Karen Winner

If You’re Not Doing These, You’re Wasting Your Trade Show/Event Budget.

No question live events have the power to engage, BUT it takes more than showing up in a pretty booth, dressed to sell, and flashing a welcoming smile to make an event an ROI success. There are many moving parts to coordinate to encourage visits to your booth/presentation:

  • When and how to reach out before the event
  • What to do during the event to differentiate your presence from others, attract attendees, and make their visit memorable
  • When and how to keep reaching out to keep visitors on the path toward a purchase

It boils down to content marketing for generating brand awareness before, during, and after the event. And it requires exceptional creativity and disciplined timing to engage targeted attendees, expand messaging, and cultivate prospects.

“After the event” poses a challenge to marketing/sales organizations with a snapshot approach that limits momentum. They need to shift to a year-round initiative that leverages content that was created for the show and after, including video/video excerpts, slide presentations, blog posts, podcasts of speaking events, webinars, infographics, articles, newsletters, etc. Sending a monthly email with links to relevant curated content will help maintain mindshare.

Here’s an abbreviated to-do list to help you make the most of your trade show investment:

Prior to the Event:

  • Determine measurable goals for the event: number of booth visitors, number/category of leads generated, number of prospect appointments, number of media interviews secured, etc.
  • Identify news announcements to be made at the event (new product, product enhancement, etc.).
    • Secure media attendee list from event planner.
    • Reach out to relevant reporters/editors who would be interested in interviews with executives about company news, strategies, state of the industry, etc.
    • Confirm meetings 2 days in advance of show.
  • Classify prospects in 3 priority groups and determine engagement tactics for each.
  • Conduct a personal call with or email pertinent prospects/leads:
    • Trade shows: Ask if they are attending (the trade show and your speaking engagement) and if they’d like to set up a demo (or meeting) while they are there.
    • Webinars: invite them to join the webinar, and send a link to register.
    • Meetings: confirm 2 days in advance of show.
  • Write a blog post that can be shared prior to the event. The blog post topic should pertain to your upcoming speaking engagement, booth presence or webinar, with a link driving readers to register for the event.
    • Submit your blog post to the publication associated with the trade show for inclusion in upcoming content to promote the conference.
    • Send an eBlast to targeted prospects with a link to your blog and a link to register; research email lists that can be purchased from the host organization.
  • In the events section of your website, list more details about your speaking engagement (title, co-presenters, registration link, conference website, etc.) or booth presence.
  • Create social media posts using event hashtag, promoting your speaking engagement and/or booth and driving to registration link; conduct paid social media activities.


During the Event

Many attendees bring multiple devices to an event: a phone, a tablet, and a laptop—an advantage for staying in touch with your audience but an obstacle for keeping their attention.

  • Create social media posts for use during the event:
    • Use event hashtag.
    • Engage with influencers at the event.
    • Livestream your event.
    • Develop articles specifically for targeted publication issues distributed at the trade show.
    • Take and share photos at the show to share on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram); tag any individuals who appear in the photos so their networks will see the pictures.
    • Offer special challenges and contests like a selfie-challenge where attendees have to find a specific speaker or landmark.
    • Incorporate a game/sport activity in your booth with prizes for the top performances (invite prospects before the show, of course).
  • Include company/product-specific messages in each presentation, including:
    • Social media handles
    • Information in key publications that can be found online
  • Create a “ticket” that is on each chair before your speaking engagement; attendees can redeem ticket at your booth for a useful branded item (prize, discount on services, etc.).


After the Event:

  • Conduct a personal call or email with pertinent leads:
    • For trade shows, ask if they’d like to set up a demo.
    • For webinars, invite them to set up a demo; send the link to archived webinar.
  • Continue sending valuable content to further the conversation and curate leads through the marketing funnel – including video/video excerpts, slide presentations, blog posts, podcasts of speaking events, webinars, infographics, articles, newsletters, etc.

Old Values for a New Age?

Without the brilliant comedy of late night talk show hosts, the decline of America’s social fabric would weigh more heavily on me. My longing for a kinder, gentler society that values civility would no doubt drive me insane. I wonder if others share the feeling that America has “lost it”?

“It” is how we engage and communicate with each other—a critical piece of our humanity. This isn’t about politics or sexually explicated language. It’s about the deterioration of basic politeness and rational action evidenced in our most basic cultural forms: musical lyrics that spew hate and advocate violence; tweeted aspersions; infiltration of such fare on prime time TV and radio (particularly talk shows). It’s a maleficent menu that includes road rage and offensive gestures.

As a communications professional who has for decades made a living carefully choosing words, I am concerned—no, deeply afraid—where displays of disrespect may be leading us. I envision a slippery slope. After all, it was shocking to hear that four-letter word for the first time in a business conversation, but it doesn’t take long to become de-sensitized.

While I applaud the open nature of the internet and social media for myriads of opportunities, I have serious misgivings about the lack of personal accountability for published information. Should candor entail abuse? Should honesty give way to rude behavior?

Our language reveals who we are as individuals and who we are as a culture and society. What’s to become of “us”?

Have social media made newsletters passé?

I was nearing a project deadline and was particularly annoyed with a deluge of emails, including a barrage of newsletters I subscribe to. It got me questioning the value of those newsletters. After all, there are copious amounts of information available 24/7 through dozens of social networks. So should we cross newsletters off of our marketing budgets?


Here are a few points to consider:

  • Audience: Do your target markets “do” social media? Would they prefer email?

A newsletter enables you to segment your markets and target specific segments   with appropriate content. Some content may be useful in closing “hot” prospects.

News from newsletters posted on other websites reaches different audiences.


  • Timing: Is it beneficial to control when your news is distributed (email) or posted?

Social media fills the “cracks” between email newsletters.


  • Objective: Is a newsletter an appropriate channel for achieving your objectives?

Linking channels is a smart strategy for achieving frequency and broadening your



  • Message: Take advantage of the synergy offered by blog posts and social media to turbo-charge your messages.


  • Brand: meaningful content boosts brand recognition and reminds existing customers about your products/services and expertise.


So what do you think? Are newsletters still a viable part of your marketing mix?

10 Questions to Ask When Considering a Website Refresh or Overhaul

Businesses are constantly changing and adapting, so it stands to reason that their websites need to reflect the dynamics with new messaging and content. But sometimes it’s easy to fall in the trap of “keeping up with the Joneses” instead of thoughtfully deciding to redesign a site or simply adding pages and updating content. In either case, before spending a dime, here is a list of questions worth considering during the planning process:

1. What are the goals of the site? Are they any different than the current site?

  • Are we trying to close sales?
  • Are we telling a story?
  • Are we earning permission to follow up?
  • Are we hoping that people will watch or learn?
  • Do we want people to call us?

2. Who are we trying to reach? Everyone? Our customers? A certain kind of prospect?

3. What sites do we like? Which ones are easy to navigate?

4. How do people find the site?

  • Do we need people to spread the word using various social media tools?
  • Do people find the site via word of mouth? Are they looking to answer a specific question?

5. Are we building a tribe of people who will use the site to connect with each other?

6. Should ongoing news and updates be presented to visitors?

7. Is the site part of a larger suite of places online where people can find out about us, or is this our one signpost?

8. How many times a month would we like people to visit? For how long/how many pages? How will we get them to return?

9. How much money do we have to spend? How much time?

  • Who needs to update this site? How often?
  • How often can we afford to overhaul this site?
  • How many people on your team will need to be involved? How many from other departments? At what level?

10. Will the site need to be universally accessible (language and format issues)?

  • Is that information high in bandwidth or just little bits of data?

Answering these questions ahead of starting a website project will help keep it from spiraling out of control. I’ve overlooked, so please share your ideas and experiences.

How to Work with Internal and External Marcom/PR Professionals

Is Your Marketing Communications/PR an Innie or Outie?
Many a marcom/PR exec has asked the age-old question of whether tis better to retain this function totally inside or work with one or more outside partners. The argument can be made for both sides, but the answer is likely to depend on budgets and goals.

While in-house employees know their companies inside and out, their focus on one company can be both an advantage and disadvantage. Working with a variety of companies, especially those in the same industry, can provide a broader knowledge base and experience with a variety of communications strategies and disciplines.

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Silence is NOT Golden

When companies tell me they haven’t had good luck with PR in the past, the first question I ask is: How often did you reach out to the media? Who was assigned to own media outreach?

Typically, they don’t know the answer to either question, which in itself is quite telling. Building relationships with media is a nurturing process that requires a steady, planned approach. Issuing news releases and reaching out intermittently, sporadically, or haphazardly doesn’t work. It’s kind of like when a friend calls only when they want something. How does that make you feel?

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Create Streaming Hot Press Kits

What’s the deal? Even fresh-faced PR folks know that If you’re sincere about developing relationships with media folks, a press kit is among the essentials, if not the top one. Given its importance, I’m shocked to find so many so bland. Content as well as design should make it easy and fun if you want to pull the journalist in.

Flamboyant Fact Sheet

Who says backgrounders or fact sheets can’t be creative as well as educational? Our digital world opens up endless possibilities. Consider conveying the company’s personality with a controversial story/framework. Add graphics where appropriate. You might even think about a video background piece that may include some humor. You have more creative license in a video to add some obvious puffery. If you go the video route, make sure there’s a text version available as well. The point is do something to make your fact sheet different than others in your space. It will pay off when a reporter needs a resource and immediately recalls yours.

More to the Mix

In addition to the profile that summarizes your company—primary business, history, market needs and products/services that fulfill them, distribution, locations, management—include the most recent news release, capabilities brochure, customer testimonials/references, and a case study or two. It goes without saying (but you’d be shocked at the schlock out there), all pieces should be well written (releases and fact sheet in AP style).

Share your creativity in making your company’s profile a standout.