Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: November 2008

Dealing With Your Evil Twin

They say that you can learn the most about someone when they’re under pressure. As we hit a low point (I hope) in our economy, we’re going to start seeing some hidden personalities come out. These may not be our “real” personalities, but we’ll certainly see a few “evil twins.”

Breathing deeply and counting to ten before responding doesn’t work for everyone. Here are a few additional thoughts that may help you through some rough patches:

1. “When you point your finger ‘cause your plan fell through, you have three more fingers pointing back at you.” (Make a fist and point your finger if you don’t get this line from an old Dire Straits song.) Chances are it won’t just be your own fingers pointing at you. Those who make a habit of blaming others often find themselves sweating under the spotlight.

2. You can never really know what is going on in another person’s world. We probably all remember situations where we’ve been frustrated with colleagues only to find out later that they were going through something that we didn’t know about such as a major health issue.

3. Stop the name calling. Even if the stress gets to be too much for you and you need to vent to a trusted colleague about a situation, try to keep it objective. Thinking of your colleagues as lazy or incompetent doesn’t move the situation forward. Try to never say anything about a co-worker that you would not say to him or her.

4. Prioritize and then pick your battles carefully. Your priorities are not necessarily the same as your co-workers. You need to make sure that you aren’t making an issue out of everything or the really serious matters won’t be taken seriously. Ever heard something like this? “Oh you know Joe. He’s never happy. Don’t worry about it.”

5. Pick up the phone or walk down the hall. As efficient as email is, it’s easy for the tone of your message to be misunderstood. Think about this quick message delivered on email.

“What’s going on? I haven’t heard anything about the XYZ project lately.”

When you wrote that, you heard a casual, pleasant voice inside your head. XYZ project is important to you, but you accept that you’re partly to blame for losing touch with the project. You just wanted to reengage.

Your co-worker, who is up to their eyeballs in a crisis in ABC project, sees your message as criticism of them and their handling of the project. Not a good way to reconnect.

Not being critical doesn’t mean you have to accept poor performance. Just treat the situation openly and objectively and try to understand all sides while you work with your co-workers to address the issues that really matter to the business.
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Play Nice

As the economy continues its downward slide I thought I’d bring up the topic of “job insurance” again. Chances are some of you are in organizations that are at least considering a reduction in force if things get worse. Many are keeping it as a last resort, but it is there.

It can’t be said too many times that the best job insurance is to have measureable goals that tie to the company’s objectives (preferably bottomline) and then to make sure you meet or exceed those goals. Even in companies that cut marketing staff, they don’t usually cut everybody. Unless the company goes out of business, somebody who can show their value to the company has a shot at staying on the payroll.

But, an often overlooked piece of job insurance is to be someone that others like to work with. Be someone that others can count on. Be pleasant even when others around you are feeling the strain and letting it show. Think about how you can get the job done and support the rest of the company during the crisis.

I’m not suggesting you be Suzie Sunshine. People that are well-liked but have no substance are no more in demand now than they ever were. Plus, you have a job to get done and sometimes you have to be direct.

What I’m talking about are those of you who are a “nasty piece of work.” You’re likely to be at the top of the list even if you are performing. It might be a good time to start rebuilding some of those bridges you’ve been tearing down.
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10 Trade Show Tips

MarketingProfs recently had an excellent thread in their forum on how to make effective use of your trade show investment. You can access MarketingProfs if you are a member and even their basic free membership will allow you to access the forum. I am not affiliated with this site. I’m just a fan.

I suspect a lot of you are like the questioner. You are spending a significant amount of your marketing budget on trade shows. You feel you need to be there even though you can’t trace a single sale back to the show. How many times have you said to yourself, “If I can just get one...”

As the economy slows down, the money you’re sinking into trade shows is going to come under even greater scrutiny. If you do decide to continue to do trade shows, the forum responders had some great ideas for how you can make the most of it. My favorite ideas are listed below, and I’ve added some of my own perspectives as well:

1. Attend the show as an attendee instead of exhibiting. Make sure you send your most outgoing sales person to the conference. If it’s an educational conference, as so many are, be sure to sign them up so they can attend the sessions. You need them sitting next to potential prospects and talking shop. In my experience, you’re just as likely to find opportunities this way as you are by sifting through hundreds of unqualified leads.

2. Cut the number of people attending. No one likes to go to a show alone, but does everyone need to attend? IMO, marketing babysits far more often than they need to. Do you really need to be there in order to make sure everything is done properly? Sales people aren’t children. On the other hand, marketing sometimes doesn’t do effective pre-show marketing ahead of time and ends up with too many sales people at the show. It's tough to know what you're going to get, but it's better to have too few people and look busy than it is to have sales people just hanging around.

3. Rent a SoftServe ice cream truck. This brilliance of this one is self-evident.

4. Set up appointments ahead of time. You can do this through pre-show mailings and telemarketing. Give them an incentive to set up an appointment for a demo at the show. E.g. a gift card for a bookstore. They get the incentive after the show-meeting.

5. Make sure you also set up appointments with your current prospects. If you’re releasing a product that they haven’t seen yet, do a call down to invite them to stop by for a showing. Better yet, make it a “sneak peak.”

6. Use the show to do market research. I wrote about this one in a previous post.

7. Don’t exhibit but rent a conference room at a local hotel. Invite people to this meeting room in your pre-show marketing. Even providing food, which can be costly at a hotel, is often a lot cheaper than the cost of exhibiting.

Here’s some additional ideas that I didn’t see mentioned:

8. Work with the show organizers to see if there is some incentive you can arrange for your attendees. Many of these shows are seeing a drop in attendees and the organizers are feeling the pain as much as you are. Let them know you will proactively market show attendance to your prospects, but you want something to sweeten the deal.

9. Do the follow up. This was mentioned, of course, but I didn’t see anyone mention who should do the follow up. If you want to ruin your reputation with sales and completely waste your money go ahead and dump the leads into their lap. Read more about this in a previous post.

10. Set up meetings with your executives. If you’re selling to the c-level suite, see if you can get your own execs to attend and then set up side meetings with them for your key prospects. One word of caution: because many executive schedules can be unreliable, you need to be sure you have either an extremely committed exec or a backup exec of a comparable level. You don’t want to have your best prospects fly to a show thinking they are going to meet with the VP of Customer Services, only to find out at the lat minute that he or she couldn’t make it.

I’m sure we could come up with a list of 100 ideas if we put our minds to it. Let us know what’s worked and hasn’t worked for you.
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