Archives for: November 2009

7 Steps to a Successful Trade Show

It seems every good marketing plan needs to include industry event participation to be complete. Sometimes we go to trade shows to leads, sometimes because “you have to be visible” and sometimes because we went last year so we signed up for this year as well. Yet , in my humble opinion most marketers do a poor job at events.

Here are my 7 suggestions to make your trade show participation a success.

1. Define a Strategy – Why are you going to the event in the first place? Are you there for awareness? to drive leads? to engage with press and analysts? defining a very specific and clear goal is the first step to a successful event. Think about the number of leads you will get in relation to the total costs for exhibiting (booth, travel, opportunity cost, etc.), the right conclusion may be not to be at an event.

2. Refine your Value Proposition – Have you ever walked a show floor? think about how you scan booths as you walk by. Most people probably spend two or three seconds reading the signage on a booth before deciding if it is something they are interested in – otherwise they will continue walking and scanning. Next time you go to a trade show study how people walk by the aisles.

This means you have about 8 words to tell people why should they stop and talk to you. You have one chance to get their attention. I find it amusing how bad we marketers are at this: most booths have meaningless slogans like “High Performance Digital Solutions” – what does it mean? what exactly do you sell?  why should I care? You could play bulls##t bingo walking a trade show.

3. Focus – Attract the right people. Surely you have studies the event prospectus and you know what kind of people will be attending. From here, based on your strategy, you need to decide what titles/roles and company profiles you want to talk to. We are too quick to think in terms of booth visitors, coming up with ever more creative giveaways. Handing out t-shirts will surely keep your booth busy, but will it attract the type of people you want? Would the qualified buyer you wanted to talk to walk by because your team was too busy handing out t-shirts to everyone?

4. Time Management For most companies, the goal of trade show participation is to generate leads. This means three things: first, qualify every visitor to your booth. Second, spend as little time as possible with non-qualified leads: be courteous, hand out a datasheet or a giveaway if they request one and move on. Third, spend quality time with qualified leads but not too long: once you know the lead is a viable prospect, you have provided valuable information to increase their interest and captured their contact information, it is probably smart to move on to the next customer. There will be more time later to continue the conversation with this customer, do an in-depth demo or needs assessment. Of course, you need to use your judgement based on your product and buying process, customer interest and how busy your booth is.

5. Ask, don’t tellGood sales people listen 70% of the time. Do the math: you only need to speak 30% of the time. Most booth staff are too quick to jump into a sales pitch and a demo as soon as someone walks by. After qualifying a person ask them why they stopped, what problems they are trying to solve, what solutions they have considered, how much they know about your company and your product and what specific questions they have. This will accomplish a couple things: first, you will come across as more genuinely interested in helping the customer; second, you will know enough to tailor your presentation or demo to the specific needs of the customer; and third, it will save them from spending 5 minutes listening to a pitch that makes no sense at all.

6. Follow Up. Marketers do a terrible job at following up on trade show leads. Often, what happens after a trade show is that a spreadsheet with names and contact info is sent to the sales team or to the telemarketing team where they go to a black hole. If you involve sales from step 1 when you are defining your strategy, you should have a follow-up strategy and plan weeks before the event. At the very least send each prospect an email thanking them for attending, providing useful resources and contact information. Tink about creative ways to engage customers in the form of a poll, a free analysis, a white paper, or some other high-value material.

7. Learn.  Trade shows are great opportunities to learn about the market, trends, your competition, and above all  to learn about customers. Often times, the most valuable conversations I have had at an event have been during lunch or dinner when I go to the main meal room and seat at a table with 9 customers or industry peers that I had not met before. Yet, most booth people miss this opportunity: as soon as booth duty is over they have lunch together as a pack. Make the most of every opportunity to meet customers. Some times, I seat at more than one table during lunch to maximize my opportunities to learn – and to have an extra dessert :-)

Have fun at your next event!


It seems every good marketing plan needs to include industry event participation to be complete. Sometimes we go to trad...

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Web and Social Media Trends for 2010

With only a few weeks left in the year, this is a good time to think about what are the top trends that will impact the Web, social media and customer engagement.I have posted this on the Corporate Social Media strategist group on Linked In, but would appreciate any comments on my blog.

These are the trends I think will be important in 2010:

1. Content is set free and is continuously evolving. What started with RSS feeds continues to accelerate. Content will increasingly be syndicated, aggregated, tagged, rated, mashed-up, re-published, filtered and transformed. Technologies like REST APIs and open ID are enabling this trend.

2. Browsers are dead. Well, not really, but a browser-PC combination is no longer the main way people experience and interact with Web content. Mobile devices, car systems and other internet-enabled devices will continue to grow in importance.

3. Social media maturity. Organizations starts to see social media as a tool that supports a strategy, a new way to engage customers, employees and partners,  one that is fundamental to any  business and that becomes an integral part of your job. Twitter plateaus, new tools emerge but there is more consolidation.

4. Semantic Web. With so much content available online, tools that help find relevant content become more important: tagging, rating, filtering, recommendations, folksonomies, semantics. The focus needs to be on simplicity.

5. Key challenges need to be solved. Openess will result in a new focus on privacy and  giving people control of what and how their information is shared. New technologies introduce new security concerns: viruses, spoofing and hacking in social networks, authentication across multiple sites (passport was not a bad idea, after all), tiny URLs make it impossible to know where you are going before you get there. At the individual level trust and authority become more important, creating an opportunity for reputation management systems, badges, and federated identity.

This is just a starting point, and of course these things won’t happen in 2010 only: they have already started and will go on for some time.

What do you think? What am i missing? I look forward to your comments…



With only a few weeks left in the year, this is a good time to think about what are the top trends that will impact the...

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Web Industry Trends

A few days ago CMS Wire gave me the opporutnity to do a guest post summarizing what happened at Content World, which they published here. I am re posting here as you may find some of the observations inetersting in terms of the trends in web strategies:

Open Text Content World is coming to a close today. Like most user conferences and industry events, I find everyone gets the highest value from connecting with other people. Everyone loves the networking, sharing stories and best practices, bouncing ideas, building friendships and having fun. The breakout sessions and PowerPoint decks are almost secondary.

I would like to share some of my observations from this week resulting from talking to partners, colleagues, customers and friends. These are the topics and trends I identified. 

Focus and Consolidation

Everyone is being tasked to do more with less. Many customers I talked to are considering, in the middle or completing projects to consolidate multiple web properties into one to drive cost savings and have a batter grip on their web strategy.

There is a growing concern that tactical departmental social media deployments can make this problem worse. During a session, I asked the audience how many had made an audit to find how many social media sites existed in their organization, no one raised a hand.

Social Media is Everywhere

I think every single customer I talked to had a strong interest in social media. For most of them, finding a way to leverage social media is becoming a requirement in their organization; and while some companies have had great success others are being cautious about their approach. On one side, there are concerns on compliance, safety, governance and control.

On the other side, applying social media inside the firewall produces very real but also hard to measure or soft results. Everyone seems to agree with the concept we have been promoting since early this year about social media not being a strategy but a tool to support a business strategy. 

Portals are Cool Again

A few months ago, Portal was a term many wanted to avoid: Portals were perceived to be aging technology from the 90’s. Now, I see Portals re-emerging as the operating systems of the enterprise (a term I borrowed from John at Sutro Software)- providing a unified and personalized user interface to multiple applications and information sources.

There was a lot of interest in the vision of the social intranet, which was presented in the general session and a number of breakouts – a vision that is reality at Motorola who shared details of their intranet in one of the event’s favorite sessions.


The worlds of Knowledge Management, Portals, Collaboration, Social Media and document management are converging. The lines are blurred. Organizations need modern collaborative processes to get things done and to capture the collective intelligence (and IP) of the organization, they need to make this information safe, meet compliance requirements and provide a simple and integrated user interface for users.

Enterprise 2.0 is Becoming Strategic

The role of many people I talked to was evolving and the value of these solutions to the organization is being recognized. A few years ago collaboration and document management were considered to be IT infrastructure, now with the addition of Enterprise 2.0 elements and other innovations, these solutions are considered key company assets that can transform organizations, impact productivity and directly affect the success of the organization.

Use of Video is Maturing

It was very interesting to hear how the use of video is maturing in large organizations. Video is being used in many ways: as an engaging way to connect with customers and employees, as a training tool, as a universal communications media that does not require translation and as a way to connect more personally with people.

I find that many companies are starting to think about how to more effectively deliver video (one of our customers has 200,000+ people going to their video-enabled intranet home page every morning) and more effective ways to manage video assets from a storage, security and consistency perspective.

If you think about the array of solutions that were talked about in Content World (from WCM and DAM to records management and compliance) it is easy to come to the conclusion that they serve very different use cases and are being implemented in different areas of an organization.

However, when you take it one level higher, everyone at this event was thinking about how to store and manage content (making it safe, compliant, managed and accessible) and how to improve the way people experience and interact with content (make it more personal, relevant, social and pervasive).

Storing and Managing Content

To me, storing and managing content is something companies have to do. The biggest value and potential for impact in an organization, however, is in improving the way people experience and interact with content.

That is what is unique. And hard. And difficult to measure. But also very exciting. This is where social media, widgets, rich media, personalization, mobility, content recommendations and other exciting technologies can help. Inside and outside the firewall.

The Present and the Future

A summary of the event would not be complete without talking about VCM 8. It is a major release. There are too many stories to tell. Which goes back to my first point about how people get the most value of these event by learning from each other

A few days ago CMS Wire gave me the opporutnity to do a guest post summarizing what happened at Content World, which the...

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