin’s new blog, MarketingApple and the e-book he offers Secrets of the World’s Best Marketing Machine.
Downloading and reading that book was my first order of business this morning. It’s well worth the short time investment – even if you don’t have an extra fifteen or twenty minutes of time. My favorite quote: “Marketing isn’t what you do to reach your first customers, it’s what you do to help your first customers reach the rest.” Talk about making social media applicable. This is it.
Chazin makes it easy (and eye-appealingly so) to see how Apple has done this with white earbuds and stickers. I immediately forwarded the link to several Apple friends and look forward to hearing their comments.
Seems to me this kind of marketing conversation makes sense for every small business owner.
As one of seven children, I’ve been exposed to busy schedules for some time. The degree of interference seems to depend on me, not them. When my outlook is balanced, life works. In other words, I write blog posts, produce articles, see clients. Without balance, life interferes.
In the past, I’ve taken concentration for granted. No longer. I want websites that make me think, videos that inspire, ideas unrelated to the business world. Just a couple of choices include:
Finding your support for concentration is a valuable piece of the puzzle. What’s your secret?
With no notice to anyone, I took time off from posting to my blog. I found myself talking about inspiration with people. Where do you find inspiration? When do you need it? In the process, of relaxing from deadlines and overwhelm, I found my own answers. This week I challenge you to think about the things and the people that inspire you.
For example, people-first philosophies surround us; few companies walk their talk. Here’s a story to inspire you to new heights in your customer service.