Monday, December 28, 2009

Sales & Marketing in 2010

CLICHÉ – A cliché is a saying, expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). MY TURN: “It’s hard to believe the New Year is already here!” YOUR TURN… (Insert Response Cliché). Given the dismal economic performance of 2009, we can all think of many come-backs… but the one we most certainly agree would be… “Let’s hope 2010 is better than 2009”. Unfortunately, the word “better” remains subjective.

Leading economists are forecasting 2010 to mark recovery from “The Great Recession”. We are currently witnessing trends of lowering unemployment and increasing GDP. However, amidst positive trends and recent economic data, we will continue to feel the bite of this recession for a while. We must also remember there is no guarantee 2010 will bring relief. 2010 presents a looming giant of economic catastrophe. Today’s stability, however welcome, is worryingly fragile (see “The Great Stabilisation”; The Economist, Print Edition, Dec 17, 2009). As such, we can expect the business sector to continue operating in the world of economic downturn, no matter what economic indicators and leading economists suggest… hope for the best; plan for the worst, right?

It’s the “planning for the worst” that gets me. It is no secret that when the economy tightens, so do the belts of business. Faced with a slowing / receding economy, our clients (exhibitors and attendees) slice budgets in 3 areas that directly affect the tradeshow / B2B marketing industries: Business Marketing, Training, and Travel. We all agree that fiscal management is a necessity. Efficiency is mandatory to weather economic storms. The problem doesn’t lie in tighter fiscal policies; the problems lie in how fiscal restraint is applied. Simply put; management seems to forget the fundamentals of HOW to market and sell in a recession. What’s ironic is while we complain furiously about the erroneous financial decisions of our clients, we do the SAME THING!

When we look at our slumping exhibit and sponsorship sales, or dropping attendance rates, we blame the economy and the market’s response. We continuously state our frustrations with our market for slicing marketing dollars, training budgets and travel allowances. We continue to bark about our customer’s buying trends and spending habits affecting our ability to sell floor space, sponsorships, conference sessions, and event attendance. We do this without consideration to adjustments we have (or have not) made as well.

There was an article published February 19, 2008 in BusinessWeek Magazine (originally published in The Financial Times of London on February 19, 2008), written by John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School since 1979. Mr. Quelch is one of ten marketing experts profiled in the 2007 book, “Conversations with Marketing Masters” by Laura Mazur and Louella Miles, and is known world-wide for his research on global marketing, global branding, and marketing communications. He is a non-executive director of WPP Group plc., the world’s second largest marketing services company, and of Pepsi Bottling Group. I don’t think many can question his credentials.

Mr. Quelch’s article, “How to Market in a Recession” touches on EIGHT factors a company should consider when creating marketing plans during a recession. It is a reminder of how companies should focus marketing efforts when facing bad economic conditions ahead, and offers great insight as to why each factor must be considered. Many, if not all, apply to our industry as well.

Do WE increase customer research to ensure value positioning and differentiation? Do WE change our marketing message focus more towards “family values in place of images of extreme sports, adventure and rugged individualism”? Do WE maintain our marketing spending or cut according to falling revenues? Do WE adjust our product portfolios according to the changing needs of our customer? Do WE adjust our pricing tactics? Do WE emphasize core values? Is our marketing message on target with the changing environment, and are we continuing to allocate adequate resources? (Read full article HERE)

Just as we look to our client market to respond to economic conditions appropriately, so must we. All in all, 2010 will present another year of battle within the markets we serve. We will battle for market share within the industries our events serve. We will also battle the forces our client’s are engaged with, working to help them overcome challenges and survive. Sales and Marketing tactics will be the primary catalyst to success or failure in 2010. We expect our customers to adjust; we must do the same.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MEASURE EVERYTHING OF SIGNIFICANCE… (People won’t do what you expect; they will do what you inspect)

OK… the answer is NO – I am not simply posting information regarding someone else’s blog to keep our little corner of the blog universe current. Actually, quite the contrary. I want to share information from with you; specifically a post by Harry Joiner, an exceptional and amazing e-Commerce recruiter based out of Atlanta, GA.

Harry’s credentials are unsurpassed in his field. However, his success is not due to his BA from the University of Georgia (I do sympathize with him), his MBA from South Carolina, his experience working International Commodity Sales for AJC in Atlanta, his time at NYU, being recognized through “Fistful of Talent” Top 25 Talent Management Blogs for 2008, being a recipient of an “Authenticity” Award by Internet Inc. in 2009, being quoted/referenced numerous times in the Wall Street Journal, his ability to play drums, or the fact he is related to yours truly.

Harry’s success is due to his grasp of reality when engaged in the business world; his ability to call a spade a spade and bypass the crap spewed by irrational and unrealistic business muttonheads holding executive level positions in the world of Human Resources; the gate-keepers who have truly lost touch with reality regarding the keys to success. The man ensures his clients view the world through the appropriate set of glasses and that his job-seekers are best prepared for the market they seek to engage. He is the best at what he does because he approaches each situation from a position of reality.

Early in 2009, Harry posted a blog titled “16 Rules for Success in Business & Life”. Not that I would consider Bob Parsons a true motivational speaker or self-help Guru, the man does know a thing or two about internet marketing and e-commerce… something all of us who know GoDaddy cannot dismiss. Harry’s post pays homage to an article Mr. Parsons wrote titled “16 Rules for Success in Business & Life”. Harry puts it this way:

“Growing a successful company is really hard work, and Bob strikes me as the quintessential internet marketing entrepreneur: fast talking, fast thinking, fast implementing, and fast failing. Jack Welch was like this too, seeking the highest-possible velocity for ideas and assets in his GE companies. If you have never read Welch's process for topgrading an organization, please do so. Very Darwinian.”.

It is amazing a marketing guru can get this… but Harry does! Read this blog HERE.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Selling the Intangible; "tribal knowledge" for the jungle out there

OK, so the world of Tradeshow Marketing is taking yet another hit. We know, we know. After all, this is nothing new. We experienced a valley during the economic recession of the 1980’s (remember the original “sellers market”?). Though the industry rebounded strong, the events of September 11 yet again reduced the industry to a level less than 30% of its economic impact pre 9-11 (according to CEIR). However, like before, the ever perseverant industry of meeting planners and event organizers found a way to rebound, of course after experiencing yet another purging, eliminating numerous over-inflated markets and unnecessary events.

Today, the uncertainty of the economy has not helped sales efforts from an industry already struggling to show value of the intangible sale. When faced with a slowing / receding economy, the business sector slices budgets in 4 primary areas: Business Marketing, Inventory and Supply Chain Management, Employee Training, and travel. My friends, these are what tradeshows are all about. Our customers exhibit in our shows to market their products and/or services in a face-to-face setting to their potential clients. Our attendees meet with exhibitors to purchase goods and services for their inventories. The majority of attendees register to receive training; to sharpen the saw, and achieve additional credentials. On average, over 70% of event attendees must travel to attend the events. In result, attendance of buyers at our events is down.

All of these forces simply make it tougher to close the intangible sale. Buyers are uncertain of the ROI they have come to expect, and are now uncertain if an event can truly produce a solution to their pain of slowing sales and declining business opportunities. Sales managers throughout the industry are continuously challenged with how to create greater ROI for their customers; how to further demonstrate to their customers that the products and services they offer are truly the solution to their customer’s needs.

I recently read a newsletter produced by Wat Tyler, VP of Sales for SAVO Sales Enablement Solutions. The article deals with what he terms “Tribal Knowledge”. In a nutshell, it simply enforces and embodies the concepts of solution selling, and the use of proper tools to ensure your sales efforts are on target with your customers and market and eliminating waste most commonly dumped on clients by the average sales executive. It is a great read, providing simple insight to how utilizing the right tools can produce the desired results; the solution-oriented sales process vs. a product / feature sales process. Here is a link to the article:


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Welcome to Management Excellence - the true BLOG SPOT for Sales, Marketing, and Business Management professionals within the Trade Show Industry. This blog will be live shortly, but for now... just a simple introduction.

The purpose of this blog- to educate and inform regarding the latest trends, forecasts and experiences in Trade Show Management - from all points of view. This blog is not limited to any specific business genre and welcomes discussion in Sales, Operations, Labor, Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, Executive, and any other management or non-management positions. Simply put, if you are in the industry or affected by the industry, you should contribute.

Those visiting will find articles from such renown sources as The International Association of Expositions and Events (IAEE), The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the Society of Indendent Show Organizers (SISO), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), Meeting Planners International (MPI), the International Special Events Society (ISES), The American Management Association (AMA), HR.COM, The American Association of Training & Development (ASTD), Executive Leadership and more.

Feel free to discuss openly, but PLEASE remember to remain PROFESSIONAL! This site is for assisting all managers to achieve excellence in this craft.

Enjoy -