Monday, February 28, 2011

Making the Most of Trade Shows, Expos, and Conferences

I spent a few days last week at an expo and a separate conference and, as always, was surprised at how few exhibitors and speakers had properly prepared for success. And that was just from my surface observations.

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list of possible preparations and actions, simply following these few key items would have made for a much more successful event for many of the companies that spent plenty of time and money to be in these shows. Here’s my short list of tips:

:: Decide what you want out of the show/expo/conference at the beginning of your planning, then create targeted actions based on your strategy. Capturing every attendee’s business card for a TV giveaway isn’t necessarily a good idea if your target audience is a small segment of those in attendance.

:: Give passers-by a reason to engage with the people at your booth. Far too many people set a table up at the front of the booth and sit behind it. Bad idea. Be accessible. Getting people out of the flow of traffic in the aisles into your booth can bring much better results in most cases.

:: Have a 3-second pitch to stop qualified attendees in their tracks. “How you doing?” isn’t what I’m talking about, either. At one show I helped a client prepare for, their pitch was this simple question: “Did your company have to fire more than 10 employees last year?” Everything about their booth asked this question and drew people in. They only talked to their target audience (HR managers with pain points surrounding employee turnover due to performance problems). The quality of their leads was impressive. No, they didn’t leave the show with the 1,500 business cards the people in the neighboring booth had; but they did leave with a few hundred qualified leads with whom they had meaningful conversations and specific follow-up agreements. They didn’t have to wade through the looky-loos to get to the serious prospects after the show.

:: Follow up. I’ve gone so far as to create business cards with specific, trackable contact information on them to give to exhibitors at events just to see how the follow-up is handled. Sadly, by far the majority of vendors never follow up at all. Why do the show and gather the information if you’re not going to proactively use it after the show?

Having a complete plan that addresses strategies and activities before, during, and after trade shows, expos, and conferences will help you meet the right people and achieve your desired results. Maybe I’ll write a book on this topic some day. For now, I hope these tips are helpful.

Here’s to your live event success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nike’s and Wayne Gretzky’s Advice

For years, I’ve appreciate Nike’s tag line that tells us to “Just Do It.”

This past week, I’ve encountered a number of situations with clients, cohorts, and myself in which the answer has been, “Just Do It.” What a refreshing reminder! When we let doubt, fear, or any other obstacle keep us from getting out there and making our mark, we rob ourselves of the success we’re seeking.

Not sure if a campaign is ready to roll out? Just test it! Don’t know if the question you’re going to ask will lead that prospect to make a purchasing decision? Just ask it! Whatever the next step is you need to take to get your marketing results to the next level…Just do it!

Gather your team. Define what your company needs right now to move forward. Don’t focus on obstacles, but instead see solutions. Then act. Famed hockey legend Wayne Gretzky says it best when he reminds us that we miss 100% of the shots we never take. Take that shot.

Today is my day. How about you?

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Paradox of Superior Client Service

Consider these two statements:
“No one can be everything to everyone.”
“The customer is always right.”

We’ve heard both these statements many times. Most of us will agree that these two notions each have merit. But if they are both true, how can we offer great service to our clients?

If we spend our time creating one-off solutions for the exacting needs of each client, we can’t be efficient. If we don’t meet our clients’ desires, however, we won’t have a business very long. Where do we win?

Somewhere between a strict, cookie-cutter approach to the way we do what we do and an attitude of bending any direction possible on the whim of every prospect and client lies a place where we can be defined in what we do, yet still be flexible enough to meet our clients’ needs.

Rather than offer up specific solutions on this point, I’d like to begin a conversation. How do you balance the need for consistency with the requirement of meeting clients’ demands? How can we create a model in which some customization of products or services is part of how we do business without creating a resource overload?

I invite you to share your experiences, insights, and further questions on this topic below. We all have much to share from our own experiences. Let your experience benefit others.

Here’s to our collaborative success!

Bryan Waldon Pope