Hi Productions,I’m atten

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Hi Productions,

I’m attending a show in Las Vegas as a vendor in mid August. If you get to make it to the WEVA convention August 14th or 15th, stop by and say hello. I’ve got a spot right at the entrance; booth 300 just inside the door. If you can’t make it, put down one thing I should do while I’m in Vegas. I’ve never been there, and I’ve got a day after the event to hang out.

Some experienced vendors always stay away from the entrance of conventions and some try to always be there, but for me with a new product intro I would like to touch as many people as I can, even if it is just hype near the door.

The newer businesses go into purchasing booth space or magazine ads and get some tire kickers. Repeated exposure to marketing is what makes people decide to become interested, if they are in your target market. One of the mistakes, as Hi Productions stated, is that someone just shows up to a convention as a vendor with no follow up plans. And while you do get to meet some amazing people at your booth they don’t become customers right then because they are overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds of the event.

Any high school or college marketing manual will tell you about users needing to see something multiple times before they act on that exposure. When you catch newspaper editors or magazine reps off guard on a weekend discussing their business they tell you pretty candidly that unless users get repeated exposure, they won’t act on the suggestions in their paper media. Yes, they are trying to sell me their service, so they have a reason to get me to purchase more ad / booth space. But from their own perspective, if they get one time advertisers who don’t get results and bad mouth their print/booth space, they stand to lose. The more honest editors discourage one time advertisers, by telling the truth. My magic number is 3; I do physical advertising things in threes when I can afford it. The first ad or booth is a trial, to set up in that space. The second one builds on results from the first exposure. By the third time, you know what the booth crowd is like, what trends the magazine will bring you, and your presentation or ad space actually looks better than the first time. If you can afford it and can keep doing it, continuing to put your ads or booths up will bring in fresh leads. But for me after the booths and ads are placed, I get these consenting lead sheets. I then start the internet campaign. Email newsletters once every 4 weeks. The bride/grooms who sign up for tickets have given consent to getting marketing material, and e-mail is by far the most inexpensive way to market and track. I always have opt out links, and get a few people who do unsubscribe right away. When I first started, I thought, "all I have to do is show up as a booth vendor or put in one magazine ad, and I’ll get lots of buyers". Completely false. I get a lot of lookers. My campaign is now more realistic; I advertise in print and set up booths with the intent of raising awareness and meeting people to see how the market is reacting to my service. Once I get leads from print and booth events, the real work begins of keeping in contact with these emailable leads. Repeated contact, repeated exposure. By creative linking in email newsletters I can see that people forward these to their friends. They come by to my site, then come back again a bit later. They use my site’s ‘tell a friend’ form to bring more people in. By tying my marketing efforts together and giving power to my potential users to market for me, I get a much more informed, educated, interested user. Yes it’s a lot of work. But the purchasers of my service tell me with their dollars that this is effective when they buy from me.

I am finding out that by signing up and paying early as a vendor you get great pick spots in your events. This happenned when I was choosing booth space and magazine ads. There is a set rate in all rate cards, but I chose events far in the future and then got in touch with the sales reps. Things are negotiable when you get in on it early enough. There is leeway to move about, lower the pricing, get discounts. It also helps to choose suppliers who produce multiple events. I signed up with a vendor who is putting on a wedding show and later found out that they are starting up a new wedding magazine later in the year, targeted to the highest end Chicago market. They already have a successful magazine running in chicago, and being a small business owner I would never have been able to afford the full page ad in their current magazine. But since this one is a new magazine coming out, since I already had purchased a booth, I was early enough and able to get the outside back cover of the as yet non existent magazine. An additional benefit which I never expected is the Lead Sheets that they delivered. These date back from current leads to their first magazine website, from about 1 1/2 year ago, all delivered online, in excel documents. They include the name, email, address, and wedding date of their signups. While I agree a lot of these older leads are not current, the wedding dates show that about a quarter of these leads have a wedding sometime in mid to late 2007. So by signing up early for the wedding show, I got a discount there, they then told me about an upcoming magazine and I got an extreme discount there, got good positioning at both places, and unexpectedly got a few thousand leads in the process.

Hi Productions summarized very well what took me too long to ramblingly address: Keep getting more business by continuing to market your product, service, or information effectively. This doesn’t mean throwing money into adspace/booths and forgetting about the results. It means being scrappy, pursuing, and looking for new ways to maximize your exposure. You can either stay in business for 20 years and build up slowly over time or put some creative marketing into play early on in your career. It also means taking some risk. Only put up the amount of resources that you are comfortable losing. Because from the time you become determined to push your business to the next level, you will be spending not just money, but also time and effort. Give enough time to follow up on your leads and be realistic about what you expect back, and when you expect it. In the worst case scenario when you see that absolutely nothing is working, be prepared to tell yourself honestly that it’s not working. But from the little victories I have had, unless I put myself out there I know I would not have been able to meet the people and build the relationships which are making me successful.

I know that as technical people we like to DO ; doesn’t matter what, we just have to be doing it. But taking a step back and intelligently planning the future of your own business gives concrete direction. In some respects all planning ends up with different results than you expect. Like building developers, we plan and prepare and build for the future, and the hope is that a reward is waiting in the future. While waiting for that reward to come in, we do the most effective marketing and sales we can. And I’m glad for being able to come into contact with people who gently push in the right directions.
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