Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Challenges of Exhibiting in a Down Economy

Yikes! Now that we know we’re officially in a recession, we can go about the business at hand. Of course there’s the initial panic, denial and withdrawal, but how many times have we gone through this cycle? Business has and always will be a rollercoaster.

What can we do this time around? The same strategy as always… long term planning.

Business development is a process of ongoing research, planning, reviewing budgets, building relationships, negotiation, instituting metrics and reviewing, changing and starting all over again. “Steady as she goes”. As time, technology and market demands forces us to eliminate excess and maximize productivity and profits, we need to continually exercise a “lean and mean” modus operandi in an up or down economy.

Make do with less.
We need to continually look at cost effective ways of reaching our market. “Do you really need that many people to staff the booth?” What are the new technology tools that can help us sell? Are shipping, setup, and managing the booth eating up most of the budgets?

More often than not, outside consultants can be a most cost-effective way to assist in planning, strategizing, and executing a long term plan that will get you more “bang for the buck” than trying to manage with your internal team. Because of their experience with many companies, issues and circumstances, they can bring to the table a wider array of solutions and experiences as well as a broader network of resources.

Re-use, extend, repurpose
Before you trash that old exhibit, try to find creative ways to re-use and extend the life of it. There are many opportunities to take a custom sign tower, and re-engineer it to work with a modular system. Or reface booth walls with new materials and graphics. Large or small, with a creative eye, there are many possibilities to save costs by extending the life of your booth properties.

Ongoing training, planning
Too often, tradeshow activities in small companies gear up 2-3 months before a show and panic ensues dues to deadlines and rash decisions. Whether you exhibit once or year, or dozens of times a year, your tradeshow program should be a year-round, ongoing concern. Training sales and marketing staff on the ins-and-outs of how the shows work and understanding the system will go a long way in terms of efficiency and ultimate success. It also empowers staff to multitask, thereby reducing overhead by eliminating unnecessary personnel at the show.

There are many more options besides the general panic and budget slashing. Bottom-line, institute a long-term program to plan for the next market boom… or bust.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Marketing Operation - Revolution in the corporate landscape

There's a quiet revolution going on in the corporate enterprise arena. It's not on the forefront of new technological discoveries, nor the high rolling adrenalin-spilling merger/acquistion/IPO investment side of business. It's the re-alignment of all business units and personnel with the vision and mission of the company. Under the banner of Marketing Operations, businesses pain-stakingly realizing that the basic fundamentals of business, that of providing goods and services to customers is a customer-centric value proposition, is and should aways be the driving force for the sustainability of any business.

Marketing is no longer just the traditional "promotional barrage" of drowning the market with potent messages. It is all about building a dialog between buyers and sellers, resulting in a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship. On the surface, nothing revolutionary. But under the leadership of visionary Chief Marketing Officers and champions of Marketing Operations, marketing is gaining new respect from the top of the ladder through the rank and file.

"Marketing owns the voice of the customer." In today's business world, listening to the customer and responding immediately is key to building customer loyalty and retention. And the underlying mechanism that makes that happen is, of course, the Internet. Millions upon millions of dollars are going into the technological infrastructure that enables marketing ops to gain insight into customer's buying habits and thought processes. It enables customers to voice their opinion and actually "get heard". The internet enables meaningful metrics to be applied to promotional campaigns to measure performance. It also allows for data flow upstream and downstream so management can see front line customer interactions and respond to issues and opportunities quickly.

Where does this leave small business who don't have the budgets and the resources that global enterprise companies have?

The same business and marketing issues and challenges apply to the small and midsized companies as well. As technology advances and the costs go down, the tools of the trade will trickle down to the smaller organizations and businesses. But it's the people who understand the mission of Marketing Operations that will re-engineer the buyer/seller relationship to a more interactive dialog proposition.

Gary Katz, of Marketing Operations Partners, is a champion of this quiet revolution. After years of consulting and presenting workshops across the country and in Asia, Gary recently launched the very first marketing operations course in the country. Through the University of Santa Cruz Extension, Gary's mission is to re-educate and elevate the ranks of marketing professional and give them new tools and methodologies to empower a company's marketing efforts. I had the pleasure and honor to be a part of this inaugural course. Gary is a wealth of knowledge and a visionary in his own right. His enthusiasm in the subject matter is infectious. This revolution in the marketing operations arena may not make headlines anytime yet. But Gary is determined to make a difference... one class at a time.

For more info, goto mopartners.com