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Interested in Blogging? Greenfield Services Wants to Hear From You!

Interested in Blogging? Greenfield Services Wants to Hear From You!
To vary our subject matter and offer our readers a different point of view, we occasionally feature guest blog posts by subject matter experts in areas such as effectively managing an associations’ membership demands, managing association staff, etc.  As a result, we have decided to officially open up the opportunity to collaborate with other guest bloggers.

If you are interested in writing about a current topic or problem in the industry and you believe your thoughts/opinions can help or inform association executives – we want to hear from you!

Here are a few examples of guest blogs we have hosted:

Posts must be at least 250 words, and not exceed 750 words.  In recognition for your contribution, we will give you space for a bio (up to 125 words), a link to one of your social media profiles, along with your website.  We are looking for posts from both suppliers to the association industry, and from association executives who want to share their experiences.

If you are interested in learning more, or want to discuss the opportunity to guest blog, please contact Meagan Rockett, Director, Client Solutions at 613-288-4517, or

Seven Steps to Turn Trade Shows Into Real Conversations

Seven Steps to Turn Trade Shows Into Real Conversations
Finally, here’s something that trade show participants and booth staff have in common: there’s got to be more to the experience than three seconds of avoidance.

We’ve all been there, most of us from both sides of the fence. The participant approaches the booth, casting a sidelong glance to get a quick idea of the products or services on offer, without committing to stop. The booth staffer, ever attentive to a new prospect who might help justify the cost of the booth, watches closely (but never too eagerly) for any sign that the walk-by will turn into an actual opportunity.

It takes a lot of mutual mental energy to sort out whether any kind of dialogue will even take place. The procedure repeats, then repeats again. And within a couple of hours, most everyone is doing the trade show walk—feet sore, eyes glazed, and mind numb to all but the most targeted, compelling pitches. (And the people delivering the pitches feel exactly the same.)

Laying the Groundwork

Contrast this all-too-familiar picture with a show where buyers and sellers are looking forward to the specific, concrete conversations they expect to have. By the time they arrive onsite, they’ve been talking or corresponding for weeks, maybe working together for months or years.

It’s a strategy that relies on magnets rather than darts. It’s more respectful of participants’ time onsite. It’s more effective and energizing for booth staff.

And for all those reasons, it raises questions about the established view that trade shows are just about lead generation.

Event Marketing for Trade Shows

An event marketing approach means treating your exhibits program as part of a larger, more client-centred campaign. Here are seven steps you can take to change the trade show experience—for your own organization and, even more important, for the people you’re trying to meet:

  1. Start early: Allow yourself at least three months, ideally six, to plan your strategy and prepare your presence.
  2. Know why you’re attending this show: By the time you commit time and resources to set up and staff a booth, you should have a clear idea of who you want to talk to and why they should be interested in hearing from you.
  3. Build the foundation: A trade show will bring you a certain number of new, serendipitous contacts. Some of them may even remember meeting you and agree to continue the conversation afterwards. But you’ll get better results if you can fill your time onsite with scheduled appointments that advance or solidify business relationships you’ve already begun building by phone or online. But that means improving on the standard assumption that trade shows are strictly a place to gather leads, and paying more attention to the quality and depth of each conversation.
  4. Remember that less is more: If you’ve collected 100 business cards in eight hours on the floor, there weren’t enough hours in the day to find the legitimate “hook” that made you an interesting contact for each prospect. So you shouldn’t be surprised when your sales team spends a lot of time leaving unanswered voicemails after you get home from the show. Far better to come away with a half-dozen top prospects and a clear invitation to follow up.
  5. Make every booth unique: You needn’t and shouldn’t remake your entire booth for every show, but it’s a mistake to use the same, generic signage and collateral that participants saw last month or last year. The specific objectives you established for attending this show should point you to the messaging you want while you’re onsite.

    Hint: To produce a tailored booth without wasting paper, sign material, and the money you spent on production and shipping, invest in a reusable pixel board for signage and print-on-demand PDFs for collateral.

  6. Keep it professional: It’s fine to use a prize or gimmick to draw attention to your booth. But unless you’re working at a consumer show, recognize that you’re drawing people based on their professional interests. Some prospects may take an offer of personal perks as a sign of disrespect, and many organizations prohibit their staff from accepting gifts above a certain value. (We once heard of a $5 threshold that determined the designer coffee a customer could accept as a courtesy.)
  7. Always follow up. Always. Although some trade show marketers question the rule of thumb that 80% of leads are never followed up, there’s wider agreement that the “fishbowl method” of collecting business cards is seldom backed up by a formal sales management system. If your trade show presence isn’t integrated with your sales pipeline, you have no business being onsite.

Six Tips for Combining Your Conference and #Association #Marketing

Six Tips for Combining Your Conference and Association Marketing
Every time your organization holds an event of any kind, it’s a pivotal moment to deliver a message, increase brand awareness, and build lasting relationships with members, prospects, and the key decision-makers in your sector.

So it’s surprising when organizations fail to integrate their event marketing with their broader communications and outreach strategies. Surprising—but by no means unheard of. If you work for an association that has a great communications program that does little or nothing to promote upcoming events, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Start early: If you’re planning a six-month campaign for an annual event, start nine or 10 months out if it’s the first time you’ve tried to coordinate with your in-house communications group.
  2. Line up your arguments: If the communications team has never thought of the conference as a prime source of information and messaging, it’s up to you to make the case. You can do that by highlighting the strong content you’re bringing onsite and the connections between the conference and the broader communications effort.
  3. Find your spots on the calendar: If your organization has a strong communications presence, it probably has an editorial calendar to track key milestones and deadlines. To integrate your event marketing with the rest of the communications effort, you’ll have to carve out your spots on the calendar. Try to maximize exposure in the weeks leading up to key registration deadlines, and watch for moments when conference content can reinforce your organization’s wider messaging.
  4. Treat content as a fulcrum: Some content marketers recommend using a blog as the fulcrum of a wider social media strategy. Every time you publish a new post, you create news that you can legitimately redistribute via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social channels—and when readers are particularly interested in a topic, they “raise their hands” by clicking the links in the blog. By linking those readers back to your conference website, you encourage them to find out more about the program and, ultimately, to sign up for the event.
  5. Adhere to the schedule…: Once you’ve committed to the editorial calendar, it’s important to meet your deadlines. You picked your spots for a reason, and your event needs the timely, effective marketing you’ve mapped out. Your in-house communications team is counting on you, too, and you’ll earn their undying gratitude by delivering clean, readable text when you said you would.
  6. …but be prepared to improvise: Any editorial calendar can be overtaken by events. In fact, author David Meerman Scott has elevated newsjacking to a fine art. If breaking news helps you make a compelling case for people to attend or sponsor your conference, that means postponing the post you thought you had lined up and publishing it next week instead.

You’ll know you’ve connected with your communications team when they start to see your conference as a smart, useful resource, not just another product they have to sell. The first step is to recognize content as the most important part of the event, and think about how to market it accordingly.

Are you looking for other ways to market your events to your community?  Visit the Greenfield Services Inc. booth at iBE 2013 in Toronto.

Event #Marketing: Your Message in Search of a Platform

Your Message in Search of a Platform
Last week, we talked about the treasure trove of content that you can use to build an event marketing campaign, largely by working with the key takeaways from your previous event.

But the next question is: Now that you’ve got the content in hand, what do you do with it?

Go Where Your Audience Gathers

One of the first rules of content marketing is to find your audience where they already gather, so the right mix of media for your campaign will depend on the groups you’re trying to reach. But for more and more organizations, all roads (or, at least, more roads) lead to one or more social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

If your organization has a limited presence on social media, or no presence at all, there are still some basic steps you can take to give your event some visibility online. Social media thrive on smart, targeted content, and you’ve got compelling material in search of a platform. Here are some steps you can take to build a perfect match:

  • Create a Twitter hashtag for your event. If it’s an annual conference, or part of a recurring series, leave the year out of the tag, so you can reuse it and build a larger audience over time.
  • Find the LinkedIn groups that match the profile of the audiences you’re trying to reach.
  • As your conference website takes shape, featuring the types of material we talked about last week, produce LinkedIn stories and Twitter tweets that talk about the specific pieces of content that are most likely to draw each audience.

Keep the Conversation Real

To make this event marketing strategy work, you have to remember the fine distinction between conversation and selling.

If more than about 10% of your messaging has to do with the conference itself, you’ll be seen as a spammer and treated accordingly.

But if you genuinely set out to open conversations about your conference content, your online audience will begin to respond. Many of your speakers will appreciate the input. You’ll gradually widen your circles and reach prospective participants who’ve never heard of your event, or never considered attending.

And by the time participants get onsite, many of them will have already been a part of a gripping online dialogue that they’re eager to continue during the face-to-face event, then carry on via social media in the weeks and months after they get home. That’s when the conversations around your conference program become a starting point for building a stronger, more connected and member-centred organization.

Want more information?  Come check out the Greenfield Services booth (number 137) at iBE 2013 this June in Toronto!