Please help our friends over at TSNN.com gather answers which will be used in developing an upcoming webinar we are sponsoring:
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Please help our friends over at TSNN.com gather answers which will be used in developing an upcoming webinar we are sponsoring:
Click The Link Above ^
“Daddy, what is X?”
My daughter asked me this while doing her math homework and it reminded me of a thought I’d been incubating awhile.
I was thinking about the challenges that those of us in the events industry are confronting. Aside from a weak and uncertain economy, enormous technological and demographic shifts are happening every day. Some of these changes represent a real threat to us.
Take, for example, the impact that Craigslist had on the newspaper industry. It was an unexpected, unforeseen new-media force that had a devastating impact on the revenue generated for newspapers by classified ads. Newspapers were a traditional institution long used to loyal followers, steady revenues, and unchallenged relevance. Is there a ‘Craigslist’ lurking out there in the events industry?
Craigslist is to Newspapers and Classifieds what X is to Associations and their Trade shows.
We are all working hard at staying ahead of the curve. At Advertising Week in NYC last month, marketers were everywhere – looking for better ways to communicate with their customers as they continue to move billions more into the digital marketing mix. All of the traditional media were there too — newspapers, magazines, broadcast TV, radio, mail, billboard – in their old analog and in their new digital forms. The creatives and the ad agencies were there as well – thanking Don Draper of Mad Men for making advertising cool again! The new distributors and platforms of cable, web-apps, mobile apps, gaming and online video were well also represented. And last, but certainly not least, “New Big Media,” like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter were out in force, making big impressions.
At MediaPost’s Online Media, Marketing and Advertising (OMMA) event, we saw numerous visions of technologies, buyers and sellers converging at incredible speeds, in incredible ways. Interactive, engagement, behavioral, location-based, social – all part of marketing plans.
We think we have a grip on what’s coming and what we need to do – but what if we don’t? In the face of our challenges, and after seeing all that, it is prudent to ask: What if we don’t see ‘it’ coming? Or what if we don’t recognize it? Can we stay relevant? Can we survive? What’s next?
What is ‘X’?
One perspective on that that might be the following:
NM > OM
New-Media is greater than Old-Media.
Another view might look like this:
(Tradeshows + Old Media) = (Not-So-Relevant-Anymore)
For our tradeshows, the clear danger is having exhibitors and marketers equate us with old-media as they plan their marketing spending. ‘X’ is that new, outside force that diminishes our relevance.
But across all media types – even in the newspaper industry – there are leaders that have embraced the new-media technologies and are successfully staying vibrant with it.
The challenge in the events industry then, is to rapidly and intelligently embrace new-media in order to stay ahead and to stay relevant to marketers. Our customers demand it.
(TradeShows + New Media ) = (More-Relevant-than-Ever)
To solve for X is to embrace new media technologies – to not only negate X, but to increase the audience, the revenue and the relevance of our events – and, therefore, of our associations.
What is the X that keeps you awake at night?
BTW – I told my daughter that X is often referred to as ‘the unknown factor’ - it usually represents the answer to your problem.
Here’s more new math for new-media.
We recently found ourselves on the other side of the table, as an exhibitor looking at buying one of the promotion options a show organizer was trying to sell us.
We are a small business, with a small budget and a small staff – but with big plans and huge goals. We’d suspect that describes most exhibitors going to tradeshows.
We have a very clear plan of marketing activities that we work on executing every day. When we’re not actually working labor-wise, we do have automated technologies, processes and relationships built that automatically drive our marketing 365.25
Knowing that our customers spend hundreds of hours a year online, we spend a great deal of our time, money and energy into designing, building and maintaining systems to help us understand those customers, build better solutions, extend our brand, deliver value and maintain relevance. (Actually, we strive to be not merely relevant – but indispensible!)
Our budget for exhibiting at tradeshows is always constrained – it’s competing with so many other things we want to do. So we want to make sure we get the very best results when we do exhibit. We understand that attendees are fewer in numbers, are on tighter schedules, and have more focused purpose than ever. We work hard to make sure we have designed the right messages, with the right presentation, to the right audience – before the event, around the event, and after the event. We use email, social media, landing pages, blog posts, and news releases – on multiple platforms – to engage our audience and prepare for the show. These new-media elements all play into everything else we do year-round. We eat our own cooking and are physical, online and mobile.
We’re also very excited about how we use tradeshows in our marketing strategy, think we make a good appearance, and do a pretty good job of getting real value from them.
But when examining the promotion options offered by show organizers to their exhibitors, we are disappointed by advertising options that, to us – are not only very different from the vast majority of other elements in our marketing mix – but don’t integrate with or add much synergy to our overall marketing strategy.
More disappointing still, the options seemed geared toward sponsorships by larger exhibitors, cost real money and had the shelf-life of a fruit fly.
These promotions work well while at the event, but what about the other 360?
And what about us small exhibitors? We need good promo ops too. We’re all here because we believe the event will bring the right people together to meet us. We want to meet new prospects, establish relationships and renew friendships. But we need to amortize the benefits and have access to this audience year round - and we want the organizer to make it happen for us. We want this show to be a success – so much so that we’ll be back every year!
We encourage all event organizers to ask themselves: “What are we offering to all our exhibitors that adds value to everything else they are doing year-round.”
Here’s a good post from Michelle Bruno at TSNN that provides organizers with a good blueprint.
If you agree with Michelle, we know a great vendor to help you!
We can’t help but be proud that one of our recent You Are Here Mobile deployments is getting good marks!
Our mobile app for Surf Expo has recently been posted to Mobile Awesomeness – a website featuring mobile websites with ‘awesome’ design. Check it out on the Mobile Awesomeness site .
Also, you can go pull up m.surfexpo.com on your mobile and see it for yourself!
For especially the wired young attendees at this event, Surf Expo needed to provide these multi-screen consumers a multi-platform solution.
For show management, the last thing they needed was yet another technology layer. So they picked a solution that works online, on the floor, and on the fly.
Thanks to Mobile Awesomeness for the recognition!
…this is an excellent time to think hard about our futures.
Coming out of the worst industry downturn ever, some of us might be tempted to think the worst is behind us. But thinking a better economy will solve our problems is like thinking a benevolent king will be the way to a brighter future.
It took ‘Common Sense’ to see that the bigger issues could only be addressed through major changes. It took great leadership and personal risk to lead the change. The status quo had to go. The future had to be seized.
Giving voice to the people was challenging then – its’ still challenging today. The way forward was to join a movement that sought to respect and preserve the best traditions of the old, while adopting the best ideas of the new. The Rights of Assembly, of Free Speech, and of Press now present themselves to us as the embrace of social networks, of user-created content, of the open and ubiquitous internet.
The media world is changing rapidly around us. The revolution is well underway. The way forward for us now is to recognize the real threat that new-media alternatives pose to face-to-face events and to take up arms – not against them - but to embrace them. Fortunately, there are new tools and processes to help turn those risks into rewards.
Join us as we provide the tools that keep events – and the organizations that hold them – vital to their customers, and relevant into the future.
So let’s enjoy our holiday, but let’s use it for some reflection, some inspiration, and some action.
Years from now we can enjoy our own fireworks and think about the new-media revolution we were part of!
Join us and read The Papers to learn how we’re working to advance the State of the Conference, Events and Tradeshow Industry. Join the revolution!
Have a great Independence Day!
Did Yogi Berra predict the event industry’s current behavior?
I’m not sure where my current déjà vu is coming from, but we’ve definitely been here before. And to really torture the sports metaphor in this season of March Madness and spring training, I’m thinking about the importance of blocking and tackling, of sticking to game plan, keeping your eye on the ball, of the lessons from the real Great Race – The Tortoise and the Hare.
I’m thinking about the rush many event professionals now have toward the rapid embrace of anything social, mobile, virtual or hybrid. I’m a big fan of most all of that myself – and my company brings a lot of these new technologies to the game – but still…
While all this interest and energy is exciting – and important – I’m sensing it could be coming at the expense of the core elements of the event.
I’m afraid that being lost in all this emphasis on the virtual and social aspects surrounding the event, is that the ‘actual’ participants – the actual attendees and the actual exhibitors – the ones who actually travel and attend – might be getting short thrift.
Today’s press is full of stories about exhibitors finding their voice and taking more control over their relationships with events – and with their customers (a.k.a. the attendees!).
The current Trade Show Week features a story about just that – exhibitors demanding more from show organizers – and staying away when they don’t get it.
The New York Times recently wrote about the rise in outboarding. That story highlights the hotel industry’s dilemma, but what is also in there is that ‘exhibitors’ are increasingly taking control over how they reach customers.
And it’s not just the exhibitors. Last month’s real-time morphing of ASAE’s Tech10 Conference into #untech10 demonstrated an incredibly rapid example of ‘customers’ taking control.
To get a good sense of what the new gameplans look like, make sure you read this CEIR report: “Power of Exhibitions in the 21st Century”. It not only covers what attendees expect around the event – but what they demand at the event.
While pre-show planning, online agendas, social networking, mobile access, post-show web tools – and even hybridization – are all part of today’s and tomorrow’s events, organizers must still master the basics and remember: the floor is still core.
Are we doing enough at the event and on the show floor to keep our attendees and exhibitors coming back for more?
Adding value by providing an enhanced experience, better connections, great traffic with great leads, and a good return on investment will result in a win-win-win for everyone.
Show organizers need to keep focus on the playing field and stay true to the actual event.
“It’s like déjà vu all over again!” just as Yogi predicted.
At a tradeshow, your goal is to get the highest number of qualified leads to visit your booth. Standing out from the rest of the exhibitors is a real challenge. What you need is a GREAT creative, right? But before you jump into designing that great creative I’d say “take a breath.” Building a good ad to support your tradeshow exhibition should not be a one-off project or require all-new processes or elements. Tradeshow advertising is like any advertisement you create. You’ll need a clear strategy to engage the most qualified prospects – and that starts with a good plan, moves to a good analysis, inspires a good design and delivers with good media.
Start at the beginning and make a plan.
Who is the advertisement meant for?
Are you targeting the operating staff? Are you after management? Are you after 35 year old middle-income single males in the US Northeast? Again, write down your targeted customer and be very specific. If it helps, a side exercise that gets you focused can be profiling your customer. Go onto a stock photo website, (iStockPhoto, GettyImages, Stock Exchange, etc) and find an image of someone that looks like they could be your customer. Copy and paste the low-resolution photo into a MSWord document. Give each one a name, a company, a job title, and explain what they need. Create just a few of them. (Otherwise you might get caught up in the exercise and never get your advertisement done!) The whole process may sound silly, but putting a face and a story behind a customer is really helpful when it comes to relating to your potential customer at a personal level.
What are you trying to accomplish?
Did your company just release a new product line? Did you just add a new feature to your software? Are you able to offer more competitive pricing because of a recent channel partner? Are you trying to get people to buy into you over your competition? What is your goal with this particular advertisement and this particular campaign? Don’t worry about structuring the entire year’s message and brand positioning right here now – that’s for another day. Write down your goal for this specific advertisement only. Pick the most important thing to accomplish and don’t try to squeeze in multiple accomplishments. Squeezing in too much can lead to a bad advertisement. After all, you only have the potential visitor’s attention for a few seconds…if you are lucky.
Relate your message to your prospect.
Now that you know what it is you are announcing or offering, and exactly who you are targeting, it’s time to brainstorm! How can you relate to your potential customer on a personal level? What problems do they have that you can solve? Why do they want what you have to offer? Why do they need what you have to offer? Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself “What is it they are looking for? What is going to make them take action?” Set aside a couple of ideas so you have options to work with. The last thing you want to do is to back yourself in a corner with one idea – especially if you’re working with others in your own organization with their own perspectives.
If you have trouble relating to your clients on a personal level, can you tie into a memorable theme? Example: February is here… SuperBowl, Valentine’s Day, Olympics…
Match your visuals to your message.
You have a message and a theme that your customer can relate to now. The next step is to create or find an appropriate visual that helps you portray exactly what you need it to. This is the most important part of your advertisement. Once someone can identify with you, they will give you a few seconds of their time to hear what else you have to say. Here is your chance to sell them. Don’t be the guy at the networking event who hands everyone a business card and leaves. Nobody remembers him, and nobody really likes him. Strike up a personal conversation with your advertisement as the medium between you and your potential customer.
Relate to them first and call for their action second. Utilize visual hierarchy – in short that means put emphasis on the most important part of the message via color, size, font weight, font style, and/or placement. Plan out how each part of the message comes across.
Don’t have time for visuals?
No designer at your company? You can find a stock photo or related graphics online, or you can pull off the entire advertisement with just text and color. It’s been done successfully 1,000 times before. Avoid Wing Bats, Wing Dings, Times New Roman, Papyrus, and Mickey Mouse fonts. Seriously, don’t use them! This is not a personal vendetta against them, they are just easy to overuse and misuse as they come standard on many computers and in many applications. For some reason, too many ads use them despite their blatant awfulness.
There’s clutter on the show floor – but not in your ad!
Avoid cluttering up the ad. Every inch of the space does not have to be used – white space is okay to have! While I understand you paid for every pixel of space, your message needs to be clear. Avoid multicolor backgrounds, tie-dye, and strong gradients (like white to black). If you find something hard to read, then it’s hard to read. Change it.
Look at what you have come up with. You have one shot to catch their attention, to relate to them, and to generate interest. Don’t go overboard! Look at each element of the advertisement and deem if it is necessary or not. Most of the time you should be able to cut at least one element out of what you make. Keep only the necessary.
Now it’s time to share your work. You now need to get your message out but your distribution choices are many. Are you messaging before the show? During? After? Print or digital – or both? How, when, and where? Every media choice you examine comes with its own issues of deliverables, placement, demographics, timing and costs. We’ll write about some good options for events in another blog soon, but meanwhile…good luck building your ad!
First and foremost, if you give what I have said an honest trial, let me know how things worked out for you. If you have a sample advertisement created by these steps, post a link and share it! Second, if you have additional tips or steps to your design process, please jump in!
My family likes words. We work and we play with them. We write and edit at work, and do crosswords and play Scrabble at home.
Our family is known for having rather sharp elbows when it comes to our gaming style. In Scrabble especially, we allow (encourage?) leeway to argue for one’s word entry. Can you convince fellow gamers of the legitimacy of your slang? Is the Euro-spelling of colour allowable? Is the Latin form of an English word? How about dis and app – are they partial words – or real words so new that most dictionaries don’t yet include them?
To help settle these debates, and limit bloodshed, we consult the dictionary – a lot. Or at least we used to. It was over this last holiday season, with family fiercely examining their tiles, that I noticed something new had crept into our lives – and I’m guessing it has into yours too.
We have a very large, leather-bound dictionary that we’ve used for years. I can’t begin to count the times we’ve all paged through it looking for a gem. But this year, no one used it. Competitors were armed with their own arsenal of word tools. At the first sign of a challenge, out came the notebooks and handhelds. The Official Scrabble website, Merriam-Webster Online, Dictionary roll-ups, even Google itself, were all brought to bear on reaching a decision.
Which brings me to my point here – finally. When was the last time you actually opened those resource books on your office shelf? Especially that cumbersome trade show directory you lugged back from the conference last fall. It’s the one with all the exhibitors that came to your industry’s annual event. Remember, you were going to refer to it regularly over the year. Have you? Or have you made fresh searches online? Or gone back to the event’s website?
If you are a show organizer agonizing over how to cut costs, or how to go green, or add value to your attendees and to your exhibitors, 2010 might be the year to say goodbye to the printed show directory and deliver it all online. Can you wait any longer to go digital? Your attendees and your exhibitors are online – are you?
As much as I miss the substantial heft, the tactile feel – even the bookish smell of our old Dictionary – I just don’t see us going back to those days – unless the power goes out and the candles get lit.
BTW – I have a seven-letter-word I want to play: D I G I T A L
What’s your entry for a game-winning strategy for the new year?
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