Look Out: Bad Audience Behavior Has Escaped the Cinema!

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

 

Rude, disrespectful, self-centered and ignorant behavior has become symptomatic with attending any movie. There are those in the movie-going audience who bring the absence of common sense. But as I’ve been told, common sense isn’t common anymore.

Go to a movie. Any movie. Chances are decent that you’ll sit near that person, or couple, or group of friends who talk during the previews. Or during the movie. Even greater are your chances that you’ll sit behind that person who texts during the previews or during the movie. You know the one: he or she could be sitting five rows down on the other side of the theater and decide to start texting friends. With a 5” smartphone screen designed to be a guiding light in any emergency.

I think you’ll run into more problems going to see a Midnight horror movie with a younger adult audience than you will with an older group seeing Murder on the Orient Express, but no one group has the exclusive title for rotten, annoying attendees.

Granted, some theater chains make a point of enforcing a no talk, text or cell phone rule. Alamo Drafthouse seems to be doing a nice job of it. And this viral video has made the rounds…

But I’ve never been to an Alamo Drafhouse. Others chains such as AMC and CineBistro play those friendly reminders during the previews not to be rude during the film. I’m not sure they really help. Two weeks ago, the lady seated to my right was too busy playing on her phone to see what was on the screen.

Years ago, one regional theater chain in the Midwest used to have a live, in-person usher stand, welcome the audience, and ask everybody to make the necessary adjustments to their mobile devices. That seemed to help, before that chain got bought out. Now they don’t do that anymore.

Breaking News: Be on the Lookout for Bad Behavior at Meetings, Trade Shows, Conferences and Events!

It’s all around you. Like Tom Skeritt’s character Captain Dallas found out in the original Alien film of 1979, it’s moving right towards you. But look out! If you say anything about it to the person causing the problem – you may be the one to blame!

“It” goes hand-in-hand with our “me first” mentality which has permeated so much of society. And by bringing your self-centered attitude with you to the business environment, you:

Prohibit others from hearing the speaker:

You may learn in a modern way, with modern devices, but there are people sitting right next to you in a crowded room trying to listen. The way you bang on your keyboard or mobile device screen is loud and annoying. Once in a while notes are acceptable, but you’re not a court reporter. And the way you check e-mail and take notes and tweetand make noise is distracting.

Prohibit others from learning:

We’re sitting behind you and can see everything you’re doing on your screen during the presentation. Email, PPT, and web surfing and shopping. If you don’t like the speaker, get up and leave. Don’t shop online. It doesn’t help that you’re working multiple devices on the table in front of you, either.

Prohibit others from concentrating:

Could you be a little quieter and/or neater when eating in the meeting room? Yeah, I know food and coffee and dessert and sometimes more come with the business meeting territory, but use your judgement. And would it be too much trouble to clean up when you’re done?

Prohibit others from seeing: (Part One)

Want to take a picture of the presentation, and of the presenter(s)? How about a video? Better yet, how about live stream the video – probably without permission?

Great!

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Grab your smartphone with both hands.
  2. Hold it horizontally for that landscape look.
  3. Now stick your arms and hands in the air, and hold your phone up there like you just don’t care.
  4. Leave ’em there like you just don’t care.

Because you don’t.

People are sitting all around you. Behind you. They’re trying to watch and learn, too, you know…

They paid good money for their tickets. To attend that event.

You may not care about spending your company’s money to attend events, but they might.

And I sure as hell do.

Try asking those around you for permission you before you block their view for an indefinite period of time.

Now get your phone out of my face.

Prohibit all from seeing: (Part Two)

This one isn’t for the audience. It’s for the event producers with an “I don’t give a damn” attitude about the entire audience. I love – absolutely love it – when I see somebody share a conference room picture or a trade show video from a session room with 30 rows set classroom style only to have a panel discussion or a one-on-one conversation on a stage three feet off the ground. Lounge chairs on stage, and everybody beyond Row 3 can’t see. Way to provide value in attending. People don’t pay to watch a screen behind or to the side of the stage. That could’ve been done at home.

Prohibit somebody from taking a seat:

Call me old school and traditional, but a gentleman should offer his seat to a woman. Or a disabled person. Or a senior citizen. Stand up. Make room. That’s what I was taught growing up. On the bus, train, or the classroom. I’ve walked into plenty of sold-out, jam packed convention halls and I’ve seen attendees stand and circle the back walls of the hall because there are no available seats. I’ve seen people sitting on the floor. But it’s hard to recall the last time I saw a man give up his seat to a lady. I’m sure it’s happened, but not nearly enough.

A few years ago I attended a Broadway performance at Studio 54 in New York City. (That club you’ve heard so much about from the 70’s is now being used for Broadway performances. It’s a very, very nice theater…) The moment the house lights went down a young man in the row behind continued to use his phone. It caught an usher’s immediate attention.

The usher’s instruction to the young man was clear:

“Turn off your phone. Now.”

(several moments passed)

The usher repeated, “Now.”

The phone was turned off.

Damn right.

Give that usher a raise and usher him to the front of the of line of human beings waiting to be cloned. Offer those clones high paying jobs throughout the business meeting world.

You may feel as if you have certain “rights” to do what you want to do when seated in an audience. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And I’m not suggesting all audience members sit on their hands and remain perfectly quiet for the duration…

A theater usher shouldn’t have to be the one who teaches business professionals the meaning of the words courtesy, awareness, etiquette and respect.

But it does seem as if somebody, somewhere, is teaching people the meaning of one, much smaller word: Me.

If it’s you, please stop it.

Now.

For more on Challenging the Status Quo of #Marketing and #Presentation Groupthink, follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, @GettingPresence

For immediate #presentation & #publicspeaking tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

Marketing Innovation and Disruption in 2018? That’s Easy.

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

 

No January 1, 2018 marketing predictions here.

Well, maybe one.

The only prediction that I’ll make will be that far too many Chief Marketing Officers will do the same thing in the New Year, over and over again, expecting the same predictable, average, unexciting results. If they’re lucky. It’s no wonder the average tenure for a CMO is only a few years.

And CEOs will continue to work with marketing within their safe spaces.

I guess that’s two predictions. But no more.

It’ll all be subject to the same Marketing Groupthink that produces that same, run-of-the-mill results across the board in sales, marketing, and customer service… and every other point of marketing interaction.

Color between the lines, and paint FY18 and FY19 ‘by-the-numbers’ marketing plans like it’s always been done. Rinse and repeat.

To deviate from the norm is to run in opposition to groupthink. Marketing Groupthink.

Don’t believe me?

Check out the job descriptions for Digital Marketing Mangers. Every single one, all day long, reads the same.

Product Marketers? Same thing.

Content Producers? The list goes on.

MarCom, PR, Marketing Ops, Marketing Leadership… each and every approach, company to company, is a Xerox copy. From one to the next.

So no other 2018 predictions needed. With the Talking Heads in mind… same as it ever was.

Oh. I can hear you screaming and going on about how your technology is going to do this, and your company is going to do that in the next year or two. And that very well may be true. There’s some exciting work being done by cool companies. By great people. By phenomenal teams.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect ‘em all. And I want everybody to bring passion, competitiveness, energy, and enthusiasm to the marketplace.

Which brings me back to my opening thought.

How is that going to happen when everybody possesses the same marketing playbook?

You may be launching a terrific product, but your Go-to-Market approach looks like it did a decade ago, feels like it did 20 years ago, sounds like it did 30 years ago and is disconnected from sales, well, the same as it ever was. From company to company.

Marketing Groupthink. Commoditized Marketing.

It’ll leave you short, on the one yard line.

And you don’t want to throw the ball on the one yard line when you have an elite running back. (New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks fans know what I mean.)

Want ideas to disrupt marketing groupthink in 2018, here’s a bunch:

  1. Don’t automatically do those standard operating procedure events. Just because you think you have to be there. Take a long, hard look at each and every event, webinar, expo, convention, trade show, and meeting. Cancel. Reschedule. Take some of that budget and apply it in ways that really drive results.
  2. Create your own events. Road shows. Get out there and talk to your audience. Regional events were my best source for qualified, B2B tech leads. NOT giant budget-busting, week-long industry trade shows.
  3. If you’re going to do any presentation, public speaking opportunity, live video stream, webinar, briefing, or media interview – practice. And do so more than once. Yes, your or team will spend more time in strengthening their communication skills, but it’ll be worth it for two reasons. 1) Every time one of your employees stands in front of an audience and fumbles through their presentation, your brand is damaged. (This goes on all the time.) 2) Your competitors aren’t doing this. All you have to do is watch, listen, and learn. Sit in on one of their presentations. Watch one of their homemade videos. Listen to the tin can sound of their audio recordings. Take any of this seriously and you’ll have an instant competitive edge. (BTW, everybody tells you to practice before any presentation, but nobody shares with you how to practice. If you need help, tips, and advice, just ask.)
  4. Send marketers out on the road with business developers. Have them sit with prospects and customers. Have them present to prospects and customers. Expose them to what’s happening in the field. And do so on a regular basis. Have marketers sit with inside sales as they prospect. Have them listen and learn. And do so on a regular basis. Marketers will quickly see what’s working and not working for inside sales and external business developers. That’s means refining messaging, content and data. That means better sales enablement materials. It also means MarTech evaluation, content usage and content presentation. Competitive analysis and market feedback. The list of benefits is endless… Pull marketers OOO, away from their electronics, and hit the road.
  5. Get the CMO to get with the times. I shared my perspective on the reports that describe how large digital consultancies are making in-roads into the territory that ad agencies used to occupy at many client companies. Nonsense. A lot of that work should already be done by marketing leadership. Simple understanding of audience segmentation, marketing and CRM technology, data usage, and customer interaction across multiple channels of interaction – with added dose of creativity – should not require another seven or eight figure digital consulting contract. This type of work is marketing table stakes.
  6. Find executive leadership who are ready to rock. Gone are the days of CEOs and CMOs sitting back and rubber stamping marketing plans that call for the same methodical product launch plans, the same neglect of marketing communication skills development, the same shortchanging routine approach to content creation, the same, tired formats to customer meetings… Move on from those who don’t get what outstanding marketing can do.
  7. Work through the holidays. This one’s tough a bit tough to explain. I’m all about family and friends first. The holidays should be enjoyed. But, as a hustler and a grinder I must be clear. What’s frustrating are those common OOO emails that read like two month sabbaticals. “I’ll be OOO until Monday, January 8, 2018…” You’re in the business of marketing, and it doesn’t wait. Not for you, nor me. And investors have a funny thing about always hitting their numbers. If you’re not hustling through the holidays, your competitors are. I know I am.
  8. Flip the analyst game of providing a security blanket of feel-good data, information, and research. Oh no, not that. You could never do that! Understand that I value and respect what industry analysts do. (I was one, at least for a little while…) But this notion of “we have to do this with XYZ analyst” is open for a good business marketing challenge, just because you feel you have to do it. Allow me to make this challenge to both the analysts and their overhead-paying customers: you see the industry reports, the surveys, the insights, and the technical analysis. All great, useful, timely material. And damn it feels good when you get it. When your company charts. When you’re kickin’ ass. When your favorite analyst pays attention to your company. But now go grab a stack of files. A big stack of files. Go grab it, carry it over to your desk, and drop it. Just let it fall. Let it spill and fall to the floor. Those are your analyst reports. That’s your analyst material. You paid for the content. Good reports, hard-hitting technical content, vendor evaluations, some customized material with your logo. There’s some marketing activity in there, too: events, webinars, presentations, etc. All great stuff. But go back to the top of this post. Your marketing is stuck on the one yard line. You need innovation, disruption. Healthy internal tension. Creativity. You want to break the marketing mold in 2018. All of that analyst content fits yesterdays feel-good security blanket mold. And you want to break out. The good news is that this hasn’t gone unnoticed. Just look at some of the offerings by two of the large, very well-known, familiar analyst groups and it will tell you that the tide is at least shifting to include consultative engagements to produce unique marketing outcomes. It needs to go further. Flip the script and drive more, innovative value from your analyst relationships.
  9. Change marketing management style. Allow for remote marketing. Let creativity flow. Brainstorm. I never considered marketing a 9 to 5 job. It isn’t. Creativity hits all hours of the day and night. It’s not always on demand at 8:30 am sitting in a cube in an office with the excitement of a university library. Measure and report, yes. But there will be those on your marketing team wired for creativity. Nurturing that business talent will pay off with innovations to how marketing is managed.
  10. Let marketing own and rock your January sales kickoff.

These ideas will do more to disrupt and innovate your marketing efforts than any artificial intelligence, voice-enabled device, or slick piece of technology using combed-over, headache-inducing data that will help swell the MarTech 5000 to the MarTech 6000.

And I love reading and hearing about those tech advancements. In fact, I want you to hear my voice anytime you interact with a company using a dominant male voice with a high-energy Chicago accent to front their customer experience audio. I’ll front the automotive CX, anything for the US military, sports, technology, retail… but I digress…

If you want to innovate and disrupt your marketing groupthink in 2018, start with those 10 ideas. Easy, sure. Necessary, you bet. But you and I know what some people will do as a result.

And I have one more prediction for 2018.

12 months from now you’ll be preparing for your holiday break. You’ll look down on your marketing report for the previous 10 1/2 months.

It’ll show you did the same industry trade shows in SF, Vegas, and Chicago.

It’ll show you did the same work, with the same industry analysts.

It’ll show you launched your product the same way every vendor in your space launches theirs.

It’ll show that year-over-year % increase in spend, but with the same results.

Worse, you’ll know about the same discontent salespeople, executives, investors, and marketing colleagues.

And all that as the tenure just got shorter, and the window of marketing opportunity closes.

Damn. I guess that’s three predictions.

 

For more on Challenging the Status Quo of #Marketing Groupthink, follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, @GettingPresence

For immediate #presentation & #publicspeaking tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

Challenging the Status Quo of Marketing Groupthink

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

 

The average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is somewhat short. Two years, maybe three or four. It depends which study you reference. I thought I read it was getting better nowadays. But there’s a long way to go…

Even with the short tenures, CMOs still apply approaches that are:

Outdated. Passive. Common. Routine. Disconnected. Just Because.

Comfortable.

Secure.

of “Careful” Value.

I was going write of “Zero Value” – but that’s not true. There’s some value to what some are doing in marketing. But so much in marketing nowadays simply gets by. And there is value in simply getting by in:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Events and Trade Show Marketing
  • Content and Sales Enablement
  • Product Marketing
  • “Paint by Numbers” marketing leadership from CMOs.

…but simply getting by is not in my nature.

You see it everyday. Fill-in-the-blank marketing. The majority accept, and few challenge. Groupthink. Marketing Groupthink.

That’s how I view far too many approaches to marketing.

Here are five readily identifiable areas that demonstrate marketing groupthink:

1. Digital Marketing

Copy and paste each and every “Digital Marketing” job description easily found populating the ‘black hole’ career sections of corporate websites. And LinkedIn. And others. Digital Marketing has become what? Search engines, keywords, social media maintenance, websites, emails, some writing, some campaigns, some lead gen, some CRM system data upload, some reporting, etc… Your company does it. You do digital marketing the same as the next one, and the next… Why? I dunno. It’s become routine.

Want to challenge the digital status quo? Have your digital marketers put down the electronics and stand in front of the class and tell your corporate story. Or venture out with sales people to talk to customers. Don’t tell me those ideas to marketing groupthink won’t make your digital marketers better at what they do.

2. Events and Trade Show Marketing

Your marketing up to, during, and after your company’s events has become predictable. And safe. How so? Your BIG industry event is coming up. So you pepper your contact db with messages about your sponsored appearance. (So does everybody else.) You promote your event appearance and solicit on-site meetings to drive the appearance of after-show value with high-end opportunities. (So does everybody else.) A sponsored reception, party, or steak dinner may be in the offing. You have your booth. Your paint-by-numbers booth. And you may have a presentation. Or a seat on the ‘cure for insomnia’ panel discussion. Then you (hopefully) dissect your after-show contact spreadsheet to email, call, and solicit. Just like everybody else.

Am I close?

Want to challenge the status quo? Take a hard look at why your company does the events it does. Ask questions. Don’t just take another spot on the show floor and populate it with outdated collateral, spinning PPTs, a ‘cheap’ exhibit, and people who have zero personal communication game. You may also wish to prepare your company speakers before their next presentation. You may wish to turn off your mobile cameras before streaming live video without preparation. Negotiate with event vendors, save money. And leave some of your budget-busting staff at home.

Get serious – and creative – about your events strategy.

This one’s tough. But if you want to disrupt your trade show and event groupthink – you’ll break new ground.

3. Content and Sales Enablement

Content, content, content. Somedays that’s all you’ll read. But it’s the security blanket of the ill-prepared. For terrible slides for unprepared speakers. For endless, text-heavy case studies. For websites that could double as a maze in a corn field.

I’ve never said content isn’t important. But I’ve been around the block a few times in marketing. Content ends up residing on local laptops in all forms known to mankind. Or in a central repository which dates back to 2007. And once the content is retrieved, it’s deflates the person who found it because it’s the same thing Joe used for a presentation in Chicago last week. Outdated messaging and all.

And how exactly is producing all of this “content” enabling sales?

Besides the obvious groupthink approach that sales needs content to be effective?

Want to challenge the status quo? Make sure that those that produce the content can actually use their content. Have them present it as a sales person would: on the phone, on a webinar, in a boardroom, on-stage, and on-camera. It’ll make them better content producers if they experience first-hand how it’s used.

More, it’s wise to make sure that those who are using the content can demonstrate that they, too, know how to use it in multichannel scenarios. (That’s means your inside sales reps and your external business developers. Your marketers, customer service agents, and partners. And your executives.) Be sure to make sure that those who use the content, can use the content.

Because the marketing groupthink approach to content and sales enablement simply dictates creation. And dumping of content. And freelancing of usage.

Of course I’m familiar with sales enablement technology that catalogues content. Customizes content. And delivers content. But that doesn’t mean the end-user in the field can use and present the content. (And those vendors will never tell you that.)

4. Product Marketing

I’ve written about how product marketing could be on the verge of automation. About how it’s become a cookie-cutter endeavor at so many tech companies. I know it’s supposed to be this strategic, go-to-market leadership function, but it isn’t. Not anymore. Not at the companies who copy and paste their product marketing requirements just like the vendor next door.

Follow-me, again, to be sure I got this job’s requirements down: product marketing is to develop strategy, go-to-market messaging, value props, and unique differentiators, have it’s ear to the market, the trends, the competitive landscape, the alliance partners…

Product marketing is to develop content. Draw up battle cards. Unveil material to support business growth. To forecast opportunity. To interface with industry analysts. Understand the buyers. Some subject matter expertise and some public speaking and presentation work.

Toss in a product launch, event, campaign, and marcom support, some sales enablement, with financial and technical expertise, and you’ve got the product marketing picture.

And so does every other company housing one or more product marketers.

Challenging the product marketing status quo is easy. And damn sure should be required.

Last I checked, there are ~5000 MarTech vendors, spanning all imaginable industry sectors. How in the world are you going to break out in that landscape if your product marketing approach is the same as every single competitor? And for those not in the MarTech 5000 – the same question applies. What are you doing differently?

Ideas on how to do so? Sure…

Let me start by saying I’ve seen the problem. Your go-to-market problem. You’ve got good people doing good work with great technology. But where product marketing is supposed to lead, it time and again drops the ball. Change it by:

Preparing your product marketers to regularly visit, present, and interact with customers, prospects, analysts, and the media. Prepare for interactions across all formats. Remote, and in-person. On-camera, on-webinars, and in-person. You’re likely not doing this today. I know because I pay attention. It’s easy to spot. To hear. To see. To read. Get your product marketing communication game tight.

Prepare your product marketing leadership skills. I once sat in on a presentation from one BIG Tech company that was unbearable. They were so proud of a 100+ slide deck but forgot to tell the six remote presenters on a web-conference call how to organize and make sense of it amongst themselves and for the audience. Product marketing is in the leadership role, and took none.

Add creativity. Real creativity. Turn product marketing into storytellers. Stop doing the same events, the same panel discussions, the same public-facing tasks… create a brand for product marketing by doing things differently: creating your own events, podcasts, webinars, videos… separate from the field of product marketing clones. Attack your target audience outside the standard methods of outdated product marketing groupthink.

5. Marketing Leadership

Or should the section be called the “be quiet, accept the marketing groupthink, and just do your job…

It’s the biggest “paint-by-number” and “color between the lines” area of marketing groupthink.

Marketing strategy? There’s a template for that.

The marketing plan? There’s a template for that.

The marketing budget? There’s a template for that.

The approach to events? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly marketing report? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly marketing ops report? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly product marketing report? There should be a template for that.

To marketing videos? Stare into the camera, off-set right, ask softball questions, and overlay graphics.

The approach to webinars and other recorded audio material? Overdo the content, and add one ill-prepared voiceover. Record ‘good enough’ sound to give the impression of using a tin can in a cavernous concrete room.

The leadership approach applied to marketing? So common that you don’t need a template.

Here, I’m busted. You need a marketing strategy, plan, and budget. And you have to report on marketing activities. Those are the current table stakes.

But I’ve sat in those rooms with marketing leaders.

They’re the same leaders who copy and paste last year’s approach to this year’s plan.

The ones who won’t hear of true sales enablement, innovative approaches to content, sales-oriented management styles, and creative, groundbreaking marketing.

Who nod, shake their heads, and clap politely when the next expert dumps useless but feel-good information on them.

Marketing leaders who won’t deviate from standard operating procedure.

Who’ve become infamous for low average #CMO tenures.

This article is over, but I’m just getting warmed up.

I want you to exercise your marketing creativity. Your marketing passion.

And not let it be held captive by a Xeroxed job description or outdated approaches to marketing management.

There are those who accept marketing groupthink. Who want to accept marketing groupthink. No challenges to their way of business thinking allowed.

So you can either smile and go back to your cube, or you can challenge the stats quo.

Challenging means creating.

It means professional #leadership.

It means taking ownership in the business.

Seeing that talent is nurtured.

For ensuring success.

For acting on the need to bring marketing innovation – and professional disruption.

In technology and business practices.

For breaking the business mold and doing something that stands out in the crowded marketing landscape.

To strive for excellence in yourself and those around you.

 

For more on Challenging the Status Quo of #Marketing Groupthink, follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, @GettingPresence

For immediate #presentation & #publicspeaking tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

10 Signs It’s ‘Amateur Night’ at Your Trade Show

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

25 years ago I tried to persuade a friend to compete on Amateur Night on Showtime at the Apollo. With no luck. He was a very talented rap artist. But he knew (and anybody who watched the show knew) that rappers stood little chance of winning that competition. He thought I just wanted to see him get booed off the stage. (That was a comical part of the show.) I knew where he was coming from, but… nothing ventured nothing gained.

Regretfully, today’s trade shows and industry events bring a new the meaning to Amateur Night. Or Day. Or whatever you want to call it. And it’s so damn easy to see…

Though I vividly recall watching Showtime at the Apollo over two decades ago, a tour of current trade shows would have you wondering if anything has been learned in the last five decades. If there’s ever an industry — an area of marketing performance, corporate communication, sales enablement, lead and demand generation, and revenue-generation —  ripe for innovation and disruption, it’s the trade show and event industry.

Turn on your computer, wake up your mobile device, wander around some convention halls, view the Tweet streams, and within minutes (maybe seconds) you may see what I’ve seen:

1. Two Bags of Junk and a $5000 Expense

Somebody proudly tweeting a picture of two suitcases full of swag (junk) that was (allegedly) to be brought home from a trade show. I started to do the math. One conference registration, plus one flight, plus ground transportation, plus meals, plus hotel, plus incidentals, plus time OOO, plus time wasted on-site gathering this stuff, plus time packing, plus (God forbid) luggage fees = $5000. Maybe more. Probably not much less than that. Gathering stuff is not why one attends a show. More, who is paying those business expenses?

2. Signage, Ineffective

Will somebody please take exhibitors to a baseball game? Or for a long drive on the highway? Look at an outdoor sign, or at a billboard. The companies with bold, simple messaging stand out. You remember those Coca-Cola signs with the logo – and nothing else? Good. So why do a majority feel the need to cram messages and shoehorn every product and company feature onto their 10’ backdrop?

3. Exhibit Space Rich, Booth Poor

So you splurged on a 20’ x 20’ booth. Congrats! But then you populated it with four posts with four monitors, one reception counter and some chairs. Oh, and you placed your logo here and there. Way to break the mold on the creative marketing effort.

4. The Exhibit Hall Copy Machine

When that long row of 10’ x 10’ booths resembles Cellblock D at a Federal Prison, it’s Amateur Hour. It’s tough to ‘break out’ of prison, and it may be even tougher to ‘break out’ in the crowd of endless booths that look the same. No amount of crammed messages on your signage will help. No rotating PowerPoints on a 27” monitor will change anything. And no literature racks with collateral from 2014 will separate you from your confinement.

5. Streaming Amateur Video

Doing Periscope, Facebook, and YouTube videos from trade show booths and convention halls is all the corporate marketing rage. Yet I’ve seen better, more engaging, more original, and more entertaining content on cable TV programs that feature homemade video submissions versus some of the so-called ‘professional’ stuff generated from industry events. I used to wonder if those in charge at some of these companies knew that these types of videos were being produced to represent their company – but then I see some CEOs who have taken part in such productions.

Oh well…just another competitive marketing and trade show advantage given away.

6. Nonsensical Event Imaging

Here’s what I’ve seen: pictures of event speakers next to their eye chart PowerPoint slides while the audience plays on mobile devises. That’s usually accompanied with a caption that reads “Joe really knocked that software demo out of the park!” Anybody notice that the audience isn’t paying attention? Or that the slides are illegible?

I’ve also seen those ‘just behind the scenes’ pictures of a TV interview being conducted for yet another trade show interview. Problem is that angle has become common and faded years ago. It all looks the same and had grown long-in-the-tooth. Plus, it used to be compelling to see the larger cameras, and detailed staging behind some of the bigger, on-scene video setups. Now, a picture behind one person holding a single light next to a small mobile camera on a tripod watching XYZ executive be interviewed just isn’t cool. Or compelling. It’s simple. Mediocre. Average. Played out. Every single interview, from every single trade show, of every single show attendee or industry executive, looks and sounds the same.

7. Public Speaking & Presentation Arrogance

Did you practice giving your presentation before going on-stage? Probably not. Not sufficiently, anyway. Did your colleagues? Doubtful. Did you care more about how you look and sound while giving your speech versus the overly detailed content of your color and logo-correct slides? Maybe you looked at yourself on video to practice before going on-camera from your event?

My apologies, I forgot. What you, your colleagues, and your company do is good enough.

8. The Panel Discussion Recipe for Disaster

Take six high-chairs, six microphones, six ‘just stopping by’ panelists, one moderator, and a handful of pre-planned, softball questions and try to engage an audience for 60 minutes. Or substitute four cozy, comfy living room chairs on-stage. Then take pictures, circulate, and try to sell everybody on the notion that this panel discussion was earth-shattering and ground breaking. One look at the body language of the panelists is all anybody needs to know that it wasn’t.

9. The Self-Proclaimed Self-Important Event Producer

I once had the pleasure of supporting an exhibit for a midsize tech company, at a midsize trade show, in a midsize convention hall. Nothing remarkable about the event itself. 100 exhibitors, maybe. What I do recall is that we needed something from the show producers. Couldn’t tell you what it was or why we needed it. What I do recall is finding the guy who was our contact and point person for the show. He was riding around the hall on one those indoor golf-cart-looking vehicles. He was very busy, and very important. He was friendly-ish. But just couldn’t help at that moment in time. Not right away. You see, this was during booth and exhibit hall construction, and he said (they) were “building a city.”

Relax, pal. It’s a midsize trade show. Not the first human colony on Mars.

10. The Rookies

Yes, I know there’s a first time for everything. That includes attending a trade show and corporate events. But there are those rookies who swoop into town and proudly proclaim that “The Networking Breakfast starts at 7:30 in the morning and I have to be on time!”

Enjoy your breakfast. You, the hotel catering staff, and two others just in from Europe fighting jet lag will have the place all to yourselves for the first 30 minutes.

Trade shows are business investments. Sales and marketing expenditures. Attendees are there to learn, not collect junk from other vendors. Speakers are there to engage, influence, and motivate audiences. Marketers are to help uncover opportunity. All are there as an investment to grow the business. You won’t get there by applying Amateur Night behaviors.

Stand out in the crowd. Dominate the event. Do something that’ll capture the imagination and attention of your competitors, and your target audience.

Have the industry crowd take your picture.

Do that, instead of taking and circulating yet another generic event selfie.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, GettingPresence

For more, immediate tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

How Experienced CEOs Stay Ahead of Post-Event Spin

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

You may think that trade show was a success. Your CEO may not.

It’s the Monday morning after your BIG industry trade show. Vegas, was it? Chicago? Or San Francisco? No matter…

It’s 8:00 am. Your briefcase bulges with stuff acquired at your event. Collateral, business cards, receipts, some event notes in your folder… All representative of the hard work put in by you, your marketing team, sales, and your colleagues who attended the event.

Somewhere there’s a spreadsheet with information from scanned badges from attendees who dropped by your exhibit. More proof of return on the trade show effort.

Then there’s the expense report with your name on it. Gotta get that one in. Plus there are a few invoices to be paid after the show. Have to stay on top of those.

As your cup of coffee steams on your desk, you think about the six-figures spent on that show. Sponsorship, booth, exhibit and event signage, collateral, travel, etc. the itemized list grows long, very quickly. But no reason for concern. Review the event spreadsheet, pop the data in the ‘system’ for follow-up, jot down a few notes, assign the sales and marketing pursuit tasks, and you’re on track.

Then the phone rings. The CEO wants a word about last week.

When it comes to event and trade show reviews, there are two types of CEOs. The first kind accepts the post-event spin (or bullsh*t) from sales and marketing. The second kind of CEO knows better. The second kind of CEO has a finely-tuned radar to see post-event spin coming from a mile away and has the experience to stay one step ahead of the diversionary tactics which try to justify event participation and expenditures.

Come to think of it, there are three types of CEOs. The third type is somebody who thinks they fit in the second category, but don’t. The third type will ask a few mundane questions while believing they are getting to the bottom of event and trade show analyzation. But they’re not. They’re a lot like the first type of CEO, just not as aloof. The third type of CEO sometimes plays an active role in event planning and execution, so efforts to drill into post-trade show analysis may be compromised. This is the ‘good enough’ trade show CEO. On-site presentation without prep? As long as it’s good enough. Stream live video from the booth with no prep? Eh, as long as it’s good enough. Nobody’s watching, anyway… Booth staff unprepared, ineffective on-site branding, poor conference logistics… whatever. Show’s over.

But today, your CEO falls into the second category and sees it all coming a mile away.

Here’s how you know. You’ll be asked: How was the event? …and when you say:

1. “Great! We strengthened relationships with X customers, Y partners, and Z analysts.”

You’ll be stopped dead in your tracks. The opening phrase “we strengthened relationships…” is non-starter. Astute CEOs couldn’t care less about strengthening relationships with anybody at a trade show. That’s not why you went to the show. Sure, it may be a by-product of attendance, and there’s nothing wrong with building professional relationships to help the business, but that post-event answer isn’t what the CEO wants to hear. If you lead with this answer, experienced CEOs know the show didn’t produce real results. And if relationships really were strengthened, save it for the end of your post-event report.

2. “We scanned over 200 people who visited our booth!”

Again, that’s a bad way to start your answer. So what if 200, or 300 or 1000 attendees visited your booth? Who were they? If 100 visited your booth and you scanned their badges, I’d wager that only 10 out of the 100 may be worth pursuing. Especially in B2B scenarios. 10 may be worth pursuing, but it may be that only two or three out of the 10 may have the budget, authority, and need to buy what you’re selling. Maybe. Nothing against the other 98% of the list, but in all likelihood they are lower level employees, vendors, analysts, academics, job seekers, and partners who offer no return on the show investment.

3. “I saw Mr. or Mrs. Celebrity, Politician, or Big Time Business Tycoon Give a Talk”

Great. But unless Mr. or Mrs. Big is buying what we’re selling, referring new business opportunities to us, or demonstrating how we can grow the company, talk about something else.

4. “There was some fantastic entertainment!”

Even worse.

5. “We didn’t get much the way of new leads, but we had to be there.”

Really? Why? What would happen if your company didn’t sponsor or exhibit? Would the world think that you’re out of business? What if your company just sent a few people to attend and work the event, and saved five or six-figures?

6. “We had such a good time.”

Yes, a few in days in Vegas, SF, or Chicago can be enjoyable. The tweeted staff pictures of smiling attendees in front of the booth, at the parties, talking selfies in front of the show entrance all portray a positive image. Now where’s the image of the meetings on somebody’s calendar with qualified opportunities that can be sourced to spending money on this event?

7. “The leads will be in the system by next week.”

Good. But the week after is the start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving in the USA. Then six weeks where half of the target audience is OOO until January 8, 2018. And the next two months are gone. Unfortunately, the CEO, Board of Directors, investors and stakeholders have a thing about sales and revenue. Holidays or no holidays. Time is of the essence. A lazy follow-up approach is not what’s needed at this time of the year.

8. “They had record attendance!!!”

Wow! That show must’ve been the place to be! Except that you have little to show for it because you didn’t know how to stand out in the crowd. Funny how six-figures in event expenditures doesn’t get you very far in a crowd in excess of 100k. Throwing more money at your show wouldn’t make much of a difference. It doesn’t matter if 10 people showed, or 100k. If you didn’t have the creativity to make it happen on-site, what will you do different next time? Better yet, if ‘everybody’ was (allegedly) at that show, we could take advantage of the market.

(Because not everybody was at the show…)

9. “We already signed for next year.”

This answer is usually coupled with securing a spot on the show floor in the exhibit hall for next year, getting some sort of price break, or another ancillary promotional deal. Event producers are slick in the way on-site meetings are held to re-sign for next year’s event. Those pre-set/pre-determined meetings in the office in the back of the exhibit hall or in a makeshift hotel office/hospitality suite get a marketer in line, while in town. And if you miss that meeting, the follow-up booth visit from the sales rep is inevitable.

Unless there was an indisputable windfall of on-site business, it’s not a wise move to automatically re-sign for anything unless that demonstrable return can be reported from the last event. Experienced CEOs know this.

10. “Joe’s panel discussion was amazing!”

First off, panel discussions aren’t amazing. They’re usually boring. Second, what intel was gained from Joe’s panel discussion? What was learned from the other panelists? Third, did our team work the room? Did we speak to session attendees? Welcome them? Interact? Learn anything from them?

If the seat on the panel discussion was simply a way for the show producers to get a sponsoring company to increase their event budget, the astute CEO knows that panel discussion was a waste of time and money.

11. “We got all of this great stuff!”

Most of it’s junk, headed for landfills. Sure, a couple of things will stay on the desk, and a few toys will be given to kids at home. They enjoy it when mom and dad bring souvenirs home after business trips. But most of that stuff never gets read or used, and rarely sees the light of day.

12. “It’s not really a competitive atmosphere.”

I’ve heard this one before, and it still doesn’t sit right.

There are those who would have their CEO believe that they’re company is paying money — good, substantial money — to sponsor and exhibit at an industry trade show that’s in a non-competitive environment. That they are just glad to be there. Glad to see everybody.

Don’t buy it. You may be glad to see everybody at an event, but why would any company spend money simply to show up? Are the other sponsors and exhibitors going to add revenue to your annual report because you took it easy at the event? Will others pay your bills? Stay away from your prospects or customer base? Every trade show, event, conference, user group, and convention is a highly-competitive environment.

Astute, experienced CEOs want business results, business rationale, and sales-oriented answers as to why you sponsored, exhibited at, and spent money on that last trade show.

I’ve devised the CEO-CMO post-event stress test as a template for after show reporting. It’s not a pop quiz, and it’s not meant to be mean, or harsh, or unfair. It’s business. The sales and marketing business of trade shows. The questions need to be asked of marketing, and sales.

Regretfully, that tweeted picture of you and your smiling team standing in front of your cookie-cutter booth snacking on hors d’oeuvres won’t cut it back in the office on Monday morning.

Follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, GettingPresence

For more, immediate tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

You Attend an Event, You Own It

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

Ah, Springtime. Another week, another round of “gotta be here” industry events.

Finding the activity from these events is easy. Just find event Tweet streams by hashtag or look on your LinkedIn profile page and eventually you’ll see all kinds of evidence from shows which span the globe: pictures, quotes, comments, etc. from attendees on the scene. Smiling pictures of people at the event are the norm, but pictures of booth giveaways, convention food, and the host city from a hotel room view are also par for the course.

Meanwhile, back at headquarters, the boss probably wants to know why you’re attending that event. I’m not talking about being an employee of a company sponsoring an event or a member of the corporate team producing the event. (Those attendees have their own separate challenges justifying their reasons for attending an event.) I’m talking about being a regular event attendee.

Oh, and let’s cut through the clutter about what an event is called. Trade Show, Convention, Conference, Summit, Workshop, Meeting, User Group… it’s all the same here. If you attend an event, you own your attendance.

So let’s get right to the point. The boss should want to know two things upon your arrival from your event attendance:

1. What did you learn at that event?

2. What were the business reasons you attended that event?

If I’m sitting in the boss’ chair, I’ll go one further:

3. Tell me what you learned, and show me the business reasons for attendance.

Do it without charts, a dashboard, slides, or electronics. And no paper printouts.

Go.

Note I wrote that the boss should want to know, vs. will want to know. Some just don’t give a damn. Bad boss, and maybe you should be the boss or your company should get another one who does give a damn. Or at least care enough to know why you attended that event, how much it cost, and what were the results.

But aside from a few platitudes, I wonder if many event-goers could articulate what they learned at an event, let alone speak intelligently about the business benefits, and results, shortly-after the conclusion of an event.

Here are some reasons why:

The Inactive Event Learning Experience

Go back to that event Tweet stream or review your LinkedIn profile and look at those event pictures. What do you see? Attendees sitting in sessions from keynotes to track breakouts. Some watch. Some listen. Many are playing on their electronic devices. Few learn little of anything. And when one session ends, it’s on to the next. Rinse and repeat. If an attendee has stuck around long enough for the last session on the last day, chances are they’re part of the dwindling group. Many others have left for the airport before the event concludes. It’s standard practice for the conference and trade show industry to conduct “educational” sessions this way. Tidbits are gained, and stories are told. But two or three days worth of cramming an information overload in this type of event format down the throats of stagnant audiences isn’t conducive to effective learning. I know ‘cause I’ve been there, done that…

Speaking of Keynotes…

So you’re an attendee sitting in Row 49 in the back of a crammed ballroom attempting to watch a keynote speaker. The speaker seems to be genuinely interested in delivering a good performance but is somebody using eye-chart graphics worthy of inclusion in the Ophthalmology Hall of Fame. More, the keynote session is wrapped around with cornball entertainment meant for others who clearly don’t get out of the house often enough. Exactly what would you say is of value in that cheesy and cramped ballroom setting?

Shopping, Anyone?

Are you attending an event to wander the exhibit hall and go shopping for your next piece of technology? Newsflash: you don’t have to. Vendors will come to you, at no cost to you. But hey, if getting endless sales pitches and gathering trade show junk that will go from a vendor’s booth, to your bag, to the nearest garbage can is worth your time and investment, have at it. But what are you learning from that exercise? And why are you paying for it?

Ill-Prepared Presenters

There are some phenomenal public speakers in business. But they are in the minority. Most speakers are more worried about the content of their presentation vs. their ability to communicate their content. They’re more concerned with slick slides than audience value, and the learning experience. The end result is a poor attendee experience where little is gained.

I’m all-too-aware that most speakers don’t prepare or adequately practice before their presentations. Heck, most don’t practice their communication skills at all – ever. Either out of fear, or arrogance, or laziness. And most companies do little or nothing to help. But you, the attendee, are still paying thousands to sit in those sessions and learn nothing. Nothing you can deliver with confidence back in the office.

You Attend, You Own It

So be prepared to answer what you learned, and describe in detail the business benefits of your attendance. Because all of that vendor stuff you brought back with you on the plane doesn’t count. Neither does your electronic file of endless slides. Nobody is going to read those. Those pictures of smiling people at the registration counter don’t count. And that smartphone video of the entertainment act is worthless.

If I’m the boss, and you just spent four days out-of-the-office attending an event to the tune of thousands of dollars, you’d better come prepared on Monday morning with clear, concise, concrete answers about your attendance. But taking a look at what I’m seeing on these Tweet streams, what’s going to be learned is that event attendees aren’t really learning anything useful at all – except how to spend money and create excuses for being OOO.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

The CEO-CMO 1:1 Post-Event Stress Test

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

One business week after any trade show, conference, or regional event concludes, a 60-minute 1:1 meeting between the CEO and CMO should be held. Not a 61-minute meeting, or 90, or 120. 60 minutes, and a not one second more.

Of course, the CMO can (and should) prepare for this meeting and have notes, but no slides, computers, or mobile devices. No technology whatsoever. A whiteboard or a flip chart with markers is acceptable.

During that meeting, the CEO should ask the CMO:

  • All-in, what did it cost us to do that event?
  • How do those costs breakdown?

…tell me about our sponsorships, exhibits, travel, marketing, content, and event technology.

  • What quantifiable business benefits did we get out of that event, for that investment?
  • How many qualified business opportunities were sourced from that investment?

…tell me about them: by industry, region, products, services of interest…

  • What are those revenue opportunities worth?
  • Who is following up on those opportunities?

…how and when?

  • How many qualified business opportunities were helped by that event?
  • Who is following up on those opportunities?

…how and when?

  • How many leads were sourced from that investment?
  • Who is following up on those leads?

…how and when?

  • Which accounts and customers did we strengthen – and protect – by attending?
  • What’s the economic value of those accounts?

—————

  • Are all of the event leads, opportunities, and new contacts in our CRM/CX/Marketing/Customer Service tools?

…including all relevant individual contact and account information?

—————

  • What was our partner involvement in the event?

—————

  • Do we have the content and technology to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in follow-up?
  • Can those in sales and marketing pursuits effectively communicate, and close business?

…without using technology?

  • If not, what do we need, why, and how much will it cost?
  • What will sales say about what you just told me about the business benefits of that event?

—————

  • How effective was our exhibit hall booth, and other branded/supporting locations on-site?

…how do you know?

  • What did we do to drive show attendance, and promote our appearance at this event?
  • How was traffic in our company locations, and the number of visitors?
  • What were there job titles? …from which companies, in which regions, in which industries?
  • Which days and what hours did you work staffing the booth?
  • Which show provider shipped, installed, dismantled, returned, and is storing the physical elements we used?
  • Who from our team helped them before, during, and after the show?
  • Is that company doing a good job?
  • Do we need any additional external event professionals to help produce our next event appearance?

—————

  • How many staff members did we send to that event?
  • What were their specific, individual, on-site responsibilities?
  • Did any of our people speak or present at the event?

…about what topic and with whom?

  • What did their session evaluations reveal?
  • Did you attend our sessions?
  • How many general attendees were in attendance in their sessions?
  • What questions did they ask our presenters?
  • How did our presenters prepare for their sessions?
  • Were our session attendees welcomed at the door by our staff?
  • What did those interactions reveal, and what intel did we gain?
  • What additional market, prospect, customer and competitive intelligence was gathered at the event? …how did you gather that information?

—————

  • What did you personally learn about our industry/marketing/other business areas?
  • Which members of the media did you meet on-site?
  • Did you meet with any industry analysts at the event?

—————

  • What worked and what didn’t work for us at this event?
  • How about for the event itself?
  • Could we have achieved similar results by just sending one or two people to attend?

—————

  • When is next year’s event and where is it being held?
  • Did you sign a contract for next year’s event?
  • Why, and how much will that cost, and when is the first payment due?

—————

  • When is your next meeting with sales about following-up on this show’s activity?
  • Which customers and prospects from the show will you be seeing first, and when?

—————

  • When will you share these event results with the sales, marketing, executive, and general company teams?
  • How are you going to do that?
  • How are you thanking each of your event team members for their personal contributions?

—————

  • If you could brag about any of your colleagues, customers, vendors, or partners who helped to produce and deliver a successful event, what would you say?

Time’s up.

This is a general list that I broke up into sections on the fly that assumes the CEO didn’t attend the most recent corporate event. Not a big deal. There are a few other assumptions, too. But it really doesn’t matter. As you read through this list, you can modify the wording if the CEO did attend the event and make any necessary adjustments in the line of questioning. And if the CMO didn’t attend the most recent event, bigger problems may exist. I would expect most any CMO to attend major company events.

That’s enough for a rapid fire, post-event, 60-minute stress test meeting between a CEO and a CMO. Yes, this back and forth can be achieved in an hour. It’s one hell of a stress test.

The Chief Marketing Officer needs to know the answers to those questions well beforethis meeting. If the CMO doesn’t, or doesn’t want to know, get a new CMO. The Chief Executive Officer should want to know the answers to each and every one of those questions. If the CEO doesn’t want to know, get a new CEO. And if sales doesn’t want to cooperate with marketing (and vice versa) find new business leaders who will implement the lead and revenue-generating processes required for success. You know the process, where sales and marketing actually work together.

I’m sure #sales, #marketing, and #event professionals can add to the list I provided. While you do that, I’ll work on a rapid-fire list of questions investors can ask CEOs about their marketing and event activities, and a third list of questions sales leaders can ask marketers about business development, #content, #communication, and enabling #technology at the end of any quarter.

Oh, and if it looks as if marketers are being given the excessive third degree about the business results of their activities, damn right. They should be.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com