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“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me happiness was the key to life. When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

– John Lennon

When investing in trade show exhibiting and sponsoring, there are three valuable elements that must be part of the initiative:

1. Obtaining an attendee contact list.  With this you have the ability to conduct pre-show marketing to get pre-arranged meetings and drive booth traffic.  Without an attendee contact list you have a significantly reduced chance of recouping your investment.

2. Securing an opportunity to present.  A presentation slot give you an opportunity to tell great stories to a large audience about how your product capabilities match the key challenges your audience (attendees) are facing.  No presentation slot means you have to do this 1 on 1 in a crowded, noisy booth which requires significant pre-show planning.

3. Acquiring a great both location. Sign up early and pay the premium for a great spot.  Work with the event producer and make sure you’re clear on which locations get the maximum traffic.  Do not cut cost and settle for secondary, or tertiary location.  You’ll immediately regret it.

BONUS:  Items not to care about and trade away for any of the three elements above:

a. Lanyards, bags, badges and other garbage attendees will throw away before they even get on the plane to go home.

b. Ads in show programs.  One of two things will happen: 1) You’ll feel compelled to produce and new ad specifically for the event, or 2) you’ll recycle an old ad to save time and money.  The first is a waste of time because no one reads or cares about ads in programs. The second is worse, because if someone happens to read it and/or care about it, the ad will likely be irrelevant or mis-targeted.

c. Electronic lead capture devices.  They never work right and rarely provide the opportunity to include notations regarding what the conversation was about, why the person spoke with you, etc.  Get a business card from everyone you speak with and have a pen ready to make notes on the back.  No business cards? Assuming I believe this (which I don’t), keep a small notepad in your pocket and make a note.

Random Acts of Marketing. Brilliant!

BizMarketer

If you’ve worked in marketing for more than a week, you’ve committed an RAOM – a Random Act of Marketing.  It can take many forms. Mine have looked like tins of inedibly strong mints, a shipping pallet full of Lands End boots, a print ad with a deer in it and, I’m ashamed to say, dozens of branded duck calls, all for really no reason at all.

An RAOM can be caused by many things including the dangerous combination of an executive, an airplane, an abundance of vodka and an ad sales guy. They are also caused by neighbours with an embroidery business, spouses raising money for worthy causes, excited sales people and, sadly, even level-headed marketers who build a six-figure campaign around blinking yo-yo. But these are not reasons for RAOMs, they are excuses.

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