Tag Archives: Marketing

Tips for a successful trade show

The very words Trade Show make some small business owners shudder. A Trade Show can take a lot of time and most of the time that’s something a small business owner just doesn’t have. With some careful planning however, a trade show can not only be fun they can be profitable as well.

Here are 10 tips we’ve picked up from attending a lot of shows, not only as vendors but participants as well. They may be basic but the best tips usually are pretty basic.

1. Set clear goals of what you want to achieve at the show. Do you expect to sell products, launch a new product or promotion, or possibly meet suppliers? You can set more than one goal but be clear and focused on what your participation will involve. In our business (selling web solutions) we don’t expect to sell a site on the spot. What we do look for is hot leads. At each trade show we attempt to identify 3 – 5 hot leads. We do this by gathering business cards from participants. When someone hands me their card, I quickly look for a web address. I then ask them one of two simple questions. If they don’t have a site listed on their card, I ask why? If they do have a site listed on their card, I ask them how happy they are with the performance of their website. Based on their response, I quickly note on the back of their card how “hot” they are. If they expressed some sort of displeasure or unsatisfaction with their website, I mark them as “hot” and follow up with them right after the show is over.

2. Find out everything you can about your space in advance. There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up to a show only to find that your booth is too big or too small to fit the space. Finding out the location of your booth in advance prevents you lugging around boxes and products in search of the right spot. Finding out everything that is included (table, table cloth, electricity, etc) in advance is a big time and headache saver.

3. Have everything you need, like extension cords; tape etc with you when you arrive to set up your booth. It prevents last minute searching for items needed to set up your booth which, if you’re in a strange town can quickly turn into a nightmare. We have a trade show box that stays with our booth that contains a hammer, thumb tacks, pens, rubber bands, notepads, band aids, extension cords, replacement light bulbs, tape, breath mints and much more in it. It has been used at every trade show we’ve been to and always comes in handy.

4. Make sure your display is appropriate for the group you are targeting. Who is your target market with your trade show display? Different audiences go to trade shows differently and have different needs.

5. Advertise in advance of the show. Let the public know that you are participating in a particular trade show. Invite your clients, customers, suppliers and be sure and give them your booth number. Advertise your attendance to the trade show on your website as well.

6. Stand out! Don’t just be another booth and vendor at the show – find something different and unique and use that to draw visitors to your booth. Arrange your booth strategically so that everything can be seen quickly by visitors. Put larger items in the rear and shorter items up front. A table runner on top of the table cloth is an effective way of making your table stand out. Be creative with your booth, include pictures if possible and be sure your company name and logo are more than obvious.

7. Should you give something away? Most people who attend trade shows are expecting some giveaways and food is always popular. Make sure you package your food in a way that allows you to have your company information on it. Gift Certificates for some of your services are another great Trade Show giveaway – there’s nothing better than getting a deal on your services. And when they redeem their certificate, they will learn how great your services are and come back for more. Offer a drawing for a prize that complements your business and appeals to everyone. Have visitors and guests sign a guestbook, fill out a form or drop their business card in a bowl. You can then use this information later to make a follow up contact. We gave away a Wii last year at a trade show and we were one of the most popular booths at the event! We collected over 300 business cards and have closed 7 deals from that show alone.

8. Arrive early enough to the trade show and make sure everything is set up correctly and that everything works. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes – you’re going to be on your feet!

9. During the show, never turn your back to the crowd and don’t sit down unless you’re having a conversation with a guest and you both are sitting. Stand in front of your booth, if possible, saying “Hi” to those that turn and look toward your or your booth. Have your elevator speech ready. More importantly, is being ready to listen to what your guests have to say, you may learn a lot about them and be able to fill a need that they have.

10. A portfolio or display of your work should be on hand for visitors to see. A digital photo frame is an excellent way of showing your work or placing a Power Point® presentation on a laptop – your visitors will find this visually appealing and it will draw their attention. Offering a brochure with your best work for them to take with them will serve as a reminder once the show is over.

These 10 basic steps to Trade Show exhibiting will make your booth stand out, draw visitors so you can gather their contact information, save you time, money and stress. The most important thing about a trade show is to have fun!


Social Media Self Test

Sure there are more tests than you can shake a stick at, but give this one a shot.

    Un-googleable Person

  • Is your facebook status updated?
  • Have you tweeted today?
  • Can you “Google” yourself?
  • Can Ya “Digg” it?
  • Viral means disease or success?

Chances are you if can answer one or more of those questions, you know a little something about social media. Which leads to the question, is their really such a thing as an un-googleable person? Furthermore, if and when there is…would you trust them?

Most business people today meet a new client, investor, partner, provider, etc. and as soon as they get back to their office they Google that person to see what more they can learn about that person. Often times they can find pieces of your history online, and learn more about you. Depending on your online profile, people can gather a positive or negative impression, but one thing they know for sure is that you are who you say you are.

How did you feel the last time you Googled someone and did not find anything about them? Did you trust them? Did you wonder what rock they just crawled out from under? I personally have more trust for a business that has a website, and a person who has an online profile. Both show me they are at least valid and not a fly by night company.

Welcome to 2010! The time is right for Social Media

So what if you are a business, and you do not have an online profile? What if you failed the Social Media test? Well there is still hope for you, but the time to act is now! The first thing I would suggest is getting a website, which will help validate your business. Many web development companies have low cost, entry level websites that can get you started. Typically by putting up a website, doing some basic search engine optimization, and populating your site with relevant, unique, high quality content, you can put your business on the map. Now when people search for your business name, or your online profile, your website will come up first, validating your business.

Once the website is up and running, you can evaluate if you need to branch even further by using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Each of those tools should be considered only once you have a successful website.

The time to act is now, make sure you are not the un-googleable man, women or business.

Social Media Self Test #2

How many of the Social Media Icons below can you identify? Furthermore, how many of them is your business listed on?
Social Media Icons (Orange)

Websites are like Gardens

Running Away From HomeI lost a customer recently and that really bothers me. A small vendor of woman’s accessories, the customer bought a website from Net Solutions last year. She wanted an eCommerce site and she wanted to keep costs as low as possible. She used PayPal as her payment gateway and I designed her site, set up the pages, wrote and added text, added the items into her shopping cart and got her site launched.

After the site went live, she indicated that she did not like the flow of the PayPal system and requested that I change it. I tactfully informed her that I could not change PayPal’s processes even if I wanted to. I am not convinced she believed me. She never did anything with her website, nothing ever changed. After several months she pulled all the products off her site and now she’s canceled her site and her domain name. I feel like I let her down because her site wasn’t as successful as she wanted it to be.

One thought led to another and I thought about many of my clients and the misconception that a lot of small business owners seem to share, “I have a website, where are my customers?”

A website, especially one that’s as easy to use and maintain as a ProFusion Ultra IS website, is a fantastic marketing tool and when used correctly, can bring in new customers to your business, helping it grow and thrive. Unlike a phone book or print ad you can add all the color you want at no additional cost. Websites Are Like GardensAdd additional pages, video, forms, photos – things to make the website easier for your visitors to interact with your business easily, quickly and often – with no waiting for publication dates.

It doesn’t end there however, to be an effective marketing tool a website must be kept sharp, up to date and fresh. It’s like a garden, it’s never done. Ignore it at your own peril and like this customer did weeds will grow and choke the life out of it. It will languish with the millions of other websites, never found because no time was taken to keep it fresh and updated – no reason for search engines or humans to visit or ever come back. This is the main reason why Search Engine Optimization is so important for your website – it keeps your site from becoming just another pretty face among the millions of other pretty faces in Cyberspace. Use your website like the tool it was designed to be, keep your site sharp and up to date so you can reap the rewards it can offer you for years to come.

Even though I can rationalize why my client canceled her domain and took down her site, I still hate losing her as a customer.

Lessons Learned from Guests and Opportunities

Guests Working SignMany years ago I worked for the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain in Atlanta, Georgia (The one off Peachtree Street if you know the area). Anyway, there were several wonderful things about working for a large hotel chain, and a few not so wonderful. One of the great aspects was being able to travel the globe and stay at some of the greatest hotels in the world for next to nothing, more on that in another article.

One of the “opportunities” of working for a hotel chain was their corporate training. I believe when I started at the Ritz, the training was 5 days in the classroom before you ever learned anything specific about your job. During these days of training, you learned the Ritz Carlton way, which helped ensure every “guest” that walks through the door was treated with the same high level of service regardless of which employee, in any of their hotels, they encountered during their visit.

One of the items I remember most during the training was the auto-substitution of words into our vocabulary. Just like Microsoft Word allows you to auto-correct certain words, the Ritz ingrained into each employee the use of certain words. For example, you were never to tell anyone that there was a “problem”. You were to explain that there was an “opportunity” in X, Y, and Z. Another word they ingrained was how you refer to someone paying to stay at the hotel. You were not to use the words, client, customer, buyer, patron, idiot, moron, consumer, visitor, company etc. The only acceptable term for a paying visitor to the hotel was “guest.”

At the time, the Ritz Carlton was ahead of the game using this philosophy of altering employee’s mindset when it comes to the vocabulary they use. Automatically by using the word “opportunity”, you feel more at ease. Just think of the emotions you feel during the following statements:

Statement #1
“We have a problem, there is a lion running through the library!”

Statement #1
“We have an opportunity, there is a lion running through the library!”

The first option makes you want to run screaming into the streets, the second makes you want to call your PR company to get pictures of this awesome event.

The same holds true for guest, when thinking of the visitors to your hotel as guests, you immediately correlate with them being guests in your home. In many ways they are exactly that, guests in your home.Employee Motivation for Small Businesses As an employee you spend the majority of your waking hours at work, it might as well be your home. So anyone that comes into it is immediately your guest.

So, most of you already had probably already heard about the Ritz fancy vocabulary as it has been the study of many discussions and research over the years. However, I wanted to lay the foreground for the next portion of the discussion. Which is how we refer to or handle individuals that pay to use our service or products.

Regardless of the word we use to refer to those individuals that pay for our server, we should think how does that word make us feel when we use it?

  • Does the word give us a positive feeling? (Opportunity)
  • Does the word bring about a negative emotion? (Problem)
  • Is the word we use internally, the same word we would use in front of the paying individual? (Guest)
  • Do we have nicknames for these individuals depending on their behavior? (P.I.T.A.)
  • How does the paying individual refer to themselves in context? (Customer, Client, Guest)

By now you should have a feeling one way or the other on the words that you use to refer to people who pay for your service or product. Is your term derogatory, or is it something that provides a positive emotion for both you and your paying individual? Would you use this same term in front of your paying clients?

By setting the tone internally for how you reference paying clients, you can help guide the internal motivation of your company. It is time to make sure that internal motivation is a positive one.

Justices and the Seven Dwarfs

Ask the average person to name 2 of the 7 dwarfs and 99% will be able to do it. Ask that same person to name 2 of the 9 supreme court justices in the US and 80% won’t be able to do it. Maybe its because we don’t give our Justices cute nick names. Judge Roberts was nominated by Bush and went to Harvard, if you combine the 2 we could call Judge Roberts, Hushy. More people might be able to remember it that way. They still wouldn’t remember his politics, but that is another blog.

What does that have to do with marketing? Plenty.

The creators of Snow White and the 7 dwarfs spent plenty of time pairing the names of those silly dwarfs with how they looked. Doc looked smart, sleepy looked tired, dopey looked, well, dopey, and sneezy always had that darn red nose from sneezing so much. Giving something a snazzy name that fits and is easy to remember, is called giving it a Handle. What is your handle? Internet Consultant? Principal Consultant? If you are at a backyard BBQ with a bunch of beer drinking pals, what would they say you do? Would they really say “Your name here is an Internet consultant?” or would they say “Your name here owns a company that builds websites”.

I’d bet money that they would say the latter. No one knows what an Internet Consultant does. Do you consult the Internet? Do you just charge a lot of money and tell me what to do but not actually provide me with the solution? What do you do? Can you say I am “Sneezy” and people instantly know what that means?

If your explanation of what you do is longer than 10 seconds (and that is being generous), no one knows what you do. If no one knows what you do, they can’t refer you to others who may need your help. If you have to say “I am an Internet Consultant. I work with all kinds of businesses to build web applications, solutions, and sites to help them increase sales, get a return on their money, blah blah blah blah” is about what I am going to hear.

We all know that we need one quick, concise sentence that says what we do and we need to use that sentence over and over and over and over again so that we have it memorized and all of the people around us have it memorized. “My name is Patrice Valentine and I build websites for companies large and small”. In 14 words and 4 seconds of speaking, you know who I am and what I do.

I do not love that sentence, I don’t think it is as black and white as “Sneezy”, but it gets it done and it works. People I meet at networking meetings can now introduce me to others as “This is Patrice Valentine and she builds websites for companies large and small”.

I’d love to hear back from you on what your handle is. Are you using Internet Consultant? Do people “get it” when they hear that?

Let’s figure out something that works.

Stay tuned for next weeks blog which will feature my biggest pet peeve….. the overuse of punctuation!!!!

Did you know it’s a great time to buy?

Some ad guy somewhere decided that no matter what industry you work in, no matter what service you provide and no matter what product you sell, the tag-line of the year needed to be “Now is a great time to buy!” You need a car? You are in luck! It’s a great time to buy. In the market to buy a house? Fantastic! It’s a great time to buy. How about a fireplace? You need one of those heading into summer time, well shoot! It’s a great time to buy! To all those people who can’t afford to buy right now, no worries, when you do get the cash they will be sure to hike the prices back up just to make it that much more painful.