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5 Best Practices for Choosing the Right Trade Show Technologies

19 Dec

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Trade show marketing just isn’t what it used to be. It seems like just yesterday that trade shows depended on paper registration, hard copy promotional materials, and exhibit booths featuring static displays of data and graphics. Thankfully, times have changed…for the better.

These days, trade show marketers and exhibitors have countless cutting-edge technologies at their disposal. Applications and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions improve everything from the initial registration experience to digital marketing, data analytics, lead retrieval, and real-time customer engagement. Once inside the event, technology extends to advanced audio-visual solutions like kiosks outfitted with touch screens, video walls, and high-definition 3-D displays. And for those looking to stay connected, venues and events are equipped with mobile device charging stations and mobile event apps. The technology is seemingly endless.

With so much technology readily available, ensuring a good ROI on your trade show technology investments can be a tricky process. Here are a few best practices to consider before making the leap:

1. Step outside your comfort zone.

It’s easy to stay on board with the technology solutions you’re familiar with. The trouble is, once you’re comfortable with a certain platform or application, it can be difficult to move on to something that might be more beneficial to your business.

Keep in mind that today’s event attendees have the most cutting-edge technologies available to them 24/7. By virtue of their smartphone and the mainstreaming of the wearable internet of things (IoT), consumers are constantly surrounded by innovation. Embracing new technologies is no longer an option—it’s a necessity for businesses that want to stay relevant both at trade show events and in their digital marketing plans. Consider incorporating high-definition LED video walls, high-top charging stations, and mobile event software to keep attendees interested and engaged. To get the most from your technology investments, leverage Big Data in the form of lead retrieval software and beacon software designed to extract value from behavioral data to further enhance the attendee experience.

2. Choose a reputable event technology solutions architect.

When selecting an event technology specialist, focus on finding a firm that offers solutions architects who will work with you to design and customize services that best suit your needs. Be sure the firm includes field technicians to provide initial installation support and training to ensure that you’re up-and-running well in advance of the event date. Lastly, confirm that the firm offers ongoing tech support should you need help during event hours.

3. Get social.

These days, the value of a prominent social media presence can’t be overstated.  Be sure your displays and exhibits have a social networking component that helps attendees share trade show news and information with their contacts.

Ultimately, social media sharing by attendees will help your business grow its social media following long after the event has wrapped up.

4. Go for the WOW factor.

Don’t be afraid to use technology to create excitement and reinforce your brand. Today’s beautiful 4K and LED displays can be linked up to create a video wall for storytelling, product or service highlights, special events, and key marketing messages. Consider offering interactive kiosks that showcase project videos, games, and contests while telling your brand’s story.

5. Make sense of the data.  

All the data in the world isn’t going to help your business if you can’t extract value from it. Explore machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) software-as-a-service (SAAS) to gain valuable insight into your trade show attendees. Not only will this allow you to gather leads and generate demographic data, it will help improve the customer experience at trade shows and in your business over the long haul.

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Tactical Tips to Maximize Your Trade Show Presence in 2018

12 Dec

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Trade show planning for 2018 is in full swing. With budgets and strategy considerations on the table, we’re offering our take on tips to maximize your trade show ROI for the upcoming year.

1.  Technology is (still) king.

It goes without question that technology is a major player when it comes to trade show success. In 2018, trade show technology will continue to try to out-perform itself from years past, as attendees expect information to be displayed in innovative, interactive, and increasingly engaging ways.

Visitors want to be impressed and involved when they visit your display—and you’ll want to continue the engagement long after the event closes its doors. Consider incorporating touch screens, Bluetooth beacons, and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning Software as a Software (SaaS) to further enhance the customer experience while delivering your brand’s message both during and after the show.

2. Human interaction is critical to success.

While it is true that trade show tech is necessary for ultimate event success, human engagement is just as important, if not more so. There is no better way to reach your customers than through a good old-fashioned dialogue that allows them to communicate their pain points—to which you respond with your compelling solution. By properly staffing your exhibit with compassionate professionals who are well-versed in your brand story, you’ll facilitate the kinds of relationships that no amount of artificial intelligence can compete with.

The key here is to use technology to augment—not replace—you professional, human presence.

3. Incorporate the sentiment behind your unique selling proposition in your exhibit.

We all want to stand apart from the competition. Your customers have made the trek to the trade show and your exhibit likely because they are looking for a solution to a particular problem, or perhaps they’re looking for your business in particular. By focusing on consistency in your unique selling proposition (USP)—for example, creating a custom exhibit based on your brand’s unique voice and culture along with the environment you want to cultivate—you’ll have a chance to resonate with your customers at a level that increases their engagement, inspires brand loyalty, and encourages them to stay connected long after the event wraps up.

4. Keep your brand consistent across all business environments.

Consumers these days are bombarded with product information nearly everywhere they turn—and much of that information is regarded by the embattled consumer as outright noise.  By focusing on refining your brand messaging for consistency across all spaces, you’ll cultivate a rapport with your customer that allows them to feel comfortable and familiar with your solution. Think in terms of providing a cohesive brand experience by way of incorporating a recognizable color palette, familiar logos, and consistent graphics.

When your business—and thus your brand—is “on the road,” you’ll want to rely even more heavily on familiar visuals to reinforce your presence in an unfamiliar place. After all, a trade show exhibit is a mini-representation of your business as a whole—and you want your customers to feel at home regardless of the venue.

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The Bot That is Getting Rid of Buyer’s Remorse

31 Oct


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Buyer’s remorse is a phenomenon that any company would be happy to get rid of. It is a highly illogical response that nonetheless costs companies in a huge way by reducing its potential number of loyal customers.

Fortunately for the business community, there is currently an API based bot that may have an answer to some aspects of buyer’s remorse. Many customers who make a purchase and immediately find a cheaper alternative somewhere else may experience buyer’s remorse if they feel as though they overpaid. A new technology that is based on an API from Mastercard makes the price comparison journey much easier for these consumers.

Earny is the name of the app and it is making quite the stir in the B2B marketplace. The main function of the app is to scan the recent purchases of a consumer against inventory that retailers currently hold. Putting these two lists up against each other gives the consumer a quick way to find savings that would otherwise have gone missing. If a consumer is confident that he is getting the lowest price, there is less chance of buyer’s remorse.

Earny goes a bit further than psychological stroking, however. By using the app, consumers actually become privy to the current price of goods and the inventory of competitors in real time. The result is a very real improvement in price comparison technology. The implications of this new technology are massive.

First of all, the market can definitely expect copycat APIs to appear very quickly. With price comparison APIs all backed by the major credit card companies, will there be any room for price differences in the market? Companies will be forced to justify any increase in price, which will certainly make it harder to market on anything except price.

Secondly, apps like this may actually invite an informal type of collusion into certain marketplaces. Consumers are not the only ones who can use Earny and its cousins – companies can use the app just as easily. Savvy companies will be moving their prices in real time to match the best prices on the market. Smaller industries may begin to imitate the future’s market because of the speed with which prices can now be accessed.

Third, companies who try to make profit based upon the ignorance of the customer will have a great deal to answer for. The post purchase communications between a company and a customer are incredibly important when trying to upsell or resell to that customer. Suddenly, the level of communication will become much more sophisticated. The consumer now has the same amount of information as the industry insider.

In large scale markets with low profit margins, the introduction of apps such as Earny represent a changing of the guard. This is why you must keep your ear to the street – to stay ahead of innovations like this. Savvy companies are already shoring up their prices and customer service lines to deal with any backlash from the introduction of this new technology. You should definitely do the same, especially if you have loyal customers that you are planning to keep.

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Using Social Media for Customer Service

19 Oct

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There are many ways that B2B companies are different entities than B2C companies, but social media usage is not one of them. Because the fact is that your prospects, existing customers and employees are all on social media, probably every single day. Social media has become an easy way to keep up with friends and relatives as well as business connections.

Depending on your industry, the social media sites your clients visit will vary. But there is a lot of usage overlap with B2C companies. One of the best features of social media sites is the ability to chat in real time with your contacts. This feature is used so much on Facebook that the site has a separate mobile app just for chat alone. Additionally, video sites such as YouTube offer product and service education opportunities that you can use in discussions with existing customers to help them solve problems.

B2B Customers are Not Just on LinkedIn

While it is true that many B2B professionals are active on LinkedIn, you can also find them on other social sites including Facebook, Twitter and some industry-specific sites. LinkedIn is a great site for content, connections and networking, but is it the best place for customer service? Probably not. Unless you are using LinkedIn for setting up a face-to-face customer service meeting, there are better places to interact.

Using Facebook for Customer Service

Facebook gives you several ways to conduct customer service conversations. You can set up a section of your company’s Facebook page to have questions and complaints answered. The key here is making sure someone is always available to answer these questions during the hours you specify you are open. Facebook is a great way to have direct contact with customers, but if you don’t respond quickly, they will be disappointed. You can connect with your customers via Facebook Messenger from just about anywhere in the world for free. As long as you have an internet or mobile connection, you can help customers solve their product issues or discover their service needs. You can also set up a section of your Facebook page for customers to ask questions that other customers answer with the ability for your staff to jump in when needed.

Twitter for Rapid Response

Twitter only has room for 140 characters; however this makes it ideal for rapid response to service issues. The entire platform is full of interactions that are short and to-the-point. You can set up an entire account just for customer service, and post the link on your main Twitter account and other social media sites. Customers can contact you easily and you can respond with a quick solution. The biggest drawback to Twitter is that the site is open for all to see, whereas Facebook offers you privacy on Messenger.

Customer Service Adds Value

When a customer knows that they can get the customer service they need consistently and quickly, they will be happy with your level of service. This customer confidence adds value to your company as a whole and can act as a channel to market new products or services to existing customers. At least for establishing initial contact, social media is an ideal way to interact and resolve customer service issues.

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4 Questions Small Businesses Should Ask About Your Website

16 May

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In some ways, the features that make a website a good website vary from one small business to the next. Every small business serves a unique market, and your website should reflect that. But there are a few key basics that every small business should demand in their website regardless of market if you want to be competitive in your market.

Whether you already have a website or are thinking of getting a new one, these are the key questions you should be asking:

 

  1. SEO?  While optimizing your site so it appears high on the list of results that search engines return for their users may sound easy, it’s actually fairly complicated—especially because search engines like Google are constantly changing things to perfect their search algorithm. Are you positive your website is optimized for SEO best practices.
  2. Leads?  Can you prove your website is driving leads for your business? If not, it can be almost impossible for you to understand its cost vs. value. Like any other investment you make as a small business, the numbers should add up. Make sure your site includes a system that allows prospects to enter their information to ask for services and assistance. Lastly, look into pay-per-click (PPC) for your website and determine whether your site has the built-in capabilities to prove where the leads are coming from.
  3. Copy?  Words matter, and they especially matter on your website. So what is your website saying about you? Have you personalized it for your market? Does it convey what makes your company unique and special? Does it make a potential customer trust you? And lastly, are you leveraging keywords effectively so you show up first—and not your local competitors—when potential customers go searching for the products and services you offer?
  4. Products and services?  Does your website effectively display the products and/or services you offer? Are you able to quickly and easily update your site to reflect what is current? If not, are you showing your customers outdated products or services no longer available? Today’s customers want to be able to research their options—this is an easy but important opportunity for you to be their partner in getting the product information they need.

 

And lastly, a bonus question—do you have a website at all? If not, why don’t you? Better yet, if you have a website, are you putting resources into promoting it via PPC and other services that make you stand out against competitors?

As more and more people turn to the internet to not only find service providers, but to do research and find someone they trust, it becomes that much more important for you to have a strong web presence.

The truth is, if you’re failing any one of these questions, you could potentially be sending potential business prospects to your competitors, even if these prospects would typically already be inclined towards your brand. That’s why it’s important to ask questions regarding your website, whether it’s new or old.

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