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Today’s Consumer Has the Attention Span of a Gnat

phonelookI kid you not–after I got the idea to write on this subject, I typed the title that you see above. At the same time, a song that I like began playing at my desk.  It captured me for a minute and the subject matter got me thinking about things in my life that related to the song. Five minutes later, I looked up at the screen and said, “oh yeah, I’m supposed to be writing about keeping consumer attention.”

True story.  I lost my own attention.  That’s how bad things have gotten with this society.  We can’t even keep ourselves interested in our own interests.

Remember this when you’re presenting your business or product to others. Generations of yesteryear grew up reading books, appreciating seminars and dissertations.  Audiences of today want you to get to the point fast, fun and easy to comprehend.  Whether you’re one on one, presenting to large groups, making a video or a post for social media, the same rule applies–wow ’em quick!

My good friend, Phoebe Chongchua from The Brand Journalism Advantage published a post called “Knowledge Can Hurt Business and What To Do About It.” Being a former news reporter herself, Phoebe gives a lot of advice that incorporates techniques from her news days. Great pointers that will work for your business of today.

For instance, in relation to keeping consumer attention she wrote, “The solution to creating content that’s informative and influential is to Think Like A Journalist…more specifically, a Brand Journalist. TV News journalists typically have about 90 seconds to tell a story. It doesn’t matter if that story is complicated or extremely basic. News shows are arranged to change stories quickly and keep viewers’ attention so they don’t change the channel. A TV reporter needs to be able to summarize the story, include interviews from sources, and deliver it succinctly. A brand journalist uses these same skills to help companies create messages that stick. Once you Think Like A Journalist, you then have to produce content using the same techniques that reporters use to capture attention and draw news viewers into the newscast.”

That’s great advice.  Think about it.  A good news writer can put together a tease at the top of the hour that keeps you watching the news, even if you planned on doing something else.  Oh c’mon.  Admit it.  The desk anchor on your favorite channel got you to stop pressing buttons on your remote when he announced, “Coming up…a family’s hero dog carries baby out of a burning building.”  You waited through the bad news. You hung in there through the weather.  You suffered through a boring sports day and the final commercial break that ended at :28 minutes into the hour.

How was the story?  It sucked.  It turned out to be about a dog trainer that uses baby dolls to teach rescue skills to K-9s.  You got duped.  You felt like you just wasted 30 minutes of your life.  But guess what?  You will do it again, if you haven’t already–because these folks are good.  They have mastered the art of engagement.  They can turn an average story into something fun and exciting.

That’s where you need to be when talking about your business or product.

Remember, even if your product is something that fills a needed niche’ in people’s lives, most people will never be as fired up about it as you are.  It’s your baby.  You’re passionate about it.  Understandable.  But you’re going to have to be creative when trying to generate that same level of excitement with your potential customers.

Another thing you need to consider is where consumers put their limited attention on a daily basis.

In America (and a good part of the world), people spend more time on their phones then they do with their family.  It’s a device that they use from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep.  Social media, cool apps and practical programs that help make modern life a little easier is a sure fire way to reach people.

Have you considered how you may be able to use devices to share whatever it is you’re trying to share?  I’m not talking about signing up for Facebook and boring people with news about your business.  I’m talking about getting your business involved creatively in their life.

In the next few days, I’m going to put together a list of Tech Tid-Bits that will Help Reach Your Consumers.  It will be a list of alternative ideas you may not have thought of that you can incorporate into your company’s marketing plan or pitch approach.

I thought about included them in this post, but I fear that I may already be losing your attention!  🙂

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How do I get Attendees engaged?

Office Workers Clapping at Office PartyYou spent the money and put together a really nice display.  Your staff has smart looking, trendy outfits and your latest product is the best in the biz.

So why is everyone walking right past your booth?

Lorraine Arams of Wize Time Management  gives some tips to the Entreprenette Gazette that will help direct Attendees right into your display area:

* Stand in front of the table, engage people – smile, exude lots of energy
* Give something away – eg a pen with your company’s name & website
* People love videos – great when you are away from your booth
* Create a game or a demonstration about something even if it has nothing to do with your company – eg a ball maze – people love to watch the balls go through the maze. It creates “buzz”.
* Create fun and energy around your booth – a mascot, a clown, give away great fake tattoos,etc

Social Media and brand marketing guru, Shane Shirley told The Trade Show News Network, “Integrating technology into your tradeshow experience will get people engaged and excited about what you’re offering and when you can introduce technology while also going green you can help the planet and stay true to your environmental initiatives.”

Shirley elaborated on that subject and later suggested polling, go green apps and digital press kits as a way of getting people more engaged.

Look for my interview with Shane later this week on our iTunes podcast, Trade Show On-Air.


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Booth music fines could cost you more than the show

Music Fines

$150,000 just for playing “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

Not too many years ago, after the booth was all set up and the doors were opened, I would set up my CD player and put on my best mix CD of current popular hits.  I turned the speakers to about 6 or 7 (the most I was able to get away with from show organizers) and the music attracted extra visitors who would stumble in sometimes based on curiosity.

While I knew not to play this CD on my webcast station because of copyright infringement, I never even gave it a thought that my live presentations were putting my company at risk of being sued for tens of thousands.

Thankfully, we never got caught.  But today, exhibitors at trade shows are getting hit hard by publishing companies who want their cut when it comes to using their artists.

Due North Audio writes, “Unless you have purchased a license specifically for a trade show or conference, you won’t be able to play popular songs or remixes. The reason being is that artists have to be compensated if their music is being played in public. Music is influential and can alter people’s emotions so an artist’s song can directly affect your ability to have a successful trade show and increase business from the event. If songs are used without permission, you have declined to acknowledge the important role that the music had on your visitors’ energy. Since music is apart of your selling process, artists must be compensated as being apart of that process.”

Fines can be given up to $150,000 per infraction.

Read more HERE.


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Bad to the Bone Booth Staff

Bad Booth Staff

Bad Booth Staffers

I found a great little piece on the web about bad booth staffers.  If you are an exhibitor, you’ll be able to relate to this. Take notes. Some of these can help you at your next expo.

SkylineTradeShowTips.com writes:

He did what? She said what? And in our booth.

You may be surprised at the Booth Staffers Behaving Badly that goes on at trade shows.  Or, maybe not, since you’ve had to endure it yourself; staffers so bad they were actually dragging down your corporate image, losing more business than they brought in.

Unfortunately, there always have been, and always will be bad booth staffers. Here’s a list of some of the perpetrators:

1. The Networker:  The Networker spends most of his booth staff shift talking, but instead of having concise conversations with clients and prospects, he whiles away the expensive show hours talking with other sales people, corporate management, and anyone else who will listen — as long as he doesn’t have to actually take a lead.

2. The Fire Hose:  Instead of asking attendees good questions, listening for specific pains, needs, and goals, and responding with an appropriate presentation, the Fire Hose lets loose the same unending stream of corporate speak, drowning the attendee with irrelevant messages.  They offend your booth visitors and wash away your return on investment at the same time.

3. The Wall Flower:  While being an introvert is no barrier to great booth staffing, a Wall Flower lacks the courage and initiative to start a conversation with passing attendees.  Booth staffers that wait on the sidelines for attendees to walk in the booth will get a small fraction of the leads of a staffer willing to engage visitors in the aisle.

4. The Debbie Downer:  While constructive criticism is essential for growth, Debbie Downers are permanently parked in a dark place. These perpetually pessimistic people are a danger to your company’s brand, as they drag down their fellow booth staffers by their continuous complaining about each and everything possible. They don’t exactly light up the world with prospects, either!

5. The Invisible Man:  While not activity destroying your brand equity through poor performance, The Invisible Man (or Woman) doesn’t show up for their booth shift, leaving your remaining staff to pick up the load, and lowering your lead count potential.  Even worse is if your Invisible Man has essential, unique expertise, such as demonstrating a new product.

Read the rest of them HERE.


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Vegas Tip #3,421: Airport Slot Machines

Airport Slot Machines

Are slot machines at Las Vegas airport a tourist trap with bad odds?

I’ve been to Las Vegas so many times, I have become an expert on all things Sin City.  I’ve given so many Vegas Tips over the years to friends and associates that I figured I’d just continue the trend right here on our blog.

Obviously, since this is a new blog, you didn’t get a chance to hear the first 3,420 tips I gave out to my power circle.  However, instead of starting over and back tracking to help you catch up, I decided to just keep moving and start with Vegas Tip #3,421.

AIRPORT SLOT MACHINES

When you arrive in Las Vegas for your expo, you will walk off the gate to the sounds of bells, whistles and sirens.  There are approximately 1,300 slot machines at McCarran International Airport.  And while it’s kind of fun and exciting to make that entrance,  it’s rare that you will actually sit down in front of a machine and begin gambling.  Most folks like to get to their hotel quickly so they can give all their money to that venue.

It’s only when you’re leaving town that these machines start calling to you as you wait to begin boarding.

I’ve always been told to stay away from those slots. I’ve been warned that they are programmed with less odds than the machines on the strip.  Not being much of a gambler my whole life, I believed that advice and never put anything into those puppies–until one strange two hour business lunch.

About ten years ago I was asked to fly to Vegas from Los Angeles for a business lunch.  My flight was to land at 11am and my next flight back to LA was leaving at about 3pm.  Pretty much enough time for a two hour meal and brief conversation.

The engagement was very productive and as I got back to the airport to head home, I felt pretty good about the potential relationship with this party I had connected with.  I was a smoker back then so I made my way to the smoking room at the airport to have a couple butts before my flight boarded.  In Las Vegas, the smoking rooms are full of slot machines.

“Ah what the heck,” I thought as I opened my wallet to see how much cash I had.

There were two twenties in my bill fold and I decided to stick them both in the dollar machine.  Even not being much of a gamer, I know to always play MAX credits when using slots.  It makes no sense to play the minimum bet because the pay out is much larger with all allowed credits in the game. This game had a $2 max credits requirement so with $40 on a dollar machine, I was gonna get 20 spins.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I got down to my third cigarette and my final spin and bam!  One seven, two sevens, three sevens and all the bells went off.  In my subconscious mind I knew I won something but didn’t think it was gonna be all that much so I had a very casual response as people started gathering around me.

“You just won $5,000.00,” a little elderly woman said to me with a beaming smile.

“I did?” I asked.  I looked at the machine and yes, I most certainly did.

4cardkeno

Vegas fun for your iPhone. Click on logo to download.

Truth be told, after paying taxes on it, it was more like $3,200 in winnings, but even still, not bad for a little lunch break out of town.

According to Gray Cargill of VegasSolo.com, “I’ve seen many reports on TripAdvisor’s Vegas forum from people who won enough money at the airport to make them happy.  According to Chris Jones, Acting Manager of Public Affairs and Marketing at McCarran, two players at McCarran won $392,000 and $259,000 respectively within four days of each other in May 2008. One lucky traveler won $3.9 million at a progressive Wheel of Fortune machine in January 2005. ”

WizardOfOdds.com released some great slot machine myths and facts.  Here’s a few below:

Myths and Facts

Just about everything that players believe about slots is untrue. Here are the most common myths and facts.

  • Myth: Slot machines are programmed to go through a cycle of payoffs. Although the cycle can span thousands of spins, once it reaches the end the outcomes will repeat themselves in exactly the same order as the last cycle.
  • Fact: This is not true at all. Every spin is random and independent of all past spins.
  • Myth: Machines pay more if a player card is not used.
  • Fact: The mechanism that determines the outcome of each play does not consider whether a card is used or not. The odds are the same with or without one.
  • Myth: The machines by the doors and heavy traffic flow areas tend to be loose while those hidden in quiet corners tend to be tight.
  • Fact: I’ve studied the relationship between slot placement and return and found no correlation. Every slot director I’ve asked about this laughs it off as just another player myth.

 

Of course, the best way to win in Vegas is…to simply not play.  About 80% of people who gamble anywhere on their visit go home in the negative.  Another 11% come back even.  And the remaining 8-9% return ahead.  You’ve worked too hard to hand over your earnings that easily.


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Do I need to rent a car while I’m in town for the Expo?

taxi

Make sure your NYC taxi cab has a meter and a posted hack license.

As your planning your trip to your next convention, one of the things on your check list is transportation.  Unless you’ve had previous experience in the city you’re going to, you’re probably wondering if you should spend the extra money on renting a vehicle.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors involved here and every situation is different.  For instance, if you know that you’ll be taking clients off premises for dinners and meetings, you’re going to probably want to have a high-line rental in the hotel parking lot so you don’t kill your budget with car services.  Additionally, if the only hotel you were able to book is quite a distance from the convention center in a town that doesn’t offer good public transportation, you may also want to consider locking some wheels down.  Heck, there are towns that are either so humid and sticky or cold and windy, I’ve rented a car even for short distances so I didn’t have to deal with Mother Nature at times.  I’ve also taken cabs one block at times so that I looked and felt fresh when arriving at the show.

Only you know all the specifics of your trip so you’re on your own there.

What I’d like to do is tell you about specifics in a few cities I have a lot of experience in.  Let’s start in my old neighborhood…

NEW YORK CITY

Apart from a couple cities overseas, The Big Apple has the best public transportation system in the world. 13 miles long and 2 and 1/2 miles wide, this small island in New York is home to 1.6 million people. During the work week, over 600,000 more people come to work from 3 or 4 different states. 2.2 million people in 22.7 square miles. Do you really want to drive in that?

The good news is, you don’t need to.  Even if you stayed in an uptown hotel, there are plenty of transportation options to get you downtown to the show.  While you still have to be very careful of your personal belongings, the crime rate has dropped considerably and riding the subways in the day time is very safe.  Unfortunately, there’s still a strong smell of urine on the New York City streets, but sadly enough, you get used to it rather quickly and it doesn’t bother you anymore.

You’ll probably fly in to Jersey or Queens.  If your hotel doesn’t offer a shuttle, then take a yellow cab.  DO NOT take a car service on the fly.  In other words, unless you ordered it before you arrived, don’t fall prey to non-licensed car service guys who promise you a great deal into the city.  Make sure your cabby has a license and a meter.

The trip into New York City from Newark, La Guardia or JFK should all be under 30-45 minutes if there’s no traffic.  Unfortunately, there’s usually traffic.  Just keep an eye on your route.  Some cabbies take the long way to pad the meter.

One you arrive at your hotel, you can survive on cabs and public transportation for the rest of your stay.  It’s so much more convenient.

LAS VEGAS

When you land in Sin City, the airport is only a few miles from the “strip”.  It’s very easy to take a cab to your hotel and you really never need a car again–until you cab your way back to the airport.  But…it’s Las Vegas.  Who wants to be stuck in one place in this exciting city of lights?

There are a few positives and negatives when considering having your own wheels.

For instance, if you have a car, you have the freedom to take off whenever you need to and go anywhere you want in a very exciting town that allows you to park almost anywhere for free. Seriously, this is probably the only city left in America that offers free parking at almost every major venue. Obviously, they are keeping your pockets full because they assume they will get that money anyway, once you get inside the casino. But free parking is a huge plus that could really save you hundreds by the end of your trip.  No cab fair, no parking fees , no public transportation…it’s a beautiful thing.

On the other side of the coin, Las Vegas is a party city.  Even if you’re not much of a party person, this town inspires even the strong to say, “Ahhh what the heck” and participate in some smooshjing.  It’s very easy to make a mistake that you can’t take back.  An out of town D.U.I. is no fun (minimum of $10,000 in fines), but worse yet, one careless choice and momentary lapse in judgment could take a life–yours or an innocent tourist.

I’ve talked to so many expo-goers over the years who lived responsible, respectable lives in their home town, but came to Las Vegas and made the police blotter.

Take my advice, unless you’re strong enough to be the trip-long designated driver, don’t even rent a car.

NEW ORLEANS

Another city focused around party time.  I mean, come on, they serve daiquiris at drive-thrus. Go and have your fun, but get a hotel away from all the wildness. This choice will force you to rent a car to get around, but you’ll thank me later for it. If you do want to stay in the French Quarter, aside from one or two of the larger hotel chains, there isn’t much to choose from.  I don’t recommend staying anywhere near Bourbon Street. There’s a Double-tree in Metairie (10 miles away) that is clean, modern and a great place to escape the craziness.

On a side note, everyone that goes to New Orleans wants to eat at “Emeril’s” restaurant.  Most nights he’s there in person, cooking and shouting out ‘bam’! But if your budget doesn’t allow multiple five star dinners on your trip, skip the touristy-trendy spot and make sure you dine at “Mr. B’s”. This is right in the heart of Bourbon Street but the food is so delicious and the service is top rate.  Great place to take clients you’re trying to impress.

MIAMI

This city is way too spread out to survive without a rent-a-car.  In addition, the taxi drivers here are the worst when it comes to honesty in routing.  If you get in a cab here, make sure that you map the route in your phone GPS and let the driver know that you’re doing so.  These guys are sharks.

However, if you do rent a car, be very careful in downtown Miami.  One wrong turn can take you right into a neighborhood that may resemble something from Scarface or New Jack City.  I’m a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan but I’m at peace with loving them from Los Angeles.  Seriously, there are so many beautiful areas in the Miami area, but some neighborhoods you need police escort to make it out alive.  Be careful!

If you do rent a car, I highly recommend that you stay at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood.  It’s right on the beach, reasonably priced, clean and gorgeous. I’ve stayed at the Westin a dozen times and always had a great experience.

Many other places along the beach look great in the pics online….and only online. If you want to visit South Beach, feel free but let me save you a few dollars.  Don’t pay hundreds of dollars just for the luxury of sitting in a vip area of a club.  Once you sit, you will then pay $400 for one bottle of alcohol valued at $24.95 at the local liquor store.  You will also pay hundreds of dollars for cranberry juice and other mixers. Do all your business stroking at the hotel.

If you want to do something different and not rely on alcohol driven events, Miami is a great town for water rentals. boats, jet skies, fishing, snorkeling and swamp rides are just a few of the events offered that you may consider inviting peers to.  Give your clients or employees a day of local nature and plan something they will remember for the rest of their life.

Here’s a few other towns and considerations:

CHICAGO – Rent-a-Car

WASHINGTON D.C. – Public Transportation (Clean and safe)

ATLANTA – Rent-a-Car

PHILADELPHIA – Rent-a-Car (Don’t get lost, rough town, streets hard to navigate)

SAN FRANCISCO – Public Transportation (Bart System) is awesome

ATLANTIC CITY – Rent-a-Car

DALLAS – Public Transportation

SAN DIEGO – Rent-a-Car

LOS ANGELES – Rent-a-Car

ORLANDO – Rent-a-Car

LONDON – Public Transportation


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The Missing Booth

Missing Booth

You and your team arrive, but your booth doesn’t!

Ed Avis is the publisher of el Restaurante Magazine, a trade publication for owners of Mexican/Latin restaurants in the United States, where he also writes a blog online. Look for my upcoming podcast interview with Avis for Trade Show On-Air, expected to be available on iTunes later this week.

In one of Ed’s archives, I found an entertaining post called “Trade Show Horror Stories“, with one particular story about a show he participated in at the Javits Center in New York City, where it appeared they lost his company’s booth.

Avis writes, “One time Kathy (one of the magazine editors) arrived at a food show at the Javits Center in New York and the el Restaurante Mexicano display was missing. The tracking information showed that it had arrived at Javits, so Kathy knew it was there somewhere. But show management couldn’t find it. Fortunately the magazines did show up, so Kathy had something to hand out to people wondering what her blank booth was all about (in fact, she says she probably attracted more people than she would have with her normal booth). The show ended and the booth was never found…but six months later it arrived back at our office!”

Six months later!  And they just sent it back like nothing happened.  This actually happens more often then you would expect at convention centers worldwide.

What do you do if this happens to you?

NationWideDisplays.com says, “The first thing you need to do is gather what you do have. Did you and your staff carry certain items for the show; graphics, products, brochures, anything that you can create a new display around?  Once you gather everything together, your new foundation is set. The next steps are hectic but all doable. Someone needs to contact your main office and have them ship overnight any additional products or brochures to you right away for the show opening. Then have them email you your artwork for your graphics. There are many printers that can expedite your printing (at a higher cost) so you can create an atmosphere for your booth space. It is better to always have a digital copy of your graphics, just in case, and to always carry some supplies with you instead of packing everything with your display booth, (this could help with those last minute unexpected costs). The show manager should have tables and chairs that you can rent to furnish your space and with a touch of creativity (and a local craft store) you can have a great space.”

Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. If you scramble calmly with minimal stress, you’ll allow your creative side to kick in and save the day. Like Kathy said in Ed’s story above, the awkward booth adjustment may have attracted more people to her booth then she would have with her typical set up.

And when all else fails, throw a little humor in the mix. SkylineTradeShowTips.com wrote, ” An alternative might be to order a bold banner stand or sign that says, “Coming Soon! The Lost (Company Name Here) Trade Show Display!”  Attendees always appreciate humor, and they’ll probably stop by to commiserate with you, particularly if they’ve ever been in your shoes.”