Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 3 Internet Power Marketing

The night before this class I said to DJ, “I bet we can teach tomorrows class on internet power marketing”. We have built websites since 1996 and get great results in organic search. We have heard many of the classes that our industry has taught on internet marketing and in most of those instances; – yes, we could have taught those classes with our eyes shut.  - However, Starr Hall is not your average internet power marketer. We were not prepared for the wealth of information she bestowed upon us in the 75 minutes she had with us. Starr is a powerhouse! She started off telling us how she, as a child used to help her grandmother at tradeshows. She actually was told to “Trip” attendees to get them to stop at their booth!

Whether you are a large or small business you need to have a policy and procedure for social networking. You need to have a plan with goals defined – How can you drive from California to Michigan if you don’t have a map? The same is said about social marketing. – I had never thought about a policy and procedure manual, but it makes sense. We have one for the business, so why wouldn’t we have one for social networking. This policy lays out guidelines for your employees as to what they can and cannot say. – Sometimes what they can and cannot say on their own social networking sites too. You want to increase your company’s exposure, but you don’t want to do it in a negative way. If an employee is posting about the wild crazy parties they go to every night and how hung over they are at work three days a week, it looks bad on your company image. So these guidlines should be spelled out in your manual.

Starr also talked about how to build responses in to your social plan and how to handle negative reviews. At some time in your company history, you will get negative reviews, and how your company handles them out in the social sphere will be very important to how your company is perceived. If you document how to answer these problems before they come up, you won’t be reacting, you will be proactive in your approach.

She also recommends setting goals for social media and this requires you to measure everything. How many emails you receive and  how many sales you produce from it, etc. Constantly try new things and measure the feedback. Find the places your company fits in and become a part of that community. You don’t need to be on every single social networking site. Your company won’t fit all of these sites, so seek out the ones that do and don’t worry about the ones that don’t.

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 2 Building your Brand

After Jay Levinson spoke on Guerilla Marketing we broke out in to sessions. There were a total of 4 speakers on various business related topics per session- and three sessions throughout the day. The amazing thing about each class, there was standing room only! The first session I attended was about Building your Brand to Build Your Business. Normally, in the past when I have attended education sessions at industry tradeshows you get the same old ideas, just rehashed in a new fashion or not, but really it is the same old, same old and you are not incredibly inspired, like I was after the Growth 2.0 Conference.

It might be because industry tradeshows focus on the business you are in – You end up getting a narrow view of what is happening in your corner of the universe and lose sight of the much bigger picture. I think this is why a couple of years ago DJ and I started to attend events that were not industry related, but business related. In doing so, a new world opened up to us. The branding session was taught by Susan Gunelius, President of KeySplash Creative, Inc.

Susan’s main approach to us was to remind us that your brand is NOT a logo, your company colors, your products, a slogan or a company. A brand is a promise that sets expectations, and to your customers- meets those expectations in every consumer interaction and experience. A brand is how your customers feel about your company and she used some brands as examples. If you think of these three automotive brands, a single word comes to mind when they are said: Toyota – reliable, BMW- performance, KIA- inexpensive. She asked us to find out what our customers think of when they say our company name. How do they feel our company lives up to our promises and the way we consistently present ourselves? That is a very good question.

 

Feel free to post an answer to help us better understand what we should be doing to make CEShoppes a brand in your eyes.

Nothing Beats a Day of Education – Part 1 Guerilla Marketing

They say that you learn something new every day. So, I will tell you that I received a year’s full of learning last Tuesday at the Entrepreneur Magazine’s Growth 2.0 Conference in Miami. It all started with breakfast and then an hour long talk with Keynote Speaker Jay Conrad Levinson, Chairman of Guerilla Marketing International. His ideas and his enthusiasm for the entrepreneur were just invigorating. He spoke about the difference between traditional marketing and guerrilla marketing and why guerrilla marketing works without spending a lot of money.  - One thing that I always wondered about and he made clear was that traditional marketing always measures sales performance. But the real truth of how a business is doing is measured by PROFITS –

In our industry, once a year a list of Top 40 companies is published listing their gross sales. I wonder how many of these top companies would be there if they showed NET PROFIT instead. I always thought that it was a crazy idea to rate companies on how much they sold. – It sounds good to say you sold $100million last year, but if you sold $100million and you lost $25million in the process, what makes your company better than mine, when I show a profit instead of a loss?  Mr. Levinson’s way of thinking makes much more sense.

He also talked about social media and how to embrace it as part of your marketing. No one thing, not television, nor newspapers, nor direct mail alone will grow your business. You need to use a combination of things to keep you in the public eye, as well as social marketing. And not just continually posting things about you, but really “Listen” to what is being said out there and contribute by engaging and participating in the conversation, so your marketing becomes a dialogue not a monologue.

To Charge or Not to Charge – Part 2

This past week I attended another tradeshow/expo. (I know, I spend a lot of time going to shows). This is the show I told you about a while back where we decided not to charge to attend. I really believe the same thing happened as in the past. We had over 1200 registrations, and they tell me approximately 700 people actually showed up. I truly believe that our numbers would have been closer to the truth had we charged a nominal amount as we have in the past 4 years.

 

There were many comments about the show and its new venue and the new show managers. Some were good, some were bad. More communication could have been done on the part of not only our association’s expo committee, but also with the shows management. More signage was the common complaint from vendors as well as attendees. In the past, there were signs from every entry way possible and additional signage all along the way to guide the attendee to the show. Instead, there were barely any signs to guide you and the convention security was no help in directing attendees to the expo. – Second, in the past, we had provided box lunches to the exhibitors. Many exhibitors came with more than one representative. In the past, we provided more than one box lunch. I heard many complaints from vendors that they only received one ticket for lunch, even when there were 3 people in the booth. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been publicized ahead of time with their vendor packets to make everyone aware that this was the case this year. 

 

I believe this will be a live and learn experience. I am just sad that we had this all figured out over the past few years, and then when we switch management companies, it was like starting over again. I just read a recent article in our industry magazine that said that one of the other regional Expo’s who had hired a new management company was giving them notice two years in to a three year contract.  The grass is not always greener.

 

 Please think twice about making a change to an event that was working well – AND consult those “who were there when it was working” –especially if you are new or weren’t a part of the event when it was working well.  Reinventing the wheel can be painful in the end. We may have saved a few dollars, but we may have also alienated exhibitors as well as attendees with such poor organization and lack of communication.

An Educational Flight

Having returned recently from the ASI show in Las Vegas, it never occurred to me before how rewarding a long flight can be. During the ASI show in Orlando this past January I missed some of the educational classes, so I purchased those classes as mpegs, which were transferred over to my mp3 player. My flight to Las Vegas was spent listening to Jeff Burrows class on The Entrepreneur’s Success Code: How to Run a High-Performance Business and Have a Life!” 

It was so informative, and it brought back memories of when we took the E-myth seminar out in California a few years ago. A seminar that brought about many new changes in the way we do business. That weekend seminar cemented our need for procedures in the way we handle everything in our office. We now have a concrete matrix of procedures on how we take an order, to managing our customers’ expectations each and every step of the way.

During Jeff’s class, I wrote pages and pages of notes. So many ideas were flying through my head; it was hard to keep them all to myself. I found myself several times, during the flight, wanting to pick up the phone and call my business partner to discuss all that was being said.

When I arrived in Las Vegas, and attended Education Day, I took a class by Bobby Lehew on Marketing in a Web 2.0 World: How Small Businesses Can Be Heard in a Big Way. It was a phenomenal class in regard to social networking. Bobby talked about LinkedIn, Facebook and other ways to raise the online visibility of your company. Once I arrived back home in Tampa I immediately began putting to work his ideas for more visibility for my company. 

One of those ideas was working on a blog. I had written many articles for our company blog over the past couple of months, but was not ready to put them out for everyone to read. However, Bobby promised they didn’t have to be perfect, and for now, I hope he is correct. I wrote two different entries on the plane trip home and will post them soon.