The Very Simple System For Picking Your Trade Shows

October 16, 2014

Last time we established that trade shows are many things, among them giant cash-sucking machines, that are terrible at lead generation.

Before we dive into the Very Simple System, let’s remember that trade shows exist for one reason: to make money for someone who isn’t you. It can be a private event company or, in B2B, it’s often an association that uses the trade show as a way to offset the costs of the talking bits of their conference and to give Bill Clinton something to do.

Why do we bother? Brand is why we bother. The right events have the people whose faces we want to be all up in. This is good news if you are trying to break into a market space, and it’s great news if you are already there and plan to stay.

So how do we pick which shows to go to?  In the first place, ignore your Sales Squirrels. They want to go to all of them since it beats picking up the phone. Next, you will need a few dry erase markers, one of those giant year-at-a-glance laminated calendars from Staples and your stack of emails, brochures, and post-it notes with all the events you’re considering. Read the rest of this entry »


Pssst. Trade Shows Suck at Lead Generation. Pass it on.

October 1, 2014

Sales squirrels ignoring you? Here’s a fun way to get their attention: tell them you’re cancelling all the trade shows next year. Now count backwards from ten after you click send and stand by for the howling, the outrage, the pleading. It will sound something like this:

“How will we ever make quota?”

“The quarter is doomed!”

“How can I meet my clients?

“Where else could we demo the product?

“How am I going to close my deals?”

“Where will the leads come from?”

“I need quality face time.”

“Everybody will be there”

Select all that apply.

Yes, these are the same people who refuse to take a shift at the booth, sit around eating, reading and talking on the phone when they are at the booth and who take a perverse pride in wearing a suit instead of the swell golf shirts you ordered for the show. Read the rest of this entry »


You Better Dance With Them What Brung Ya

September 22, 2014

Is it time already for Apple’s Festival of Likes? You know, that annual event where people find it necessary to sleep on the floor of a mall in order to pay someone hundreds of dollars for a phone. Personally, I’m happy to stay in my own bed and be one of the last to get an iPhone, but I admire any brand that can keep its tribe coming back for more nights on the terrazzo.

What happens, though, when the lining up stops? What do you do when nobody cares about your pretty new phone or your concert tickets or your content? You look next door, that’s what. Smart marketers go to adjacent bits of the market to find new customers when share begins to slip or competition gets a little nasty. Brilliant marketers don’t wait that long and start working on their adjacency planning while the sun still shines. Read the rest of this entry »


Unique Selling Propositions Are a Myth

September 8, 2014

My friend Sam was recently turfed out of his cushy corporate job and is currently spending his days taking unemployment lessons at an outplacement firm. Inspired by the session on entrepreneurship, he’s decided to start up a lawn care company and called me for help with his homework. “I need a unique selling proposition”, he said. “Why?” I said. “It’s the second box on page three”, he replied. “I mean, why do you need a USP?” He didn’t know and neither did I.

We talked through how his company was going to be unique: were they cutting the grass with scissors? No. Deploying sheep? No. Mowing naked? Certainly not. “I  sort of think I would like really unique trucks. You know, the kind that stand out so people notice them”, Sam offered.  “Are you planning on giving a brightly coloured truck to each customer? Because if you aren’t, it’s not really a selling proposition, it’s a branding element,” I suggested. We poured more wine. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hidden Costs of Content Marketing

September 2, 2014

Hey kids, want to shoot your leads right to the bottom of the funnel just like that? Tired of whiny sales people who don’t know how to close? And what about the mess and expense of those darn client events? Well put that behind you and mix up a big ol’ batch of content batter. But wait, there’s more. If you order today we’ll throw in the Infographic-a-matic for free. That’s right, for free. Why, that’s a $27 saving just for ordering your Easy Bake Content Machine today.

Just in case you are thinking the Slap Chop folks are moving in on your sweet B2B gig, this notion of the content machine isn’t new. Marketo, Hubspot and Eloqua have been making noises about them for years. The idea is pretty compelling. If we accept that content is key to marketing and sales, and we want to sell lots and lots of stuff then it follows that we need lots and lots of content, and a quick, cost-effective way to crank it out like Play-Doh through a star-shaped extruder. There is no shortage of people like me and companies like those willing to take your money in exchange for a bunch of words and some pretty pictures. Some of it will probably be pretty darn good, much of it will look like it was baked with a 40-watt bulb. Read the rest of this entry »


Six Great (and brief) B2B Reads for Labour Day

August 25, 2014

At some point this week, a few parents will discover the remains of the final school lunch from last June deep in the bottom of a backpack. They will also find an invitation to a birthday party on July 31st, four socks they’ve never seen before and a handful of gravel.  Thus begins another academic year. To get you started, or to give you a wee break from the backpack archaeology, I offer the following:

Fixing Broken Stuff including Your Creativity
If you haven’t been following MIX (Management Innovation Exchange) it’s time, even if you don’t quite get the acronym. This is a wonderful project dedicated to removing BS and making management actually do stuff that matters. This blog post by Jeff DeGraff  is one I have come back to a few times since it was published last year. Partly because it is a bit too long for my limited attention span and also because it requires thinking about. If Become Creative Genius is one of your performance objectives for this year, or if you think it might be a fun thing to try, here is where to start. Read the rest of this entry »


The Revenge of the Content Monster

August 11, 2014

I think it is fair to say that marketers have unleashed some pretty horrible things on the world over the years. New Coke, plug-in air fresheners, negative option billing, scent strips, greeting cards that make noise and those little family icons on the backs of cars come immediately to mind.

It’s time, I believe, we added content to that list. Content is a monster. It wasn’t always a monster; it was once upon a time a peaceful and useful part of the marketing arsenal. It closed deals, it explained complicated things, it educated, it built credibility. Sure, it killed a few trees, but it kept the writers and the designers off the streets, and placated the P-CubersRead the rest of this entry »


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