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eBook: Five Steps To Exhibit Enlightenment and Sponsorship Nirvana
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eBook: Five Steps To Exhibit Enlightenment and Sponsorship Nirvana


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Your booth is dead, and so is your sponsorship. Has your booth ever closed a deal? Has your sponsorship ever qualified a lead? I’m guessing they haven’t. That’s because they can’t. They’re dead. …

Your booth is dead, and so is your sponsorship. Has your booth ever closed a deal? Has your sponsorship ever qualified a lead? I’m guessing they haven’t. That’s because they can’t. They’re dead. Passive. Inanimate. They’re just tools.

The good news is, it’s easy to activate them and bring them to life. In fact, if you’re like most marketers you’re probably already doing most of the hard parts.

A successful activation program is really about thinking it through in advance, telling your audience what they need to hear (and being honest about it), tying everything together, and most importantly – using the booth and sponsorship to achieve your objectives; not treating them as the objective.

Enlightenment is easy! And, to top it all off, activating your booth and sponsorship is as simple as following 5 easy steps.

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  • 1. 5 easy steps to exhibit enlightenment and sponsorship nirvana John Tatusko
  • 2. Your Booth Is Dead, and So Is Your Sponsorship That’s right, your booth is dead. So is your sponsorship. They always have been. Has your booth ever closed a deal? Has your sponsorship ever qualified a lead? I’m guessing they haven’t. That’s because they can’t. They’re dead. Passive. Inanimate. They’re just tools. p.1 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 3. The bad news is, if you don’t do anything with your booth or sponsorship, if you don’t ACTIVATE them, they’re certainly not going to do anything for you. Inanimate objects can be very selfish that way. The good news is, it’s easy to activate them and bring them to life. In fact, if you’re like most marketers you’re probably already doing most of the hard parts. “Activating your booth Enlightenment is easy! And, to top it all off, activating your booth and or sponsorship is all sponsorship is as simple as following 5 easy steps! about attracting and Intrigued? Keep reading. engaging the right people with the right message.” TABLE OF CONTENTS Define Your Objectives...p.3 Attract the Right Audience...p.5 Deliver the Right Message...p.8 Ask for an Action...p.13 Measure Your Results...p.15 p.2 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 4. Step 1: Define Your Objectives You’ve heard it before, and deep down you know it’s true. If you don’t start out with clearly defined objectives, it’s difficult, or even impossible, DEFINE to measure your success. REFINE At the end of the day, your objective – or at least one of your objectives – is to sell more stuff. (If it’s not, I’d love to come work with you because if there’s one thing I am better at than selling stuff, it’s NOT selling SIMPLIFY stuff.) Sure, you’ll hear people say they exhibit in and sponsor events for leads, for branding, for PR…or they’re interested in establishing QUANTIFY thought leadership, or to “get on XYZ’s radar.” But ultimately, the primary objective is to SELL MORE STUFF! Sit down and come up with a list of objectives (you probably already have one somewhere). Once you have your list of objectives it’s time to: • Refine them. Ask yourself: Are these narrow enough? Is this realistic? Are the people I work with actually capable of pulling this off? Are they measurable? • Keep them simple. Will you be able to tell whether or not you succeeded without a massive spread sheet and bunch of fancy math? Do they make sense to people other than you? Are they measurable? p.3 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 5. • Make them quantifiable. Have I mentioned they need to be measurable1? Whatever your objectives are, the most important thing is that they clearly define what you intend to accomplish. For example, one of your objectives might be to sell 200 G.I. Joes (with the Kung Fu Grip) …or book 5 appointments…schedule 2 executive briefings…collect 50 qualified leads…have 3 articles written…land 2 new partners… you get the picture. G.I. Joe with Kung Fu Grip You can and should have multiple objectives, and they don’t all need circa 1960 to be measurable on the day you pack up your booth and load out. Objectives can be long range. If your product has an extended sales cycle, it’s even more important to have long-term objectives. And it’s absolutely critical to continue quantifying your objectives 6, 8 and 12 months down the road in order to prove that spending money in April results in making money in November. _______________________________________________________ Great FREE measurement tools: 1 p.4 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 6. Step 2: Attract the Right Audience Now that you’ve defined your objectives, it’s time to target an audience. Who do you want to attract? And how are you going to get their attention? We have to assume you know where your sweet spots are as far as who your sales teams like to talk to most, and, again, we have to assume the event you are participating in actually features enough of those types of people to justify being there in the first place. Right? RIGHT? (clears throat, links to Finding the right people, and helping them find you can seem difficult, but often there are free tools available. Most sponsorships are designed with activation built in, but many companies don’t take advantage of them. Leveraging the tools that come with your participation, such as logo attribution on web sites and in pre-event email and print campaigns, is a great way to start. What else can you do? • Take advantage of every marketing opportunity included in your exhibit or sponsorship package and most importantly, TIE THEM TOGETHER. They should all be aimed in the same direction. • Leverage in-house lists. There is no excuse for neglecting to notify the people who know your organization that you’ll be in town. p.5 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 7. • Explore joint promotion ventures with your key partners. Their list + your list = one much bigger list. • If you’re active with social media, use it! Make sure you’re promoting on your company’s website, blogs, Facebook page, etc. Make sure your people are talking about it on Twitter2. • Get sales involved. Give them the tools and information they need to attract your current customers and prospects. Show them why it makes sense for them to bring prospects and clients to the event. They’re not going to do it if you can’t show them they’re going to sell more stuff as a result of it. Sales people are kind of funny that way. • Use discount or free registration codes provided by the event organizers in your email auto signatures and marketing campaigns. Event organizers often award the exhibitor or sponsor with the highest code usage with discounts and free opportunities at future events. • Don’t be afraid to barter with the organizers. It doesn’t cost anything to ask if they want to swap lists, ads or links. _______________________________________________________ For weekly tips on all things marketing, subscribe to: 2 p.6 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 8. • Additional opportunities: > Exhibit hall bingo/golf/treasure hunts3. Hokie? Absolutely. Annoying if not executed well? You bet. Effective? Possibly the most cost effective activation program offered by virtually every event organizer. That is, if you have your qualifying questions down (see Step 3). With the right qualifying questions and a “Don’t rely solely on plan, this hokie, low-to-no-cost bingo program can be a ballet the event to generate of open ended questions and introductions. A venerable Swan Lake of sales if you will (and you will). traffic for you. Take > Create your own bingo/golf/treasure hunt and bring your steps to attract partners into it. This is a great way to share lists with your your own qualified partners without actually sharing the lists. Be creative. This type audience of prospects of program will work in any environment – trade show, county fair, parties. If you have a designated spot to be in, this will fly. in advance.” OK – You know who your target audience is, and you have a few methods of communicating with them identified. How do you attract them to your booth? And once they show up, what do you say? Funny you should ask; take a look at Step 3. _______________________________________________________ Exhibit Hall bingo type games – Attendees are issued a punch card, walk to participating vendor’s 3 booths/stands/tents, receive stamps, and win prizes. p.7 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 9. Step 3: Deliver the Right Message Objectives, check Right Audience, check Right Message, hmmmm…. Let’s talk about messaging in three categories: before the event, during the event, and after the event. Before the Event – The Short List “What does your Make it your mission to be on every target attendee’s “short list.” Why? When you plan to buy a new car, you don’t seriously consider EVERY prospect want possible car currently available. No – based on your NEEDS you and need? How develop a short list of cars that might make sense to investigate further. do you solve their Event attendees do the same thing because they have a limited amount of time to visit exhibitors. It’s imperative to get on their “short list.” (The problems?” “short list” principle also applies to brunch buffets, FYI.) How? Start with the blurb you post to your web site that describes the event and why your company is participating in it. Most importantly, make sure you describe WHY IT MAKES SENSE FOR YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE TO GO SEE YOU THERE. Your target audience doesn’t p.8 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 10. care why the event makes sense for YOU; they need to know why it SPECIAL BONUS makes sense for THEM. Talk about how you solve their problems. Be SECTION ON honest. Seriously, it works. GIVEAWAYS Next, consider what you’ll be offering, launching, displaying, selling The best giveaways appeal and announcing at the event. Which of these things do your target almost exclusively to your attendees care about? Which of their problems are you solving? Why real targets. If you have a drawing for a Harley or should they care? Focus on crafting your message around these key offer free beer, you will items. Remember, your message should be about them – not you. almost certainly have a full booth…full of people who During the Event – Say What You Do would love a free Harley Say what you do. Ever walked by an exhibit or a sponsor tent and said: and free beer. If you give ”Wow, that’s a pretty cool set up. They must have spent a fortune. I away a 30-day trial of your wonder what those guys are selling?” Yeah, don’t be those guys. Say product, you might have a what you do. Use plain English and graphics to convey a message that less full booth…of people who might actually buy your is concise and target-oriented – especially if you’re at a large event product! I know, it’s tough where signs, lights, and dog and pony shows are competing for your to get past the Harley/ target’s attention. beer cool-factor, and if you happen to sell Harleys or beer, or your targets’ interests line up with Harleys ______________________________________________________ and beer4, by all means, go for it (no extra charge for Note: Free beer almost always works with me. Well, OK, always. 4 that bit of advice). p.9 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 11. Less is More Your signs and graphics should explain what you do – and how what you do benefits your target – in simple, bold text in a quick-to-grasp format. Your signs are not the place to bullet point every feature of your newest product. To do this effectively, you don’t even need to name the product – just the problem it solves. Less is more5. Qualify Visitors You’ve attracted the right audience to your booth. Now comes the fun part – qualifying them. You’re targeting the right audience, but no amount of attracting the right audience is going to completely qualify them in a manner that your sales teams will appreciate. You’re only halfway there. This is where you separate the real prospects from the unwashed masses. “This is where you separate Nail down your qualifying questions to identify real prospects as they come to your booth. Your booth staffers should be focused on determining the real prospects from the who is and isn’t qualified in every new conversation. Offering demos unwashed masses.” to everyone who stops by the booth is not an effective sales strategy. ______________________________________________________ Ten quick and spot on tips on common messaging and graphics mistakes: 5 p.10 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 12. And remember, you’re in this to SELL MORE STUFF! Once you’ve determined your qualifying questions, develop a few transition techniques that your booth staff can use to gracefully (and expediently) exit conversations with unqualified visitors. Post Event – Don’t Blow It Your free t-shirt supply is wiped out. Your feet hurt and you’re tired of smiling at strangers. Once again you try to reconcile the glamorous jet- set lifestyle your mother believes you lead with the reality that comes with flight crews and venue janitorial staff recognizing you. It’s time to pack up and head home to relax…not so fast! This is the easiest part to mess up, but it’s probably the most important. The few days right after the event are crucial. The targets you met? They still have their post-event glow. They probably have post-show reports to submit, information to share with their peers, and emails to weed through. And usually, they still have a glimmer of excitement and optimism about everything they learned, and everything that COULD BE! (cue rainbows and unicorns, roll “Waltz of the Flowers”.) OK, so maybe that last bit’s a little sensational, but particularly in this economy, they’re coming back from what is most likely the only event they’ll attend this year. To them, it was probably a reasonably big deal. p.11 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 13. When your team follows up immediately with the information you promised to send and a hand-written note, or a personal email or phone call, you are much more likely to make a lasting impression than the company that sends out a form letter and a brochure 60 days later. By then, your target has moved on. They may not even have the same need anymore. In this economy, they may not even have the same job anymore… Do yourself a favor and act quickly. Get those leads into the pipeline, and make it a requirement that your sales team follow up within one “When you follow week of the event. Period. Don’t blow it. up immediately, But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – we haven’t asked for the right you’re much more action yet. likely to make a lasting impression.” p.12 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 14. Step 4: Ask for the Right Action You’ve got the attention of a group of qualified people. Now what? Ask them to give you something. Ask them to give you something based on your objectives (insert your own favorite bell ringing sound here). What will they give you if you ask? A sale? That’d be pretty cool, that’s ultimately the goal right? But an appointment, a demo or a test drive would be a huge win. References, survey information (let them tell you more about themselves), a registration for a post event webinar or educational session and introductions are all great too. If your company plays in social media, new subscribers to your rss feed, new followers on Twitter, new friends on Facebook or new connections on LinkedIn are all steps in the process. And they’re all measurable and quantifiable to boot6. _______________________________________________________ For an incredibly useful eBook on synchronizing your corporate database with Linkedin and 6 Facebook, download Marketing Over Coffee’s free “Synchronizing Social Networks” here: p.13 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 15. Clearly, whatever action you are asking for should map back to your objectives, right? And, the action requested should get them engaged, or better yet, pull them directly into the sales cycle. “Watch this demo… try this tool…take this for a test drive...attend this executive briefing with your team…give us your social security number and a list of your favorite passwords.” Pull your prospects into the sales process. “If you don’t ask Whatever you decide to ask your prospects for, and however you for what you ask them to provide it, make sure to consider in advance how you’ll want, you’re not digest and process all the information when you’re back in the office. going to get it.” Set yourself up for success now (and save yourself some headache) by thinking through the entire process on the front end. p.14 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 16. Step 5: Measure the Results We made it to the last step! Our exhibit is almost totally enlightened and our sponsorship is…totally…um, nirvana’d7? So far, you’ve defined your objectives, attracted an audience, told your new prospects what they need to hear (and hopefully you meant it, that’s kind of a big deal), and you asked them for something that will help you meet your objectives. Now it’s time to talk about measuring results8. How can you sing your praises to management without proof of what’s been accomplished? You’ll have lots of data after the event. Make sure all of that data is getting captured somewhere where it can be acted upon – and analyzed. Work with sales to figure out which leads actually led to closed deals (most CRM systems will do this for you). Proving which events worked ______________________________________________________ Note to self – next eBook write first, create title second 7 Please don’t tell David Meerman Scott about all this measuring we’re doing (http://www. 8 Actually, I think he’d be cool with it – the activities we’re talking about here are clearly all about generating leads. If he’s not cool with it, show him the free beer… p.15 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 17. best will help justify the spend, give you a road map for next year and, on the programs that perform really well – get your sales, marketing and management teams more excited about working with you in the future. After all, you’re making them money, right? That’d be cool, huh? To be perceived as “the dude who makes me money?” As opposed to being “that dude who made me spend 3-nights in (insert your least favorite city) during (insert most unpleasant time of year to be in that least favorite city)?” Very cool indeed. Eventually someone at the home office, most likely someone who has the ability to fire you, is going to ask “so, how’d it go? Was it worth it?” “This year, more And they’re not asking about your hotel or your ride on the airplane. so than others, it’s It’s a smart idea to send them a report BEFORE they ask you about it. going to be critical Make sure you package your data in a simple-to-digest format. The to justify the money more you justify your expenditures by showing real results, the more likely your events budget will stay intact. This year it’s going to be you’re spending.” critical to justify the money you’re spending. You want to be able to tie specific deals and specific sales to specific activities you managed. But even if you can’t be that precise, you can use data you have (like average close ratio, average sale, length of sales cycle, etc.) to put a value on the leads in terms of projected sales. p.16 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 18. If you made it this far I’m impressed! My mom didn’t get past page 3. That was a lot of detail to absorb, and my style is kind of all over the place, so here’s a quick review of the five steps to exhibit activation: Step 1 – Define your objectives and make them measurable Step 2 – Attract the right audience: take advantage of tools at your disposal, and tie all your efforts together Step 3 – Deliver the right message, before, during and after the event: get on the short list, clearly say what you do, and don’t blow it Step 4 – Ask for the right action: engage your prospects in the sales cycle, and ask them for something that furthers your objectives (and sells more stuff!) Step 5 – Measure the results and tie it all together – and measure again 3, 6, 9 and 12 months down the road A successful activation program can be pretty easy to execute. It’s really about thinking it through in advance, telling your audience what they need to hear (and being honest about it), tying everything together, and most importantly – using the booth and sponsorship to achieve your objectives; not treating them as the objective. p.17 ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.
  • 19. John has a proven success record of over 15 years of effective event and Please feel free to forward this eBook on to anyone you think may find sponsorship development and sales. With the it useful. Post it to your blog, tweet about it, print it out and distribute objective of long term it as you see fit. And if you have any questions, I’m here to help – my client revenue growth, he contact info is below. works directly with clients to develop value-driven Watch for future titles: sponsorship and exhibition programs that work for the client and their customers. • Save money for beer: travel tips for your next event John is especially interested in integrating elements of • Booth babes are great, but only if they can close – bad ideas that social media into event sales, cost you money and don’t work marketing and sponsorship activation programs. He has • I’m not on Twitter either, so I guess that makes the two of us – social held strategic roles with the media and promoting your event largest B2B trade shows and events as well as boutique conferences. • The right people at your booth – sometimes sales people aren’t the best choice Little Known Fact: John was “the guy in the front” • Just because it’s in Vegas doesn’t mean you should go – selecting the on a three man team that once finished in the top 10 right show to reach your audience of the Toboggan National Championships in Camden, Maine9. His life’s dream is to ______________________________________ compete in the 24 Hours of LeMons10. 9 10 John Tatusko, Space & Sponsorship Strategist Nth Degree Events p.18 contact: Jtatusko AT nthdegree dot com ©2009 Nth Degree, Inc.