Chutzpah presentations, speeches, and trade shows
What is chutzpah marketing Pronounced huts•pah
On this web page we are going to look at using low cost presentations, speeches, and trade shows as a chutzpah company growth tool. I will focus on techniques for getting attention for you and your company or charity. Then I will teach you how to translate this attention into new customers.
When I bring this subject up in seminars I tend to look out onto a sea of bewildered faces. These are the faces of well seasoned business owners who are getting ready to hyperventilate. I imagine that they are thinking scary thoughts such as:
Relax, we’ll talk and you’ll see how to do it.
Glossophobia (speech anxiety or stage fright) is the fear of public speaking. Glossophobia comes from the combination of the Greek words, glossa, meaning tongue, and phobos, meaning fear or dread.
Mild to moderate forms of speech anxiety are very common. On a positive note, most adults can teach themselves to feel comfortable in the role of public speaker.
In the rest of this chapter I will assume that you are comfortable giving public talks. If this is not a fact for you, I highly recommend Toastmasters International. (www.toastmasters.org) I have seen many nervous speakers build solid skills in the encouraging environment of the Toastmasters club.
In their own words: (http://www.toastmasters.org/MainMenuCategories/WhatisToastmasters.aspx)
What is Toastmasters?
No, we don’t make toasters!
From a humble beginning in 1924 at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, Toastmasters International has grown to become a world leader in helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. The nonprofit organization now has nearly 235,000 members in 12,036 clubs in 106 countries, offering a proven – and enjoyable! – way to company and hone communication and leadership skills.
Most Toastmasters meetings are comprised of approximately 20 people who meet weekly for an hour or two. Participants company and learn skills by filling a meeting role, ranging from giving a prepared speech or an impromptu one, to serving as timer, evaluator or grammarian.
There is no instructor; instead, each speech and meeting is critiqued by a member in a positive manner, focusing on what was done right, and what could be improved.
Good communicators tend to be good leaders. Some well-known Toastmasters alumni include:
10 Tips for Public Speaking Toastmasters International www.toastmasters.org
Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and even beneficial, but too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here are some proven tips on how to control your butterflies and give better presentations:
1. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all the equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
3. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
5. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
6. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
7. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.
8. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
9. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
10. Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need in a safe and friendly environment.
The chutzpah purpose of a presentation is to get listeners to go from being a listener to either customer or referral source. That may sound self serving, which it is, but that is the goal, plain and simple.
The process is quite simple. A person is interested in your topic, they hear you speak, they learn, they laugh, and they think of you as knowledgeable in your subject area. That same person still has more needs in the area you are offering assistance in, so now that he knows you, he is a smidgin more comfortable calling your office for an appointment.
I was having a discussion with a new mom concerning childhood vaccinations. She explained that she was unsure about giving the vaccinations to her baby because of the dangerous side effects. When I gently pushed for facts, she said, “I saw Jenny McCarthy on TV. She said that vaccines were very dangerous.”
“Who is Jenny McCarthy?” I asked.
“You know, the TV star!”
“Sorry, don’t know her,” I said.
“Sure you do, she is almost married to Jim Carey. She is like this fitness health nut.”
“Is she a scientist?” I asked.
“No, she is on MTV. She has a dating program, advice and stuff. She’s on magazine covers,” she explained.
The point of this story is that this new mom trusted Jenny McCarthy and she felt comfortable taking her vaccine medical advice from Jenny McCarthy.
When you are in public, presenting yourself as a caring and knowledgeable entrepreneur, people will be more comfortable coming to you or referring to you. The simple fact that they know you, makes you less fear provoking.
Who wants to hear your talk?
Most professionals start at what is affectionately called the “Rubber Chicken” meetings. These are often breakfast, lunch, or evening meetings of community service organizations. You may have noticed Rotary, Optimist, or Eagle plaques adorning the entrance walls of many family style restaurants throughout the country. If the restaurant has a meeting room, it probably hosts at least one service club meeting per week. I have been to a few service clubs that have had fifty plus year relationships with a restaurant.
Some clubs have their own building. Many Moose, Elk, and Eagle orders are well established and own their own halls, recreation, and meeting areas.
Most of the presentations that you will be asked to do will be in front of small to medium size groups (10-50 people). These types of groups bring together like-minded individuals with a common purpose. A 35 minute talk to an Optimist Club or the local Elks can get your name around the community in short order.
Service organizations by their nature are community oriented. Part of the draw for the members is the camaraderie of the meetings. Each group has its meeting rituals. Many of the groups have rituals that are interesting, to say the least, to observe. Laughter and inside jokes are common. I am always impressed with how welcoming these groups are to me when I have been invited to speak. The food tends to be basic, but the friendships of the members are intoxicating. These are caring people, community minded, with a solid sense of God and country.
Most groups try to have a weekly speaker. The goal is to have an interesting topic for the members to experience. Well, as you can imagine, it becomes difficult for the speaker coordinator to find forty to fifty amazing speakers every year. This is where you come in. If you have a topic that the speaker coordinator thinks his fellow members will be interested in, he wants you.
Many members of one club are also involved or are friends with members of another club. After talking to a few clubs, where I initiated contact, the speaker coordinators of other clubs started to call and request my talk.
My goal is to inform and entertain. The 60/40 rule is 60% entertainment and 40% information, often referred to as infotainment. The infotainment needs to be uplifting and hopeful, along with some substance.
Many people misunderstand this 60/40 to mean: entertain (60%) and talk about your product (40%). I suffered through this type of a program recently. The guest speaker, an accountant, told a few old jokes and explained tax law for small businesses. I kid you not, six times in thirty-five minutes he said, “The new statute reads as follows...” Then, in a monotone, he read the IRS statute. At the end of each statute, he explained how he would make sure that, if you came to him, your tax return would be completed correctly. What a self serving snooze.
For a chutzpah marketer, the 60/40 rule looks like: 60% entertainment; 39% usable, powerful, amazing, wowing, spectacular, informative, life changing, and life affirming information; and 1% I’m here to help. Here is how you can get hold of me.
60/39/1 lets people get to know you, as a person, and as a professional. And, as we have discussed before, if they like you they will call for your help or refer to you.
My chutzpah goal is to let the group see me as a valuable resource, who is simply a phone call away.
Often I am asked, “But what do I talk about?” This is not really the correct question. The correct starting question should be, “What does the group want to learn about that I already know a lot about?”
Please let me explain. I only know a lot about two subjects, suffering and Chinese food. If you ask me a question about human suffering (psychology stuff) or what I want for lunch, I feel pretty confident that I can answer and even impress. The problem is that if you ask me about something in any other of the billions of knowledge categories, I’m liable to show you my cognitive limitations. So, I want to talk to a group about psychology stuff (preferably while eating Chinese food out of paper containers).
I am also basically lazy, so I don’t want to invest a lot of time studying and rehearsing my talk. Therefore, I talk about things I already know and mold my presentation to the group I am talking to.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I know a lot about the subject of child abuse, so I offer groups talks concerning child abuse awareness, prevention and community support programs. I tailor my presentation to the group. If it is a church social club, I present a “this is how you can help” talk. If it is a police officers’ association, or the nursing staff of the emergency room, I present a wound identification slide show. (“This household gadget leaves a wound that looks like…”) I am comfortable with presenting either level of presentation with little prep time. With both groups I would talk about mandated reporting laws, one in passing, while the other in explicit detail.
In both of these examples, I follow the 60/39/1 presentation rule. Even the presentation to the police or nursing staff is in the infotainment format. How, you might ask? It is through the stories. The police and the nurses have seen a lot, so my stories are more graphic, but my message is of uplifting hope. With the church group I talk about how to get help for a child that may be in need. For the professionals, I talk about how to document correctly, present professionally, and how to be a part of the help team.
Autumn is a fitness instructor who prefers to work with employees concerning stress management. Autumn is comfortable talking to small groups, and by nature a calm individual. She confided in me that her biggest concern about giving a talk was “boring” the attendees.
“Autumn,” I asked. “If you could give a little bit of help to each attendee, what would you want them to learn from you?”
“The importance of having personal moments throughout your work day,” she said.
“How would you teach that to a small group?” I asked.
“I would teach them a simple calming mantra that they could do at their desk. A 5 minute healing mantra,” she said.
“I think a lot of busy people are service club members. You could help a lot of people,” I said.
Autumn offered her “Five minutes to a calmer you” talk to local groups, and she was warmly welcomed.
What small gift of help can you offer in a talk?
According to the fun loving folks at “easilyamused.org” February is National National Awareness Month Awareness Month. Their web site has a long list of real national awareness programs. (See: www.aware.easilyamused.org) Each awareness month listing is linked to the organizer’s web site. A wealth of ideas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a web page, CDC Calendar of Conferences & Events. On this page you will find a link to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Upcoming Releases. This page lists the CDC events over the coming year. Often, a national conference garners a lot of press. Being aware of this expected press months in advance will lend insight into topics that local groups will be interested in, say next March. (See: www.cdc.gov/about/newsEvents/events.htm)
Other commemorative list makers that you may find helpful:
Your local Sunday newspaper tends to be a grand resource for finding group contact information. Often there is a list of the meeting times of local groups and contact information.
A partial list of national/international service clubs:
It is best to google your local service club to find the local website.
In addition to large service clubs, you will find small groups in your community doing marvelous things. Many local professionals have organized clubs. Realtors, teachers, and university women’s clubs are common. Many high schools work with local professional groups on activities like, Mock Trial, Model United Nations, and National Science Bowl. Often these groups are interested in outside professional speakers. My local high school has a Future Health Professionals Club that invites health care professionals in regularly to discuss local health care issues. Parents, many of them local health care professionals, participate in the club’s activities making this group highly desirable for a chutzpah mental health professional.
Check your local high school or college web site under activities or clubs.
Many local churches, synagogues, and mosques have service and youth clubs.
As we discussed before, the service clubs need speakers. The goal of the speaker coordinator or faculty advisor is to bring in valuable information for the members. The speaker coordinator has openings, and you have valuable information. You both are a match made in chutzpah heaven. But, the speaker coordinator doesn’t know of you, yet.
It is a simple task of introducing yourself to the speaker coordinator. By writing a letter to them, offering your services, you start the ball rolling.
It is imperative that you contact the appropriate person and that you spell that person’s name correctly. This is done with a simple phone call to the group’s contact person. All you have to do is ask, then repeat the information back making sure you have it 100% correct. Often when you call the contact person will be happy to give you the speaker coordinator’s phone number. You want that, but you also need the address and name spelled out. I like to send a letter first, then call in about a week if I have not heard from the coordinator. I want the speaker coordinator to have my “packet” that presents me as a professional, prior to talking to him on the phone.
Over the last few years, I regularly hear from speaker coordinators, “I Googled you and would like to see when you are available.” (This shows the importance of your web presence.) This way, I don’t have to ask to be invited, I show my willingness, and they invite. Everyone wins.
I recommend you send a simple packet of information about yourself directly to the speaker coordinator. The packet should consist of:
All this gets placed into a nice crisp 8.5” x 11” envelop, so when it gets to its destination, it presents you well.
On your letterhead you write a short and sweet letter explaining that you are in the process of getting to know your community better. After hearing about the fine work that their group does, you think that you can present some new and exciting information that will help them in their charity work.
Please note, you must explain how your talk can help them. It is all about them and their needs. Your desire needs to be to meet them and help them.
Your offer needs to be specific to the general tenet of the group you are hoping to talk to. If your club tends to do child advocacy work, your speech needs to be about children. If the group is veteran centric, your speech needs to be about veterans’ issues.
Often an entrepreneur asks, with fear in their voice, “How can I get my company/specialty to fit a group’s needs?” The answer is simple, the group is made up of people, who are just like your company or area of interest.
Let me give you some examples. My area of interest is child abuse prevention. I have a basic speech that is my framework. I then add a few talking points — stories or examples — that are of interest to my audience.
If I want to talk to a veterans group I offer talks on subjects like:
If I want to talk to a service organization like Rotary or the Optimist:
If I want to talk to a sales organization such as a realtor association or a Chamber of Commerce:
No matter the group, during the question and answer part of my talk, the questions will inevitably be personal to the person asking:
Your audience will always be made up of real people, first and foremost. Whatever you are talking about, they will hear it as personal to them.
Please, please, please, do not over think the first contact letter. The person you are writing to is motivated to use you. He has a lot of slots to fill over the course of the year. Thus, if you are offering something interesting and professional he wants you. You are solving a problem for him.
Your first contact letter should be short and sweet. No need to oversell or exaggerate. Simply make your offer and show a reasonable benefit.
Dear Mr. Mark Harold,
I have heard wonderful things about the Greater Bay Rotary Club. I have a 20 to 30 minute talk concerning children in our community entitled, What Are The Warning Signs That A Child Is In Danger? I thought your club would find this information helpful in your work.
Please contact me at your earliest convenience. My office phone number is 555-1234.
When Mr. Mark Harold calls, you simply chat about how you are interested in sharing this, or similar important information. Remember that part of your package is material that explains how wonderful you are and how professionally talented you are. Expect that the speaker coordinator has read over all your enclosures and looked over your web site. He probably Googled you also. It is his job to do due diligence and only invite vetted individuals into his speakers program.
So, what do you do if the speaker coordinator calls and starts off the conversation with, “I really appreciated your offer, but just last month, Mary Smith did a very similar talk.”
At this point, you find a need.
“That sounds wonderful, I’m so glad that your club is so well informed. Are there any topics that members are talking about where I may be helpful?” you say.
“No, not really,” Mr. Harold says.
“Nothing in the news or concerning children that people are talking about?” you ask.
“Well, kind of… I think people are concerned about ‘How come people hurt children?’” he speculates.
“That is a very common question, I have a short talk called, What Is The Latest Research On Pedophilia: What Every Parent Should Know. I go over the latest research and leave lots of time for Questions and Answers. Would that be helpful to you?
Some larger groups offer honorariums ranging from a few dollars to offset your gas, to thousands of dollars. Many of the smaller groups are uncomfortable with this whole honorarium thing. So don’t be surprised if a speaker coordinator gets nervous and asks about your honorarium or speaker’s fee. This is where you need a nine-second speech. Mr. Harold says, “Ah, you know we are a small group and we really can’t afford speakers… we tend to buy you lunch…”
“It is always my policy to donate back any honorariums so your club can continue your important work. Is that OK?”
I have had clubs that never pay for speakers, give me an honorarium just so I can donate it back to them. It is a wonderful moment at the end of my talk when the president of the club stands up and makes his closing remarks.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Copitch for his enlightening speech.”
“And as a gesture of his commitment to our charity work in the greater Shasta County area,” the president says while holding up a large check for $1,000.00, “Dr. Copitch has kindly donated his honorarium back to us. Thank you Dr. Copitch and thank you all for your hard work in our community.”
We all applaud each other.
Next Saturday there will be 1500 people walking around your local mall. On a typical Saturday there are only 420. But this particular Saturday there will be 1500 because the mall has been advertising their annual Health Fair. It has been on TV and the radio for the last ten days. Some ads push the “Free Cholesterol Screening”. Other ads promote the offer of a “Free Diabetes Screening”. One ad explains how important the Health Fair is by gloating, “Over 80 booths! Free admission.”
Other weekends your community has the Home and Garden show at the Fair Grounds, and the junior college hosts a Job Fair, “Over 60 employers.”
These are a few examples of Trade Shows. Trade shows are highly effective ways to get like minded individuals to congregate.
Some are huge, like the Macworld Conference & Expo that brought 44,000 Apple Computer enthusiasts together in San Francisco for five days during January 2009. There were 400 exhibitors showing their products. According to the press, the numbers were down because of the unstable economy.
Other trade shows are small, not much more than a dog and pony show. In the beautiful and historic community of McCloud, California, there is just such an event, the Dog and Pony Show Parade. Gene Eagle of the Mount Shasta Area Newspaper wrote:
Most of the more than 30 pets and their owners wore colorful costumes during the 2nd annual Dog and Pony Show Parade Saturday in McCloud.
Dogs, four horses and a kitten strolled down McCloud’s Main Street in ideal weather for a late November outdoor event.
Many of the smaller dogs wore brightly colored bows, and all participants received either a medal or a ribbon.
As you have probably gathered, I am using the term Trade Show very loosely. Depending on your company or organization’s needs a “trade show” can be a chutzpah gold mine.
In this section we are going to discuss many ways to get attention for your business or organization by renting a booth and inviting the public to visit.
If done correctly, low cost trade shows are a powerful chutzpah tool. Examples of trade shows are:
Many companies (non profit and for profit) hold community events, for example:
This partial list is just a taste of all the ways you can get your name out. Depending on your needs, any of the above events can be used to generate customers and good will.
How valuable would it be to your company if you were given two minutes on CNN to talk about your service and how you advertise it? That is what happened to Kenny Tessel the owner of KT’s Barbecue in Redding, Ohio. When business slowed down, Kenny told CNN, “I needed to get these people who are driving by to stop in my store … and they have been, and it’s thanks to Bar Be.”
Bar Be Que is a busty mannequin who stands out in front of KT’s Barbecue. In three weeks, Bar Be has brought in 70 new customers, an increase in sales of 30%. Kenny says, “Let Bar Be bring them in, and let my food bring ‘em back.” In addition to new business, Bar Be and Kenny got a lot of local and national free media attention.
Bar Be Que is a busty mannequin
The main purpose of a booth is to get attention for your product or services. This attention is often uncomfortable for many business owners. But, and this is a big but, without attention, no one will know of your services. So, what is more fear provoking, not being known, or being known? Later in this chapter I will show you ways for your booth and your message to get attention. Often this takes a lot of the lime light off of you, and puts it where it belongs, on your customers’ needs and how your services can help them with their needs.
Below is a photograph of a typical booth that you might see at a local trade show or health fair:
Typical booth presentation
This booth has all the basics. Sign of product, product literature, and examples of product. Behind the table you have 3 nice people, willing to assist any and all.
This is a basic booth, but it is basically uninviting. As we discussed earlier when discussing print ads and brochures, you need to grab the passersby’s eyes and get their attention. I do not know anything about the Mystery Writers of America, and at first glance I would assume I know all I need to know about the subject. Are they selling books? Are they encouraging me to become a mystery writer? Can I meet a real live mystery writer at this booth? This basic booth makes the passerby work too hard to figure out what the booth is all about and invite themselves in.
Booth space tends to be rented in allotments of 10’ x 10’. Corner booths and high traffic area booths are prized, and demand a much steeper fee.
For the purpose of this section, we will assume you will rent a 10’ x 10’ booth space at an indoor health fair.
Your booth space is three dimensional so as you think about how to use it, you need to picture it in three dimensions. When you are standing in front of your booth, you notice the booth is 10 feet wide. It is also 10 feet deep. And it is ten feet tall. (Some fairs limit you to 8 feet tall.)
Front view of trade show booth
When you stand in front of the booth area it may seem large, because it is 10 feet wide after all. But this size is deceiving. In actuality, the viewable space of your booth is more likely only 2 feet tall by ten feet wide. Please let me explain. When the event is going, lots of people will be milling around. As people walk by your booth, others just feet away will have their view of your booth blocked by moving people traffic. Because of this, your chutzpah attention getting, eye grabbing, all controlling “hook” needs to be above the human traffic. Like your brochure headline, this hook needs to be about your potential customer.
Blocked view of booth
Your chutzpah hook needs to grab the attention of attendees. Just as with your brochure, Yellow Page ad, and your postcard campaign, your hook line should be the first of at least 4 steps:
All chutzpah booths have four major components.
1. Chutzpah headline
2. Chutzpah supporting information
3. Chutzpah supporting secondary benefits
------Name and address
4. Chutzpah call to action
Plus a 5th, if possible– save/stick/pass-ability.
As someone moves towards your booth, from any direction, your chutzpah headline should capture their interest. As they get closer, through the pedestrian traffic, more of your message should help pull them in. Your supporting information should be legible from at least 6 feet away (10 feet is better). The overall colors of your backdrop should be inviting, and informative words. Graphics should encourage the passerby to stop and allow eye contact with your booth personnel.
Capturing the public’s attention
In addition to interference from pedestrian traffic, you and your staff, and your display table are occupying the 10’ by 10’ space. More on booth design later in this chapter.
Using your space carefully
Due to the explosion of digital printing, it is possible to get fantastic, eye candy, color banners at reasonable prices. 2’ by 10’ full color custom banners can be ordered for around $100.
I have found my local digital sign store very competitive with Internet only sign shops, plus I get to keep my money in the local economy.
Rectangular vinyl banners tend to be up to four feet high and as long as you would like. They tend to be offered in 13 ounce (economy) weight or 15 ounce (heavy) weight. Banners can be printed on one or both sides. A 3’ x 10’, custom designed, full color banner can dress up the back of your booth. (For more information concerning banners see: Chapter 7: Advertising Part D: Your Office, Store, and Vehicles Are Chutzpah Marketing Tools: Banners)
This next photo shows a powerful backdrop banner that was eye catching even in this large area.
Large area banner
If you look carefully at this banner you can see that the four sides are hemmed and that the grommets are placed every two feet. The hemming and grommets are important, allowing you to hang and re-hang your banner. Most reputable banner printers incorporate the cost of the hemming and grommets into the banner’s basic cost, if your printer does not, I advise you to look for a different printer. Grommets or hemming should not be an additional fee.
Another consideration should be floor banners and signs. Banners have been used for centuries to bring participants to the correct area. The following example shows a banner dating back to the 14th century. It is the rallying banner of the Corporation of the United Boot and Shoe Makers of Issoudun. (Project Gutenberg EBook of Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period, by Paul Lacroix www.gutenberg.org/files/10940/10940-h/10940-h.htm)
14th century banner
In modern times we still use the banner to garner attention and to direct groups. Below you will find a basic welcome floor banner.
Realtors have learned that rafters on the Sacramento River, CA are potential home buyers. As you leisurely float by the boat launches and palatial back yards, colorful signs invite you to dream about home ownership on the river.
This type of banner can add a lot of color and professionalism to your booth. It is inexpensive costing about $200 for a double sided sign and stand. Most sign companies have a selection of pre-made general purpose banners, or you can custom make you own. I recommend you custom make your banner, your area is small, and it is best to control every quarter inch with your message.
General purpose banners
Below is an excellent example of how Rutgers University customized a floor banner. This banner is a nice example of general self promotion. If you look at the bottom of the banner you will notice that this is a spring loaded pull-up banner. It is like an upside down window blind that is pulled upward for display. This type of banner housing is a little pricier, $300 plus, but it makes for easy transport and safe storage of your banner between uses.
A custom banner
For about $1000.00 you can get very fancy with a hanging scrolling banner as shown next. This is really three banners in one. The banner slowly scrolls revealing each banner. This eye catching signage will get people to stop and look.
Hanging scrolling banner
At a recent trade show I found a free standing scrolling banner placed strategically 5 feet across from the bottom of an escalator. The descending escalator riders were a captured audience for all three of the scrolling posters. That was chutzpah placement.
Next we see a floor sign ($100 - $300 depending on size.) These vinyl signs stick to the floor and slow pedestrians down as they read them.
A homemade version of this type of sign was done by a pre-school and Head Start program. They took hundreds of black silhouettes of little feet and had them tracking the floor to their display.
The footprints directed folks from all directions to the center of the booth where there was a kiddie pool filled with sand and seashore toys. The theme of the booth was Summer Enrichment and Fun.
Tear drop banners are becoming very popular. They are an eye catching change from the standard rectangular banner.
Tear drop banners
Tear drop banners are usually 3 to 16 feet high and are easy to install, usually by poking them into the ground or placing them into a weighted stand. They are made to quiver in a breeze adding to their eye catching appeal. The collapsible spine makes them easy to transport and store. (Over the last few months I have had a few friends despair that their tear drop banners have been pilfered. One friend said, “I last saw it waving from the back of a pickup as it sped off.” My friend is the manager of a Sprint cellphone store and for the life of him couldn’t imagine that he needed to guard a large yellow sign that boldly read “Sprint”. I assume it became a rally banner for the “hoodlum” element of a local high school track team.)
Earlier in this chapter we looked at the typical local booth. Now let’s get a little bit picky and look at how, with a little bit of chutzpah, and a tiny budget, your booth can stand out.
Compare and contrast a typical booth
Most booths at a local event will look like the one above. The vantage point of the camera is where your booth visitor will be standing. Take a second, and study this picture. What is this booth all about? What message or tone catches your attention? The three smiling people seem nice, but are they inviting you to ask questions? If so, questions about what? People do not like to feel even a little stupid. People avoid feeling even the tiniest bit stupid. Often, if your message is not clear and easily understandable, people will simply walk on by, avoiding the minor discomfort.
Helping the passerby into the role of visitor to your booth is very important. This is where your Chutzpah Headline comes in. Your headline starts the conversation from a calm, non threatening place. Just like with your company brochure headline, your booth headline needs to get the passerby contemplating their needs.
Let’s play for a second. What would you suggest the mystery writers’ booth chutzpah headline be?
Any unsolved, questionable
or lascivious secrets...
you would like to tell a mystery writer?
From the vantage point of the passerby, the pictures on the backdrop are too small to be useful. Your goal should be large, colorful, and powerful graphics that capture the passerby’s eye.
Moving our attention to the people in the picture, we see three nice individuals. Many trade shows give badges to the participants making it easy for them to come and go through the exhibit doors. These tags are not enough identification for your booth worker. Booth workers need to present as professional members of your team. Professionally made name tags, and/or silk screened shirts, go a long way to making your workers look the part.
At one health fair I attended, the Herbalife independent dealer had all her people wearing the following button on their green tee-shirts.These three inch buttons were nice ice breakers.
We will talk more about ice breakers later in this web page.
The table stand-ups (see, Compare and contrast a typical booth, above) are there to help keep the initial conversation going. Once the pedestrian has stopped at your booth, you want to focus them towards your offerings. Again, signage is important, you do not want to make the visitor have to figure out the correct next step. If the visitor is supposed to touch, let them know.
I use this sign when I exhibit my books.
When you put out brochures it is a good idea to put out a small sign, “Free information” or “Please take one” or “Please take two”.
If you are doing a raffle, this is the area that the capture bowl goes. Have it well labeled. Have the rules of the raffle printed large and easy to find. You do not want to wear out your booth staff by having them say, “Please put your raffle ticket in the bowl,” eighteen-hundred times. (The sign will help them say it only 600 times.)
You ingratiate and welcome visitors with clear mid-level signs.
The tabletop is where you present your chutzpah call to action, and if possible– save/stick/pass-ability.
In reality, a trade show booth is a one trick pony. If you try to do too much, you’re going to lose your impact. The hard truth is that you get one call to action, one suitable to your booth. Most professionals do not believe this truth. These people are greedy and do not understand that capturing the public’s attention is hard and fleeting.
When you plan your booth, have a single purpose, a singular goal that you want to achieve. Such as:
If, for example, you want to do all four of the above, I am afraid you will be disappointed. By not focusing on a single goal, your presentation will be scattered. Your booth staff will be overworked trying to figure out which goal to promote with which visitor. You will lose your audience. As discussed earlier, multitasking does not work well.
Table bunting is the colorful curtain that covers the front and sides of your table. As with a clean coat of paint in an old kitchen, bunting hides many a secret. Bunting allows you to “hide” the mess that inevitably ends up under the booth table.
Many events offer bunting as part of the event’s overall coordinated look. If not, you will need to provide your own. Customized bunting is an extravagant expense and since it will mostly be blocked by visitors’ legs and baby strollers, an expense that is easily skipped.
If you opt for a large table cloth or blanket, make sure your table cover is secured to the table. Inevitably some little tyke will grab it and run, accidentally pulling your display onto the ground.
Many valuable and low cost booth opportunities will be outdoors. A health fair at a local hospital has become a fun and healthful community event, transacted in the hospital’s parking lot.
All the rules we have already discussed concerning booth presentation count for indoor as well as outdoor booths, but outdoor booths have some added considerations.
You will have to prepare for weather conditions. It is best not to plan for the perfect day. Plan for hot or cold. Plan for too much sun or drizzle. Plan for wind. Encourage your staff to dress in layers and bring clothing of differing weights. Demand shade hats and sun screen. Discourage sun glasses because eye contact counts, even on sunny days. Provide lots of iced drinks or hot drinks. I bring my own, it costs a fortune to buy food and drinks at most events.
Because of wind, you will need extra weights to hold down signs and brochures.
I advise you to invest in a booth canopy of some sort. Protection from the sun or occasional drizzle has to be planned for. Also, a canopy defines your space. On a warm day, a little shade is inviting to visitors and booth workers.
Outdoors your 10’ x 10’ booth will look smaller. With the expanse of sky above your booth, signage doesn’t show up as well as it does indoors.
One way to combat the shrinking booth phenomenon is to think tall. Helium filled balloons are an inexpensive way to float a second story over your booth. By adding a few colorful paper streamers to each balloon, the wave of color will get you noticed.
Sixteen foot tear drop banners at the corners of your outdoor booth will help get your real estate noticed.
As you can imagine, it can get very expensive to doll up a booth. So it is important to stay focused on the message you are teaching the public, much more so than the expensive esthetics of the booth.
Events are usually at least a day (8-12 hours) or longer. Some can last over a week. Working with the public, answering similar questions all day long tends to wear booth workers out. Workers will be drained after events.
It is imperative that booth workers be well trained. This means lots of 9-second speeches. The focus of the 9-second speech is to “talk-up” the major goal of the booth.
During the event, supervision is important. You want to make sure your people are staying on message. A friend of mine, a veteran of trade shows, told me of a problem he had with an overly enthusiastic booth worker. “Carl was so excited about helping people that he made our 15% Fair Discount on future services 50%. I couldn’t really get mad at him when he told me, ‘They seemed so happy to be getting 50% off.’” It is important to supervise even the enthusiastic worker.
If people do not stop at your booth, you have wasted your time and effort attending the event. In this section we will look at chutzpah tricks to get people to stop and look, interact and learn about your offerings.
By offering wrapped candy in a bowl, people will stop to graze. Many other booths will be offering candy, so you will have to up your offerings. Wrapped hard candies are passé, the mini “fun size” candy bars are the entry level sugar bribe of choice. Use a deep glass/plastic bowl that is always kept partially full. Have the visitor reach deep into the bowl, leaving the impression that lots of visitors have already gotten candy.
One high school counseling department wanted to hand out community health information to parents. They were aware that their information was important, but boring. The community health fair was over Father’s Day weekend. They asked the cheerleading squad for help in livening up their dull, no frills booth.
At the back of their relatively drab booth they put up a blanket wall with a sign, “Happy Fathers Day! Free kisses from a cheerleader.”
The bubbly cheerleaders asked “dads” as they approached the table, “Do you want a kiss?” Then one of them would drag the dad behind the curtain, give him a Hershey’s kiss and say, “Please tell everyone that you have never been kissed like this before,” and she gave him a sticker that read, “Kissed by a cheerleader.” On the way out of the kissing booth a high school counselor gave each dad a plastic bag of information. The “dads” played along with the whole thing. Some swooning and gasping as they left the kissing booth. Throughout the day, hundreds of men wore “Kissed by a cheerleader” stickers. The drab, low cost booth got a lot of buzz.
As the day went on, the counselors fielded lots of questions concerning the information in the bags. It seemed that after being kissed, lots of moms and dads were encouraged to look into the information bag.
As people approach your booth, a smile is very important. It may not seem like much, but a smile is inviting.
It is best to have your booth staff verbalize an invite. “Welcome, look around… let me know if you have any questions.” It is important to ingratiate.
Being upbeat is hard to do for the duration of an event, so it is best to look for naturally upbeat and hyperactive individuals to help out at your booth.
It is good policy to constantly police your booth, keeping it neat and tidy. A trade show or fair is an active, noisy and messy event. Keeping your area as nice as when you started the day, will calm your visitors and offer a few minutes of solace in a very chaotic day.
Whenever possible, offer tactile things for your booth visitors to touch and interact with. People feel more trustworthy of things they can touch. Offer items to hold such as display books, or examples of your business equipment.
One entrepreneur displayed a photo album of her staff’s commitment to the Think Pink Walk in her area. The album was full of about 100 photos of happy people doing good things for the community.
Another entrepreneur showed a computer slide presentation of his staff, family, and himself landscaping for Habitat for Humanity. Again, lots of happy faces doing nice things for others.
Don’t just sit behind your booth table. Events are long, so sitting is a must, but use tall chairs, allowing for easier and more natural eye contact. Feel free to mingle in front of your booth. Schmooze or lose.
Make sure you meet every other exhibitor on your breaks from your booth. These people tend to be active people in your community. Interact with them. Teach them about your services.
When I work a charity booth, my chutzpah goal is to get a donation from every booth owner. Some write a check, while others give products. It is not unusual on the last day of a show, for another exhibitor to donate their exhibit to my charity, lock stock and barrel. What charity doesn’t need extra chairs, tables, lights and 3000 pens that say, Wells Fargo or Apple. The charity gets the donation, while the company gets the write off and a great thank you letter. For years we did not need Post-it notes, because we had 10 cases that read, “Ford.”
I once participated in a 14 day booth event at the Santa Clara County Fair. KLOK radio donated the booth and thousands of KLOK tee-shirts to be given away as prizes. The booth was a simple coin toss, anyone who tossed a quarter into a glass on the table six feet away, won a tee-shirt. The radio station wanted everyone to win a tee shirt, and my charity got all the tossed quarters. The on air radio personalities helped out throughout the 14 days and signed autographs. The bulk of the volunteer power came from the Fremont Optimist club, an energetic group of caring people.
KLOK radio gave us lots of free radio time for weeks before and straight through the county fair.
Steve Goldstein, then president of the Optimist Club of Fremont, came up with the idea of having Chewbacca, of Star Wars fame, stand out in front of our booth and greet people. What an idea! The county fair was huge, and it was easy for a booth to get lost in all the excitement. Having Chewbacca dancing around, hugging, and posing for pictures generated a lot of energy and buzz. By the third day, Chewbacca was making hourly appearances on the grandstand, getting lots of cheers from the crowd, while the announcer spoke highly of our charity and directing everyone towards our booth.
The rental of a Chewbacca costume was a lot of fun and a lot of work. The suit is made for tall people, but over the course of the county fair, lots of volunteers wore the outfit. We had baby chewy one afternoon when a 4’9” woman took her turn.
During the afternoons, the suit was hot. So I made a rule that no one could wear the costume for more than an hour. Being Chewy was so much fun, I had to force volunteers to stop dancing and greeting and to get re-hydrated.
It is common for exhibitors to give things to booth visitors. My local waste disposal service handed out 4 inch green waste receptacles at a recent event. I don’t know what you were supposed to do with them, and when I asked a booth worker he said, “I keep paperclips in it on my desk.”
There is a whole industry dedicated to making promotional items. There are the common things like pens, scratch pads, and mugs, that can be emblazoned with your name and logo. And there are interesting promotional items such as custom printed condoms, fortune cookies, or Sanitizer on a Clip.
The idea is to give someone a free gift with your name on it. Later, when they use the free gift, they think highly of you and may decide to frequent your establishment. In theory this is a good idea, but what you don’t know until you try it, is if it will work for you.
Promotional items tend to cost real money because you have to buy in quantity. And, they won’t work unless you hand out lots of them. The question for you is, “Is there a return on your investment?”
I use promotional pens because I figure I am going to use lots of pens at my office, so when they walk out of my reception area, I don’t care. However, I have never recorded a new patient because of my promotional pens. When I teach CEU seminars, I give out pens, hoping participants will use the pen in the future and say to themselves, “Oh, yeah… I need to get my CEUs!” I use the Bic Clic because it works well and costs less than 50¢ each when I buy in quantities of 500.
Mr. Berg, the attorney, gives away a great black mug with gold lettering, it is quite striking. He is a defense attorney, so his custom mug gets attention.
Mr. Berg’s mug art, both sides.
Dr. Hanson, the dentist, used a promotional pen, “Extracted from the Office of Kenneth Hanson, DDS.” Patients seemed to love the joke.
Dr. Hanson also used a refrigerator magnet as a promotional gift. I really like this idea because it gets placed on a family’s refrigerator, getting noticed throughout the year.
Refrigerator magnet as a promotional item.
Mugs and magnets are relatively inexpensive. Many promotional items are not. When you think about promotional items, make sure you keep in mind your return on investment. A chutzpah marketer does not spend a dime if 9 cents will do.
Over the last few years, the promotional give-away industry has become very aware of “green” products. You may want to keep this in mind, many people see give-aways as landfill fillers. By going green you may be able to keep everyone happy.
My favorite free giveaways are very low cost, fridge art handouts as discussed in Chapter 7: Advertising Part D: Your Office, Store, and Vehicles Are Chutzpah Marketing Tools: Fridge Art. These giveaways give you enough room to print your chutzpah advertisement. Most promotional items only have room for your company name and maybe a little ad copy.
To start your search for your perfect promotional give-away, Google: promotional items. As of today I got 11,400,000 hits. The big players are on the first few pages.
When it comes to promotional giveaways, your creativity is a big plus. Feel free to let your personality shine.
The picture below is an example of low cost creativity that “talks” to the potential customer. Attorney Amy Spencer-Martyn was giving away Anti-Stress Kits at the county fair. These little gems were getting a lot of attention. What a wonderful ice breaker for someone who might need her services.
The card inside a small baggy of goodies:
Anti-Stress kit giveaway
By allowing your personality to come through, your chutzpah giveaways will show the feelings of your company. When a customer is touched by your feelings, your company will be able to build a relationship with that individual. Be creative and allow your creativity to show!
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