By Lili Vianello March 5, 2010
Your best booth, now made better
A trade show can be a great place to get your name out. It can also be a great environment to launch a new product or introduce a new advertising campaign. It’s all about having a bold, direct message that is easy to communicate to booth visitors.
But did you know that just as important as what happens at the show is what happens before and after your expo appearance? Think about it as a marketing continuum. Essentially, you should be implementing a mini marketing plan for your business.
You’ve registered for your booth. Now what? Start by knowing your audience. Who will attend the event, and what other businesses are exhibiting? Don’t forget that exhibitors can be customers, too.
Based on the anticipated audience, establish your goals. What are you trying to accomplish through your participation? Goals are best when they are measurable, realistic and attainable.
If you decide to have a theme, it should fit your corporate image and perhaps even correspond with your current advertising campaign. Select two or three primary messages, and keep the booth simple. Make sure you have adequate signage and that it will be easy to see and understand. People should not have to guess what your business name is or what you do.
Have you updated your Web site lately? Chances are, booth visitors will check you out online after the show. They don’t need to be reading about the event you sponsored two years ago or staff that now works for your competition.
Trade shows are a great opportunity to meet up with clients and vendors. Invite them to the showcase to visit your booth. Have your sales team share complimentary tickets with prospects. This will allow them to learn more about your organization in a relaxed, non-threatening arena.
It’s showcase day, so get your business cards out, and meet some people.
Put your best sales team in your booth. The showcase might be someone’s first exposure to your business, so you definitely want to put your best foot forward.
Contests and giveaways can help bring people into your booth, but if you employ these tactics, make sure the contest has something to do with your business. You will be able to turn giveaway entries into a database of prospects.
Don’t feel compelled to have literature or premiums to hand out. Instead, engage visitors in conversations, and question them about their needs and challenges. Make notes on business cards you receive. This will make you better prepared to follow up with prospects after the event.
Follow up with all of your leads. Eighty percent of exhibitors don’t follow up with their leads at all. This makes trade–show participation a colossal waste of time and money.
Sending direct mail or e-mails to your leads can be a fast way to follow up, but personal interaction is always better. After the contact is made, you may also choose to add them to your database so they will receive regular newsletters, e-mails or mailed communications about your business.
Keeping track of observations and revenues resulting from a show should be part of your process to plan for the future. Measure your revenue gained as a result of the show for at least one year. You can see what worked and what didn’t. You might find things to improve upon the following year or identify that another show or medium might be a better match for achieving your objectives.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your expo experience is limited to the days your booth is on display. Businesses that commit to it being just one part of an extended marketing plan realize a much better return on investment.
By Lili Vianello May 28, 2010
Smart phones have become wildly popular since Apple’s iPhone captured the hearts of people of all ages. My husband has an iPhone, my best friend has an iPhone, and one of my employees came to work last week and announced that her 80-year-old grandmother has an iPhone. Even I used to have a smart phone, back when they were just for the busy business professional. And guess what — I hated it.
When you have a smart phone, you are always connected. You receive your e-mails on the spot, wherever you are, whenever you want. Seems nice, right? Except I don’t want to be that connected. I eventually let my smart phone go in favor of a plain old cell phone. It doesn’t get e-mails, and it doesn’t surf the net, but if I need to call someone, it gets the job done. And if someone needs to call me, it does that, too. But I don’t even like that very much, so I rarely give out the phone number.
One of my husband’s favorite new shows is The Marriage Ref on NBC. It offers a voyeuristic view into other people’s marriage arguments. In many ways, it’s kind of sick, but I have to admit that we enjoy watching it. On a recent episode, one of the conflicts was over a wife’s cell phone habits. Her Blackberry was always abuzz with text messages and e-mails. It had become such an issue that her husband was feeling neglected. I’d feel neglected, too, if my spouse answered texts and e-mails during dinner or while taking a drive. He used to be much worse about doing this but has really made an effort to focus on me instead of his phone. However, the woman on the TV show was even texting during intimate moments with her husband! What could she possibly be saying?
Although having a smart phone can be a great convenience, it’s important to remember to disconnect every once in a while. Many health experts warn against technology addiction for the adverse effects it can have on your health, such as headaches, eye strain, stress, insomnia and relationship issues. Aside from all of that, I would suggest disconnecting simply for sanity’s sake. Your brain just needs a break!
Let’s work on adopting some basic ground rules. Try shutting down your phone at a few key times:
While in bed. Whether you are relaxing with your family, being intimate with your partner or actually sleeping, keep the phone out of the bedroom. Your phone won’t be lonely, and your relationship with your loved ones will be better for it. You might even get a better night’s sleep because you won’t wake up every time your phone rumbles to tell you you’ve received some spam e-mail at 4 a.m.
While on vacation. An astounding 83 percent of people check their e-mail every day on vacation, according to a study by AOL. I understand the relief that can come from knowing there are no fires at the office that you need to put out, but remember the No. 1 reason you went on vacation: to get away and relax. So don’t obsess over checking your e-mails, and don’t check so often that you end up working away your much-deserved time away from the office.
While out with friends. For me, there is nothing more obnoxious than being out with a friend who talks on his or her phone while we are together. I even had someone cut me off mid-sentence so she could answer the call of another friend. She then proceeded to have a 10-minute chat about her niece’s baby shower while I sat awkwardly across the table and waited for our food. In addition to making your friends feel awkward, didn’t you get together with them so you could catch up and nurture your friendships? Make plans later to hook up with the friend on the phone.
While in a meeting. This seems obvious to some, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen go into a meeting wearing a Bluetooth earpiece. In my opinion, it’s just not polite, and it takes your attention away from the meeting at hand. If you are interviewing for a job or trying to sell me something, I can almost guarantee I won’t be impressed by your Bluetooth, and I probably won’t be pleased to hear your phone ringing in your pocket either.
If you think your technology dependence is a true addiction, consider cutting yourself off one step at a time. Leave your phone at home one day a week, cut the number of times you check your e-mail in half, or just make sure you aren’t committing one of the faux pas I’ve mentioned above. If you need a little more help, visit Dr. Oz’s website. He has a four-week plan for cutting technology use to a healthy level.
By Lili Vianello April 30, 2010
The weather is warm and rainy, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are singing. Spring is here, and that means it’s time for spring-cleaning. I’m not asking you to get out your bucket and sponge and start scrubbing, though that is something to think about. The kind of spring-cleaning that I speak of is more about pruning and pulling weeds to make the buds of your business bloom.
In this case, the buds are your employees, and there are two ways to make them bloom. Clean and organize workspaces, and try to improve your office culture through training and team strengthening.
Here at Visionworks, we’ve been focusing our attention on organizing our office. We started by cleaning out things that we don’t need anymore, such as the Apple laptop I purchased in 1991. We’ve been tagging things in storage areas for donating, recycling and keeping. I recommend a color-coded system so anyone can easily distinguish which items are in each category. It’s a lot like pruning a garden. By getting rid of the old pieces, you make room for growth and innovation.