Tag Archives: events

How to network like a pro

networking tipsShould I keep circling? Whom should I speak with first? Is there anyone I actually know here? If these questions sound familiar, you’ve come to the right place.

Networking events of any size can be intimidating, but they don’t have to be. Here are a few tools to help your next event go smoothly.

Do your research. Try to find out who will be at the event ahead of time and brainstorm how your services could meet their needs. Use that information to create a short list of people to look for at the event, as well as a few questions or ideas to show them that you’re interested in what they do. Don’t worry about getting business cards from each and every participant, just focus on meeting those that you can help most. Even large events will seem intimate when you have a predetermined list of potential connections.

Nail your introduction. The way you start a conversation sets the tone for the entire interaction, so try to move away from the standard resume recitation. Luckily, you can use a few simple tricks to create a great greeting. One way is to bond over a shared fact, such as what you hope to learn from an event or what excites you most about a particular industry. You could also try bonding over a common personal experience, like travel or volunteer work. Or, why not mix things up and discuss something more fun like your recent move to a new city or a hobby?

Come prepared to listen. A good networker really hears his audience and makes people feel comfortable to open up about their goals and needs. Being engaged in the conversation will help you remember details, but jotting down a few important notes helps if you have trouble ­– just do it discretely so it doesn’t feel like you’re conducting an interview. When you follow up, you can include the small details that were mentioned at the event, whether it was something about the person’s upcoming vacation or business needs, and that gesture will go a long way.

What are some of your tips for networking? Let us know!

Shine bright at your next trade show

As we head into another trade show season, remember to tailor your approach and strategy for each event. Consider your results from previous shows. What did your pitch emphasize? How did your booth appeal to potential customers? Whether this is your first time or 15th, double-check that you’re putting the right message and appearance together to help visitors connect to your brand.

trade show, event, stand out Here are a few tips to maximize your time and focus your energy:

  • Promote before, during and after the show. Start building awareness through social media, trade publications and your staff well before the show. If you’re already on their radar, potential customers are more likely to have you on their must-visit lists. Prepare talking points that visitors can relate to when they stop by your booth, and be sure to consider their comments when drafting follow-up messaging. Ultimately, you want to build a stronger relationship every time you connect.
  • Set the right tone with a professional looking trade show booth. You’re selling your products, your company and your image – are sending the right message? It’s hard to win someone over after they’ve already formed an opinion. If your booth is lacking flair or falls short of accurately representing your brand, consider a face-lift.
  • Debut a new product or service to encourage visitors to stop by your booth. Share your excitement and build hype through direct mail and e-blasts. Let your contacts know where to find you and what they’ll be missing if they skip the show.
  • Stop passers-by with a premium or contest. This will help bring in prospects that might otherwise have skipped your booth. Small, branded premiums can help spread awareness for your brand and increase name recognition, while larger contests for electronics, vacations or one of your popular products will give you more time to chat with those who enter to win.
  • Follow up promptly with all leads. Keep notes on all your prospects and be prepared to nurture the lead until they’re ready to buy. To save yourself time after the show, prepare follow-up messages ahead of time and tweak them to match each lead as you go.

Generating qualified leads can be tough, but using these tips to maximize your time and energy at trade shows will help you meet your goals.

What’s your go-to move to attract visitors to your booth? Let us know in the comments below.

Introducing Baby Lucy!

It was a special week for both the Martin family and The Simons Group (TSG).  One of our editors, Lis Martin, and her husband Jake, welcomed their first child, Lucy Apple Martin, into their lives.  On November 8 at 10:14 a.m., the 6-pound, 7-ounce, 20-inch-long bundle of joy extended the Martin family and became The Simons Group’s first newborn.

We cannot express how incredibly excited and proud we are to become work aunts and uncles!  Many of us visited Lucy the day after she was born and immediately fell in love with her. She could not be a more beautiful little girl.

Welcome to the world (and TSG) Lucy!  We are all looking forward to seeing you grow up.

We went, we saw, we contributed

The Simons Group attended the IABC/Chicago 31st Annual Bronze Quill Awards and Volunteer Recognition Gala on Thursday, June 7, where many outstanding communication professionals received awards for work submitted in 2011. With 27 categories, their work included everything from a Sealy ad campaign to marketing communications for the “McRib, Sandwich of Legends.”

Read more…

Get in tip-top shape for trade shows

Believe it or not, digital marketing hasn’t killed trade shows. They’re still very much alive and well, and exhibiting at them is a great way to generate leads.

Skeptical? Don’t be. Clark Johnson, marketing director at the Finishing Contractors Association of Chicago (FCAC), said the qualified leads he got at Buildex Chicago™ earlier this month justified participating in the event. But Johnson didn’t just show up and hope prospects flocked to his exhibit. A lot of work went into attracting those leads.

The Simons Group helped brainstorm strategies for drawing traffic to the FCAC exhibit; worked with Johnson to determine the ideal placement for banners and signs; promoted FCAC’s participation before the show; and created signs, banners and marketing materials for the event and beyond. These combined efforts helped make the FCAC’s booth one of the best on the show floor.

Before hitting the road for your own trade shows, follow our top tips for success:

Find the right events

Not all trade shows are made the same. Choose those that match your target audience and won’t clean out your annual marketing budget. Consider any local shows to pinch pennies. Traveling long distances means you’ll have to shell out for airfare, hotels and meals. In addition, you’ll have to pay for shipping your booth and materials – and possibly for storing them.

Mind your Ps: Plan, plan plan

Don’t wait until a month before the event to start preparing. Most businesses plan at least six months out, and some do it a year in advance. Start by setting your goals and budget; be clear about what you want to achieve. How many leads do you hope to generate? How many products do you want to sell? Determine your own ROI.

Nail down the details

Once you know where you’re headed, select your exhibit space. Some businesses prefer to be the first and last booth that participants will see, while others may not be able to afford premium locations. Whatever you land, be sure your booth will fit. The last thing you want is to arrive at the event and find out your exhibit is too large for the space allotted.

Dress it up

Long before the show, think about how to make your booth pop for prospects. If it’s boring, they’ll keep on going – right on to your competitors’ exhibits. Consider placement, too. Does everything need to be at eye level? Can you do anything overhead? Banners and signs, such as the ones below that we created for FCAC, help attract people to your booth. Lighting, music and other accessories can add ambiance.

Keep them coming

Engage prospects before, during and after the show with powerful marketing initiatives, such as press releases, e-blasts, post cards, sell sheets and ads. Let everyone know you’ll be there on your website as well. Invite your customers, suppliers and other contacts to generate interest. Give them all the details, including your booth number. Our pre-Buildex Chicago press release, e-blast and post card for FCAC created buzz for the show and promoted FCAC’s brand.

Stay top of mind

Since you’ll be pressing a lot of flesh, don’t forget to have plenty of business cards on hand. Another way to remind them about your business is to hand out inexpensive promotional items with your company’s logo, Web address and contact information, such as pens, sticky notes and key chains. Place these items in a location where people will have to walk through or into your booth to get them.

Take it up a notch

Contests and prize drawings will also attract people to your booth. Select cost-effective giveaways, but don’t make them too enticing. You don’t want people to show up only for the freebie and then flee. Limit the quantity and require people to provide their contact information to register. Less-expensive examples might include stainless-steel water bottles, tote bags and umbrellas, while more expensive prizes include laptop bags, golf shirts and backpacks. Make sure you put your logo, Web address and contact information on whatever prize you pick.

Don’t let it all slip away

Hot prospects cool quickly. Follow up with them within five business days after the event. Don’t let all your preparation and hard work go to waste. The simplest way is to mail a letter or post card, or call. If they gave you permission to email them, you can send an e-blast. If you don’t ask for the sale, you won’t get it.

Call in the experts

Gearing up for a trade show can be a lot of work, and it’s a good idea to rely on the professionals to make sure your booth and collateral look spiffy. Marketers will manage the logistics and the creative details so that you can focus on getting those all-important leads.

What are you doing to get ready for your next trade show?