marketing strategy

Presenting at Tradeshows: Lessons Learned at the NY XPO

Yesterday I presented at the NYXPO, one of the largest small business tradeshows in New York. It was my third time speaking and my second time having a tradeshow booth. My presentation, Speak Powerfully, Sell More gave small business owners tips on how to leverage speaking as a marketing strategy. I shared with the them that networking and speaking showcases were my two strongest marketing approaches.

At the booth, many lessons were learned from last year. My goal was to sell my book, Knockout Presentations, and to obtain leads for my Sendout Cards business. Here's what we now know works when presenting at tradeshows:

1. Be fully staffed. We had five people available although not at the same time. This allowed us to handle traffic and provide breaks for staffers.

2. Provide training. Exhibitors  need to know how to dress and must be well versed about the product or subject.

3. Recognize that a tradeshow exhibit is a presentation. Do not chew gum or eat in the booth. Stand and greet people with a smile. Listen more than you speak and ask questions.

4. Learn traffic patterns. We realized that the morning is slow. Traffic picked up right after I spoke and after lunch was the busiest time.

5. Do not pack up early. We signed up a couple of new people 10 minutes before closing time.

6. Provide  a demo. The three minute video was the best sales tool. Most people are visual and professional videos keep the message focused and consistent.

7. Bring  a wifi card or a phone that uses tether technology. The Javits Center is New York City is highly unionized and you must pay for everything including electricity.

Andrea, Erick, Diane and Kelly at the booth

8. Display samples. People were attracted to the cards and could feel the quality and see the variety. Selling my book  rather than using an order form allowed buyers to browse through the chapters. The touch and feel of a product is important.

9. Bring clipboards, envelopes for business cards, plenty of pens and anything else to help you organize your leads and materials.

10. Sell beyond the booth. Invite people to visit you after your seminar. Promote the booth to your list before the event.  Hand out flyers to other exhibitors. Follow up with leads in 24 hours.

11. Keep the booth simple, uncluttered and attractive. The floor length banner was easy to assemble and drew people into the booth. Put baggage under the table, behind the curtain.

12. Have a time limited offer. When people signed up at the booth they received a free gift. We learned from last year that most visitors are looking for freebies. Last year we offered a gift if they watched the demo. When we followed up they were no where to be found. This was our most important lesson. You must qualify your leads.

13. Wear comfortable shoes. There aren't a lot of chairs on the convention floor and you'll be busy working the crowd.

(I'm conducting business with my feet up today!)

Seven Social Media Mistakes

Social media is the big buzz. We've been swept up in the currents of Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. We can allow the currents to carry us to new connections, new business, and massive reach and visibility. Or we can get caught in the riptides that pull our reputation under. The biggest mistake in social media is not realizing that social media is a presentation. That's right.

Success in social media follows the rules of effective presentation skills.

Mistake one: No purpose or focus. What is your objective? Why are you using social media? What are you trying to accomplish? To make new contacts? To promote yourself or your business? To research? To reach new markets? To establish yourself as a thought leader? To find a job?

Mistake two: No strategy. How will you use social media? How often? Which forms? Frequent communication is better than an occasional posting.

Mistake three: Speaking to the wrong audience. Who is your audience? Are you simply collecting names or are you more targeted? Linkedin is more business-like and professional. Facebook is more social and casual. For example, if you're serious about job hunting you'll want to use linkedin as well as Facebook.

Mistake four: Projecting the wrong image. I've read posts about working on a boring project for a client. Maybe you know your client isn't one of your connections. But what about the people who referred you? What are you saying to them? People tend to let their guard down more easily on Facebook. It's inappropriate to talk about a nasty divorce, problem kids, or drunken driving. This is not a private conversation. Worse yet, is to use another's name in a survey. Ex. "Do you think Jane Doe is good looking?" People fail to realize that they are always on stage. Mistakes after a live presentation can be forgotten. In social media, your blunders live forever on the internet.

Mistake five: No real message. What do you plan to say? How will you say it? What is the style and tone of your communication? Nobody is really interested that you're watching TV. This kind of banter is content free. Provide value and you'll attract more followers. New blog entries, an interesting statistic, a link to an article or even a thought-provoking quote or book reference will make you more interesting.

Mistake six: Hard selling. Nobody likes a presenter who sells from the platform. It's no different in social media. If every post is an ad for your products and services you'll soon be disconnected. Let people know about your accomplishments but don't tell them to buy.

Mistake seven: Not building relationships. Many people put up a profile and never visit the site. Maximize your presence by updating your profile to let people know what you're doing. Ask questions. Answer questions to establish your expertise. Invite people to connect with you and then stay in touch. Be a resource. Connect others. A good presenter knows how to create a relationship with the audience.

Nothing will ever replace face-to-face communication. But meeting in person can be time consuming. Social media can be a phenomenal platform to build a reputation and to communicate with the world.

Just be sure you know how to present yourself, your message and your value.