This past weekend I attended the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. This show hosts over 100,000 attendees from over 100 countries.
The mix included suppliers, restaurateurs, the media and entrepreneurs, like myself, hoping to tap into this lucrative 600 billion market. For the past year I’ve been building restaurantbrandingroadmap, an e-learning product, a web site and business that serves up marketing and branding help to this niche market of independent restaurateurs. I hope to launch the first product within the next 60 days. To date I have built a membership model website and a robust blog. At the same time I’ve been aggressively building a base of future buyers and fans via twitter, Facebook and my opt-in community. Part of my growth strategy is to get into the minds of my market, so I can better deliver on their unmet needs and to build a network of restaurant product and service providers that I can partner with to accelerate the project and monetize my efforts.
Attending any large tradeshow is a significant investment for a small company. To attend this show, I will spend about $3,000. before time costs. This covers travel expenses for two, show attendance fees, special business cards I printed that promote the restaurant product and an online subscription to watch the Tampa Bay Rays TV on my laptop so I don’t miss a game
A show this size can be overwhelming without a good game plan. So Lauren (My Chief Problem Solver) and I came up with ours to ensure a healthy ROI at the show.
1.) Before you go, set your accountable goals and your action plan to achieve them.
- For us it meant taking home 500 new contacts.
- Discover at least 10 promo partners.
- Make 5 media contacts.
- Identify at least 50 resources for content.
- Learn at least 20 new marketing ideas.
2.) Print something that you can hand out that speaks to why you are at the show.
For us, in addition to our Brain Tattoo Branding Business cards, we printed special cards that included our restaurant product, site and social media addresses.
3.) Identify targeted companies you want to meet and schedule your day.
4.) If you go with a colleague like I did, don’t hang out together all the time. Don’t sit next to each other at a session or on the shuttle. You can cover twice as much ground if you both go different ways.
5.) Don’t wait to get home to sort out your hot new contacts and ideas. Take action while stuff is fresh on your mind. Organize your thoughts and leads, contact your new friends in social media right away. The next morning we already had traction from our new contacts on our site and social media accounts.
6.) Take pictures and keep good notes of your journey, the people you meet and new resources. These pics will not only give you follow up material for your new contacts, they can be seeded in social media and in your blog.
7.) Stay focused on who you want to meet. This show had over 1800 exhibits, only about 20% mattered to me concerning business goals. Don’t forget your mission.
8.) Look professional, but dress comfortably. I usually wear my red glasses and some creative jacket or outfit. This seems to be a magnet for conversation and strangers get the vibe I’m a creative thinker.
9.) If you say you are going to follow up with someone after the show, do it! This is part of your brand. Keeping your promises.
10.) Stay at a cool hotel. The likelihood of meeting cool people will increase. We stayed at the Sax. I love this place, it’s hip, has good energy and is in the heart of lots of interesting and fun places. The House of Blues is next door.
11) Bring a ton of business cards, if there are 100,000 people at the show you you can easily burn through 1,000 cards.
12) Make sure you have downloaded all the apps to help you be productive.
-For us this was a QR scanner on your smart phone., so you can bookmark cool things. Many booths used this digital tool.
-Instagram to take and share photos.
-The NRAshow app to view the schedule and map layout quickly.
If you are interested in restaurant or hospitality branding, do check out my other blog. There will lots of great new posts concerning this exciting industry.
Last week I was in an elegant, Italian restaurant in Jeddah, Saudi with my speaking colleague, Dr. Jim Balasco. Every inch of the place was opulent, sophisticated and refined. The food presentation was a master piece and the flavors were beyond my highest expectations.
Shortly after the food arrived, the waiter returned with a gigantic pepper mill. The largest one I’ve ever seen. It was very over the top, unexpected and fun. A small touch of hugeness, an element of solid magnitude and a story that I’ve shared with at least 20 people since that night.
Years ago, I first discovered a company that specializes in big stuff. And I’m happy to report they are still delivering big stuff and their offering has gotten much bigger.
There’s a lot to be said about big things. Remember Tom Hanks in the movie big, how could you forget it. It was a bit hit.
Big stuff some is more stick-to-your-memory than small items. Sometimes big reflects a persona of confidence, sometimes even a mammoth kind of goofiness, but it’s always a memorable image.
Is there anything you can pump up in size in your brand experience? Consider these applications to increase your big brand memory effect.
1) What about when you mail a prospect and it’s packaged in a very big way?
2) Or something that you display at a trade show booth that really stands out from all the boring exhibits?
3) Why not something big in your retail shop that people want to be photographed next to?
4) What about a PR photo visual that is really super-sized? Tie in a holiday and create something enormous and then break a Guninness world record too. Like Charlie Sheen has done. To date he has earned being the highest paid actor for a sitcom, attracted the most twitter followers in faster time and I suppose biggest pathetic guy.
For more on branding, view: Brand makeovers can add new life to a business.
And 3 take-ways that are priceless.
Nine years ago I met a fellow speaker, author and business authority on loyalty. I was attending my first National Speakers Association annual conference in Dallas, Texas. I was new to the speakers industry. I did not know a soul and sat next to Jill Griffin at general session luncheon. Who would of ever imagined that nine years later, she would be one of the most important and influential people in my life.
Lucky me? Serendipitous? Or strategic?
I’m sticking with the latter two. I’m not a believer in luck. People put themselves in situations. They make judgments about where to be, who to sit next to and who to talk to. These choices determine one’s outcome. And if you don’t buy this, you should revisit the word strategic. Strategic should be part of 95% of all your actions. Strategic is not a capitalist, greed-driven, manipulative move word, it’s about decisions with intent and focus. And it’s not just for business, it’s a life word.
That day in Dallas I was on a mission. And it was not to try a new kind of rubber chicken at a conference hotel. I was there to learn about the speaking business and meet people who could add to my life and help me reach my goals. If that sounds too hard-core, type A, or driven to you, I bet you have a room mate, a trust fund or bad credit. I didn’t and still don’t have any of those. And I had just plopped down 600 bucks for the conference, plus another $1000 for travel and that was 9 years ago when I was a very green, very cash poor, newbie speaker.
3 take-aways, nine years later.
1) Trade association conferences - Some truly suck and some will change your life.
It’s a numbers game and doing your homework is part of the drill and the cost. Every business owner and entrepreneur should invest in at least one. 2 to 3 day conference per year, that’s out of town and an environment of learning. Don’t go to get away from your stress, or your spouse, go to get some important stuff accomplished and be strategic.
2) Networking - It’s a necessary business skill and if you can’t do it, get someone who can.
Networking is not about being an obnoxious, pushy sales person. It’s about being a nice person, so other people want to learn more about you. It’s about being a good listener and being clear on what value you bring to others, and then its about connecting the dots—filtering, qualifying, following up, giving, helping and reaping some fruit.
3) Cheap jalapeños - Aren’t all jalapeños cheap?
Turns out part of why Jill and I have such a close bond is that we are both speakers, writers, consultants and Texas girls. Jill lives in Austin, one of my favorite places and I consider myself a forever Texan. I lived in Houston for 20 years and when I kick the bucket I hope to be buried in a Channel suit, wearing pearls and my black Ostrich cowboy boots. Cheap jalapeños is my metaphor for the bonus I got nine years ago. I had no idea my petite, new buddy would be so full of spunk, intense knowledge and be such an important ingredient in my life. Everyone should be so fortunate to meet someone like Jill. When I met Jill, she was a more experienced speaker, had already presented to global audiences and had a few best selling books under her belt. Nine years ago, shortly after we met, she took me under her wing, supported me through good and bad times, and guided me to write my first book and find a publisher. Throughout the years, Jill has been my number 1 sounding board, giving me honest advice on all kinds of things. We’ve gone to comedy school together, supported the fashion industry on all levels and both love Mexican food.
Everyone entrepreneur needs confidants and mentors, but when you find a trusted peer and someone who understands your world, works in your industry and you build a close friendship too, that is priceless.
Jill and I are spending the next few days together to mastermind, collaborate and connect more dots as we both take our careers to the next level this year. We’ll keep you posted.
The main goal of any kind of marketing is to attract and retain a growing base of satisfied customers. In order to accomplish this for a tradeshow, you need to create and implement a marketing plan that fits the needs of your company while catering to a trade show clientele. Here are some tips to help you market and promote your next tradeshow event like a pro:
Advanced promotion builds early support.
Remember to include all necessary “who, what, where, why, when” info on all marketing material. Also, be sure to include your booth number.
- Provide tradeshow information on your website and/or blog
- Send a printed or E-newsletter to current clients
- Keep small fliers and business cards on hand to give to people you meet
- Use social media marketing tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to spread the word
- Write your own press release and email to media outlets in the location of the tradeshow
Fun and memorable incentives go a long way.
Promote your tradeshow event with a prize drawing or some sort of contest. The prizes don’t have to be expensive, but they should be “on brand” and align with your company’s offering and brand persona. They can be practical merchandise like a re-usable grocery bags, nap sacks sporting your company logo, with an assortment of goodies (vinyl decals, pens, and mugs) in it.
Readability and functionality draw the crowd.
Making it easy for booth visitors to get information is important. Tradeshow booth displays should be professional and efficient when conveying your messaging. Booth graphics should reflect bold, simple and easy to read messages.
- Your headline is the introduction to your tradeshow booth. Creating a simple and catchy headline is the first step to luring clients. A short headline will allow for a larger size font enabling messaging to reach far into the crowd. Full color headlines can easily be printed on vinyl hanging banners and displayed using banner stands or other display systems.
- Choosing the right typeface is also important. If possible, choose the same typeface as the rest of your marketing material and stick to that one typeface throughout your booth (for overall consistency).
- Provide information at a glance using portable signs. That way potential customers can learn about your products/services, prices, and other information even if you are helping someone else.
Promotional literature is good on the go.
It’s better to have too much promotional material than not enough. People will want to take these materials home to review later and to share with others. Some essential promo materials include brochures, fliers, business cards, price sheets and order forms. In addition, having press kits available can make promoting your business easy for the media.
People like to be remembered and thanked.
Follow up promptly. Make sure to update your mailing list with all your new contacts. Then, follow up on all these contacts and leads as soon as possible. A quick follow up could put your company name ahead of the rest. And, don’t forget to thank any press writers who published information about your company.