Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bored with your current life, imagine living a second

After reading an article the other day regarding people enjoying second lives via cyberspace, my scope of imagination was stretched a bit. For those of you bored with your current life and willing to shed such for a second skin... your time has arrived. From a purely trade show perspective, this land of imagination could be adapted to create a realm entirely devoted to the trade show industry or any industry for that matter. For our sake, we'll continue along this tact seeing as it is our livelihood.

That above-forementioned 'cyber world' is reality and it's called 'Second Life'. New arrivals have the opportunity to create an avatar, or visual persona, which can be as weird or wonderful as their imagination permits. Upon creation of a new life you are guided through three-dimensional landscapes through which you can chat - via a keyboard and speech-bubbles - to other avatars, purchase virtual land and teleport yourself anywhere you desire. The result, according to one "travel guide" to Second Life, is "a world of endless reinvention where you can change your shape, your sex, even your species as easily as you might slip into a pair of shoes back home." The most visually impressive of the new generation of social-networking sites are fueling a resurgence of commercial interest in the web, and have brazenly placed its methods into the popular imagination.

Second Life is, according to its website, "a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents" and a "vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity".

My take is such. Instead of posturing and procuring a higher-than-mighty position to argue the spiritual and social ramifications involved, I've decided to go a different route. Why not apply the idea to a space devoted soley to trade shows. I know give it a minute to settle and resound within you.

Instead of physically traveling to and from the trade shows, advertising agencies, marketing outlets and company websites, one could simply shapeshift within a new world to find anyone and everything associated with the trade show industry. Now, in order for this to be accepted those partaking would have to be members already of the trade show fraternity. Though I'm not sure how you could police that requirement that in itself would allow this space to thrive with a bit of reality as opposed to the 'Second Life' alter ego which is growing based on anonymity. Further, you'd have the opportunity to leave your home, office, cafe, etc less often than in the past because of this spacious domain. Think of the work which could be accomplished from the time saved from the many forms of transportation which wouldn't need to be used with the same level of continuity.

Why would one want to do such a thing? Because they could. It seems to me if any 9 year old can market him or herself and/or their video on a third party website for anyone to peruse just by a keystroke, then there would be those out there curious about a cyberland where the future of the trade show arena is constantly evolving due to the user's imagination.

A stretch... of course, but no more so than those living a second life within a territory only bound by the parameters of your mind.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Magic's Life Altering Announcement

I have never copied or pasted an article verbatim into this blog but today I found it significant to paste a portion. Magic Johnson, was one of the most electrifying athletes I'd ever seen and was an idol. He was someone I emulated on the basketball court and can remember his AIDS announcement; which now seems like ages ago.

It's amazing to think that event was 15 years ago. What strikes me as even more astounding was what Magic has done in the period of time since. It seems his passion and work ethic have only intensified over the years when it came to helping others who were less fortunate. If you have a few moment's take the time to read the article posted below. Maybe it will affect you the way it did me.

Elliot Kalb's article reflects what I feel many of us believed about Magic and what he meant for our generation.

Every generation, it seems, has a moment in time in which something happens that affects everyone.

For folks a little older than me, there was a November day in 1963, when news of President Kennedy's assassination shocked the world.

Photo Gallery...Magic: The last 15 years
For my generation, it was a November afternoon in 1991, 15 years ago when a different shocking announcement literally changed the world.

The announcement, of course, was that Earvin "Magic" Johnson, a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, was retiring because he had tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news. This wasn't just any basketball player, or any retirement. And this wasn't just any disease.

At the time, the announcement sounded very much like a death sentence for Magic. At the time, it was. One headline the following day to a sidebar story on Magic was chillingly succinct: "Magic's life expectancy uncertain." That article began this way: "Now that Magic Johnson has been diagnosed as having the virus that causes AIDS, he could live for as little as months or for as long as a decade, physicians said ..."

On a subliminal level, it was the end of a lifestyle that many men (not just professional athletes) engaged in. No longer would it be possible to have multiple sex partners without thinking of — or paying — the consequences. The same week that Johnson announced that he had tested positive from having unprotected sex with women, Wilt Chamberlain (one of the very best players in NBA history) was promoting his book, in which he claimed to have had sex with 20,000 different women. AIDS had been in the public consciousness since 1981, but at the time it was largely viewed as a disease that only homosexual men contracted.

"Every person remembers where they were when they found out," New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said recently. "He told me and Mark (Aguirre) and we talked and cried."
Even other NBA players who were in the league at the time who weren't close friends with Johnson were still stunned by the news.

"I was with Portland at the time, real early in my career," Robinson recalled. "I heard about it before the press conference, and just prayed that it was just a rumor. I didn't believe it. The only thing comparable to me was hearing the news that Len Bias had died suddenly. You just didn't want to accept the news. I felt for him."

I watched Earvin's press conference from Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks had a game that night. To say the entire Garden was deflated was to put it mildly. I remember being surprised a few months earlier, in June at the 1991 NBA Finals, when I had read an article that talked about a healthy but aging Magic Johnson possibly playing only one or two more years. It didn't seem possible, as Magic had finished 1991 as second in the MVP voting to Michael Jordan.
Magic in both times sad (at his announcement that he was HIV-positive in 1991) and happy (at a recent ceremony in which Lakers owner Jerry Buss received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame).

I had been part of the television network coverage for the 1991 McDonald's Open — an international basketball competition featuring an invited NBA team (this time, the Lakers) against champion clubs from other countries. I learned that Magic Johnson was a very popular figure in Europe — far bigger than I had imagined. He was one of the most famous — and popular and beloved — figures in the world. All I could think of when watching the Nov. 7 press conference on television was the movie Pride of the Yankees, when a dying Lou Gehrig told the Yankee Stadium crowd, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." I heard the words coming from Magic, about how it could happen to anyone. I heard Magic say that he's going to go on, and beat it. I heard how he vowed to become a spokesman for the disease.

I admired how he stood up and announced his fate to the world. I admired his courage, but thought it was an act. He couldn't have been so upbeat. How could any 32-year-old newly married man with so much to live for be so upbeat announcing this news?

But he was ... and has been since that day 15 years ago.
Soon after his retirement, I had a chance to work with him when he became a television analyst. He put everyone at ease. He talked to everyone on a personal level. How could I hope to have a conversation with one of the most powerful and recognizable figures in the world, for instance?
Magic made it impossible to be anything but your best friend. He remembered your favorite NFL team. He shared stories about his wife telling him he was gambling too much at the casinos. Even Magic had fears and worries about parenting toddlers, and worrying about their safety. If Magic noticed that all of a sudden, someone was taping and labeling his water bottles, he never let on.

And he did more than just talk basketball, or fight the disease for himself. He did more than any politician could have done to raise money and increase awareness for the HIV/AIDS pandemic. There's only been one athlete (Muhammad Ali) that comes close to doing as much for the worldwide community as Johnson has accomplished. The difference is that Magic has gotten bigger (literally and figuratively) after announcing his HIV. Ali — still a revered and beloved worldwide figure — shows the effects of Parkinson's disease. Magic still has his voice, and his body, and his smile.

Earvin has revitalized neglected communities by bringing Magic Johnson Theatres and retail centers into inner cities. He opened a series of 24-hour Fitness Magic Johnson clubs in minority areas. He had done everything from launching a platinum recording artist to hosting a talk show. His Magic Johnson Foundation raises money to fund community-based organizations serving the educational, health, and social needs of children residing in inner cities communities and HIV/AIDS organizations specializing in education, prevention, and care.

"It will be hard to find a person who has gotten more out of every single day of his life," said longtime friend Thomas.

According to the Center for Disease Control, at the end of 2003, over a million persons in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS, with 24-27% undiagnosed and unaware of their HIV infection. CDC has estimated that approximately 40,000 persons become infected with HIV each year in the United States. No longer is it the shocking apparent "death sentence" that it was not a generation ago. There are powerful combinations of drugs that have allowed patients — with far less resources than Johnson — to lead normal lives, while managing their HIV.
I am not a person that lives their life believing in preordained fate. Yet it is hard to believe anything else other than Magic Johnson being destined to test positive for this disease for a reason.

Magic has spent the last third of his life in the public eye fighting his HIV, after spending the previous 15 years thrilling the world on the basketball court, both at the college level and in the NBA. This is one anniversary — and one life — that should be celebrated every year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Why use a Trade Show Coach?

Why use a trade show coach?

Well, conventional wisdom would dictate that if one wishes to make the most out of their trade show experience they'll use the expertise offered by trade show pros. For the pros consult presenters on the inherent pitfalls of each show and how to avoid them, as well as, take advantage of the positives associated with each show.

One person in particular always comes to mind when speaking of coaches...

Susan Friedmann, a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), says, "One-on-One coaching is simply the fastest road to success with your exhibiting efforts". She works with organizations who want to boost their exhibiting results by attracting new business at tradeshows. By designing and implementing strategies for show organizers and exhibitors who want to retain and grow their customer base, she has made a name for herself in this industry.
She also works one-on-one with exhibit managers and conducts national and international presentations and workshops.

Originally from London, England, Susan has been a successful speaker, consultant and author for over 20 years. As an innovative, insightful and high-content speaker together with her extensive tradeshow experience and background, she is a popular expert choice presenter and trainer for corporations, associations and convention organizers worldwide.
A prolific author, Susan has written and published ten books, several of which have been translated into numerous languages. ? Most recently, she compiled and published the latest books on exhibiting, the three volume, Secrets of Successful Exhibiting series, with over 30,000 copies in print. Her latest book "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies," was published in July, 2003.

Susan is a National Board Director of the National Speakers Association, and a Certified Speaking Professional. A CSP is a dedicated professional with a proven track record of continued speaking excellence. It's the highest earned designation from NSA with less than eight percent of the total membership having achieved it.

Among her numerous teachings, Susan gives the presentor 7 powerful assistance tools:

1. Creating the right first impression so visitors want to spend time at your booth.
2. Developing relevant qualifying questions to uncover prospects' real needs.
3. Demonstrating your company's capability to show and tell.
4. Anticipating visitors' questions.
5. Obtaining commitment and establishing a follow-up plan of action.
6. Handling competitors and tire-kickers so they don't waste precious selling time.
7. Appreciating the importance of non-verbal communication; recognizing the do's and don'ts and listening habits that upset visitors.

It sounds simple; that's precisely the way Susan conveys her methods. She helps make the experience worthwhile from an economic standpoint and easy to understand. And that my friends should be the ultimate goal of any trade show presenter.

Lastly, having dealt with Susan in the past, there is no one I'd rather have assisting me with my trade show needs.

If you'd like to learn more of what Susan Friedmann can teach you for your next show please contact her. http://thetradeshowcoach.com/susan.html 518-523-1320

Friday, September 08, 2006

A few Fantasy Football tips for all you crazed NFL Fans

Though I profess not to be a fantasy gamer, that doesn't mean I still don't keep track of the players and my friends weekly contests. That said, I came across a few tips for those of you crazed NFL addicts.
These sounded good and made sense especially over the long 17 week season!
1) Have faith in your line-up. Meaning keep an even keel as long as possible because you will endure many highs and lows over the next few weeks. Try to keep your eyes on the prize and stay focused for the long haul.
2) Use the waver wire wisely. Use it to your advantage when you need assistance in certain areas. Pay attention to players who show consistent production over the first three or four weeks. Then make your choice.
3) Beware the one week wonders! A good start doesn't make a Pro Bowl season. Kerry Collins could throw for 265 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 last year but that didn't equate to him posting similar every week. After the season, he was dumped. Don't let go of Daunte Culpepper to pick up Alex Smith because Smith had better stats in Week 1. Patience is a virtue. But, know your opponent and their weeknesses!
4) Avoid the 'rook' fever. Other than Reggie Bush, expecting that rookie to make a huge impact on your squad is a bit pie-in-the-sky. Though Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Jay Cutler may prove to pay off later in the season, especially in keeper leagues, go with proven vets in your lineup. Rookies tend to fluctuate; to many variables. Although, I do like Leinart's chances given Warner's injury propensity the last few years. He will throw up some huge numbers once Kurt takes a shower.
5) Use depth to your advantage. If you've got tons of talent at one position, then don't be afraid to package a starter along with a second-tier starter in a midseason trade to pick up a top running back and bolster your squad for the postseason push. Few teams make it to the Super Bowl without adding to their roster down the stretch.
Hopefully these few tips will help ease some of the pre-game stress rituals I know most of you anguish over every week.
Here's to a great season and the Steelers winning number 6!
And may all your waves never end and your wind be sustaining.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Having a Smashable Brand?

Smash your brand! That's what Martin Lindstrom, self-proclaimed Brand futurist, advocated just a short time ago.

Running with the mindset that traditional advertising no longer works, Martin advocates you might need to Smash your brand!

In the New York Times June '04, an article revealed that the overall effective influence of tv commercials decreased by 52% in just over ten years. In contrast, the cost of producing those same tv commercials increased more than 130% over the time frame. This was a clear indication that the traditional paths of brand building were slowly drying up, forcing savy marketers to re-think their missions and search for alternatives.

An invention from the early days of the twentieth century provided the answer based on Martin's hypothesis.

Many of you will recognize this story from early Marketing 101 classes in college.

In 1915, a designer from the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana was asked to design a glass bottle. The brief was pretty straightforward. They wanted a bottle that even when broken, the pieces would still be recognizable as part of the whole. The designer succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He designed the classic Coke bottle, which has gone on to become one of the most famous glass icons ever. The bottle is still in service, it's still recognizable, and has been passing the smash test for every new generation over the last 80 years.

The Coke bottle story is fascinating from a brand-building perspective. In theory, all brands should be able to pass this test. So, working on this principle, if you removed the logo from your brand, would it still be recognizable? In fact, it would be worthwhile to know, because to place too great an emphasis on a brand?s logo carries risks. Least of all there is a danger of neglecting all the other potential brand-building opportunities. If paid due attention, many other aspects of the product become recognizable in their own right. Color, navigation, texture, sound and shape. Even blindfolded, you'd know you're holding a classic Coke bottle. Would advertising copy enhance it? Will the colors, graphics, images or even packaging design individually pass the smash test?

Smashing your brand requires attention to every facet beyond just your logo. You need to look at signal, tone, touch, shape of your product, merchandising and its wrapping. Owning a Smashable color creates an emotional bond between the consumer and your consumable product. Martin goes on to say color isn't the only thing which can create a truly Smashable brand. Pictures or photos, your language, icons, rituals garner brand identities.

Take a few seconds and digest that. If your product doesn't pass the taste test, so-to-speak, then maybe it should be augmented to try and attract consumers on a whole new level.
He uses McDonalds as a perfect example. Arguably one of the best known brands in the world, McDonald's uses the Mac in their name to every possible advantage. Whether "their world is awash with Big Macs, McNuggets, McMuffins and even McSundays", the vernacular has become part of our every day lives. My buddies and I often use Mac before some of our words in everday conversation. How many brands out there can make that claim?

Martin claims the idea of smashing your brand is simple. "Identifying the components you want to be famous for and leverage the fact that the logo is only a very small component of your overall brand visibility is key. Consider what your brand should be well known for in five years time from today and then consistently begin to build up the association with your signals. But be consistent and be persistent. Changing strategy half- way can be dangerous. Ex. IBM is no longer associated with Big Blue ? Pepsi has taken over. Why? Because these companies had taken their ownership of these essential colors for granted. Even if this means that you can find the Coca-Cola logo in a blue, green and orange versions in the UK."

Smashing your brand is in fact all about keeping focus on everything beyond the logo, because a good 90 percent of the real estate on your product or service should also be branded. When every other aspect of your product is branded, you have a truly smashable brand.

So, what are you waiting for exactly. Get to Smashing your product!

Till next time, may your wind never fail and may it sustain 13+mph!

Guys Night Out- Part Three

Part 3 of the 'Guys Night Out' installments begins like the others, as it revolves around an assembly of self-assured friends who meet infrequently to both catch up on current events and to ever grasp at the fleeting fountain of youth.

Current events range from our travels, both personal and business, to wives, girlfriends, movies seen, books read, of course politics, sports, and irrevokably about how we've all seemed to age overnight. We're left pondering where our youth has gone. At one point, we were engaged in a conversation about how much closer the four of us were to the magic age of 50 than to the other milestone 20? Next, as if inexplicably we were gloating, mind you, over the fact that certain members of this rabble had been carted while attemting to procure alcohol recently and were proud of it. At this point in our lives, it's a compliment to get carted. Albeit these days, all those who sell alcohol are supposed to cart everyone attempting to purchase. But, none-the-less it stokes the youthful fires to hear, "Wow you don't look that old?" or "That can't be right?". Keep the compliments coming I say.

That's right. Our conversation sunk to an all time low, well actually its been much lower, but how sad is it when a bunch of older dudes, oh I shudder to write that, get together and pontificate over how many times they've been carted since their last encounter.

Oh well, as usual there were many laughs and that's the key to eternal youth my friends. That combined with ample exercise, and travel (I know its a stretch but it sounds good).

Tying the carting aspect in as a common theme, we harmoniously and ironically all agreed the four of us look younger than our age because of our constant activities. That younger look could be tied to the fact that all of us are sports fanatics. The guys participate on a regular basis in basketball, softball, flag football, and weightlifting. Yours truly runs on a daily basis and when possible kite boards. Having recently picked up what could be the hardest sport I've ever attempted, I attempt to hone the newly formed skill whenever I'm in Shangri-La (a.k.a. KDH in the Outer Banks, NC).

We all travel a bit; whether for personal or business purposes. The guys travel quite a bit for work and I admit am envious. For travel seems to energize us as well. It allows us to shed our usual shell and take on another for a short time. Whether for pleasure or business; for a weekend or longer, that time away gives us different perspectives on life. And those perspectives add memories to our lives which keep the youthful tides flowing.

Those activities combined with the fact we all laugh at ourselves and others for that matter kkep us young at heart. For, if you can't laugh easily then you've lost a bit of youthful exhuberence and sadly are aging exponentially faster than your peers. For laughter is addictive.
So, what did we learn this last go-around. Getting older isn't such a bad thing as long as you keep everything in perspective and stay young at heart. Whether you travel, exercise, or laugh on a regular basis, you can remain youthful inside, as well as out, and keep positive perspectives on life and friendships knowing those friends keep all perpetuating the others!

Till next time may your wind be constant and above 13mph :).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

70-inch LCD TV... Bigger is better?

Is bigger necessarily better? Just when we thought the TV screen had reached its limit. Now I wonder just how large these works of wonder will be years from now?
Samsung has just created the first 70-inch LCD TV panel! That's right you're not reading things. 70-inches! Unbelievable really...
Personally, my 60-inch is entirely too big. Well, not entirely. Especially when its football season, NFL to be exact. There's actually nothing like watching your favorite team, the 5-time World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, wage battle on the big screen while your utilizing the picture-in-picture option to keep tabs on your fantasy players. That my friends is a little piece of heaven. In actuality, if I had it to do over again I would have purchased a 42-inch plasma after all the reading and screens I've viewed here lately. But, I digress.
Samsung's 70-incher will be the largest on the market with a 65-inch diameter! It will boast the full high definition resolution (1920/1080p) and have a 180 degree conical viewing angle. With a contrast ratio of 2,000:1 it will also offer over 1 billion colors. Finally, the price tag is expected to be in the $12,000 range. What more could you ask for... right?
Well, who in their right mind would purchase such a luxury item? Your everyday millionaire probably will place this on their wishlist or just add it to their 5,000 square ft game room. But, for the average working man, this will be a bit out of their league. Though, 70-inches would sure be nice. Who said bigger isn't better? The pessimists obviously never saw a screen of this size or the NFL in HD for that matter.
I guess we'll wait and see how big the screens will be this time next year or how about 5 years from now. Who knows where the technology will take us. Only time and money will tell.
Until then, may the movie and sports fan in you find the large screen that best suits your needs and your wallet and may your waves never end.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Trade Show Giveaways and Trade Show Marketing

The whole purpose of a trade show display is to attract attention to your booth. But, in order to attract the most attention possible you should consider the use of promotional items.
The primary use of promotional items is to draw attendees to your booth space and thereby transform them into active participants in your brand messaging.
So it makes sense that the more people you draw to your booth the more potential customers you can appropriate. With that said, think of promotional products as an extention of your booth. They are very much the bells and whistles needed to put you ahead of your competition. For it is not necessarily the best display that wins but the best prepared display. For the best prepared exhibitor engages their customers and delivers their memorable showcase of product or service.
Further, to be the best prepared, you must realize you have but 3 seconds to grab the attention of those potential customers. In order to best impact that audience you must bombard them with as much eye candy as possible. The promos/giveaways offer an irresistible selling point that a typical display can not offer. Your audience has to want, as well as, believe they 'need' your promotional items.
It's been proven that tradeshow exhibitors who provide attendees with those 'needed' promotional items are in fact the most successful. Why you ask?
Because those who have chosen to do their homework before the show are the most prepared and the most organized. They know what to expect at the show and how to attain a greater percentage of the customer base. That homework will propel them into the competitive driver's seat at the show.
The promotional item assists with that targeting by offering both universal appeal and a one-on-one interaction between your sales people and the customer. Remembering to add your company name and/or logo to the items will make them even more memorable.
For the fact is quite simple. If you didn't add the attendee as a customer at the show, your window of opportunity shrinks exponentially once it has concluded. So, whatever you can do to keep your company name and brand in their minds and on their short list longer would be in your best interest.
In closing, do your homework before your big engagement and make sure your promotional items have met the necessary criteria to make you more memorable and assist you in gaining potential customers. For the customer's attention span is short and you want to grab them as early as possible. By doing so, you allow yourself a greater probability of closing a higher percentage of future customers. In order to grab that attention you would be wise to utilize promotional items and target your customer appropriately.
Good luck in your future trade show endeavors.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Green Eggs and Ham Sales Seminar

I would not eat green eggs and ham... Sam I am.

Who knew Dr. Seuss's Sam was a sales guru? One of my earliest reading experiences with my mom and dad was a Dr. Seuss book. Whether it was the colorful characters or the rhyming that made them stand out and forever be etched in my mind, I don't know. What I do know is that obviously that reading set the table for my future sales background.
There were many sales techniques Sam exuded but three in particular should be considered.

1- Staying the course and not wavering
2- Offering potential customers choices
3- Refusing to give up.

If you stop to ponder those traits they will most likely be the consistent traits for any superior salesperson. Crazy at it seems, not all salespeople posess these traits.

Fisrt, when you are in sales it's easy to lose your focus especially when confronted with the common responses of "no", "not interested", "get lost". But, it is the superior salesman who refuses to heed those responses and continues his/her course.
Second, offering your customer choices will offer several perspectives. Sometimes those unique angles demonstrate your product in an improved or enhanced light.
Third, refusing to give up might be the toughest of those traits to realize. Tough skin is not inherent in all people. But, those who do have it aren't detered when they hear negativity. In fact, they will often feed on that pesssimism and make that sale that much more essential and will go to any lengths to in fact aquire or secure that person as a customer. It becomes a principal goal at that point.
So, take a lesson from my green friend Sam and learn the importance of polite persistence. The most successful sales people ask for the sale seven or eight times and don't give up at the first sign of resistance. For Sam was in fact green with envy... envy over finding a new mark whom he hadn't secured as one of his own... yet.

Friday, July 07, 2006

'Guys Night Out'- Part Two

As was the case with the initial installment of 'Guys Night Out', part II revolves around the rare time old friends share with one another. This week will mark the first time another close circle of my friends, from college no less, will convene since my wedding the preceding August. Well, that's not entirely true as three of the four musketeers gathered for an exceptional event this past February when the greatest NFL team of all time won another Super Bowl to add a fifth ring on their hand.
That extraordinary day aside though, the four amigos, Llama, Mike D, and Xman, and yours' truly, knowing one another a minimum of 25 years, haven't gathered to break bread or share a cold beverage since my last day of bachelorhood. A sad statement indeed.
When you stop and think about that declaration it is remarkable. It is noteworthy, for we invested ample time together from gradeschool through college and then upon graduation life as we knew it seemed to halt and that quality time was pulled in many other directions. It was at though the above-forementioned directions forced our time together to wain and concessions were made with that quality time.
Why then do we tend to distance ourselves from those who mean a great deal to us? Is it simply adulthood taking hold and forcing our hand acquiescing to our habitual routine? Or is it the fact that we grow up, older, and wiser and understand that those persons will in fact understand that we have moved forward with our own individual lives. That advancement doesn't mean we progress without our friends but simply beyond the times we gather. When age and maturity finally catch up, we are reminded our immortality has long since deserted us and we are merely older and hopefully wiser beings who need to reach out and share that time once again with those who supported us in our formative years.
Indeed, our buddies and close friends whom we have not forsaken but simply lost touch with over the years should always welcome us back with open arms.
But, it is our duty then to rekindle the moments shared with our friends to show them that we haven't lost that kinship but meerly set it aside to persue different goals.
This week our time together though brief and long overdue will serve notice that our future meetings will occur on a more regular basis.
So, I challenge you who read this to kindle those friendships again and reach out to those you haven't spoken to in quite a while. Why? Because it is "our" duty frankly to keep those friendships burning as we all grow older. For very soon we will be old and gray and reminiscing about old times and wishing we had invested more time and created more memories along the way.
Until next time...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Trade Show Trends... Are the numbers significant?

These days we are inundated with numbers and percentages pertaining to every facet of our lives, so it would figure there are hard numbers out there for trade show events. Anyone who cares to decipher their meaning is more than welcome to take a peak.
Upon first blush my response was, "hmmm not really that interesting". But, after taking a more tactical view there were some nuggets to be garnered.
We all know trade shows work for those who invest the necessary time and money into their booth. When done properly that booth will convey the image and brand desired by the vendor in order to lure new customers. If not, we wouldn't enter the numbers of trade show displays we do per annum.
Based on that assumption, do we really feel it necessary to know that in 2005, 84% of attendees exhibited Net Buying Influences- percentage of attendees with buying power (final say, specify, recommend) for one or more products exhibited) or that the Traffic Density- number of attendees occupying every 100 square feet of exhibit space was 2.3? NO!
But, knowing the Average Hours- amount of time an average attendee spends visiting all exhibits 7.8 hours was worth remembering. Further, you might know the percentage of those attending and their buying plans was 53%. That piece of information is good to know from an exhibitor stand point knowing you have a better than 1 in 2 chance of closing an attendee each time they come into your booth. The goal based on that number should be to increase that closing percentage!
It should be noted that 53% is pretty high given its still a passive atmosphere where the customer has to make the first move in most instances. Now, that can be manipulated via contests, promotional items, giveaways, or shoe models on premesis but most booths don't go those routes because of the money issue.
Finally, just remember when looking at the breakdowns for the past few years, they're just numbers and you can manipulate the crowds with a little bit of forethought and originality to generate the outcome desired.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

7 Deadly Sins to avoid when purchasing Promotional Items

For those tradeshow presenters pondering marketing your next trade show display or booth with promotional items, take a gander at a few of those pitfalls to avoid in order to have a successful exhibition and reap it's inherent rewards... new customers and increased sales!
1- Don't purchase throw-aways and/or non-repetitive message senders
2- Target your offerings to those who are key decision makers
3- Don't forget your loyal customer base
4- Buy your items based on quality and not necessarily price
To learn the final four hazards made when procuring promotional items, click on the article title.
You would be wise to remember these simple but important perils in order to project the most professional and impressionable booth at your show!
Further, if you are in need of promotional items for that next show feel free to contact our promotional items guru at http://www.promotional-items-inc.com/

Thursday, June 01, 2006

'Guys Night Out'

As I have matured, time spent with close friends, though infrequent, has become more treasured. Maybe it's the fellowship, the feelings of youth rekindled, the conversations engaged, or maybe, just maybe, its simply connecting with those we care about but for one reason or another in this age of time poverty we see less and less.
Whether its girlfriends, wives, families, friends, or work, our 'free time' as it was, has become squeezed. Typically, the first of those referenced above to be overlooked would be... friends. 'Guys night out' just convened recently and I found myself pondering many aspects of that time together afterwwards on my ritualistic nightly jog. The four horsemen gathered at a local watering hole and although it was an excuse to booze, as the saying goes, it was much more.
The group to whom I am referring has known one another for well over 20 years! Adrian, Kevin, Linwood and myself meet infrequently, attempting a once a month summit. But, that predictably doesn't happen based on our frenzied schedules. Ultimately, when we meet, I believe we all feel a bit more spry, young at heart and more animated.
Why you ask? Well, friendships spanning that duration empower each of us to speak our minds, interject thoughts we might harbor for whatever reasons with our daily personal interactions, and allow us to be ourselves.
Our 'night out' started as usual with fraternal handshakes, a bear hug, followed by drinks around the table. All the while, conversation grew from what movies had we seen lately, to books read, to World Cup Soccer, NBA Playoffs, French Open, travel abroad, shoe-model establishments, to reading relationship barometers. But after more beverages were consumed, our conversation transformed to a more serious aire. We established our typical rants on conspiracy theories of old, today's politics, the war in Iraq, into how the media had become an ever-expanding hindrance into our most basic ways of life.
An epiphany struck me at some point during that period of substance and sincerity. Our band of fellowship was much more than an excuse to drink with the guys. It had become a welcome liberation to the customary turbulence that shepherds our daily lives, a time to bond with old friends and become updated with what's transpired between our gatherings. That time, though short, revives us and reminds us of who we were and who we have become to this point in our lives. It is without a doubt a recharging at times of our fraternal batteries and keeps us cognizant of who might be out of sight but never out of mind.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Whats best for my WLAN?

Alrighty then. This will no doubt be a bit boring for most of you. For that I apologize. But some have requested clarity.

That said, I've had a few buddies ask 'after they purchased routers for their LAN' what were the differences between 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g and how did they affect their network capabilities. So, after reading a article and subsequently calling a friend, head engineer for an ABC affiliate station, I figured an overview would assist some, educate others and just iterate to the vast majority what they already knew.

The basic goals of anyone attempting to set up a WiFi area are strength of signal and connection speed. In order to give due justice to the progression over the last few years we will give a little history lesson.

WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) products are based on standards which were set forth from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). These standards were used to transmit data, video and voice information across radio waves.

In 1997, the IEEE created our first WLAN standard and called it 802.11. This standard had a limited bandwidth of 2 Mbps and used a radio signaling frequency of 2.4 Ghz. This standard is too slow for most of our current applications but the radio frequency is the key point to remember here.

Then in 1999, 802.11b hit the scene. This supported a larger bandwidth of 11 Mbps (greater speed) and also used the same radio frequency of 2.4 Ghz as the original. Key point to be remembered, this frequency is utilized by most household appliances: microwave ovens, cordless phones, etc. What does this mean to me? Well, if you've set up your network in a house with these items they could interfere with your connection.

The development of 802.11a occurred simultaneously with 802.11b. 802.11a supports a larger bandwidth, up to 54 Mbps, but uses a radio frequency range of 5 Ghz. The higher radio frequency limits your range of your network primarily because it makes it harder for the signal to penetrate walls and other household obstructions. Further, due to 802.11a and 802.11b using two different frequencies they were NOT compatible.

What I've told some friends trying to decipher the differences is some manufacturers out there offer network 802.11a/b gear which will allow compatibility. But, then I follow that response with the fact that just a couple years ago, 802.11g was introduced. This option attempted to combine the best of both a/b worlds with bandwidth up to 54 Mbps while utilizing the 2.4 Ghz radio frequency for increased range of their signals. Further, backwards compatibility exists between g and b, meaning g would work with b network adapters and vice versa.

Now, in terms of pros and cons, 802.11a pros consist of the fastest speeds, supports more users and the smaller radio frequencies prevent signal interference from other household devices. Its cons are highest cost and shorter signal range. 802.11b pros include lowest cost and best signal range and not as easily obstructed. Cons are slowest speed, supports fewer simultaneous users, and interference from appliances is greater. 802.11g pros are fastest speed, supports multiple users and signal range is best and not as easily obstructed. Its cons are costs more than b and appliances may interfere.

In closing, I hope this little lesson gave some clarity and understanding as to the history of the 802.11 standards and which one offers the best answer to your WiFi network questions.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Birthday Girl

Today is a special day for my family. This monumental day marks the birthday of my mother-in-law. Now, I know what some of you are thinking out there. But, that old sterotype doesn't hold true in this instance.
I could could not have asked for a better mother-in-law ('beauty in purple' standing next to her lovely daughter). She welcomed me into her family the first time we met and to this day still puts up with my personality flaws... of which I have a couple.
Now, I'm not much of a birthday celebrater but in this case I gladly make an exception. Mary Ellen is an amazing lady who is constantly giving of her time and talents. Teacher by day and mother both day and night she is constantly using those called upon talents to aid her family and friends.
Mother of two girls and one boy and oh yeah married for 32 years, she is constantly in the middle of the soap opera we all know as "our lives".
Whether making a full course meal for a holiday or consoling one of her children, she pours her heart and soul into every occurrence.
As she is in much need of a vacation, her summer respite from school and the students is almost within her reach.
In closing, Mary Ellen I pray your birthday was both entertaining and satisfying.
Your son who loves you much!

New Projection Screens better investment than LCD or Plasma? YEP!

For those of you unaware of the new style projection screens out there... be aware! You will start viewing these screens with more and more regularity at future trade shows. They are proving to be a better investment based on weight, ease of use, and looks.

The newer screens are much lighter than your LCD or Plasma screens(hereafter referred to as competitors) out there and can be hung almost anywhere within your display area. The competitors can only be placed in certain places and often need to be accompanied by costly stands!

The projections screens are virtually indestructible and only a quarter-inch thick. Their advantages over the competitors are many: light weight, easy travel features, ease of set-up, many size options and low costs. Also, projections screens can be set up quickly to display products, services, video, Power Point presentations or advertisements looking every bit as crisp and clear as their competitors.

Plus, unlike their competitors, they emit no glare, reflection or washout and light cannot shine through. The screen's matte material provides an intensive translucency, making presentations appear to pop off the screen.

Screens come in a variety of sizes, shapes and custom cuts up to 6.5' x 10'.
Finally, for renters, a small projector and a screen are easier to handle and less expensive than a plasma screen TV.

For inquiries please take a look at c-techsolutions and then call us smashhitdisplays. We'd love to outfit you with a projections screen to make your next show a crystal clear success!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Where the hot spas are

This was compiled by Sue Pelletier, MeetingsNet. It was my duty to post here in honor of my wife, who is a huge fan of the Homestead Spa. Plus, the proximity to Mother's Day is no coincidence. Every mom should experience a day of pampering. What better gift to present on Mother's Day than a gift certificate to a Spa. So, on behalf of them here are some tops spas to jot down just in case you feel the need to give generously:

Where the hot spas areMay 5th, 2006
According to Forbes, the top spas are:
The Spa at Chiva Som, Hua Hin, Thailand
The Spa at CordeValle, San Martin, Calif.
The Spa at The Four Seasons Resort Bali, Jimbaran Bay, Bali, Indonesia
The G Spa at Hotel Gansevoort, New York City
The Greenbrier Clinic at the Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
SpaHalekulani at Halekulani, Oahu, Hawaii
The Spa at The Lanesborough, London
The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, Fla.
Chi Spa at The Shangri-La, Pudong, Shanghai, China
The Spa at Stoweflake, Stowe, Vt.
The Spa at The Homestead Resort , Hot Springs, Va.

Oh yeah, mom and Shan enjoy the certificates ;)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Why you should choose a color other than black, blue or silver for your display?

When it comes to purchasing a table top, 8 foot, or 10 ft trade show display, one should try thinking "out of the box" in terms of selecting a color. The three most commonly chosen colors are black, blue and silver. Actually, they are purchased in that order.

Speaking as a devil's advocate, Why would you chose a display in one of those colors when everyone else is doing the same? Wouldn't your mission be to separate yourself from the competition? What better way to do that then flaunt a different color i.e yellow, red, green, etc.
Differentiating yourself from your fellow presenters should be one of your trade show goals. For it is the job of the display to attract attendees to your booth...period. That's all a display in its bare essence is supposed to do.

Wouldn't it make more sense for you to choose a color which is actually boisterous and stands out in the crowd? For once the attendee is drawn to your display it is then up to you to finish the deal and attain a new customer.

But, I digress. We were talking color. Alright, still not convinced try looking at the situation from 180 degrees. If you are an attendee and you have limited time to visit many booths in a single day, wouldn't your eyes draw you to a booth which is set apart from the pack. A different color would almost brand your booth area. In actuality, a different color would draw the attention of the attendee because it breaks the monotony of the sterotypical color base.

So, in closing before you invest in a pop up or panel system try purchasing a display in a different color than black, blue or silver. You'll thank me for it before the show after you've had a chance to look at all the dull booths around yours', during the show as the attendees are drawn to you like bees to honey, and finally after the show when your cash register is filled to the gills with the mighty greenback!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Margaret Katherine

Well now. It seems my nephew, Joe "the Golden Child", has some new competition! Margaret Katherine, newest member to the family as of Friday, will shortly open Joe's eyes to the fact he's no longer top dog!
Well, Joe you took advantage of that mantra for two years. Now, it's time to pass it along to your baby sister. To say the young lady is a welcome addition as our side of the family has wished for a little lady for many years now is a major understatement!
Marg and mom are well and recouping from their hospital time. Congrats and look forward to seeing you both very soon ;)
Uncle E

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Graphic Requirements from your Favorite Printer...

Have you ever felt like Charlie Brown when he answers the phone and here's the wa wa wa wa wa wa on the other end. Well , we are constantly being wa wa'd (scolded) by our favorite printer, Simon. Simon like all of us lives in the age of time poverty where we are constantly trying to shave time from our regular activites to make time for other activities. This is especially important when it comes to large scale printing graphics.
In order to do so in the most time effective way, we've found a few proven methods to uploading graphics to the printer. One should save their graphics as a tiff as opposed to psd, jpeg, eps, etc. Reason being, tiff files saved in LZW compression act more like a zip file and take less time to render. This as Simon will attest to means the time it takes for him to open and render/transfer the image to the screen is cut sometimes in half.
Further, when you are sending large format files always attach a pdf version of the file so your favorite printer can eyeball the product to make sure the tiff matches up correctly with the pdf. If you have any PMS colors which are embedded in the graphic attach a smaller file to inform the printer that matching needs to happen for this particular file. I'm sure there were a few points missed which Simon will fill you in on as soon as he responds to this article.

Well, as stated above time is of the essence so I bid you adue.

Joseph Turns Two

I know. You really don't want to know about my personal life beyond my favorite music, movie, books, etc. But, this could not be subdued.
My God-son, Joseph, the Golden Boy, flanked by mom and dad, turned the "Big Two" last week and as usual I was perplexed about what to do in terms of a gift.
Gift giving for kids has never been one of my strong suits and it wasn't made easier with a nephew.
The Chosen One, as I call him now since he's taken the family by storm, is at that age where he runs through toys like I run through Pepperidge Farm's Goldfish- Parmesan version... voraciously!
Anyway, since his attention span is smaller than that of a nat I decided to let my wife choose and she decided on Thomas the Train books.
They still seemed like a waste of time given his age but you tend to agree with your better half whether you want to or not. In addition to the books, I started a mutual fund in his name when he was born and just added a few more bucks hoping that will acrue greater than his collection of toys.
Happy 2nd JW!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

An eBay Seller's Tips for Product-Sourcing at Trade Shows

OK. The article attached references a woman's experiences as she attended her first trade show. It's interesting because she offers tips to make the experience more comfortable and more rewarding.
Something as simple as the comfort level of our shoes is extremely important but most would not think of it given everything else which is on our minds.
Rebecca Shapiro, first time attendee, gives some great insight. Go figure. She's an artist by trait. Take a gander...

How to Choose the Correct Trade Show Display?

A few month's back I wanted to create an article for the average person looking to purchase or create a trade show display. The article gives an accurate account of the steps one should undergo before jumping in and purchasing a display. It's in essence a grocery list of what to know, do, and ask before you make that all important step.

Strong Arm Sales Stop Success Cold

My first inclination after reading the introduction to this article was how can someone be so unconfident in who they are that they would allow themselves to be bullied into making a purchase. But, after reading further, I understood it was focused more on the booth patron than the show attendee. With that being said, most companies have but a short period of time to attract and create new customers. The article informs one of a list which the booth patrons can go over before the show to give them an outline or template of how they can win over show attendees. Take a read...

Lighting Pros Give Tips

Yes, yes. We all know lighting is important when presenting at a trade show. This is an extremely generalized tip list which you could easily substitute Graphics, or Booths into the Lighting category and it would make equal sense. My point is its general but you could fashion it to make it more specific for your trade show need. i.e. Insert graphics for every instance of lighting and you will understand my point!

Trade shows? It's about free stuff; take it from a couple of pros

Personally I used to be all about promotional items, freebies, swag, schwag, etc. We've all been to movies or grand openings and received free t-shirts, pens, pencils, cups, hats, posters, etc. Though I am not an advocate any longer from a personal war chest standpoint, it's these precise items which help those working trade shows to lure prospective customers into their booth area.

Now, while we are at a show its all about who can collect the most schwag. But, when you return home you realize you have attained nothing more than a collection of stuff you won't use again unless you re-gift them come Christmas time. But I digress, it's really about the swag and how it works as a lure for the casual show attendee. If you have a few minutes the attached article gives a great overview of what these types of items can do for you and how they can separate you from the proverbial pack while presenting at a show!

The most important paragraph/sentence in this entire article is the last one. "And at the Home Show last month, I found a contractor for a remodeling project. I scored a nice free pen. He scored a $5,000 job.". It just goes to show you the importance of free stuff. This one job more than paid for the pens and a significant amount, if not all, of the monies invested to go to the show.

The Winning Strategies for a Successful Life

I know I know you read the title and are thinking what kind of psychological doubletalk is he dishing today. Well, Colin, a friend I met while on honeymoon in Antigua, writes daily articles concerning business and economies of scale. But this one was a complete departure from his normal rhetoric.

So, Colin's article asks the question, "Are you living your ideal life?" Further, he asks a series of questions to quantify whether we are in fact living successful lives.

To me, time and the inclination to act on impulse are our biggest opponents when looked at from a strategic point of view. They both constitute what we do not just monthly, weekly or daily but hourly. All of us long to do what we want when we want in order to achieve that feeling of zen or Feng Shui, etc. It's those that act and make the time and take a departure from their regular schedules that will live more ideal lives and achieve those states and thereby feel better about their lot in life.

Colin asserts one should integrate a few of his ideas at a time in order to become a better person. Further, he asserts those who have fun and want to constantly learn will better themselves.

Some Ways to Find Trade Shows

For all of you out there clamoring to find some trade show displays near you or anywhere in the country for that matter, I've attached a few sites for you to peruse.

  • Some Ways to Find Trade Shows
  • Search on Google, Yahoo and other search engines for lists of Trade Shows, like this website http://www.tsnn.com. Search convention centers in your area to view their calendar of events
  • Visit http://www.tsea.org/search. It's geared for vendors, but why not look there for a list of shows? I just typed in my specific industry, craft shows, and found a list to browse through.
  • Join a professional organization and attend its local events in your area. This is a good way to network and find out about specific trade shows.
  • Purchase trade magazines and browse the ads and classifieds. This is always a good resource for trade shows as well as products.
  • If you already have a few suppliers you are buying from, ask them. They're always happy to share that information.

Safety Tips for Trade Shows

Safety. We all know "Safety Bobs" out there who are constantly alerting us to "our" unsafe actions. Well, I never gave safety a second thought pertaining to the trade show industry until I read the article attached.
Julia O'Conner, Trade Show Training, Inc has some interesting albeit bland tips one should brush up on before entering their trade show calendar year.

How Trade Shows Work- Trade Shows for Dummies!

It's a humbling feeling. You've just been told to plan the company's trade show activities for the year and you have no idea where to begin! Arghh. In the past, one given this daunting task woud a) faint, b) scream, c) yell loudly, d) breathe into a paper bag, or e) all of the above.
Well, that was the past. Welcome to the future and how to avoid those feelings of distress.

In the attached article, clicking on the title above, Lee Ann Obringer, writer for
HowStuffWorks , takes a look at why trade shows are so effective, how to select the best shows, and how to manage the process from start to finish. She provides tips, checklists and web links that will make the job a heck of a lot easier for you. In essence, it's Trade Show for Dummies
If you wish to start with why it makes sense to attend trade shows just click on the title above!