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5 Best Practices for Choosing the Right Trade Show Technologies

19 Dec

People hangout together at coffee shop

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 5 Immutable Laws of Reputation Management

6 Apr

 

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A search on Google doesn’t just bring up your website anymore. It brings up your site, your Facebook profile, and every single review site that has comments about your brand. To protect your reputation online, never forget these five immutable laws:

1. Listen first.

Problems can sneak up on you if you are not listening to what your customers are saying online. People expect to hear back from a brand within a few hours when they detail a problem on social media. If you aren’t listening, you can’t respond.

Listening first also gives you an idea of the conversations people are having on a specific platform and the etiquette there. Many brands have made embarrassing mistakes by jumping into a conversation before they understand what it is about.

2. Keep a cool head.

No matter how unfair, inaccurate, and wrongheaded a negative comment is, do not go on the defensive. Look at it from the point of view of other posters: the complainer is just a customer expressing their mind. You are the big, powerful brand. When you respond negatively or angrily, it makes you look mean and bullying.

3. Know when to answer and when to stay quiet.

A number of brands have found great benefit to doing their customer service right in their social networking channels. Not only do they get to rescue a relationship with a customer; they get the chance to demonstrate their high levels of customer service to everyone who reads the interaction.

There are also times when comments from a brand can do more harm than good. As we described above, answering when you are angry and defensive is never a good move. It is also a good idea to keep out of sensitive subjects. Brands who have attempted to use these in a promotional manner have seen it backfire.

4. Remember that the customer is in charge.

We are well past the time when brands controlled the conversation. In the modern digital world, everyone has the ability to have their say. Do not attempt to delete negative comments. Things that are posted online have a tendency to live forever; you never know when someone has screencapped something for posterity.

5. Provide excellent service.

The most fundamental aspect of reputation management involves doing everything you can to earn a sterling reputation. See the same complaints from a number of customers? Do your best to address these issues so that future customers have a better experience.

Public sentiment can be hard to manage. However, by working to be responsive and helpful online, you can better ensure that the people who find you there will be happy with what they see.

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Top 5 B2B Social Media Marketing Myths

26 Jul

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Social networking is a large part of most people’s lives. But we don’t always know how to make it a part of our lives as B2B marketers. If you are not on social media or if you are not having strong results, you may have fallen prey to one of these common social media myths.

  1. Social media marketing isn’t for B2B. 

There are social networks that are expressly for B2B communication, such as LinkedIn, SlideShare and, to a lesser extent, Quora. There are also social networks that you should consider just because they are a huge part of most people’s day-to-day lives, such as Facebook and Twitter. Remember that businesses are made up of people; go to the networks your people are most likely to be on and you will find a way to connect.

  1. You need to be on every network.

Joining every social network that comes up will lead to burnt out employees, too much money spent networking and not a lot to show for it. Every network is different and has a different audience. LinkedIn is a place where professionals gather. Quora is a good place to hang out if you have a lot of knowledge to share about your industry. YouTube and Instagram are great for sharing visual content. There are many customers for building materials on Pinterest. Pick two or three networks and work on building out robust presences there. Don’t worry about the rest.

  1. It’s never okay to automate.

Automation can give you a chance to connect with people who you might not otherwise reach. If you have an international customer base, automating a few posts to show up while you are in bed and your prospects are up and at the office or job site can mean access to people you might otherwise miss. Automation can also allow you to keep posting consistent even when you are away from the office or otherwise tied up with other tasks.

  1. Automate everything!

It’s easy to go too far in the other direction. Have you ever posted on Twitter and immediately been hit by an @ message from a Twitter bot triggered by a phrase you used? No one else likes this any more than you do.

  1. Social media marketing doesn’t work.

Every year, hundreds of think pieces come out claiming that social media just isn’t the place for business. The figures prove these people wrong. According to HubSpot, two out of three companies with a presence on LinkedIn have gotten a customer from there. Businesses that use Twitter have twice as many leads as those that don’t. The benefits of a social media presence are measurable and powerful.

Social media marketing success does not come overnight. It can take a while to find your niche and your audience on social media. When you have gotten into the groove, you will find that you have better relationships with customers, a better-known brand and more business by using social media well.

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3 Tips for Using Video to Market Building Materials

21 Jul

Film Industry

Video can be a highly effective element in your digital marketing efforts. Why try to tell your customers about your building products when you can show them? Technology is also driving the trend in video. With more and more customers accessing the web through mobile, video has become increasingly important.

To get the best results, keep these video marketing tips in mind:

  1. Choose the right length for the medium and the customer.
    Videos that are too short may not provide enough information. When videos are too long, there is a risk of prospects getting bored and navigating away before they are finished. Videos intended for prospects new to your brand should be short. Experts say that videos for Facebook should be two to three minutes. On YouTube, you can gain traction with videos anywhere from one to five minutes in length. To reach customers further down the sales funnel, try in-depth videos that thoroughly explain the value and applications of your products
  2. Get to the action quickly.
    You only have seconds to gain prospects’ interest. Instead of starting with a long introduction, consider jumping straight into the action. Begin with an arresting visual or a surprising fact about your product. By drawing people in quickly, you get the chance to keep them watching and convince them to check out your brand.
  3. Use a mix of video types.
    How-to and explainer videos can show your customers how your products perform in the real world. Testimonial videos allow your prospects to hear for themselves what your happy customers have to say about your products and services. Product showcase videos allow your customers to get a better look at what you are offering than they can get with still photos and text descriptions. By including a range of types of content, you can give prospects more of the information that they are looking for.

Video gives you a chance to connect with busy professionals who don’t have the time to read marketing materials or who prefer to get information in an audio/visual format. By adding this type of content to your marketing mix, you can reach a wider array of prospects and show them just how your products can work for them.

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