This time next week Southampton’s Mayflower Park will be buzzing with people as Seawork International opens its doors. Now’s the time to be finalising diaries with customers, prospects and the media before it’s too late. Here are a few effective engagement tips to ensure you are both seen and heard at the show:
1.Send an email: Make sure your editorial contacts who you know are attending or exhibiting at the show, letting them know what they are likely to see at your stand. If you have any news to announce, make sure you invite them to the stand so that they have an opportunity to talk directly to your experts.
2.Utilise communication channels: Seawork has its own blog page providing insights into commercial marine and all things to do with Seawork. Visit the website and consider possible news or views your organisation can contribute towards. The team will be at the Seawork Social & Press Hub in Hall C.
3.Use the show photographer: If you have a contract signing or an ‘official’ launch at your stand, make sure you have the opportunity for photographs to be taken by the show photographer.
4.Be proactive: Check in with the Press Room and find out if you can help with any stories and offer your experts as possible, credible sources to interview.
It would be great to hear how you’re getting on at the show. Both Lorraine and Liz will be there on Wednesday 15th so do drop them a line or call if you have any questions.
With 2 weeks to go, now is the time to think about your social media strategy. Promoting your attendance through posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can provide you with a great opportunity to get your message out, start planning now with the following top tips:
1.Follow and be followed: Prevailing ‘netiquette’ dictates that if someone follows you on Twitter then you should follow them back. So make sure you are following everyone who you want to follow you and on LinkedIn, send out your invitations to connect this week.
2.Spread the word: Include your social media addresses on all your trade show promotional material, as well as on your exhibition stand. Publicise these addresses this week, upload a press release on to your website and send out a link to the press release via social media.
3.Assign a lead: Decide who is going to be your social media lead at the show ensuring they are familiar with the different channels you want to communicate through. Get them tweeting from today highlighting what you’re doing in preparation for the show.
4.Utilise hashtags: Use the trade show’s Twitter hashtags, #Seawork #CommercialMarine and connect with the people who are using it. Be an active participant in conversations linked to these hashtags. Be willing to comment and retweet interesting updates.
5.Plan your tweets: trade shows can be exhausting so it’s a good idea to pre-plan your tweets. Aim to send out 1 an hour talking about the show’s news, highlights and any interesting statistics/occurrences.
6.Give credit: Wherever possible, try to include links back to interesting online content – ideally from your own website, but don’t be afraid of referring to someone else’s brilliance if you think they deserve it.
7.Get your camera out: Take lots of pictures and short video clips providing snapshots of what’s happening on the ground, especially at your stand. Any decent smartphone is more than capable of capturing good quality images/videos if handled well.
As you work through these steps always keep the desired outcome in mind to make sure your communication is super effective.
Seawork is on the horizon, just three weeks away, so you need to be crafting your engagement strategy i.e. How are you going to make the most of every opportunity at the show? As we mentioned in our last blog, the main reason for exhibiting is to make business connections, meet contacts, develop relationships, pursue opportunities and, occasionally, to close sales. Here are some thoughts on engagement strategy and how each type of contact could be approached to make the most of the opportunity:
1. To make a contact – smile, introduce yourself and ask what they think of the show. Your desired outcome at this stage is to establish areas of mutual interest. Ask questions; be interested and inquisitive.
2. To meet a connection – you recognise this person but probably don’t know them terribly well so explore an area of common ground. Your desired outcome is to understand the scope of their area of interest and to explore whether you can help them address a specific need or challenge.
3. To develop relationships – people do business with people that they like and trust therefore, relationships are important. The desired outcome is to develop trust in your capabilities and intentions. Be generous with your advice and your network, if you can’t help with a specific need, try and introduce them to someone that can.
4. To pursue an opportunity – Your desired outcome is to move an opportunity on to the next stage. To do this that you are seen as a reliable and trusted problem solver, so focus on discussing and celebrating relevant achievements.
5. To close the sale – Sell on the tangibles and close on the intangibles. Your desired outcome is an order so it is worth remembering the words of Simon Sinek: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
6. Be responsive – collect contact details, make a note of what you discussed and send them an email as soon as possible after the show to keep the conversation/momentum going.
Remember, engage your publics appropriately and you will be sure to make Seawork work for your business.
With just 4 weeks to Seawork never forget the reason why you are attending Seawork. You are exhibiting to make business contacts, create connections, develop relationships, pursue opportunities and, occasionally, to close sales. Whatever the stage your association with a visitor is at, you should have a clear strategy which starts with being welcoming and engaging.
1. Be approachable – Talking amongst yourselves, sitting down or turning with your back to visitors will deter people from approaching you. If you’re not engaging with visitors, you’re not working.
2. Be engaging – Smile at everyone, look the person in the eye, focus on putting them at ease rather than dwelling on how awkward you feel. It’s not about YOU it’s about THEM!
3. Don’t sell, listen – Ask ‘what’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen at the show so far?’ Their answer will reveal a great deal about the prospect and how to deal with them.
4. Every contact is valuable – Whether you are using the opportunity to inspire a child or influence a minister, every contact is a useful opportunity to practice your skills.
5. 80/20 rule applies – Most people will walk on by, entertain yourselves with a score card to see who gets the most visitors to encourage competition amongst your stand team. Reward and applaud the person who has engaged the most people at the end of each day. If you let people know far enough ahead of the event (ie now!) they can be more proactive in inviting their connections and contacts to meet up at the show.
How you plan on communicating with your public is a critical part of event planning. If you do it well you increase the likelihood of a successful show.
With 5 weeks to go, Seawork will no doubt bring about lots of exciting business and media opportunities. Picture the scene – your stand is a hive of activity and next thing you know, a journalist has caught you off guard and starts enquiring about your company’s activities. We hear time and time again that a situation like this ignites fear and dread where people freeze, become tongue-tied and leave the journalist feeling singularly unimpressed.
You could have a really great story to tell but if you don’t have the experts available who can communicate effectively, journalists will very quickly move on to the next story. Here are four steps that will improve the situation:
1. Prepare: This week, spend ten minutes with a couple of colleagues and brainstorm 20 possible/probable questions, including the difficult ones and prepare some answers. Write up the Q&A and circulate it to all attendees. This will ensure everyone knows what the company position is on a given subject.
2. Buy time: If necessary, you can say to the journalist “now is not a good time, could you come back in 5/10 minutes or later in the day?”. Ask him/her what they would like to discuss – that way you will have some time to think through your responses, particularly if they are tricky and sensitive issues.
3. Have an opinion: If there are potentially controversial or sensitive issues, work out where you stand and don’t be afraid to air those views – the key is making sure you can back them up. Journalists are looking for experts with a strong opinion. If your company prefers not to comment on such issues that’s fine, but don’t be surprised if the reporter then makes their excuses and ends the interview abruptly.
4. Be interesting and relevant: Coming across as an authoritative spokesperson is key – try to refer to real life examples to help bring your points to life. Also, be selective when weaving in your own internal messages.
Emmett & Churchman offers a one day bespoke media training workshop called Credence.
Click here to contact us for more information
The clock is ticking with only 6 weeks to go until Seawork. So, for those of you who read last week’s blog, you should be well on your way to developing your big news story for the show.
Once you’ve got your story, it’s vital that you follow a few golden rules to give your organisation the best possible chance of grabbing the journalist’s attention. Make sure you set aside some time this week to put in place, update or source the following essentials:
1. Take time to research a named contact: Having a ‘named’ contact to send your press release to is critical. You will come across as a much more professional outfit if you are able to personalise your emails rather than sending a blanket email to a generic “news@” email address.
2. A picture paints a thousand words: Good quality photography can be a deal-breaker. They provide you with a strong opportunity to dominate the page leaving less room for your competitors. Jpegs and PNG files are the preferred option and don’t include them in the body of your press release – they should also be at least 300 dpi.
If you don’t have access to images, there are a number of good quality websites where you can download royalty free images or at a cost effective price such as:
3. Make it a headline worth reading: the headline is going to be the first thing the journalist reads which means that it needs to be short, informative and attention grabbing. Remember, news editors will receive hundreds of emails a day – go for quirky, controversial or challenging headlines.