“Help! I need a killer trade show idea for my company!”

It never truly surprises me when I roam the floor at a trade show or conference how little creative thought is given to the trade show experience. When I talk to clients, it seems almost “a given” that “just being there and being seen will be enough.” But ask yourself: if you’ve done trade shows for your company before and you walk away with a few crumbs of deals or “lots of business cards,” have you really gotten all you can from being there?

I say, “absolutely not.”

A trade show is not just about showing up (all apologies to Woody Allen). Ya gotta engage. 

OK – woah – that’s a WHOLE different thing. I got the booth set up, I got a fishbowl for business cards and we’re showing our software. WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

Here are five key points to consider when building your trade show experience:

1. Who’s the person or persons (your Ideal Client) you want to engage with? This will drive the choice of which shows or conferences will suit you best. Better to go to a smaller show that has 80-100% of your target audience rather than a very large, famous show that will force you to compete with hundreds of vendors for a smaller percentage of your target audience.

2. What’s your goal at the show? Collect emails for an email marketing campaign? Release a new product/service? Get media attention or venture capital interest? Get leads for sales? Drive interaction with your software? You may have two or three goals for a show but this decision is critical to your engagement choice. Decide this second.

3. What’s the interaction? How will you draw people to your booth (or to your speech)? What will allow you to have a crowd at your booth during the entire show, drawing the envy of all vendors in your vicinity? The interaction – the thing you do to engage that target audience – is the key to it all. Don’t sit back on this one — or you’re wasting your money by attending the trade show at all.

4. What’s your plan for media outreach? If you’re going to use the show as a platform to make some news, think through the process first. Sending a release and showing up at the media “meet and greet” will not cut it – not if you truly want to make a splash and get some juice for your company.

5. How are you going to use social media or technology or video at the event? These tools change and get hipper by the day. Employing these tools strategically — meaning the way you use the tools is of “irresistible interest” to your target — will pay you back many fold as you work to meet your goal at the show.

OK – that’s an overview of the process you should be putting yourself through to really get the most out of a trade show or conference. Got questions? Let me know! mjcranmore@clientcyclemarketing.com

Why video?

I know most of you – if you’re anything like my clients – are overwhelmed by the new social media marketing options. And that’s on a good day. So – let’s really throw you in the deep end — VIDEO.

Before you get scared — you can do it. It’s NOT painful. You won’t lose consciousness. AND – best of all – you can do it YOURSELF.

But why, MJTVgirl? Why are you killing me with more “to do’s” on my already huge marketing to do list?

Well, because. It’s literally 50x more effective at getting your website to the top of the Google search engine. That’s why. And – it’s a great way to broaden your reach, engage your clients, customers and potential customers; AND (breathe) it’s really helpful in starting and engaging brand new people in your conversation.

So….want to get started? Check out my video on video….of course :-)

What to do when they can’t afford you.

Many thanks to Darla LaDoux for this gem of wisdom.

When I sit down with my clients, I ask them “who is your perfect client”. After working through a few “must haves” we usually get to “my perfect client is one who can afford…..”

Stop right there.

I’ve got news.

They can never afford you. 

I don’t care what business you are in – if you are selling a product or a service, or if it is cheap or expensive. No one is sitting around with a pile of money that they are waiting to spend with you.

It’s only when they connect with the benefit of what you are selling in a way that is beyond a transaction that they will be willing to invest. 

They buy for their reasons 

Do you know the reasons your prospects buy from you? What is the bigger “why,” that is the true benefit in their life? If you design websites, what does your client really get from you? Is it more sales and profit? Is it the peace of mind that comes from finally getting it off their to-do list? Is it personal pride and enthusiasm about their brand that really drives them even more than money? You’ve got to know the motivation of your people. 

When you describe your ideal client, it should never be about what they can afford. It needs to be about what they believe.

Can your perfect client find you?

I was talking on the phone with a prospective client last week who was very convinced she had to be on Facebook to market her new business. She is a high-end floral designer who markets primarily to other businesses. She was so convinced that frankly, she almost had ME convinced – but I stopped her. And I said, “maybe we should take a step back. Maybe Facebook isn’t where you should be right now,” (do you hear the needle scratching across the record? yep. me too.).

I began to ask her questions about her target market and then, it all became abundantly clear: she believed she should be on Facebook (because everyone else was), she believed that putting her business there would make her attractive to new clients, and she also believed it would be free advertising. There are so many misdirections, misconceptions and out right lies in that sentence, it’s hard to organize it all – but the bottom line: Facebook may not be the correct TACTIC – certainly, not the FIRST tactic — and you won’t know unless you have come up with the right STRATEGY to find your perfect client.

Once we narrowed it down to exactly WHO her perfect prospects and clients are (events managers at large companies or event marketing agencies, marketing managers at companies, etc.) and WHAT they wanted from her: easy, elegant decorating for high-end events – no worries. We could then position her in the right place to ATTRACT those clients. But until you do that – you can throw a lot of money (also read: time) at TACTICS that won’t work for you.

Next: getting “found” on Google. Stay tuned.

Write From Your Heart to Attract New Clients

One of the truly great things about the World Wide Web is that we are all connected. All connected – and seeking information. We’re all hunting around for information on every crazy topic you can imagine: from changing your car’s oil to investing in particular stocks to cooking chicken on the grill. When people search for the topic you specialize in, wouldn’t it be great to share a little bit of your knowledge – while building a little trust along the way? Who knows, this person could become a long-time client.

And how do you do that, you might ask? Simple: write an article.

OK – hold on – let’s not get crazy. I can string a few sentences together but a full-blown article? Yes – you can do it. Just make sure you follow these simple guidelines, post the article to your blog and voila – instant sharing – instant help and you’re well on the way to making new friends and influencing people.

When you write your article, be very sure to consider your audience – who do you want to read the article? Well, a prospective client, that’s who! So – you have to speak to their issues and make sure you are being REAL. In other words, write from your heart and above all DON’T TRY TO SELL ANYTHING. Just SHARE. A couple of tips:

1. Be yourself – be “authentic”. It’s a buzzword, I know, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. When you sit down to write, do it in your own voice and bring your passion to the table. When you show your passion, it can be a very attractive element along with the quality information you are sharing. Don’t hold back.

2. What are the most common questions your clients ask? What are their biggest problems? This is a great way decide what you should be writing about. Think back to other clients you’ve worked with — or clients you want to work with. When it comes to your expertise, what do clients need most from you. Can you write about an example when someone came to you with this problem and you solved it? That’s a great reason for an article — proof of performance!!

3. Give tips. People love tips. a checklist is even better. Tips are short, easy to follow hints that will assist your potential client in seeing the problem clearly and giving some options on how to handle it. Many times, they see that your expertise will be invaluable (and money-saving, too) and will connect with you for more information or help.

The key is – show a sample of your expertise and knowledge. If you help them solve one small problem, chances are you are building enough trust along the way to be hired when the big problem hits.

How To Attract New Leads and Clients on….Twitter.

I know, I know what you’re thinking. “Really? On TWITTER?”

Yes, Twitter. I used to dismiss it as a micro-blog that only famous people used, but after I started getting one…then two….now a consistent flow of clients, I admit it: I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Twitter, as it turns out, is a very powerful tool if used correctly. Here are the steps you need to take if you want to: target your niche, find followers who will be attracted by your content, and attract new customers and clients on this powerful platform.

Ready?

First, please take the time to upload a picture. Nothing says “I don’t care” more than that little egg icon. Let everyone see your face – or at the least, a pic you think represents your niche, your brand, or your quirky sensibility.

Next, fill out your bio with two and three word descriptions of you and BE REAL. Being real is the “secret sauce” of all social media….and the quickest way to showing your “realness” is to show your true colors. “Word nerd by day…. Red Sox Crime Fighter by Night” is part of my bio. These are REAL parts of me…and that is what Twitter is all about.

Third, assuming you have declared your niche to the Universe and yourself, it’s time to find your peeps. Your tribe. Find some leaders in your category and then look in their lists of followers. Assuming they are interested in the industry leader’s information, it also follows that if you are tweeting valuable info in that same category, they will be interested in you, too. A word about following too many in one short time period: Twitter frowns on that practice. I would go for quality and follow about 100 people each day. A subset of those folks will follow you back – and you’re off!

Next: start Tweeting. Ideally, you should be Tweeting 2-3 times each day. Set a schedule. 7am, 1pm and 4pm. This is when people normally break from their work or regular routine to check out the activity on social media. Once you have more followers paying attention to your content, you may see that your followers are night people – or weekend people. Whatever their schedule is, modify yours to mirror theirs. This way, your tribe will see what you have to offer more often.

More to come later on #Hashtags – the true power behind Twitter. For now, happy Tweeting!

Market Where Your Clients Are….On Their SmartPhone.

I sat at the bar last weekend and watched as the two hundred or so people who were watching the communal festival known as the Superbowl were also watching their cellphones. Constantly. They were doing all sorts of things on the phone – some were emailing, some were social media-ing, and some were searching for information. The one thing they all had in common: they were never more than a quick grab into their pocket or purse away from their little buddy, the SmartPhone.

Is it any wonder that it takes people only 24 minutes to report a lost phone, but it takes them 24 hours to report a lost wallet?

On your phone at this very minute: all your phone numbers and calendar, your music, your email, your LIFE.

It is only a matter of time before everything as we know it – the Internet, TV and all communication – collects on your Smartphone. This is the one screen that is completely personal to you – and don’t think marketers haven’t been staying awake figuring out new and better ways to connect to you via SmartPhones.

There are apps, short code or SMS texting, QR tags and pretty soon, something called “near field communication” will enter the fray. NFC is designed so you can pay for things just by tapping your phone on a receiver “nearby”. You can also be communicated to via GPS navigational and information gathering techniques. For example, you are walking by a Starbucks and up pops a coupon for $1 off your favorite breakfast sandwich. Pretty (scary) good, huh?

Well, mobile marketing isn’t just for the big guys anymore: there are plenty of opportunities for small business owners to get in on the mobile trend. For example, there’s a company called VizConnect out of Boston. They provide a platform where you can upload a video (let’s say an offer for a local restaurant combined with a cool video cooking tip), connect it to a QR tag you generate right there on their site and use it on printed material. After the informative video is over, it dumps you on to a “call to action” page where you can do a variety of things: share the offer with friends via Facebook or Twitter or other social networks, you could RSVP to an event via a mobi-site (mobile-friendly website) or connect to another type of web link to sign up for a new cooking class offered by the restaurant – or get into an exclusive “for invited guests only” club that will offer you more money saving coupons. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, even cooler — after you print out that QR tag, you can CHANGE the video. Yup. Imagine printing out a couple of QR tags on a few t-shirts for staffers. On the t-shirts, print the line: “click here for today’s free offer” – and everytime you change the video or link or offer, it’s changed on the t-shirt. Pure AWESOMEness, indeed, and a great tool for small businesses looking to get into the SmartPhone marketing game.

Where Ever You Go, There You Are

When I was in college, I took a break after my sophomore year. I was attending a very good, small Catholic college in New England and studying English Lit. I went to a liberal arts college for two reasons: I had no earthly idea what I wanted to do with my life and some of my friends were also going, so it felt like a good choice at the time.

By the end of my sophomore year, I knew I was in the wrong place for me. I had to make a choice that was right for me – even though the world may have looked at me and wondered what I was smoking. (The official word on that is: Nothing). So – I left. And I went to work at a “real job” for one year while I transferred. It was a major eye-opener for me.

I went to this job every morning at 7 – home by 4:30. No sleeping late. No days off – not like college, anyway. And no vacation. Even more than the difference in the culture from college to the “real world” was the awareness that these people were going to be here LONG after I left – doing THIS. To me, it was completely soul-sucking, but to others, it was truth. I went back to college that fall for journalism and I may have actually learned more by taking that year “off” than I ever did in school. What is it Sister Mary Alice always used to say? “Nothing worth learning is every taught in a classroom.” – my apologies to all the great teachers out there — even so, in my experience, many of them are NOT in classrooms.

Join Your Destiny

Today is a momentous day. After years of ADD and multiple project distractions and sparkly things – I have finally done it. I have completed my 15-Day Jumpstart Your Marketing Course. I cannot believe it.

This course is for the AMAZING inner circle folks – you know who you are. It will become a course I am offering soon, but for now – I wish to savor the moment. And give it to whomever reads this post. Cheers friends….a GREAT day!!

Go Where the Clients Go

There’s an old joke that goes like this: a man comes out of a bar late one night and sees another man, down on his hands and knees under a bright street light. Curious, the first man goes to inquire. “Looking for something?” “Yes,” says the man on his knees. “I am looking for my keys,” and the first man begins to search as well. After about ten minutes, the first man says, “are you sure this is where you lost them?” To which the second replies, “oh, I dropped them a few streets over.” Puzzled, the first man says “well, then why aren’t you looking over there?” “oh, the light’s so much better here.”

Is this how you market? Are you finding brightly lit areas to search for your perfect clients when in fact, they are a few streets away? Think like your clients, go where they are and you will find your keys – even if it’s not well lit. Promise.

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