Truth is, I'm skilfully avoiding talking about InfoComm. I'm not ready. As of this writing, the show is less than 30 days away. There are so many exciting things that will happen at the show. And, unfortunately, I won't be able to write about all of them.
So, how can you up your marketing game and get your pieces published for the show? With over a decade of InfoComm marketing experience, and now being at the helm of SCN and the InfoComm Show Dailies, here is some advice from me to you.
Let me give the standard disclaimer: These are my opinions and mine alone. They don't reflect the opinion of my employer, my co-workers, the InfoComm Show, etc.
Press Releases: Around show time, I'm getting 25+ press releases a day (and that could be a generously low estimate). How do you make your stand out? First and foremost, give me everything I need all at once. Be sure the release includes all the product details and your booth number. Don't forget to include images and the company's social handles. I want to share you news so make it easy for me to tag you on Twitter!
Break down all that product mumbo-jumbo and be sure to give me more than the what. I want to know the why and how. Why does your widget make financial sense? How does your widget make life easier for installers, experience designers, and consultants?
We prefer releases in a Word doc so it's easy to copy and paste all those fun facts. I like to receive multiples images, but please don't embed 10 MB files in an e-mail. Have you ever tried to download a large image using a VPN over hotel WiFi? Yeah...not fun. If you can, use a service like DropBox or Google Drive. Put all of the assets I'll ever need in one place, including the Word doc, contact info, and images. Don't forget to provide captions for the images!
Also, get on The Wire for avnetwork.com. It's a free service that automatically uploads your press releases to avnetwork.com. Also, it's where we dig for stories for the InfoComm Sneak Peeks e-mails.
Need instructions for The Wire? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social Media: Be sure your social media, especially your Twitter account, is active year-round, not just shortly before the big show. If you haven't tweeted in the last six months, @SCNMag probably isn't following you. We routinely go through and unfollow inactive accounts.
Social media is the perfect free and fun way to engage the industry in thought-provoking conversations, or show off the fun side of your brand (who doesn't love to post a funny situational gif?). Don't forget about Instagram. I sometimes find my next systems snapshot on Instagram when I see a really cool AV installation.
Post plenty of #AVSelfie pics—we want to see you and your staff having fun at the show. And you totally want to be featured in the official #AVSelfie video!
Don't forget to use the official hashtag: #InfoComm18
Pre-Show Phone Calls: The latest trend is to get editors on a pre-show call to talk all about the cool technology you'll have at the show. Great, right? For you, maybe. For me, no. On a normal day, I'm busy. Three weeks before the show? Can't eat, can't sleep, can't breathe busy. While I'd love to talk to everyone about their revolutionary product launches, I just simply don't have enough time in the day. I'd much rather have a press release with all the details I need. I'll file it away and pull the info when I'm looking to write about that particular product category.
Free Marketing: Did you know AVIXA offers a ton of free marketing resources for the InfoComm show? If you're not already, you should be taking advantage of these services. Click here to get them: http://www.infocommshow.org/for-exhibitors/free-marketing-support/free-marketing-resources
Don't forget to tell everyone you know about your Exhibitor VIP Code. Attendees will love you for getting them onto the show floor for free. Make it fun and turn it into a contest for your own staff—see who can get the most customers to use your code. Oh, and you can win up to $10,000 off your 2019 booth space if you get the most registrants! Details here: http://www.infocommshow.org/for-exhibitors/free-marketing-support/exhibitor-vip-code-contest
Want more tips like this?
Check out me, Barbara Blaskowsky (aka Queen of AVIXA), Chris Neto, and TIm Albright on the latest episode of AVSocial: #NoPosers
Want to meet me IRL at InfoComm 2018?
Then catch me (and SO many more cool #AVTweeps) at the AV Tweetup.
Wed, June 6
4 - 6 p.m.
LVCC, Room N217
We live in a GO, GO, GO world. The rapid evolution of technology has turned us into an "I want it now" society (Hello, Veruca Salt!). When I say I work in a fast-paced environment, I mean lightning speed. Like nothing you've ever seen. Everything is needed yesterday. First person to invent a time machine will make a whole bunch of money from my company! I kid, I kid. Let's get back to the story...
The scene: sitting in a conference room discussing a brochure for a product set to launch in October.
"YES!" I am silently screaming to myself thinking we have time to be creative and plan for this project. The meeting goes smoothly with no surprises and I have a vague idea of direction in my head. Then, as we are heading out the door, I ask "What's the deliverable date for this?" I hear the time-old dreaded response...
"How quickly can I get it?"
Big sigh. I know from previous experience this means we need to have the entire brochure written, created, proof and ready for print by the end of the week.
Yes, we can do it. No, I'm not happy about it. Why? Simple: my team needs time to create.
Creativity moves us forward and creativity takes time. If you have a basic, productive marketing department, you're not doing it right. Productivity gets work done in a short amount of time - that's okay sometimes. But if your team is missing time for creativity, you're missing the key to innovation and success.
Creativity propels us forward and drives the metamorphosis of your brand. In this day and age, we need to be constantly challenged, moving our products and marketing efforts to the next level.
How do we do this? We give marketing teams time to brainstorm, work together and present the BEST concepts they can. Unfortunately creativity doesn't have an on/off switch. Teams can't just say "Creative Powers Activate!" and produce usable, transformative ideas. Let the team take the time and sit with the ideas, let them ruminate and I promise you, you'll get a stunning result.
So, instead of asking "How quickly can I get it?" ask
"How much time do you need?"
Well, I've officially made it in the AV World...I got to appear on AV Social! For those of you who don't know, AV Social is a wildly popular marketing podcast focused solely on the audio-visual industry hosted by the lovely Dawn Meade & Kelly Perkins.
On this episode, we talked all about #InfoComm17 and how this is going to be their most innovative show ever, I challenged Barbara Blaskowsky to an #AVSelfie Battle and, oh yeah, SO MUCH FREE BEER! You can check out the podcast here: https://avnation.tv/podcast/avsocial-23-free-beer/
If you're heading to InfoComm and want to attend for free, use code PAV657.
This week is a big week for me professionally. It's Speed Week 2017 which means I am hosting a large number of VIP customers at the Daytona 500. My entire team has been manic for the last two weeks going over every detail and ensuring our guests will have the perfect weekend. Here are my five things I always do during incentive trips to make my life easier.
1. Make a Binder
Like most of us, I have a meticulously organized inbox which works well 90% of the time. But when you're on-site, you want access to everything at a moment's notice. For each major event, I create a binder. In it, there's copies of every contract, confirmation numbers and travel info, and even a dossier on each guest that includes his/her phone number (you'll need it, trust me), special dietary needs, etc. Take the time to make a binder and your life will be made much easier on-site.
2. Over-Communicate with Attendees
Typically, I leave the communication with our customers up to their sales reps. However, leading into these kind of events, I've found you can never send too much information. While, personally, I'd be fine with just knowing when and where to show up, most people on these trips wants to know every detail and want to be reminded constantly.
3. Network, Network, Network
Many years of hosting incentive trips has led me to realize that attendees get a huge value out of networking with each other. Whether they're forming a genuine friendship, getting business tips or creating new partnerships, meeting other guests is a large part of these trips. Do whatever you can to help them. This year, I decided to try something new and created a 2017 VIP Weekend Group on LinkedIn. I invited each attendee to the group and I post relevant information about the weekend. They're getting valuable tips (see point #2 on over-communication) and they can easily get in touch with each other after the event.
4. Be Prepared for a Few Speed Bumps
No matter how much planning you do, they'll always be something that goes wrong, doesn't work out or needs tending. Go in with the mindset that whatever happens, happens. You've already prepared yourself to create the ultimate VIP experience and nobody (but you) will ever know there were a few kinks. Keep the mindset that you've done your best and there will undoubtedly be something that needs your magic. Deep breaths. Be the rock star that you are and get everything worked out.
5. Enjoy Yourself
You've worked freaking hard to get this trip planned. You've done everything you possibly could do to ensure your attendees will be impressed with your company AND your excellent event-planning skills. Now take the time to have fun with them! In their mind, you're the star of the weekend. They know you made this happen and they want to see you relaxed. Take it all in - you deserve it.
Did I miss anything? What are your keys to success for incentive trips?
Who's excited for Valentine's Day? Nobody? It's just me? Alllllllrighty then...
In honor of the day of love, I thought I'd tell you what I LOVE about marketing. I'll keep it short so you can get back to throwing around hearts and painting everything red (wait, still just me?).
I love that marketing has the duality of being both analytical and creative at the same time. I'm using my brain, reviewing statistics, trying to decide on which message will resonate with which audience. But, at the same time, I'm drawing all over a board throwing out ideas hoping that our collective brainpower will result in one killer campaign.
Being able to put those two hugely different tasks together makes the perfect storm for me. I'm able to bring out that nerdy analytical side in the same day I'm coming up with wacky ideas that just might work.
Enough about me - what do you love about your job?
Top 5 Marketing Trends is a phrase we hear ALL THE TIME. I usually just breeze by these articles but this time, one caught my eye. It's well-written and, I think, dead-on.
I'll give you the short of it, but read the full article here: http://tech.co/top-five-marketing-trends-expect-2017-2016-12
1. Influencer Marketing
2. Retention Strategies
3. Mobile Interactions Will Evolve Beyond Basic Apps
4. Audio Will Become A Major Player
5. Dynamic Data Will Beat Out Big Data
I've said it time and time again - MY TEAM ROCKS! Each and every one of them works hard every single day. I'll just be honest - they get shit done. Whether it's a last-minute request or a long-term project, they don't miss a beat. They're great time managers and super creative which is a hard combo to find.
I know this, now you know this and I'm happy to say the AV industry knows this because we've been crowned Sales & Marketing Team of the Year from Residential Systems.
I'm immortalizing their names below - feel free to connect with them on LinkedIn.
Lawrence Campbell, Digital Graphic Designer
Megan Dutta, MarComm Manager
Rachael Hinds, MarComm Associate
Yesenia Martinez, MarComm Assistant
Mila Tulchinskaya, Sr Graphic Designer
Kelly Yuen, Marketing Specialist
I'm often asked "What's the secret to your team's success?". Well, I'll be honest - there is no grand secret here. But I can share a few tips and tricks that have helped me create a happy, productive marketing team.
Get to Know Your Team
It is mission-critical to get to know your employees - their likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses all play a huge role in the day-to-day operations of your marketing department.
Talk to your employees and discover all of this - you never know, you may find out that one of your employees has a secret passion for photography and can save you thousands of dollars on photoshoots (we've had this happen!).
Get the Right People in the Right Positions
As I learned in Good to Great, to succeed, you need the right people on the bus and in the right seats. Everyone on our team has a job description but we really mean it when we say "Other duties as assigned." I love finding out that our newest hire has fabulous copy-writing skills or is a social media whiz. While that may not have been part of the original plan, it creates new opportunities for that individual and the team. Letting people use their skill set in new or different ways benefits everyone and creates happy employees.
We've all heard over and over (and over again!) that communication is key. Well, it's true. Without constant interaction, your marketing team is going to fail - if you're not consistently asking for feedback, you're doing something wrong. I try to keep an open environment so everyone on the team feels comfortable speaking up. I love when one of my employees comes to me and tells me how I can be a better manager for him/her. At the end of the day, that's going to help us both.
I truly believe one of the reasons my team is so great is that they all enjoy coming to work. We've done everything from pumpkin carving to Aloha Friday together. Spending an hour or two a month "goofing off" together increases our willingness to work together. Our team atmosphere is very apparent, even when we're having a team-building. When we carved pumpkins for Halloween, the graphic designers helped create stencils for those of us with a little less skill; others simply helped clean out pumpkins for those who were a little too repulsed by the seeds. Someone even took the seeds home, baked them and brought in a treat for the entire department!
So, what are your tips for creating a championship team?
Megan A. Dutta