Exhibiting at a trade show can involve a major investment of time and money. But the financial return for your business can be big – if you approach the show with a winning strategy.
Most exhibits are handled one of two ways: 1) by spending hundreds of hours and dollars incorporating the entire company’s ideas into a mishmash of copy, graphics and giveaways; or 2) by spending two minutes dragging out the exact same booth that’s been used for the past 25 years. Both approaches have obvious disadvantages.
But there's hope! If you’re considering setting up at a trade show, here are five tips for a successful trade show experience:
1. Plan for success.
We all claim to be “really busy” then are disappointed when the show doesn’t go as planned – that’s usually because there was no plan! Develop a detailed plan addressing goals and challenges ahead of time – ideally 12 months prior to the show. Additional planning meetings should be held every three months leading up to the show. You’ll set the team and yourself up for success go by communicating a clear strategy, roles and expectations.
2. Let ‘em know you’re coming!
If you don’t tell anyone you will be at the show, how can you expect your fans to stop by your booth? In your plan, be sure to include a pre-show marketing strategy. Include answers to the following questions: why should people stop by your booth? What special promo will prospects receive for stopping by? How will prospects find you on the trade show floor? Where can they receive information if they are unable to attend the show?
3. Edit, don’t add.
Have you ever seen a billboard on the highway with a bunch of copy? It’s hard to read, right? Same with trade show displays. Make sure the graphics on your display tell who you are, what you do and how you can help in a succinct 8-12 words. Yes, 8-12 words – and that includes your logo.
4. Listen to your prospects.
Silence is golden … sometimes. Listening to prospects’ needs first will help you clearly communicate your company’s solution. Avoid bombarding them with information on every little thing your company can do – rather, identify top-level needs to draw them in, then you can inform them of additional solutions your company can provide.
5. Follow up.
Create a system before attending the show that ensures no leads fall through the cracks. This follow up might be a packet to be mailed after the show, or an email with attached information the prospect was interested in – personalize and give the prospect something of value. This is also an opportunity to leverage technology and accelerate the follow up process.
If a trade show is handled correctly, you can make more connections in one weekend than in a month of cold calling. But remember, a trade show is not a cheap, quick-fix kind of thing. A company must be prepared to invest time, money and attention into its exhibit in order to see a beneficial return.
Imagine being able to walk into a store and when you open the door, the exact item you were looking for is right in front of you. Wouldn't that be nice? No more hunting, searching, asking someone, trying to find the right size or just leaving in frustration when you can't find what you're looking for.
Online can be that easy. For example, when someone is looking for Widget X using Google, advertisers can send them to a landing page that talks just about Widget X. No need to tell people about all of the other unrelated widgets, just send them directly to the one they are looking for and tell them everything they need to know about Widget X.
However, many marketers are still sending ads to the homepage -- and people are bouncing (the online version of just leaving the store in frustration). Think of it this way: your homepage is the entrance to a store, while a landing page is a whole department around the one thing (product or service) that a visitor is looking for. Which would you choose? Done well, a landing page helps people find what want and helps you sell more.
Here are some tips to help you get it right:
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you are buying any sort of online ads, you have some context into what they are looking for. Think about what YOU would like to see.
Make sure your landing page is a logical extension of the ad/search result that's directing people there. Don't try to bait and switch people with a landing page that sells something other than what they're looking for.
Track, track, track. Make sure you have Google Analytics installed on the landing page with goals set up.
Remember the "inverted pyramid" style of writing: put the most important facts at the top of the page and more details below. Make sure the visitor can get the basics at the beginning.
Make sure you have a strong, clear call to action: If you are selling a product, make sure the visitor can, at least, add the item to their cart. If you're generating leads, make the form easy to use.
Another note on forms: Make sure you ask for the bare minimum information you need to qualify them. People are wary of giving their information, and it's better to have too many unqualified leads than no leads at all (I'm looking at you, landing pages that ask for my social security number).
Incorporate security seals, third-party validation, testimonials and no-spam promises to ensure that the visitor can trust you.
Limit the navigation to other pages on the site. Don't trap the user, but if you are certain that you've selected the correct page for them to land on, don't allow them to get lost in the store.
The one exception to this rule is that if you can cross- or up-sell. For example, if someone is searching for a particular red dress, it's OK to show them more red dresses. You don't want the visitor to leave because of limited options. Bonus points if you can sell them a more expensive dress.
Track calls. There are some very complicated ways of accomplishing this that attribute a call to a specific keyword or website, but these are also very expensive. You could simply set up a new phone number (or, better yet, forward a Google Voice number) and count the number of calls. Make sure the only way you can see the number is through the landing page.
Give the visitors a way to ask questions. Don't assume they will buy now or give you all of their information, but provide a phone number (see above) or an easy way to ask questions (bonus points for live chat).
Test out different versions of the page. Try showing more information vs. less information. Try a red "buy now" button or blue "buy now" button. The possibilities are endless.
Landing pages are a great way to make it easier for visitors to do business with you. Next time you run ads, make sure to have an honest discussion about what landing page you will be sending visitors to. After all, you've paid for that visit -- make the most of it.
My entry into the world of marketing was somewhat
unconventional, with a BS in Forest Management (RU Rah) and 10 years in medical
device R&D before moving to what my R&D colleagues referred to as “the
dark side.” I had the great fortune,
however, to learn classical marketing from some of the best while at Johnson
& Johnson, on both the consumer and professional sides of the business
(thanks Kay, Mickey, and Melanie). As a
young brand manager, I was elated when I was entrusted with ownership of my
first brand (THROMBOGEN™ Topical Thrombin), which included working with an ad agency.
In my early years working with and then “managing” agencies,
I thought there were generally two types: those who did what you asked, and
those who were constantly hounding you to spend more money. In my opinion, PD&G in Arlington, TX was
one of the later. As the scope of my
management responsibilities grew, I found that my account manager Teri Pierce
Schultheis (of the P in PD&G) was constantly coming to me with new ideas on
how to spend my budget – and then some.
I thought this was self-serving and annoying.
As my career progressed and my business skills matured, however,
I came to truly appreciate what Teri and PD&G were doing. They brought a collaborative spirit along with
a very different perspective to our business, and they truly saw our
relationship as a partnership and proposed new and innovative promotional
opportunities that we had not considered internally. I realized that this was exactly the kind of
agency and relationship that would best serve me and my business.
This is exactly why I hired Balcom Agency to be my agency of
record at my last two companies. With a
strong agency partnership, both my brands and my career flourished. In fact, I developed such a good working
relationship with Balcom, and because I felt I had a lot to offer from a
strategic marketing perspective, I decided this would be a great place to
work. I guess they felt the same way
‘cause here I am.
So whoever your ad agency is, be glad when they hound you
with new and innovative ways to spend your budget. Demand that they push you on
timing and deadlines. At the end of the
day, you may just find that you are doing things you had neither planned nor
considered, but find that your business is better off.
Everyone's got something to prove -- and that's increasingly true in marketing. But these days, it's less about winning a bunch of advertising awards, and more about getting results. Moving the needle. Showing ROI. That's thanks in large part to the rise of
interactive communication channels, which has enabled highly sophisticated means
of tracking what’s working and what’s not. It's making John Wanamaker's famous quote (you know the one: "Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half") more and more irrelevant.
But there's one area in which the benefits of “big data” have been more reluctantly embraced – social media. This has resulted in two common
patterns of behavior:
There are the brands that are late to the social party
(if they show up at all) for fear that they won't be able to track the ROI and
prove their success to upper management.
And there are brands that jump on the social bandwagon
without even considering tracking their success correctly (or how social media
even fits their marketing goals).
But you don't have to fall into either of these traps. We're
here to give you concrete metrics to show that social media measurement is a.)
very possible b.) very simple and c.) very necessary if your
brand is active in the social world.
1. Engagement: Although this one may seem like
buzz word, it's the most crucial aspect in social media measurement. We stress
quality over quantity. If you have 1 million fans, but they don't interact with
your brand or share your content, then what use are they to you? Important engagement
metrics to watch (all of which can be tracked in Facebook Insights):
2.Sentiment: Are fans commenting on your
posts and posting to your timeline with happy comments or constant complaining?
Dive deeper and discover what part of their experience they're happy or unhappy
with. If they're unhappy with your content, change things up. If fans are constantly
praising your customer service department, send an internal email out thanking
3. Fan/follower growth: Yes, we said to focus on
quality over quantity, but keeping an eye on the number of followers or fans
you're losing tells you something about the content you're sharing,
too. Important growth metrics to watch:
New likes/unlikes (Facebook)
New followers/unfollows (Twitter, Pinterest,
New subscribers/unsubscribers (YouTube)
4. Conversions: Whatever your end goal is for your
brand's marketing efforts, social media is just one extension helping you
achieve that. Maybe you want to drive more traffic to your website, gain email
subscribers, attract new fans, etc. Define a conversion, then track
it. Important conversion metrics to watch:
For email subscribers, maybe you have an
application host on your Facebook page collecting that information. Watch to
see how many visitors that app has, and how many subscribers and adjust your
creative, messaging, or usability of the app accordingly.
Still not convinced? Are there currently holes in
social media measurement? Sure. But I guarantee the measurement online is far
more advanced and accurate than traditional media measurement.
Have other quick and easy social media measurement tips or
questions? Comment below to share.
You’re forging your way into the world of social media,
content marketing, inbound marketing, or whatever you want to call it. And
you’ve heard that content is king and whatever you publish has to be worth your
audience’s time, and good enough for them to share.
But you’re not really sure what that means.
If only there was a basic test you could perform to find
out if content is worth posting and sharing.
You’re in luck. Now there is.
What’s the outlet?
The type of content you should create depends on where
you’ll be releasing it:
Your Facebook and Twitter fans are mostly looking
for deals, sneak peaks and customer service
Your blog or video audiences are mostly looking
for answers and entertainment
Is it about you, or
Be sure that even when you do post about your company,
products or services, it’s still ultimately about your audience. Why it matters to them. How they can get the most out of
it. What they think of it.
Make sure the content does one or more of the following:
problems. Your customers are searching the web for answers – be
the one who has them. If you can’t provide the only solution to a particular problem, make sure your solution is
either the fastest to understand (like this
six-second tip from Lowes) or the most thorough (“Everything You Need to
Know About X”).
Arrests their attention. This content has to entice even the busiest people to
stop and click. Check out the article titles on the BuzzFeed homepage – I dare you not to click
one. Few of them are useful, but most of them are fascinating. And from bizarre
creatures to exotic lifestyles, to funny observations about everyday life, they
share this common thread: they are all story-driven and highly visual.
Facebook changes daily, and so do the rules you have to play by to win. Here are 8 quick ways to kill your business' social media efforts (and a couple may even help you get rid of a few personal Facebook friends too!).
1. Over-sharing: We know you want every last fan to see each post… but guess what? They're not going to. And while you're busy flooding peoples' news feeds with repeat content, your fans who have seen it over and over are hiding your content… or unliking your page.
Similarly, if you share every update your page makes to your personal profile, your friends are going to get sick of your spamming, and think your page is annoying and that the product or service doesn't speak for itself.
2. Content Trumping: If you have awesome content that could potentially help grow your page, share it! FROM. YOUR. PAGE. Once the page shares it, feel free to share it to your personal profile (thereby directing traffic to the original source - the brand's page).
3. Impersonal responses: Automated responses make me feel so special! Said no one ever. People are on social media because they want to feel special. Use their names and answer their questions as if the brand were actually managed by humans. Oh wait, it is.
4. Delayed responses: Fans these days are expecting responses from brands' Facebook pages in hours (preferably less than one hour). If you can't keep up, hire help, or prepare to lose business.
5. Not responding at all: Imagine approaching a girl at a bar. You say hi and offer to buy her a drink and she just turns around and ignores you. You're left alone, looking dumb, thinking to yourself, "What a B*%$@". This is what it's like to fans when you don't listen to them. Social media is meant to be SOCIAL. Take part or people are going to stop talking to you, and soon enough, it won't matter how pretty you are... you'll be going to prom alone.
6. Not posting regularly: Social media strategies are built to be flexible because it's imperative to serve up relevant, timely content. However, dry spells can lead fans to believe you're shady and unreliable. Always have a strategy and content calendar in place just in case.
7. Don't share what you think is cool: Share what FANS will think is cool. If I shared what I thought was cool to every single page I manage, Catholic Churches, cowboy boot manufacturers, and retail stores would all be sharing the latest Justin Timberlake album and memes supporting the 2nd Amendment. Yeah...
8. Don't post just to promote: Make sure your posts are of value or your fans will leave you, simple as that. If you're sharing the page's posts to your personal page - what will excite your friends about it? Stop selling them, and start engaging with them.
Luckily, these 8 steps aren't punishable by death or we'd all be goner's. They are however punishable by unliking and de-friending, so I urge you to evaluate your social media efforts and see where you can tighten up a few screws.
Have any other pet peeves or suggestions for social media managers? Comment below to share!
You know the clichés: The grass is always greener, she’s playing hard to get, we want what we can’t have. And as it goes with life, so it goes with marketing. We always seem to be focused on customer acquisition, chasing what’s shiny and new while neglecting our existing customers.
But that’s an expensive attitude. Acquiring a new customer can cost seven times more than retaining one1. What’s more, existing customers who are made to really feel the love also share it – with their families, their Facebook friends, their dentists. They become ambassadors of your brand, doing some of the customer acquisition work for you. For free.
So how do you treat existing customers right? A lot of the responsibility rests with your call center or customer service department, but there are several things marketers can do to show you care.
Make sure your customer information is robust and up to date. There’s nothing worse than a “personalized” email that completely misses the mark by being either incredibly vague or just plain wrong. It’s embarrassing for you. It’s insulting to them. And it’s bad news for your bottom line. In fact, 68% of lost customers bail because they feel like the brand doesn’t care about them.2
Take things to the next level.
Develop a messaging strategy for customers who’ve already heard – and bought into – your original sales pitch. What information or advice would make their original purchase(s) more satisfying? Are there any promotions that you can run specifically for existing customers? What’s a logical and relevant cross-selling opportunity? Try to anticipate their needs without giving them the hard sell.
Be a good listener.
Solicit feedback, and take it to heart. Put together a good social media strategy by closely monitoring what’s being said about your brand and responding in ways that are respectful and genuine. This will require working closely with your customer service department, which can be tough, but it’s absolutely critical. Learn from those who’ve made major missteps, and those who get it right.
Don’t give up.
Go after lost customers – without getting into stalker territory. Find out why they left, and if there’s anything you can do to win them back. The effort is worth it: studies have shown that your chances of winning back a former customer are two to four times higher than landing a new one.3. But even if they’re gone for good, you may learn valuable information in the process to keep future churn to a minimum.
So start showing your existing customers the love. Once you have a good retention plan in place, you’ll find that the grass is pretty green in your own yard after all.
U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Think you’re ready to start a company blog? Here are eight
rules to follow when you write that first post – and every other post after.
1. Know your goal.
Your ultimate goal is to gain more business (or more
support, if you’re a non-profit), but keep in mind the goals specific to the
blog. Things like:
Get more web traffic
Collect email addresses
Build a community
B smart: To build authority with potential customers
and with search engines, don’t try to sell something every five minutes.
2. Write stuff your
audience wants to read.
Content should be:
Related to your business
So useful and/or amusing people
want to share it with friends.
Not an ad for your product or service.
If you’re a medical company, write about healthy lifestyles.
If you’re a nonprofit, write about people you’ve helped. If you’re a B2B
company, write about industry legislation and best practices.
B smart: Posts with tips, tricks and how-tos are
3. Write an intriguing and specific title.
Specify what’s in the post and why it’s valuable to your readers.
“Sack Lunch Ideas” is boring
“Make Every Day Delicious”
“12 Easy and Delicious
Sack Lunches” is both specific and interesting
B smart: Include relevant keywords for search engine
4. Make it easy on
Chances are, your readers’ eyes are already tired of the
screen. Huge Dostoyevsky blocks of copy could scare them away. Break up the text
with subheads and bullet points. Readers should be able to tell what you’re
saying at a glance.
B smart: Train yourself to keep posts under 500
words. It’s okay to occassionally write a longer post that’s more in-depth(i.e., “everything you need to know
5. End with a call to
Give people something to dowhen they finish reading. For instance:
“Read more” (followed by
links to posts on similar topics)
“What’s your favorite sack lunch? Tell us
in the comments!”
“Like this article? Pass
it on!” (followed by share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)
B smart: Choose calls to action based on your main
goals. Sharing is great for traffic; comments are great for community-building.
6. Add a picture.
Use a photo a relevant photo that’s striking or amusing to draw
the eye and help break up the text. Only use pictures you own, or have
permission to use from the owner.
B smart: Search the Creative Commons section
of a photo-sharing site like Flickr for images you
can legally use (as long as you link back to the owner).
7. Post on a schedule.
You don’t have to post every day – five posts a week can be
daunting to your subscribers as well as your writing team – but posting one to
three times week, preferably on the same days (e.g. every Monday, Wednesday and
Friday) is ideal.
B smart: Share your own posts on your social
networks. You can connect some networks (like LinkedIn) directly to your blog
to post new article links automatically.
8. Reply to every
thank people who compliment the content. Strike up conversations with your
B smart: Don’tfeed the trolls – in other words, don’t try to argue with people who post
inflammatory comments just to get a rise out of you. Instead, shut them down
with something benign like “Thank you for your input.” Consider implementing a
Comment Policy reserving the right to ban trolling, strong language, racial slurs,
What questions do you have about blogging? Let us know in
Most of us use social media for primarily personal reasons –
keeping up with old friends and getting better acquainted with new ones. But
that’s something that businesses in the social media space tend to forget. They
post, comment and interact in a very, well, business-like manner. And when a
businessy, impersonal post shows up in the middle of someone’s all-too-human
feed, it just feels wrong – and turns your audience off.
That’s why developing a strong voice or persona for your
brand is one of the most crucial components when launching your social media
initiatives. Tweets, Facebook posts, pins, even LinkedIn communications – all
online messaging needs to be consistent with branding, and relatable to the
And like any friendship, you can’t neglect things if you
want your online connections to thrive. Your persona needs to be revisited by
Community Managers biweekly or monthly, just to make sure that everything stays
on-brand. It’s also important to take an in-depth look at the persona every
year to account for any changes in the audience or the brand itself.
Here are the basic steps to developing a social media
1. Research the audience.
How old are they? Where do they live? What are their general
interests? Why are they connecting with your brand? What are they hoping to get
out of the social connection? If you don't understand the audience, how are you
supposed to be able to entertain them, speak with them, and, ultimately, sell
2. Develop personality traits from the audience research.
Now that you know the basics about the audience, you can
define their character. By pinpointing 5-7 strong adjectives that describe the
brand's persona, you’ll get an idea of just who will be speaking to fans and
followers, and what he or she will sound like. A persona described as
"intelligent, thoughtful, nurturing, quiet, and articulate" would
interact far differently with an audience than a persona described as
"gregarious, witty, involved, funny, and enthusiastic."
3. Find a visual (famous) character who fits the persona
to use as a model.
A Facebook page for an upscale women's clothing line
wouldn't speak in Will Ferrell's persona, and a children's learning center
probably wouldn't speak as Chelsea Handler. Find a character who fits the
brand's persona, so that visualizing the person sharing updates and responding
to feedback and more tangible.
4. Compose sample posts.
Get a feel for both the content the brand will be sharing,
and the way it will be shared. Does the persona use exclamation points? Does
he/she ask open-ended questions? Are posts straightforward and informative, or
conversational and light? These also serve as good back-up content when the
brand is getting away from the persona’s messaging, or is in a content
So, there you have it! 4 quick steps to helping develop a
strong social media persona. Any you would add? Comment below to share.
I think most marketers today have a puppy problem. Everyone
loves a puppy – they're fun, cute and playful. Just look at the above picture of Asher (aka, the world’s cutest dog).
I had the opportunity to puppy-sit Asher, and he actually
taught me a lot about marketing. I would pull out a toy and he would get
super-excited. I could almost hear him say, "OMG!!!! That's my favorite
toy! I love it, I love it, I love it!" Different toy, same reaction:
"OMG!!!! That's my favorite toy! I love it, I love it, I love it!"
Too many marketers have this puppy problem. So often, we
miss the big basics because we’re chasing the next trend – Pinterest, Vine,
Reddit, etc. For CMOs, this can mean getting seriously off-task, wasting time
and, potentially, your company’s money. So what’s really important for CMOs
when it comes to technology?
1. Know your audience.
Women are more likely to use Pinterest. Instagram has a
younger audience. It's simple: different audiences use online tools differently.
Find out where your customers are and start there. Quantcast.com has a lot
of great tools that provide demographic information about visitors to specific
websites (the image below shows such data for Facebook users).
Or take a look at how visitors are getting to your website using Google
Analytics. If you're more likely to get a sale from Facebook than Twitter, it's
a no-brainer to spend more time with Facebook. But you should also do it the
old-fashioned way: talk to your customers. If you have a brick and mortar
store, ask people that come in. If you have an email list, send out a small
2. Test, measure and adjust.
This should seem obvious, but it's VERY often overlooked. I've
met with several clients who were enthusiastically trying out QR Codes, without
implementing any way to evaluate their effectiveness. You can track traffic from
QR codes (and Facebook ads, digital ads, etc.), using Google's URL builder.
In the trite but true category: Keep It Simple, Stupid! Just
because technology can be complicated, doesn't mean that it should be. Too
often, brands try and accomplish too many goals with one campaign or
initiative. Focus on one main goal, instead of having a convoluted campaign
that no one can follow.
4. Do something!
The most successful CMOs are the ones that can identify
long-term trends, such as social media and mobile, experiment personally (for
example, don't expect massive results from Pinterest if you don't have an
account set up for yourself) and test professionally.
When it comes to marketing technology, no one wants to be left behind, which makes it easy to be puppy-like -- and ultimately unproductive -- in how we approach the many tools out there. You can avoid chasing your tail by remembering the Big Basics: