Archive for March, 2012

Trade Shows: The Power of One Person (or “At least take my business card!”)

I recently attended the OC Largest Mixer event at the OC Fairgrounds. I was looking to connect with local freelancers who provide web design services, graphic artists and videographers.  The videographer is needed for a local women’s group, WomanSage.  I am on their board and we are looking into some testimonials and filming of some of our upcoming events. Well, I found a web design firm pretty quickly. They assured me they were, in fact, freelancers and would be happy to talk with me offline about their services. Great.  Got their card, gave them mine.  Image Display Group, by the way.  Eager to do business. Nice people.

Then, right around the corner, lo and behold a video company! A self-running demo flashed across a small laptop perched atop one of those cylindrical pedestals at the front of the booth. Two young women stood towards the back, chatting it up with each other.  Unnoticed I took a peek at the demo and waited patiently while they finished their conversation. I introduced myself, mentioned I was with a local womens’ group and was looking into creating some videos for their YouTube channel.  They appeared attentive so I ventured on to mention that we wanted  to start modestly, perhaps just a few filmed testimonials to begin with, but looking to build a relationship and hopefully grow.

Okay, I realize that I am not their ideal customer. A middle-aged woman representing a non-profit group.  Phrases like “starting modestly” and “a few testimonials”. Not something that brings out the band and marching elephants. Yet, with no other prospects in sight, I was surprised at the utter lack of interest! One of the women suggested I check with local colleges and find an intern (something I have already considered). I had to reach around her to get their card (not sure why I bothered, but it seemed like something one does at a trade show).  After a brief “Thanks, I’ll do that.” I walked away as they resumed their chat-up, moving a bit further back in the booth, so as not to be disturbed again.

I know trade shows — I get it. Hours upon hours standing and smiling. Endlessly repeating your value proposition.  Lots of dead ends. But this is 2012, not 2001. You need people. You don’t know who might bring you your next lucrative deal.

So, words of wisdom to anyone who has set up a 10 x 10 and hoped to come back with a decent ROI:

1)      People in front, always! Don’t “hide” in the dark.

2)      Stand apart, not together. You’ll appear more open to starting a conversation.

3)      No chairs. You might as well have a sign “I’m taking a break, leave me alone.” C’mon people, your prospects aren’t sitting down!

4)      Do not chat with each other.  Chat with your prospects.

5)      Don’t tinker endlessly with the demo software. That tells your prospect “I’m busy, this software is screwed up. So come back later.”

6)      Don’t ever let anyone leave your booth without getting their card and jotting a quick note (who, why, what). Then put it in your database. Done.

Why all of these rules? Because you don’t know who is walking up to your booth. You may not realize the power of that one person to influence another and so on. Perhaps that person is a middle aged woman, seeking services for a non –profit. But if it’s Susan Saldibar, she knows people, recommends businesses, talks with other companies, attends meetings and mixers and – you guessed it — writes blogs.

Today more than ever before, small businesses must use people power to build a pipeline and a reputation. Every person you meet has the power and potential to connect you with your next customer. So — small videographer — smile, be responsive, take my card and follow up with me.  Especially in this economy….you can’t afford not to!

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Six Signs It’s Time for a Website Revamp!

Websites matter now, more than ever. Even if you are active with social media, don’t forget that at some point, someone out there is going to want to go somewhere where they can find out more about your business. You website is your brand. You need to keep it clean, current and relevant.

Here are six signs that it may be a good time to re-visit your site:

1)      YouImage find yourself constantly telling your webmaster things like “Hey, can you add a page…” or “Can you add another link…” you may be at risk of ending up with a confusing site. Looks like you don’t run a tight ship.

2)      Broken links everywhere! It happens, and often you don’t realize how long a link has been inactive until someone mentions it. Looks like you’re not on top of things; bad reflection on your business.

3)      Every space filled with something — clip art arrows, all capital fonts, rotating signs and text….lots of text and animated GIFs. Looks messy and outdated, which makes your company appear to be the same.

4)      People start asking “What do you actually do?” If your site doesn’t articulate it clearly, your customers will be confused as well.

5)      Large date gaps in press releases. If you have a press release page and there are no new updates, postings or releases, either remove it or update it. Create an archive for press releases older than 1 year. If your last release was 6 months ago, visitors will assume that you, too, are frozen in time.

6)      When someone says “Your site is mobile responsive, right?” you say “What?” A majority of people now access to websites via mobile smart phones rather than laptops. Your site needs to be mobile-responsive or it will be very difficult for visitors to navigate.

People think that making changes to a website is a long, expensive and all encompassing project. It doesn’t have to be. It can be accomplished with a few people and a little coordination and objective input. You can start by reviewing your site map and looking for ways to re-organize confusing links and eliminate obsolete landing pages. Graphic-heavy pages can be cleaned up, adding more white space and removing clip art. Pages with old press releases and outdated material can be cleaned up. Your webmaster should be able to construct a prototype site to sample new pages and material before it goes live. With a little effort and attention you can start to turn your site from a graveyard of old content to a hub of interaction and involvement.

Start now!

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