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13 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Trade Shows

Posted on August 26, 2016

Before you hit the road to attend your next event, remember this advice.

1. Make sure you attend the right one. First, spend some time checking out the trade show’s website. What companies are going to be there? Will there be any potential affiliates? Cross-reference your list of potential affiliates with the list of attendees. Will you find the vendors that you are looking for?

2. Register in advance. Shows have different policies and pricing structures; you may be able to save money by registering early. Some shows are only for the trade.  Some vendors may have extra passes depending upon what your spending with them. If you call ahead of time, you may be able to schedule an appointment with a company or affiliate that is attending the show.

3. Stay at the hotel associated with the event. It’s usually more expensive, but most of the vendors and attendees will be staying there because it’s convenient. And after the day’s events, they’ll all be meeting in the lounge for a cocktail.

4. Make a plan. The worst way to go to a trade show is unprepared. You need a goal and objectives! So arrive early and get your hands on a map, the shows app and a directory. Then map out which booths you are going to hit and in what order, because trade shows are massive, and you can’t afford to needlessly tire yourself out. Start walking the floor as soon as possible. Vendors are eager to make sales immediately. Once you’ve visited the companies or affiliates on your list, feel free to walk the floor at your leisure. Walk with others who can introduce you to their contacts. (Warm intro’s – leads)

marketing materials for trade shows

Trade Show Marketing Materials

5. Dress the part. People will take you more seriously if you dress appropriately. If the trade show was about sporting equipment and fitness, you don’t need a suit. For other industries, a sport coat is more appropriate. Don’t be that guy or girl that ends up on a FaceBook post for looking out of place.

6. Bring two pairs of comfortable shoes and wear them on alternate days. Like I said, walking the floor will exhaust you.

7. Bring business cards and your rack cards with you everywhere. You could meet an important contact anywhere – like the lobby, at the bar, or even riding the elevator. You never know, so be prepared. Also know your pitch (Elevator pitch) by heart. It will keep you from being caught off guard.

Trade Show Booth

8. Pick up a copy of every piece of literature that is available. This will help you later during the follow up stage.

9. Avoid approaching booths when they are packed. If you approach when it’s busy, the chances of you getting to the right person are slim. You can plan on hitting most booths on the second day for that reason. But don’t wait until the third day, because some companies will be exhausted or have taken off by then.

10. Wait for the salespeople/owner to engage you. Approaching a booth can be intimidating, because it feels a bit like you’re walking into someone else’s living room. What has worked well is simply observing what’s going on around you and waiting for a salesperson to come to you. (They will.) When someone approaches you, compliment him/her on the company’s product or service and ask questions like, “Can you show me how this works?” Be genuine in trying to get a dialogue going. Eventually, the salesperson will ask you what you do. At that point, you should introduce yourself as you normally would.

11. Always make sure to get a card. It’s not enough to give someone your information. If you work a trade show hard, you could walk away with dozens of cards. That’s why trade shows are powerful. Also make relationship that will carry over into the months and years to follow. Write notes immediately to remind you what you spoke about. Use the 2 pocket system.

12. Follow up. Once you have someone’s card, you must follow up. All of your efforts will have been for naught if you don’t. I recommend waiting at least a week to do so. (Phone/Email/Digital PDF file/Hand Written Note/Thank You Gift)

13. Take it seriously. You are spending a lot of time and money. When you go to a show, You are working. Act appropriately you are representing your company and your Brand. You will be tired. So go to bed early.  LOL…

In conclusion, when attending a trade show – if you make the most of it – it is the number one way to get to know another company. After all, there are no gatekeepers.

Trade Show Booth, total packages

Create-A-Card, Inc Trade Show Booth

Happy Prospecting….

Using Images for Marketing

Posted on August 24, 2016

Photos bring power to your advertising and marketing campaigns.  Humans are very visual and can process a photo much faster than reading text.  For instance, we could say that a Big Mac has two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese and pickles on a sesame seed bun but it just doesn’t have the same brain effect as showing you this photo of a Big Mac.

Photo courtesy of McDonalds, Inc

Seeing a photo like this can actually make you crave a Big Mac and become hungry where it is unlikely the text description above would have the same effect. Could you imagine describing an Antique Rolls Royce without using an image of the vehicle? It just wouldn’t work for you.

With social media at an all-time high, using photos to quickly capture a viewer’s attention and it’s just smart marketing.  A photo can actually be used to draw a viewer in to read your message or offer.  If you simply use readers will probably just scroll right past your post.  Even a simple logo is better than text alone.

Here are some tips for using photos on social media:

#1 – Use high quality images that focus on the message you are trying to deliver.

#2 – Take you own photos!  Don’t steal from someone else’s website.  It is bad manners

to do so without permission and stolen photos could be copyrighted.

#3 – Obtain a subscription to a site that sells high quality stock images like Shutterstock

or iStock.  You will have access to millions of images.

#4 – Use the proper size photo so it doesn’t get cropped by the dimensions

allowed by social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook.

#5 – Use photos that have lots of color or something unique that draws the eye.

#6 – Be tasteful in your selection.  While Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s might use scantily clad

women in its efforts to sell burgers, featuring a lot of bare skin could backfire and

cause a negative connotation of your business.

Summary

Social media offers a free platform for marketing your business.  Make the most of it by using visual elements such as photos, videos, info-graphics and even memes.  Make your posts pop with vivid colors of interesting things that capture the eye and demand attention.

Mobile Marketing – Pokémon Style

Posted on August 9, 2016

Pokémon GO is sweeping the world and seemingly dividing the world into two groups.  There are those that play with a passion and view catching the “prizes” as serious business and then there are those who don’t quite get it who are left scratching their heads wondering why people are wasting so much time.

Whether you play the game or not, it does teach and inspire thoughts about mobile apps.  Let us share with you some information about what we can learn from watching millions of seemingly normal people chase imaginary objects.  The concept itself may seem ridiculous to some, but to those who find the marketing value in the Pokémon GO app, it’s a goldmine of information provided.

The Game Embraces Mobile Technology

Playing the game relies on having a mobile device.  You have seemingly normal, intelligent, well-educated men, women and children chasing things you can’t see in the real world but by simply owning a mobile device, you can “see” these objects that don’t really exist and chase them.  Having a mobile friendly website and mobile apps has become a necessity now as people are becoming more and more connected with their mobile devices.  So much so, that data access by mobile device is more common than a desktop device for most people.  Are you on the mobile bandwagon?

There’s An App For That

Pokémon GO is a gaming app.  Nevertheless, it is an app.  While you might have no interest in developing a game, is there some type of app you could create that would make it easier for your customers to do business with you?  Explore the possibilities of what an app could do for your own business.  Can you cut costs?  Can you generate sales?  There is an app for almost everything you can think of today.  Step back and think about what your own clients might want an app to do.

Playing With Friends

People aren’t just playing Pokémon GO on their own. They are going out “hunting” in large groups.  On a recent hot summer night, a crowd estimated at 1500 people scoured a park in 90-degree weather late at night on a Tuesday night.  They are sharing the captures of their hunts on social media. They are talking about it over coffee.  Imagine if you created an app that linked you directly to your customers through the phone right in their pocket.  Imagine if you could send an offer just for them but allow them to push it on to their own friends.  Make it even easier for them by including a “share” button so they can share your offers with their friends on their social media pages with the tap of a button.

Here In the Real World

If you can create promotions that drive and motivate people to show up at your own events like seminars, special “invitation only” sales and other events you can make your customers feel personally connected to you through such invitations. You can make them show up to pick-up a tangible item at your business. Many businesses are receiving an influx in business right now from people entering their business locations simply to find imaginary items such as balls.  If people will fan out across town looking for imaginary balls, it’s almost a given that they would come into your business looking for whatever you offered them.

Summary

You might not be a fan of the Pokémon GO app and you might think that playing the game is a waste of time and that’s okay.  However, if you miss the bigger picture of the possibilities for your own business, you might be missing out on the world of mobile marketing.

The Importance of Attractive Collateral at Tradeshows

Posted on August 4, 2015

We all know what it’s like to be at a trade show: There are tons of people milling about the exhibition hall, networking and checking out the latest products, service and demos.

Trade shows are the perfect opportunity to create business, make sales and gain exposure for your brand. But with so many companies on hand—and all of them trying to get attendees to stop by their booth—it can be hard to get noticed amongst scores of other similar companies.

Tradeshow Marketing Booth for Transportation IndustryIn order to stick out, your marketing materials and branding have got to be attractive. After all, humans are very visual creatures. We can’t help but like that which pleases our eyes.

As the owner of a business in the transportation industry, you might not have any flashy trade show materials… yet. Let us help you make sure you’re ready to dazzle as trade show season approaches.

From tablecloths to retractable banners with signage to entire booths, we at Create-A-Card are uniquely positioned to help you with your entire tradeshow presentation. With nearly three decades of experience designing marketing collateral for businesses in all areas of transportation—from tour companies to black car companies to luxury ground transportation services—we can help create the materials needed to make your brand shine.

In a trade show environment, you have to first attract potential customers to your booth. You can do that with flashy displays and attractive branding. You’ve then got to clearly and concisely communicate your value proposition, which can be accomplished through targeted literature. Finally, you need to help keep your business fresh in their minds with promotional giveawayschotskies and eBlasts.

If that sounds like a heavy undertaking, you’ve come to the right place. We can help take care of all the heavy lifting for you. That way, when you find yourself on the floor behind your booth, all you’ll have to worry about is telling your brand’s story. We’ll do the rest. View our 20 page brochure by clicking here.

In the Transportation Industry? Distinguish Your Brand with Customized Collateral

Posted on June 12, 2015

In the ground transportation business, it can be tough to find loyal customers because, most of the time, people are just worried about getting from Point A to Point B as inexpensively as possible.

Because of this, gaining customers can be hard. And if you do reel them in, keeping them baited can be just as daunting, especially since many will only care about how much your services cost. So before they decide to take their business elsewhere, how can you keep you them?

One way to differentiate your transportation company from your competitors is by launching a diverse, targeted collateral marketing campaign—one with branded business cards, post cards, brochures and more. In doing so, you help build brand awareness and put your company’s name in the minds of people who will one day need your services.

But you’re in the business of getting people from one place to another place—you’re not a marketer.

Don’t sweat it.

Angel Limo Brochure (PDF)With nearly three decades of experience providing luxury ground transportation services, tour companies and black car services with high-quality marketing collateral, we at Create-A-Card know the transportation industry inside and out. As members of many organizations and associations — like the National Limousine Association, the Minority Limousine Operators of America and the Greater California LiveryAssociation, to name a few—we follow all of the trends and latest happenings of the industry and know what marketing strategies work.

Whether you’re looking to re-brand your company, spread the word about what kind of services you offer or just get your logo out there, we’re confident that we’ll help find the solution you’re looking for to grow your business. Download our current brochure (PDF).

In this industry, it’s tough to keep loyalty. Let us help you get more people to know your brand and that you’re out there to help better their lives.

We look forward to helping you tell your story, so contact us today.

It’s all about Branding…

Posted on October 21, 2011

I have included a great overview, below, that initially appeared in Bloomberg Business Week.

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Define your brand identity—your product’s “personality”—before you spend a dime on advertising or marketing.

Talk to entrepreneurs about their marketing and communications efforts, and they’ll often use the words “branding,” “marketing,” and “advertising” interchangeably. That reflects the pervasive confusion about the terms.  About 15 years ago, ‘branding’ became a buzzword in the business vernacular, and people still get the words mixed up all the time.

That confusion is unfortunate, because understanding the concepts and how they mesh is vital to every company’s bottom line. Studies show companies that market their products or services without first establishing their brand identities are not likely to achieve return on investment. If you’re spending money to advertise and market without being connected to a brand position, you might as well pile the money up and burn it.

Rob Frankel, a branding expert and author in Los Angeles, calls branding the most misunderstood concept in all of marketing, even among professionals. Branding, he says, “is not advertising and it’s not marketing or PR. Branding happens before all of those: First you create the brand, then you raise awareness of it.”

Your Brand is Your Personality

And while many people think successful branding is only about awareness, it’s not, Frankel adds. “Everyone knows about cancer but how many people actually want it? Branding is about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. Once you’re perceived as ‘the only,’ there’s no place else to shop. Which means your customers gladly pay a premium for your brand.”

Your product or service is not your company’s brand and neither is your logo or your business card. Your brand is the genuine “personality” of your company. “It’s what your customers think of you and say about you when they’ve left your company,” says Rodger Roeser, president of Cincinnati-based Eisen Management Group, a public-relations and brand-development firm.

Your brand is what your company stands for and what it is known for. “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what you stand for. Go around the room with your leadership and ask them what the company stands for. Settle on one or two brand pillars and build your brand around them. If you can’t define your brand, your customers won’t be able to, either. And the risk is that someone else will define it for you—probably your competitors,” Roeser says.

The Promise You Make to the World

A brand is a promise and branding is the act of devising the promise your company makes to the world. Marketing, is the strategy that differentiates your brand promise from all the other brand promises in that increasingly crowded house called “your category.”

Think of marketing like a toolbox containing branding, advertising, direct mail, market research, public relations, and other tools. “Marketing represents the combination of methods organizations use to persuade their target audience toward some specified behavior such as sales,” says Stephen Rapier, of Glendale (Calif.)-based The Artime Group.

Advertising, Rapier says, can take many forms: print, as in newspaper and magazine ads; outdoor, such as billboards; online Web banners; and broadcast advertising on radio and TV. “Typically, the goal of advertising is to grab attention, create positive perceptions, and prompt response while conveying information consumers will find relevant to their needs,” he notes.

Your Brand Is a Lifestyle

A successful marketing strategy uses all—or most—of the tools in the box depending on the job at hand, Cecil says. “Crafting a winning marketing strategy is challenging enough even when you have articulated your brand promise and is probably impossible if you haven’t.”

If you have not specified your company’s brand, don’t spend another dime on marketing until you do. While everyone’s familiar with megabrands such as Apple (AAPL), Nike (NKE), and Virgin, small companies can also develop potent brands and market them successfully, says Steve Manning, managing director at Igor, a branding and naming firm based in San Francisco.

“A brand creates an image in the mind of the consumer. It says something is different at your firm, something worth more than business as usual. If your firm is a commodity, your customers will choose you solely on the basis of price or getting something for free. If you’ve got a brand, you’re selling a lifestyle and you can sell anything you want,” Manning says.

Who is Your CCO?

Posted on September 21, 2011

By Guest Author, Randi Busse, Workforce Development Group, Inc. www.workdevgroup.com

CCO? Do you mean CEO? COO? CFO? CLO? CMO?

No, I mean CCO. Chief Customer Officer. You do have one, don’t you?

A chief customer officer (CCO) is the executive responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers. Your company is “customer-centric”, isn’t it? This position is a relatively new addition to the C-suite and was developed to provide a single vision across all methods of customer contact. The CCO is often responsible for influencing activities of customer relations throughout an organization, whether in the call center, sales, marketing, finance, fulfillment or post-sale support. The CCO typically reports to the Chief Executive Officer and is charged with improving the customer experience.

Chief Customer Officers may be known by many titles, however, according to the Chief Customer Officer Council, the CCO is properly defined as “an executive who provides the comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.”

Over the past five years, Forrester Research has observed an increase in the number of companies with a single executive leading customer experience efforts across a business unit or an entire company. These individuals often serve as top executives, with the mandate and power to design, orchestrate and improve customer experiences across every customer interaction. And whether firms call them Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) or give them some other label, these leaders sit at high levels of power at companies as diverse as Allstate, Dunkin’ Brands, Oracle and USAA.

When companies with CCOs made the decision to establish such a position, it often was because of a mass exodus of customers. However, other reasons included a change in leadership, a desire to accelerate growth, a reaction to a competitor’s actions or a response brought about by rapid growth.

The key role for the Chief Customer Officer is to lead Customer Experience Management:

  1. To learn what customers value and how they feel about your organization and the current experience you provide.
  2. To interpret this feedback and prioritize the most important issues.
  3. To enact change that closes the gap between customer expectations and the actual experience delivered.
  4. Finally, to monitor key metrics to ensure that your organization continually improves the customer experience.

Despite the many successes resulting from the creation of a CCO role, it’s also important to recognize that a chief customer officer is not a silver bullet for a company’s customer experience problems.

A 2009 study of over 860 corporate executives revealed that companies that had increased their investment in customer experience management over the previous three years reported higher customer referral rates and customer satisfaction (Strativity Group, 2009).

Think your company is too small to have a CCO? Think again. Those big companies started small.

Have You Seen These?

Posted on July 15, 2011

These curious little black and white squares have literally been popping up everywhere. You’ve probably seen them in ads, catalogues, brochures and more. What are they and what do they do?

U.S. Postal Service is offering a 3% discount on standard mailings that include a QR (quick response) code in July & August 2011

 
Quick Response (QR) codes

are specific matrix barcodes that are digitally encoded with information that both barcode readers and smart phones can read. The QR code can contain a link to a specific web page (URLs), text or other types of data. A more sophisticated QR code can be used to embed other useful data like videos, music or promotional campaigns. A QR code is capable of 360 degree (omni-directional), high-speed reading.

Most smart phones (as of 2011) allow you to download a free “QR reader” that enables any phone to become a QR code scanner. Beginning in 2011, some phones already have this app as part of its standard software.

Having a QR code in your promotional materials grabs attention, leading users to high-quality, high-value content instantaneously. Skillfully using this tool in conjunction with social media marketing, video marketing or a high-quality (mobile) web site can help companies stand out in a marketplace that craves variety. Many businesses use QR codes innovatively to reach consumers via posters, billboards, ads, etc. to provide information regarding consumer campaigns, promotions and other company information.

QR codes can be a great branding tool. Mobile phone users can be directed to web sites where users can download ads, ringtones, logos, videos and flash presentations. Using QR codes on packaging is another innovative way to advertise products or offer information.

For businesses looking to differentiate themselves from their competition, QR codes should be on their radar. By integrating QR codes and a mobile friendly web site into their campaigns, businesses can leverage the needs and attention of the smart phone user more effectively. 

Let Create-A-Card, Inc, your marketing specialist for the transportation industry, help you capitalize on this unique marketing opportunity and begin leveraging the potential of Quick Response codes in your business today!

Happy Independence Day Weekend!

Posted on July 1, 2011

From all of us at Create-A-Card, Inc., we wish you and your family a very happy Independence Day!

We also would like to take a moment to thank our wonderful service men and women who are protecting our rights as American citizens, and remember those who died in that service.

Stop Hiring Employees and Start Hiring Owners

Posted on May 13, 2011

By Guest Blogger, Randi Busse
Workforce Development Group, Inc.

Imagine if all of the people that are representing your company were thinking and acting like owners of your business.  Do you think they might do their job differently?  Do you think they would take more pride in their work and make sure the job was done right the first time?  Is it possible they would come into work every day with a smile on their face excited about helping customers and solving their problems?  What impact do you think that would have on the experience that your customers have when they deal with your company?  Do you think they would feel valued and appreciated?  Would they be more loyal to your company?  Could that have a positive impact on your bottom line?

Many employees are just working for a paycheck.  They have tasks and functions that they have to do every day and many of them go through the motions detached from the people around them, whether they are customers or co-workers.  They act like robots, doing the same thing over and over again with no enthusiasm or passion.  What impact are these people having on your customers?  Do you think your customers are excited to speak with people that don’t care about them?  Do you think they are rushing to tell their friends about your company?  Or have they already left and gone to your competition?

Think about when YOU are the customer.  Who would YOU rather have taking care of you?  An employee or an owner?  Who do you think would provide you with a better experience?  Who would make sure you were happy?  Who would apologize to you if a problem occurred?  Who would genuinely thank you for your business?

Take a look around your company today.  Observe and listen.  Figure out if you have owners working for your company or whether they are “just” employees.  Your customers have already done that.  And perhaps they’ve decided not to do business with your company anymore because they don’t feel important and special. 

The next time you need to fill a position at your company, don’t get so caught up with how many years experience a candidate has.  Focus more on their attitude.  Do they have an “ownership” mentality?  If they do, that’s the person you want to consider hiring.  Employees are a dime a dozen.  Owners are the real prize.  Don’t hire employees, hire owners.  Your customers will be glad you did!