Posts Tagged critical marketing

Don’t do it! – How not to be part of a trade show

A recent trade show, lots of activity and displays for all sorts of interesting suppliers, generally a good time was had, however one thing which struck me was the appalling use of mobile phones by those who’s stalls were not doing a brisk trade.

There were staff sitting and standing about texting or chatting on their phones, some CLEARLY bored out of their brains.

Dear Boss… Tell them not to do it please!

I was embarrassed for them and I was a spectator.

If you take a stall at a trade show, you are on show, the business is on show… Therefore make sure you do the right thing and present professionally and do it well.

Firstly, these people may have had no idea what to do when they got to the show, they may have been told to “Turn up and chat to people.”

Secondly, if you feel you must text or email people use a lap top or an i pad so you look like you are doing business, or don’t do it at all.

I fully appreciate it can be a hard task to be at a trade show and be attentive all day long, it really is a draining experience.

May I suggest.

These people need to have something to do,

  • Set the situation up so they have appointments with people before the event, book some prospects to drop in and see what’s going on.
  • Make it clear about the things they can and can not do while on the stand texting for more than 30 secs is a no no!
  • Ensure you use a friendly branding expert to have creative ways to work with the people walking by the stand. It may be a giveaway you actively hand to the people, get the chance to chat to them and find out more, qualify them to see if they are a fit to what you have on offer, if they are then get their details and reward them with a better handout, this time with solid “remember us” branding on it.
  • Perhaps involve the people in a survey.
  • Consider other novel approaches to create interest. A juggler, a celebrity… make it so the people walking by want to stop, engage them, qualify and go form there.
  • Just because a person is not a prospect now, does not mean they can’t change if they move companies or start a different business later on.

Simply put, having people just sitting or standing about mindlessly not engaged in “working the crowd” are a liability, not an asset. perceptions and image are often paramount to ensuring your business puts it’s best foot forward.

Oh and to finish, “To the man who was so rude as to ignore myself and my friend by looking straight past us once he had figured out we were of no use to him, think again. The scan tag telling you my line of business is only one of my business activities so you gave me a BAD impression of your business, so the very important question I wanted to ask you will wait for the next celebrity speaking bureau chief I meet.”

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Marketing Interview

Alan Miller, a freelance Journalist from Sydney interviewed me recently about Marketing, Enjoy!

Steve Gray has been in business for 30 years one way or another and has published hundreds of articles on business topics, from Leadership – Innovation – Communication to Marketing and Management issues. His hard won marketing experience means he is able to assist organisations to effectively get their name and message to their customers.

A.M: Steve you have done lots of things in business, you are a Trainer,  a  writer on a  range of business issues, a business mentor and a speaker on Leadership, Innovation and Communication issues, how did you come to get so involved in business?

Steve: I’m an artist by qualification, and over the years I have been introduced to business, from printing T’shirts in the beginning to design and photography (all fairly art related) then over time I grew my knowledge base and things spiraled from there.

A.M. I was surprised to learn you know a lot about marketing, which is the focus of the interview today… Is there a reason for that?

Steve: Like all businesses there is a need to get your product or service noticed, I placed adverts for my own business like most people and failed at it. I soon learnt a great headline helps, then you go from there, I read more, asked more questions, used my design and art training to explore more options and innovate a little. The more I explored the more I learnt. I note now there are always things to learn and check out like social networking and the culture developing around that to make it work, it’s quite fascinating.

A.M: Steve, what are some of the basic mistakes people make with marketing their business?

Steve: Having an aim (more new customers, more repeat business, raising brand awareness) and of course a plan of action which leads into an investment of time and effort rather than a liability. With no aim the shotgun goes off and hits very little you want it to hit.

A.M: Do you find many organisations have no marketing budget planned?

Steve: Often! This can be due to having no plan, no idea about what they need to do and what it might cost, Yet it can be so simple to develop.

A.M: What are some of the great things which have wowed you in regards to marketing and great brand placement?

Steve: We are seeing more integrated approaches emerge, people want to stand out from their competition, so a directory advert for example is only one approach, a newspaper advert is another… It’s when people start to realise they need to be more targeted and put a range of things together. E.g. a direct mail piece to prospects, followed  up with a phone call and a chat to see if there is a fit to their needs from your business (esp in B2B sales) then there is social media and websites where people can let a lot of people know about their expertise and keep their info and details in front of more of the right people, that’s becoming more powerful.

A.M: Is bundling of a range of marketing devices a way to go?

Steve: Clearly the one shot advert approach is a loser these days. You should realise prospects need to see your details more than once to be remembered, so the exposure side of things is a big issue. Therefore an advert with a call to action, perhaps a branded product as a reward for taking action can sit on their desk for ages, and that’s good! So take it a step further and have the info you want to tell people about readily available to them, a business card is one way, but there are more options to keep your name in front of them. From articles and information on the web to branded products people use everyday.

A.M: Should people link their promotion to their website or social media? And how would they do that?

Steve: Of course they should, I see it like a ring of connections where people can get in at most points and be guided to learn more about the business as they go. Perhaps via an active Face book page, or a group in Linked in (for business) this can lead to articles on their website, which can then get them more info via an email campaign. It doesn’t need to be difficult either! The more people get to see your business name in front of them the better. Couple the strong image retention provided with great service and you will be on a winner.

A.M: Do many of your clients have a marketing plan and should they?

Steve: Few do, and yes they should, at least a one page plan and a calendar of when they want to do things, then stick to it. Tweak it when things don’t work and know what does work.

A.M: How will social Media impact on marketing, in comparison to say branded items?

Steve: A branded item with a message can let people know you have a social media presence, so use it to do that (that gives it an aim then…) from there it’s up to you how you use the social media to blow your own horn and let your target audience know more about things which can be of value to them.

A.M: Do businesses need to be creative geniuses to make their marketing work or look snappy?

Steve: It’s great if they are, but not essential, pay someone else to be the creative one. However make sure it leads to a good aim or end product, like getting you more business, retaining customers. It’s great to have a creative approach and be noticed, but if all you get is a 2 minute wow factor then where’s the value in that? If on the other hand the creative approach meant you were handing out branded devices with your business details on them then your name is in front of more people for longer, that’s got to be good! Chat to your friendly branding expert for ways to get the message right and connect it with other things you are doing in your business.

A.M: Not everyone needs a marketing company to do their marketing for them, most can’t afford that, how would you help these kinds of organisations?

Steve: I suggest they create a plan of action knowing what the outcome is they want, then build on that plan and take action to get the results. Consistency is important. There are other branding experts who are not part of a big marketing company who can be of assistance, have a chat to them for friendly advice.

A.M.: A plan is one thing, implementing it is another…

Steve: Sure it is, if you want to get new prospects to look at what you offer, then you need to consider a way to do that, for instance in a business to business environment things can be different so the approach can be perhaps more targeted, therefore how you implement the plan is vital. You might start with a list of ideal customers or industries then figure out ways to get your name in their hands, your ongoing aim would then be how you keep it there. Your plan therefore should focus on ways to get your name in front of them and then what you can do from there.

A.M: There are many ways a business can market themselves, what works?

Steve: There are lots of things which work… Junk mail can work well, adverts in newspapers can too, and the same with branded products. It comes down to your target and the best way to get to the target. e.g. if I want to target accountants and I send out brochures to every household in town I have wasted a lot on the ones who are not accountants. Think about how your target wants to be presented to, then do that.

A.M: You mention branded products, many people would look at branded products as great giveaways at a trade show or convention, how can they be used by the average business to market themselves?

Steve: It depends on the aim, if they want to reward existing customers and say thanks, they can hand out simple things to remind them about the company, pens, calendars, imprinted note pads, things which would be useful for the end user and keep the business details in front of them. They can be also used as a device to get the attention of a new prospect, most people love gifts and they need not cost a fortune.

A.M: How should organisations go about choosing from the vast array of options available to them for marketing?

Steve: Chat with your friendly branding expert and explore what the businesses aims are, then look openly at ways they might be able to provide direction for the organisations aims and objectives. It might mean they have to create some great graphics to launch a message, brand some products and develop a way to get them in from of the right people. The big thing is being able to make the right connections at the right time so your marketing becomes the all important investment it needs to be, and not just another business expense.

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Getting Marketing to Critical Mass

For businesses starting out, and those who may have just swapped their “marketing person” to someone new, you need to be aware there is a marketing critical mass.

I figure it as the point where the marketing being done has reached a level where a balance has been reached between the income level in the business covers the costs and leaves a profit. It’s the sort of point of satisfaction, knowing your business is getting enough of what it deserves.

To reach this critical mass can be tricky though, at first it’s devices which will probably be around for a long while, like signage on a store, then through to consumables like adverts and business cards. So perhaps you have to look at marketing non consumables (or low consumables) as start up costs, then measure marketing from the consumable start up point.

For the business which has been going a while a swap in marketing people can spell a huge challenge, especially if they are wanting to try new things… what may have been a sensible campaign going along well can be scrapped by the newbie out to impress, oops! For the new business operator sometimes just having enough cash to get to critical mass is a challenge.

Examples, you may have 5000 business cards and y have paid for them, however they are not doing much stuck in your desk drawer, even when you get them out in circulation it does not mean instant cash for your business. The same with adverts, unless there is something to cause the reader to act, then the result can take a while to kick in, in fact many advertisers find it takes 6 or more repeats of an advert to have an effect.

Another factor to marketing effectiveness is a simple one, know that when you advertise a specific product (like car tyres for instance) it requires someone to take note of the advert and then take action, when they require that product, or can see it may be useful to have at some later stage. Therefore if you want people to buy what you have, your advertising needs to be there when they want what you have. In the tyre example people may see an advert for tyres from five different organisations, but none registers until they need or want them.

When your business has it’s marketing sorted out to create a critical mass, you can then “tweak” things to make it perform better. Effective measurement of what’s working is then vital to ensure you know what’s marketing you might want to alter.

Clearly marketing is critical to your businesses success, how you go about getting it to a suitable level should now be easier and not get into a mess. To sove the whole challenge perhaps  you should chat to your friendly branding expert who might just be able to help you out.

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