7 Tips to Create Your 2018 Trade Show Budget

16 Jan

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Creating a trade show budget for 2018 is a skill that pays off in a better use of company resources. By following the tips below when making the budget for this crucial aspect of marketing your business, you’ll be able to develop a more accurate template of the necessary costs.

  1. Exhibit Space = 30 percent

Allocate about 30 percent of your trade show budget to the expense of the trade show itself. As the largest expense in the budget, this amount covers any fees associated with exhibiting at the event as well as extras for a prime location, if possible.

  1. Staffing and Travel = 20 percent

The second largest expense of your trade show budget will be for staffing and travel. Count expenses such as transportation, meals, and lodging for staff. If the staff needs additional training in order to work the trade show booth effectively, add those costs too.

  1. Logistics and Exhibit Services = 20 percent

About 20 percent of your budget should be allocated to those logistic and exhibit services that are necessary in order to present a polished and professional presence for your company. Some examples of services included in this category are the storage and warehousing of exhibit materials and their installation and breakdown during the event. Don’t forget to include the costs of labor for skilled workers like electricians, riggers, carpenters, and others.

  1. Booth Design = 10 percent

The visual representation of your company and your booth design will require about 10 percent of your overall trade show budget. During the planning phase, make a list of preferred features and price them when you consult with your designer.

  1. Transportation, shipping, and drayage = 10 percent

Obtaining an estimate for transportation and shipping tends to be pretty straightforward since it’s usually based on factors like the dimensions of your trade show booth. Drayage costs can be more difficult to pin down. A good rule of thumb is to plan to spend slightly more in drayage than you do for shipping.

  1. Marketing Materials = 5 percent

While your trade show booth is the biggest marketing tool at the event, you’ll need supporting materials to go along with your brand and your message. This category includes the cost of giveaways, company literature, and product demos.

  1. Miscellaneous = 5 percent

Set aside about five percent of your trade show budget for those expenses that are easily overlooked. Items such as daily housekeeping, WiFi, and lead gathering are necessary for the success of the trade show but are often forgotten when it comes time to make the budget.

By following the above steps, you can hammer out an effective and accurate trade show budget for 2018. What trade shows will your company be attending this year?

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Key Digital Branding Tips to Dominate Your Online Presence

9 Jan

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In a competitive marketplace where analytics and conversion rates rank high among digital marketing tools, many businesses put the idea of branding on the back burner. Because it’s a relatively slow process, traditional branding is often overlooked in favor of the instant-gratification of PPC campaigns, Facebook ads, and AdWords. Establishing a brand can sometimes be accomplished in just months…but in many cases, an effective brand can take years to develop.

As a critical marketing strategy that creates measurable results over time, downplaying the importance of your business’s brand is a big mistake. Take a look at our most valuable tips to help establish, expand, and empower your digital brand’s presence:

Leverage content to develop authority in your industry

These days, it’s no secret that content is crucial to any digital marketing strategy worth its salt. Video has risen to the top as a content leader, and blog posts are still the method of choice when it comes to establishing your brand’s voice through writing: the key is to keep the content high-quality, engaging, and authoritative.

Another great way to define your brand and establish authority is to publish free informational content designed to educate and assist your customers without directly selling to them. This type of content can have a positive effect on your SEO efforts by increasing page views, links, and long-term visibility.

Use social media to promote your content

No matter how much amazing content you publish on your website—it won’t do you any good if no one can find it. Utilizing social media ad campaigns can help with promotional efforts by streamlining your target audience and expanding your content’s reach. For example, Facebook allows you to aim for groups who “like” companies and products similar to yours, and Twitter offers the option to target a specific brand or influencer’s followers.

Maintain content that resonates with your brand voice

Effective branding relies on consistency, and keeping your content in line with your brand image is a critical step toward forging a meaningful connection with your audience. Focus on publishing content that’s consistent with your brand’s subject matter, image, and tone of voice.

Concentrate your efforts on branding over conversion rates

With the massive amount of fast-acting digital marketing tools available today, it may be tempting to focus on short-term metrics rather than long-term effectiveness in evaluating your branding campaign’s ROI. Many businesses make the mistake of initially strategizing with the intention of strengthening their brand—only to compromise those efforts by redirecting the campaign strictly on boosting conversion rates and return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) metrics.

Rather than trying to push a product or conversion in the effort to strengthen your brand, focus instead on associating the brand with a specific feeling, a sense of nostalgia, or reliable solution. This isn’t to say that those digital marketing metrics should be ignored—but they should be evaluated separately from your branding strategy. After all, branding’s real value and ROI can only be accurately measured over the long term.

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Top Digital Marketing Mishaps and How to Solve Them

4 Jan

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Digital marketing has come a long way over the last few years. Big data means businesses have more data-driven insights than ever before, which translates to quality relationships with customers and (hopefully) increased conversions along with a better bottom line.

While digital marketing continues to improve and empower the way businesses interact with their customers online, the process doesn’t come without its challenges.

We’ve compiled a list of marketing mishaps that are most likely to frustrate your customer—along with our proposed solutions:

1. Dead-End Pages

Simply having an informative website presence is no longer enough. These days, it’s all about interaction, and it’s absolutely critical to actively create an ongoing relationship with site visitors in order to get the most out of your website investment. This doesn’t mean that you should hound potential customers with “Buy It Now” pop-ups, but your site should offer a convenient method for customers to act on the information they find—even if only by taking advantage of strategically placed contact forms or opt-ins for special event information, social updates, and discounts.

Offering something of value in exchange for contact information is another great way to build your email list—think in terms of white papers or free eBooks that offer solutions to a common customer problem.

2. Broken Links and 404 Errors

There are few things more frustrating to a consumer who is looking for something specific than “Page Not Found” …especially when that link comes from somewhere on your site. Rather than sending your visitors away frustrated and empty-handed, consider deploying a 404-page template designed to offer a lighthearted explanation for the broken link, along with an actionable response – think links to functional pages, email opt-ins, and even an option to submit a ticket.

3. Inconsistency

Inconsistencies throughout your messaging may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to the overall customer experience, they can really add up. For instance, if you refer to a sale price in an email blast—but your website shopping cart displays the original price, and the fine print reveals that the sale price is only applicable if the visitor purchases a year’s worth of services—your potential customer might go from feeling slightly annoyed to completely mislead. And they may not be a potential customer anymore.

Being consistent in your messaging is critical to establishing brand trust. Before starting a new campaign, be sure to outline your core value proposition, your regular and promotional pricing schedule, any relevant taglines, and all potential variations as to how you’ll refer to your product or service throughout the campaign. Keep this master document handy for reference any time you consider launching a new part of your strategy.

4. Outdated Content

Few things make a business look more out of touch than a website full of references to past events, unavailable live webinars, and outdated company news.

Links to your website’s event pages don’t expire when the event is over. Whether your customers find their way via a trade show blast, a colleague’s blog post, or even through organic search—if the page hasn’t been updated or removed, it will leave a not-so-great impression that you aren’t staying on top of things.

Of course, if these pages are generating traffic, you don’t want to delete them. Consider these options instead:

Update the page. Modify the message, change the call to action, and offer something current and of value.

Redirect the page. Point your visitors to your event calendar for the remainder of the year, or to another upcoming event. This way, you don’t lose valuable traffic and you keep your messaging current and useful for your customer.

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Instant Gratification: 5 Ways it Impacts Your Content Marketing Efforts

2 Jan

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It’s been said that the average human attention span has gone down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just eight seconds today. With the advent of mobile just-about-everything and the mainstreaming of the internet of things (IoT), this statistic is hardly surprising—these days, it’s all about instant gratification.

But what does this mean for your content marketing efforts? For starters, it means content has to adapt to stay relevant and to even have a chance of being consumed.

Time is of the Essence

Today’s consumers are ultra-connected and always on the go. They have the internet available to them at all times, on screens of all sizes.

When it comes to content, your audience wants it in small, easily digestible portions. Content needs to be concise and easily scanned across all devices…and of course, it needs to be shareable. Consider these tactics to make your content easier to absorb:

  • Add open graph (OG) tags to your site. OG tags operate for social media much in the same way that meta tags operate for search engines: they create a compelling, attractive preview when your content is shared on social. These previews make your content more noticeable and marketable to those devouring their news feed as quickly as possible.

Rapid-Fire Website Loading is Essential

According to Kissmetrics, website visitors expect a site to load in less than three seconds. To make matters worse, visitors frustrated with slow-to-load sites typically abandon ship and head for the competition.

Try out these tips to help your customer’s gain access to your content as fast as possible:

Google AMP: Speeds up the mobile rendering experience during web browsing by offering potential visitors a stripped-down version of your site.

Facebook Instant Articles: Loads a lightweight version of your blog when a visitor clicks on your link from the Facebook app. This allows for instant loading of your website to your Facebook following, offering a faster reading experience for your customers.

 Personalized Content is the New Normal

Customers expect to get the content they need without much effort—and this includes content that is specifically targeted to their needs and preferences. To help personalize the user experience, consider these tools:

  • Google Optimize 360: Free A/B testing is available to all Google Analytics users. For enterprise users, the content personalization tool helps deliver engaging experiences through website variation testing. The testing process is followed by a tailored approach to personalization according to the results that deliver the best experience for the customer.
  • Adobe Target: An optimization solution designed to deliver data-driven results through experimentation and testing. The automated platform helps businesses boost conversions through personalization and by optimizing mobile app performance based mobile context and user behavior.

For businesses looking to stay relevant and informative in today’s competitive content world, consumers’ need for instant gratification may seem a daunting prospect.  By adapting your content strategy to stay in-line with consumer expectations, you can be sure your content delivers brand messaging that gets noticed and—most importantly—consumed and shared across all channels.

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3 PR Trends You Need to Adopt in 2018

28 Dec

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With the holiday season in full swing, it might not seem like you have enough time to add one thing to your to-do list. It’s not too early to start thinking about your public relations strategy for 2018. Devoting some time to it now can help your company get off on the right foot once the new year rolls around. Below are three trends that should be on your list to implement in 2018.

  1. Integrate PR to understand multiple business goals

Few other tools are as effective as getting the word out about a company than PR. Whether it’s time for your company to recruit for new talent, market a new service or communicate the latest news to investors, PR is structured to do so efficiently. These goals don’t stand separated within a company though. Instead, they all work together to achieve a better, more successful industry leader. Make sure that your PR strategy is looking at how all those pieces fit together in the big picture.

  1. Think of thought leadership and branding as company-wide

Many companies consider their thought leadership and branding as initiatives that are focused solely on executives. However, it’s vital to the success of the company and its brand to look outside the executive suite for leaders. Implementing a companywide approach can protect it against loss if an important leader resigns unexpectedly. Other thought leaders might also possess the ability to target different demographics, extending the company’s reach.

  1. PR needs to specialize

PR is comprised of many different styles. PR for events takes a different approach than crisis management, for example, and launch PR is handled differently than media relations. Investing in specialists to handle these vital challenges ensures that your company is always presented in the best light.

In 2018, your company’s PR is going to be more important than ever. By hammering out the details now, you will be able to develop a strategy that incorporates these trends while delivering results.

 

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