Arguing Marketing’s Social Media Business Case for Using Live Video Apps

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

Contacts. Good, Solid Contacts.
Leads. Warm, Sales-Ready, and Accepted Leads.
Opportunities. Qualified Opportunities.

Of course, everybody wants them!

Repeated Question to the CXO: How do you measure marketing’s performance?
Inevitable Answer: Leads. Demand Gen. Marketing-Sourced Qualified Opportunities!

You’ve read a lot about what the Periscope and Meerkat live video apps can do for sales, marketing, and customer service. Articles, blogs, and web postings are filled with great tips and advice about streaming “behind the scenes” content, executive presentations, product demos, and more. A lot of what has been written, said, and shown is creative, insightful, and very timely. But how one may tactically use the apps should come second. First, it must be stated what proficient usage of these apps must strategically do. Generate leads and produce qualified revenue opportunities.
I don’t recall seeing or hearing much, if anything, about that important piece of this social media puzzle. Unfortunate, because I contend that the expert use of these apps will not only generate leads and qualified business opportunities, but the those who embrace the potential of this new social media arena will realize better and faster programmatic returns when compared to many of the sales, marketing, and customer service initiatives already in use.

Few CEOs, CMOs, Sales VPs, or investors are going to care about anybody’s creative ability to stream content on live video apps if measurable business opportunities are nonexistent. And rightfully so. If a business case for integrating live video content is absent from your go-to-market game plan, so too will be the funding for it.

But, what if you could quickly secure a greater number of marketing-sourced opportunities, act on them earlier in the sales cycle, and do so at a lower cost? With a social media strategy that includes using Periscope and/or Meerkat, you can. And that’s exactly how you’ll get the executive team’s interest, and buy-in.

You Never Even Call Me By My (User) Name

Consider my recent experience. The other day, I decided to check out some of the live videos on Periscope. You could say I was “scoping,” but I wasn’t being very interactive. Fact is, I was merely channel surfing. Mindlessly channel surfing. With my iPhone and my scrolling right thumb, I momentarily settled on one stream which featured a man who appeared to be simultaneously driving and hosting a live video. (Disclaimer: I do not endorse streaming a live video and driving.) I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember the title of the man’s video, nor can I even recall his name. But for a moment, he knew my name, and it made a big difference.

One-half second after joining the video, the host mentioned my username and acknowledged my presence. Since my personal username is the same as my real name, its usage briefly startled me, but pleasantly caught my attention. It was in that instant that I realized I wasn’t watching Cable TV anymore. Nor was I watching an elongated and difficult-to-follow demo on YouTube. And I certainly wasn’t watching another garden-variety corporate video uploaded to a company website. No tuning in and tuning out this time. I wasn’t able to hide, and I wasn’t alone. The immediacy of the new experience caught me off-guard, and snapped me out of my mindless channel surfing. The man on the screen was actually talking to me.

Hearing Your Name is Music to Your Ears

The operative word in the line above is hearing. Out of the countess sales and marketing programs in existence, when was the last time you heard your name when you were on the receiving end of a live, welcoming, and interactive marketing effort, or a customized communication activity? (Pre-scripted, intrusive, and cold sales calls with “your name here” inserted in the beginning don’t count!) You won’t hear your name when you receive an email, text, tweet, or piece of junk mail – even if they are customized to autofill your <FirstName> and <LastName>. You probably won’t hear your name when you join a webinar (if you do, it’ll be near the end because you asked a question.) If you avoid human contact at a trade show, nobody will know you even exist. (For the purposes of this post, that’s not good!) And although a piece of pushed campaign media could conceivably be recorded with your name being mentioned, that’s not a live interaction.

  • Think about your current live audience interactions.
  • Consider the cost of those programs, and the results.
  • What if you had agile, and more cost-effective, live audience interactions?
  • Earlier the sales and marketing cycle?
  • Faster, and more effective than tired and obsolete methods?
  • That created a sense of urgency and forged a crispness to your messaging and positioning?
  • Now think about what you could have done with more timely data and information.
  • Especially at the end of this Quarter.

Establishing Your Social Media Business Case

Live interactions with prospects and customers cost money. Sponsor a webinar? That’s at least $10,000. Trade show? That’s four to seven figures. On-site sales visits? That’s travel, time, and personnel, plus it’s one at a time. The Periscope and Meerkat apps are interactive, and better yet, free. Yes, you must prepare your team before going on-camera, and you will need a game plan in place for how to efficiently and effectively use live video apps. This social media initiative also requires investment, but anybody with a calculator and a blank 2016 business plan should start to compare the features, benefits, potential returns, and costs among the menu of sales, marketing, and customer service programmatic options.

I’m not advocating a rip and replace attitude to lead gen activities. Webinars, trade shows, sales calls, and other programs definitely have their place. But the live video apps are genuine game changers. You’ll have to adapt. Using live video apps is frightening to some, and this new method of audience interaction will be seen as a threat to the established ways of doing things. Many will resist change in favor of the status quo.

But for those unwilling or unable to change, and for those who lack vision, business will suffer.

There are tangible economic benefits to obtaining valuable information from live audience interactions early in the sales and marketing cycle, versus gathering and compiling lagging data from impersonal sales, marketing, and service channels.
And I would rather choose to interact with an expert business storyteller on my mobile device today, versus receiving yet another outdated communication that I’ll inevitably delete, discard, disconnect, lose, or turn off, tomorrow.

You may have wondered, “What can be done with the new live video apps?” First things first. You should use the apps to generate leads and produce qualified revenue opportunities.

Exactly how? Stay tuned.

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Don’t Let These 15 Trade Show and Exhibit Hall Killers Ruin Your Next Event

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

For those of you leading your company’s trade show and exhibit hall efforts, you can count on me for experienced event perspectives and an understanding ear. I’ve been involved in shows both big and small, from every angle, and I know the challenges you’re facing as you gear up for your next event. Every event, conference, and trade show requires significant planning, execution, and measurement. Here’s a short list of front-line, personal lessons learned from my industry experience. For seasoned pros, I’m sure you’ll smile at some of the items on the list. Please share this list with others. For event rookies, watch out, and don’t step into any of these situations!

1. Procrastinating

You know it’s coming. That must-do industry event is on the horizon, but you’re waiting to decide to exhibit or sponsor. And even though you expect to get the green light go-ahead soon, it may already be too late. That’s because when you’re ready to sign-up, the exhibit hall and event sponsorships may be sold out. Even if there’s room, you may get stuck with a bad booth location and lackluster sponsorship opportunities. It’s understandable that an occasional last-minute decision has to be made, but chronic decision delays are costly. The longer you wait, the more you’ll pay for everything from expedited show services, equipment rentals, and staff travel. Procrastination is a budget-buster, and results in a fire-drill scramble before an event.

2. Believing You Automatically Must Sponsor or Exhibit at a Particular Show

You may recall overhearing: “We have to do this show. Everybody will be there!”
I understand the argument, and the emotion behind it, but it’s not the way to make a sales and marketing business decision to participate in an event. Once you decide to exhibit or sponsor, you’re on the hook for a substantial investment. If you can’t show positive returns from a show, that’s tough to explain back in the office. Consider sending a rep to scout a new event, asking a partner company for its perspective, and scrutinizing the results from similar or prior events. Don’t worry, just because you choose not to exhibit at a particular show, your customers won’t automatically think you’ve gone out of business. And you may get the same results (or better) if you simply send people to attend or visit the event city and schedule meetings with your customers and prospects while they’re in town.

3. Expecting Miracles

You’ve made the decision to exhibit at your industry’s next event. Great! Now what? Just because you have a kiosk, tabletop, stand, or booth doesn’t mean attendees are going to come running to your door. Many won’t. You could just show up and take your chances, or you can take an active role in the event by sizing up available speaking spots, sponsorships, on-site meetings, and guerrilla marketing opportunities. When investment in an event stalls with just filling rented booth space, the likely result will be slow foot traffic, wasted resources, meager returns, finger-pointing, and disappointment. Don’t just exhibit, get involved with your event.

4. Forgetting Your Primary Show Audience

In the rush of getting through the routine process of a show, it’s easy to overlook those who can play a vital part in your event success. Ask event producers for a show’s pre-registration list, and be sure that you’re talking with your partners, customers, prospects, the media, and analysts ahead of time. Extend registration discounts and free passes when available, especially to those local to a show. Get your social media game plan together. Many don’t understand the power and full potential of real-time, on-site engagements with core audiences across social channels. Tweet continual updates from an event, and always include your primary show audience. Others will pick up on your activity, and messages will replicate. Knowing who will be attending a show, and working with them in advance and on-site is very cost-effective and will yield superior results.

5. No Logistics, No Communication

Whether you have two or 20 staff members attending your next trade show, it’s a grown-up version of a class field trip. Your colleagues require registrations, directions, timetables, air travel, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, company attire, booth assignments, instructions, schedules, and a to-do list before, during, and after an event. They may also need a supervisor’s permission to attend. Without all of the above, your staff will be lost. Lay out a plan well ahead of the event, and coordinate activities and schedules. Update the relevant sections of your website, and continuously interact with your team leading up to an event. Enforce all of the plans you put in place.

6. (Too Much) DIY

With a tabletop exhibit or a 10 x 10 booth, many enjoy the benefits of a Do-it-Yourself approach to a display. Flight cases double as checked luggage, supporting materials can be packed and shipped from the office, and exhibit set up can be easy. At least that’s the idea. But it’s a general misconception that exhibiting is truly that easy, and that show activities will always go according to plan. The DIY approach can work for smaller exhibits, but the event to-do list is still extensive: on-site booth set-up, round-trip shipping of components, rental, install and dismantling of components such as technical hardware, monitors, and furniture, and renting and returning lead retrieval devices are just some of the items on the checklist. Lots of room for error in that list.

The DIY approach can also have unintended consequences. For example, sales people, consultants, and executives are terrific when they help event staff with show logistics. Some even help with booth set-up and take down. But while hearts are in the right place, the material which travels from show to show frequently suffers. In a rush to catch the last flight after a show ends, booth materials and equipment can get left behind, lost, thrown together, improperly packed, and sustain damage in transit. Missing return shipments may also have to be hunted down. Any extra time spent on problems stemming from a DIY approach is consuming and very costly. Consider how internal staff should really be spending their time, and consult an event services provider to handle your booth design, creation, construction, transportation and logistics. It’ll free up staff to concentrate on core competencies.

7. Crowding Booth Space

Somewhere hidden in your booth is a magnet. It invisibly draws your coworkers and their belongings at inopportune times. During booth construction, staff feel compelled to drop by, say hello, and see the under-construction booth. On getaway day, your booth doubles as luggage storage and a hangout before the airport run. Ask any booth manager about their pet peeves, and these two issues will likely enter the conversation.

Manage your exhibit space. 100 square feet is tight. 2500 square feet may be roomier than some big city apartments, but you still have to design a functional, working environment for your booth. On paper, even 200 square feet may look big, but every inch of space is at a premium. Don’t clutter space with unnecessary signage, oversized furniture, empty boxes, and disproportionately large monitors. Don’t allow staff to loiter. Unless they’re working on setup or dismantling the booth, the rule is simple.
If you’re not scheduled to be in the booth, don’t be in the booth. And don’t leave your stuff behind for somebody else to watch it.

8. Overstaffing

The list of employees attending an event is becoming a mile long. You’re told that everybody has a solid business reason to attend, and the more from the company, the merrier. Be skeptical. The registrations, paperwork, housekeeping, travel, and logistics behind overstaffing can quickly become a headache, and the overblown expenses will likely be tagged against the event budget. Reread Number 7. Send only those who are truly needed to an event, and don’t be shy in asking colleagues to roll up their sleeves and go to work while on-site.

9. Understaffing

Anybody who has performed extended solo booth duty will tell you that’s it no way to go. Sure, somebody may go it alone to wrap up an exhibit at the tail end of a show, but even a small display reasonably needs at least two people at all times. Of course having adequate staff to interact with attendees matters, but my greater concern is security. Think about what you may have in your exhibit: monitors, laptops, briefcases, purses, collateral, giveaways, and a gift card to two. You should also have captured audience data, business cards, leads, and follow-up notations. A lone booth staffer will inevitably need a bathroom break, get something to eat, or jump on a call. Distractions will occur. Business cards can get stolen, and leaving a purse under a draped table is a terrible idea. Hotel and convention entrances are hardly secure, thieves lurk, and once something goes missing, it’s too late. Trust me on this one.

10. Passive and Poor Communicators

A company exhibits and sends personnel to a show to engage the audience, not to sit on conference calls in the booth, play on iPhones, people watch or get caught up in drawn-out  conversations with unqualified attendees. Coach booth staffers in techniques to initiate and guide meaningful business conversations. Be sure everybody stays on message, and uses appropriate body language skills to create a comfortable and welcoming environment.

11. Mirroring

I mainly think about tabletop exhibits and 10 x 10s when this topic comes to mind. When you have a tabletop or a 100 square foot booth, so will many of your show neighbors. Why look like everybody else? Your checklist undoubtedly is similar: a table or counter, possibly draped, backdrop, monitor, a pop-up banner or two… but there are numerous ways to be creative in order to stand out, even if you’re fourth in a cell block row of 20 booths. Examine your messaging and graphics to start, but review your lighting, booth fabrics, material design, and display architecture. There’s no rule stating that you have to display a boxy counter and an unlit square backdrop. So don’t.

12. Overprinting and Dumping Collateral

There’s a security blanket in having an abundance of collateral in a booth. It looks good to have a literature rack brimming with content, and it feels even better to hand over a four-pager when asked “Do you have a brochure…?” Problem is that most of that collateral ends up in the garbage can. Think about it. When you’re packing for the airport and have a stuffed suitcase and a jammed briefcase, what’s the first thing to end up in the trash? My recommendation is to only have a small amount of printed material on hand. The shelf-life expires quickly on that stuff. Make it part of your post-show follow-up plan to email attendees, and link back to downloadable content. You’ll save on printing, and can add customized messaging to your post-show follow-up.

13. Catering to Exhibit Hall Scavengers

This is a nod to all those free exhibit hall pass/trade show goers who comb through booths looking for anything and everything free. Their big plastic bags are wide open, and it seems as if those bags never close. Not only do these event wanderers want whatever exhibitors have to giveaway, but they’re not shy about asking for more than one. If you’re not watching, you may see one hand holding open a bag while another sweeps across your counter, dumping displayed freebies into a to-go sack. Treat all guests with respect, but keep in mind giveaways cost money. I’ve yet to see an exhibit hall scavenger turn into a lead or business opportunity.

14. Forgetting Competitive Intelligence and Reconnaissance

There’s a wealth of information to be gathered at all industry events, and you and your team won’t get it by hanging out in your booth. Attend sessions, visit partner exhibits, sit in on demos, introduce yourself to attendees at a lunch table, and pick up on themes, problems, and actionable intelligence. Note who is attending certain sessions, their companies, job titles, and any questions asked during sessions and workshops.
If your colleague or partner is giving a talk, sending support staff to that session is mandatory. Gather intel, and be prepared to report back during the event debrief. Surveying booth visitors is also another excellent way of gathering information. (Remember, you’re competitors are also spying on you at events!)

15. Measuring Nothing

The marketing team is seated around the conference table. The conference room door closes. An executive asks: “What did we get for the six figures we spent on last month’s trade show?”

You better have an answer. Measuring raw event contacts, qualified and accepted leads, the size and number of revenue opportunities, and protected and net-new customer counts is a great place to start. Have your spend, pipeline analysis, and your quantitative and qualitative reports ready. It’s a five minute answer, not an hour-long response. But it’s a full five minutes.

Bonus Lesson Learned: Breathing Easy

The event is over. Boxes and crates are labeled, ready to be shipped, your bags are packed, and you’re headed home. As you watch another Broadway promo on the monitor in the back of a NYC taxi, you take a deep breath, relax, and think about getting to the airport and flying home. The weekend may be approaching, the next event is looming and your mental notes from the last three days start to fade.

Forget about how nice it would be to see The Lion King and remember that you have to properly follow-up and close out the event. Now is not the time to relax. The real sales and marketing work of making an event pay off is now only just beginning.

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For the Exasperated Colleagues of Incorrigible Executives, Managers and Lackluster Presenters

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

“Even Tiger Woods needs a swing coach.” That’s a line from the recent Two and a Half Men series finale. Over the past 12 years I caught the show on airplanes and in syndication, and wondered how questions about Charlie Sheen’s character would be put to rest. So I watched the finale. And out of everything that happened in the series and its hour-long ending, it was that one line about Tiger Woods that stuck.

Again: “Even Tiger Woods Needs a Swing Coach”

During the finale, that line was uttered in reference to Charlie Sheen’s character, and his erotic activities. But when it comes to Tiger Woods’ golf game, your presentation performance, or the speaking performance of your colleagues, the same holds true. No matter how good you are at public speaking and delivering presentations, keep your game sharp with ongoing practice and expert coaching, and offer similar resources to those around you at work. Sure, Tiger Woods’ game has recently suffered. Today, he needs a coach and a back specialist. But that’s not the point. In good times and bad, Tiger always has a need for a swing coach. It’s an ongoing requirement, even for somebody at the pinnacle of his career. Despite his success, Tiger Woods never stops learning, never stops practicing, and continually tries to improve his game. So do his competitors, and so do yours. In sports, business and life, the competition is fierce, hungry newcomers abound, and it’s tough to stay on top. Just ask Tiger about his current ranking among golfers, and about how difficult it is to become, and stay, Number One.

Your People Are Seeking Presentation Help to Become Number One

I’m not writing about the kind of presentation help one may receive through the creation of better PowerPoint slides. I am writing about establishing a comprehensive plan to provide continual presentation skills help for you and your team. Create a plan, and give your employees access to the personal coaching and resources they need. From the Wall Street Journal and numerous websites, much has been written lately about how everybody from executives to entrepreneurs must “find their voice” to deliver positive impressions. It’s how audiences evaluate and judge us. Yet many companies don’t provide employees with the tools needed to develop a powerful voice, let alone maintain one. It’s ironic. Executives who don’t help employees improve presentation skills demand that their people deliver boastful results, even if it is with little to no help. I imagine many are told: “Bring back qualified leads…get prospects excited…convey messages…beat the competition…SELL MORE! The entire sales and marketing team spent a half a day on presentations six months ago! What’s the problem? Get out there and do better!”

Thanks for the Dismissive Pep Talk, but Not Much Else

For those who have suggested spending time and money on dedicated presentation training and coaching, roadblocks can be everywhere. If you’ve tried but have been met with resistance, recall if any of these reactions look familiar:

  • “I’m a great public speaker and don’t need practice.”
  • “We don’t have the budget, and it’s not a priority.”
  • “Great idea and I really want to do this. Let’s talk to – insert any name here – and see what we can do for next year.” (But next year never arrives.)
  • “We’re too busy, we can’t get everybody together, and there’s no time.”
  • “Once the slides are finished, I’ll practice.”
  • “Halfway through our presentation skills workshop, I have to jump on a once-in-a-lifetime overseas conference call with a client that I can’t miss. It’ll be at least an hour.”

The excuses are endless. It’s confounding to witness the lack of concern for helping employees practice presentation techniques, while watching entrenched approaches to preparing must-have, text-heavy slides anchored by officially sanctioned logos. In company after company, staff create, clean, and beautify visuals for all to see. But when it comes to finding expert help to stand-up and practice a presentation, some are fortunate to join a one-off, pre-scheduled public speaking workshop booked for sometime in the future by somebody in Human Resources. That’s if the employees are lucky, if they get permission, if it fits the schedule, if there’s room in the class, and if they’re able to travel. Moreover, this works only if one buys into the notion that a generic, cross-departmental workshop is all anybody ever needs.

Back to the World of Sports 

While Tiger Woods is known for his performance on the golf course, Michael Jordan is known for his performance on the basketball court. In similar fashion to Woods, it’s been said that Jordan was the first one to practice in the morning, and the last one to leave at night, despite being at the top of his game. Your company presenters are entering a highly competitive arena each time they get in front of an audience. Tiger picks up a golf club, Michael a basketball, and you and your team pick up  microphones and video cameras. Tiger and Michael would never compete without rigorous practice and expert coaching. Why should you and your team be any different? Remind your colleagues of the importance of practicing and preparing for every speaking engagement, and take the necessary steps to get ready for all corporate appearances before anybody takes the stage, goes on camera or phones in a webinar. Share what you’ve read about Tiger Woods’ and Michael Jordan’s #winning attitudes toward staying on top of their games. Even the incorrigible among you may take notice.

Follow GettingPresence on Twitter: @gettingpresence, and stay tuned to this blog for insights and solutions from experts who have faced, and met, the same event-related challenges you face everyday. We’ve prepared speakers, and helped executives, salespeople and marketing leaders make the most out of business conferences, industry trade shows, customer meetings, and sponsored webinars.

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Look, There They Are! It’s Your Target Audience!

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

You’re investing good money to get your presenters, with your messages, in front of your target audience. Whether you’re sponsoring a webinar, an industry conference, or a Vegas trade show, expenditures will be totaled, and results measured. Even if you have a subject matter expert driving crosstown to give a speech, an investment is made. But remember, event producers won’t guarantee one thing: results. It’s up to you – not the producers – to make the most out of every speaking engagement, at every event.

Your Path to Preparation

How are you preparing for that next event? Specifically, the next company presentation. What are your most important preparation activities? Logo ready? Sure, it is! You may even have a dusty file somewhere that’s 10 pages long which gives the reader the do’s and don’ts of how to use it. Slides? Of course! How could anybody possibly give a presentation without slides?

There’s no doubt your preparation checklist has it all, even a certain amount of pride. The next event is set, your company session is on, travel is booked, and the conference producers have your payment, up front of course. You’re confident (or naive enough to think) that your company presenters are ready to step into the arena, at every chance they get, and kill it for you and your company. Since you’ve done everything you could do to ensure the success of your presenters, how could they not be the rock stars you think they are, and they tell you they are?

Avoid the Blame Game

When presentations fail to deliver, and the predicted returns from an event don’t materialize, who’s on the Hot Seat? After a failed presentation and an immediate executive demand for answers, some marketers feel like liberal activists sitting across an interview table from Wally George. Shall we include blaming sales? Possibly. But wait a minute, maybe it’s product management. Why? They were responsible for giving a number of talks at the last customer event, and they’ve also delivered a lot of recent webinars. So maybe it’s their fault. How about all of the above?

Some take a different path and choose to look externally. After a less than stellar company and speaker performance at the Trade Show in Destination City, USA anger may be vent at event producers, with disdain directed toward some attendees. But don’t blame the attendees, and don’t jump to conclusions about the event producers. Producers are rarely to blame, and it’s never the fault of the audience. True, some mistakes are made by organizers, but if you consistently choose your events wisely, you have the right audience. Your target audience is right in front of you. My advice is to focus on your presenters, and your approach to strengthening their presentation techniques. This will go a long way to avoiding those unproductive, post-mortem blame games which permeate meeting rooms.

Your Assignment, and Call to Action

Coming soon is your next batch of 2015 industry events. Some are on your personal calendar, and the event listing on your website undoubtedly reflects what’s in store. To increase the value of your sales, marketing and event expenditures, consider the following:

1. Before the next set of company presentations: take a moment to baseline how your company prepares speakers for appearances, and the consistency in readiness tactics, and structured practice. Ask presenters how they’re getting ready for upcoming presentations. When they finish telling you about “when, where and how” to catch a performance, and all about the slides they’re preparing, repeat the question and get some real answers.

2. Attend an upcoming company presentation, and during it: examine the audience, and count how many laptops, smartphones and tablets are in use while your speaker is speaking. See whose attention is elsewhere. If it’s a webinar, it’s safe to imagine that a large portion of the audience is multitasking. Rate your presenter’s ability to break through clutter, and deliver critical messages. Watch and listen to how your presenter handles the audience, acquires and holds its attention, delivers a clear and concise point of view, and motivates the audience to follow-up on any calls to action.

3. After the presentation: do some “back of the envelope” math. Request speaker evaluation scores. Total your expenditures. Look at the qualified leads, any new business opportunities, and see how much the entire process is worth. It’s easy to do. This isn’t a financial audit. Just scratch out the information on a cocktail napkin while killing time at the airport. It’ll be an eye opener.

Taking this step-by-step approach will help you get a clearer picture of how your company approaches events, presentations and speaker performance. This will provide you with insight into what many choose to undervalue: the practice of preparing people to expertly stand and deliver in front of target audiences.

You want to report positive results from hefty event-related expenditures, so help yourself by helping your people prepare for their next appearance. Start now, because there are very real consequences of doing something positive and substantial to support your colleagues versus doing little or nothing at all. When the time has passed on the upcoming season of industry events, and you’re standing in front of your company’s executives, investors and Board of Directors with results in hand, what will you have to say?

Follow GettingPresence on Twitter: @gettingpresence, and stay tuned to this blog for insights and solutions from experts who have faced, and met, the same event-related challenges you face everyday. We’ve prepared speakers, and helped executives, salespeople and marketing leaders make the most out of business conferences, industry trade shows, customer meetings, and sponsored webinars.

Visit:, or email:

Prepare Your Company Speakers as if You Really Give a Damn

I know you care about all of your event-related expenditures. So why doesn’t it show?

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

$1,000? How about $2,000? Or $10,000? More? How much did it really cost your company to have a presenter take part in the last industry conference, trade show, webinar or fill-in-the-blank event? Was the presenter’s demo or session part of a sponsorship package, or was it a solo appearance? Did you pay for a customer to co-present? Odds are you’ll have a hard time getting the “all-in” costs, and the harsh reality is that you’re spending time, money and resources on corporate presentations which quite often fall flat. Just because your people are out there giving presentations doesn’t mean that the efforts are paying off. In this case, activity does not automatically equal productivity.

True, under most circumstances there will be an expense report with time and travel-related line items, while Finance can provide invoice amounts for sponsorships and event-related costs. Marketing should be able to tell you how many people registered, and attended, and how many leads came as a result of an event. And don’t forget the financial modules in some marketing automation systems which can churn out detailed event-related reports. Pretty cool stuff. But hey, at the end of the last speaking engagement, your crew felt fortunate because a tangible spreadsheet of registered participants was delivered, and somebody uploaded the contacts into your CRM and Marketing Automation tools. Now the show’s over, and everybody’s in the system. Great! On to the next event!

Not so fast…

Imagine this scene: a well-structured conference with sessions presented by industry experts, held in a business-class hotel. You and I have been to dozens of these events. During a recent presentation, I took a look around the room. I observed the speaker, the slides and the audience, then started counting. I counted half the attendees using their laptops during the presentation. Moreover, some attendees were even using multiple devices during the presentation, and this behavior never changed throughout the conference. However, after each session, the audience politely clapped and it was on to the next one. All involved appeared satisfied. Detect a problem?

It’s Your Company, Your People and Your Budget

I started doing more math. What did it cost to send each one of these participants to attend the conference? What did it truly cost the presenters to prepare, take time out of their business week and travel to the event? And what return are the attendees, the speakers and the represented companies expecting? The presentation content shared throughout this conference was outstanding. Trouble was, half the audience wasn’t paying attention. It begged the question, “With so much time and money invested, does anybody really give a damn?”

This isn’t a sweeping indictment of all presenters, presentations and business conferences, and I know most, if not all, will readily say that they do indeed care. But it’s hard to see it, and hear it, in what’s given to attendees today. As somebody who has been involved with conferences and trade shows for over 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to have had a seat in the audience to watch and learn from some of the best presenters on the planet. The kind of presenters who can carry an audience across the finish line, even if the computer with the slides on it crashed 30 seconds before showtime. I’ve recorded positive feedback, and watched what an outstanding presentation can do for a company, and somebody’s career. On the other hand, I’ve also seen what a bad presentation or boring webinar can do, and the damage it can cause. Chances are, so have you.

If you spend money on sending speakers to industry events and have an interest in your bottom line, you understand the multitude of problems behind poor and lackluster presentations, these questionable investments, and how elusive getting a grip on comprehensive solutions can be. The pain that comes with allocating resources on speaking engagements with substantial costs and vague returns is common. It’s a problem that’s been made worse recently by: arrogant and cynical presenters; a lack of expert coaching for speakers who wish to improve their performance, but don’t receive the necessary support from corporate; seat-warming, multitasking audiences; and ostrich mentalities by those who could make a difference, but choose not to do so.

High-performing organizations don’t wallow in the excuses found in the fear of public speaking, marketing’s inability to answer questions about presentation preparedness and event metrics, and the resistance offered up by some on the inside. Neither should you. For far too long, we’ve become accepting of mediocre, uninteresting and even bad presentations, and the lack of due diligence by all involved. Few I know have the appetite for sitting through another hour-long session that disappoints in the first 10 minutes. What’s worse is how some executives carry on and don’t believe that it’s their people who fail to deliver and need coaching. It’s always the other guys who need help. Meanwhile life goes on, very little changes, and the competition outperforms ill-prepared public-facing presenters on a consistent basis. Yet in the next sales and marketing pipeline review and win/loss analysis, where does your company’s responsibility of making sure its people possess much needed presentation skills lie?

In my view, it’s time to act. Right now, you’re approving resources and expenditures to send speakers to the next batch of 2015 events, and it’s time for you to want to get full value from these investments. It’s time for you to prep your company speakers to meet the rigorous challenges of delivering outstanding presentations. It’s time for you to act, and act as if you really do give a damn.

Follow GettingPresence on Twitter: @gettingpresence, and stay tuned to this blog for insights and solutions from experts who have faced, and met, the same event-related challenges you face everyday. We’ve prepared speakers, and helped executives, salespeople and marketing leaders make the most out of business conferences, industry trade shows, customer meetings, and sponsored webinars.

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