What’s Your Tradeshow Personality?

By | Culture, Marketing, Technology, YMCA | No Comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve no doubt heard about DAXKO’s recent visit to the YMCA’s General Assembly where we had the opportunity to meet thousands of attendees. Like any conference, one of the more interesting things to do is cruise the vendor exhibit area – if nothing else than for the cool freebies.

For someone like me who doesn’t attend a lot of tradeshows, it was interesting to observe the different ways people engage (or don’t). If you’re manning a vendor booth, you learn pretty quickly that everyone has a unique tradeshow personality. Here’s what I experienced…

  • Family – The best is when DAXKO is greeted with hugs and squeals by those we work with every day, but only get to see at a conference once a year. Think family reunion! All recent kid and pet pictures are whipped out immediately. Followed quickly by plans for drinks later to catch up on old times.
  • Talkers – You have the occasional person walk up and start talking even if they have no idea who you are or what you do. They want to hear your story, talk about football, or anything else on their mind. Very unlike the person who came to talk to you for one reason, gets their information and is on their way, it’s never a problem to strike up a conversation with a “talker”.
  • Avoiders – How do you identify someone as an avoider? They walk at break-neck speed by your booth. Try their best to not make eye contact. Flip their lanyard over so you can’t see their name. Or pretend like they’re having an important conversation with their fellow avoider… even though it’s obvious theyre not.

My question to you is… What is the best way to approach these different groups and engage in conversation? Some of my tactics this week were…

  • Stand in the middle of the aisle, so they’re forced to either walk around you or talk to you.
  • Flash my pearly whites and say, “Hi. How are ya’ll doing?” Sounds pretty simple, but when you emphasize “y’all” with a precious Southern belle accent, you get their attention.
  • Offer them anything free. Free always works… always.
  • Ask what organization they’re with as you invade their personal space and flip their lanyard over.

I’d be interested to hear your ideas for approaching these folks.  Hit me in the comments.

It’s a BRAND New Day for The Y

By | Culture, Marketing, YMCA | No Comments

At last weekend’s YMCA General Assembly in Salt Lake City, the YMCA unveiled their new brand identity. Aesthetically speaking, it’s a fresher, simpler, more casual approach. Also, getting a lot of attention from the NY Times, Today Show, etc., is the fact that they’ve now gone down to one letter, referring to themselves as “The Y” (according to NBC Nightly News, The Village People stated, “We are deeply dismayed.”).

More importantly than the changes to the logo and colors, The Y has come out with a clearer articulation of their purpose to strengthen their position as America’s largest charitable organization and to better describe to the public what it is they do.  This purpose is outlined in three focus areas: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

The Y hopes the event in Utah and the release of this new brand strategy will create a more consistent communication and execution of The Y’s mission and purpose. Done right, this “one voice” will have the opportunity to drive significant change and positive results in the thousands of communities they serve.

I for one am excited about the potential.

Put a Little Punch in Your Pres

By | Communication, Culture, Marketing | No Comments

April & I decided to put our professional development budgets to good use by attending Marketing Profs B2B Forum in Boston last week.  We came away with tons of great marketing ideas to put into practice here at DAXKO. As with any conference, there were countless presentations by thought leaders in our industry.  Some good, some not so good.  One particular presentation Unleash the Power of Content to Engage Your Prospects stands above the rest as the best presentation I’ve seen in a long, long time.  What made it so great?

  • Multiple presenters.  This presentation was comprised of 4 panelists:  2 content marketing consultants and 2 companies that utilize content marketing.  Each had a different view to share, but it all related back to the unified voice of the presentation.  Having the same point hammered home with different examples made learning easier and more enjoyable.
  • Practice.  Practice.  Practice.   I’m sure that getting four people on the same page was no easy feat.  However, it was apparent that practice was one of the keys to this presentation’s success.  Transitions were seamless.  The presentation ran on time.  We had plenty of time for questions.
  • Handouts.  No, I’m not talking about the handouts you print straight from Powerpoint.  Blech.  Those are a waste of paper in my opinion.  Instead, each participant received a one page “Checklist for Success” so that we could easily refer to and implement the concepts.  An added bonus?  There was a link to the presentation online and even more resources to help us through the process!
  • Be Accessible.  If you’ve done your job of engaging people throughout your presentation, they are going to want to learn more and connect with you.  Will you offer to answer any questions as they work through putting your ideas into practice?  It made a big different to me knowing that these presenters were accessible and willing to help even after the presentation had ended.

Are these the only ways to make a presentation great?   Of course not!  However, I know that implementing at least one of these concepts will take any presentation to another level of greatness!

Agile: Not Just for Software Development Anymore

By | Building a Company, Culture, Marketing | No Comments

Lisa and I spent four days at a marketing workshop and conference this week.  On day one we met an enlightened guy from Portugal, Michel Ozzello, Product Manager for OutSystems.  After showing Michel the Agile board the software engineers use, he asked if we have applied the same approach to marketing.  We stared blankly….”well, no.”

I thought about that for the next four days.

Software engineering uses Agile/SCRUM development to break huge, overwhelming product releases into smaller chunks.  These chunks, called user stories, are coded and tested according to the logic of the product roadmap and how many can fit into a short release cycle, called a sprint.  This approach has two main advantages over traditional software development: it maximizes the team’s ability to deliver quickly and to respond to emerging requirements.

So how does this apply to marketing?  For us, the deliverable is the tangible vehicle (a web page, a brochure, a speech at a conference) that drives demand for our products and services. But the market pains are so many, and the vehicles we can use to reach the market are so diverse, so expensive, and so labor intensive (think trade show, email campaign, 12 different versions of collateral, direct mail,  webcasts, surveys, call campaigns, advertising, speaking opportunities, promotions, and NOW we have social media opportunities too!)  With a 1 or 2 person shop, it can easily get very overwhelming.  That’s where agile comes in.

Old school software development followed the waterfall method, which is highly structured, process oriented, and covers a broad scope of requirements.  The marketing equivalent is the “Annual Marketing Plan” which attempts to map out all the details, coordinates, intersections, content and milestones of everything marketing will do this year to build brand and drive sales.  It’s really overwhelming and by Q2 many elements have already changed.

The DAXKO Association marketing team is ready for a fundamental shift.  We are going for Agile.

Lisa and I walked all over Boston yesterday in search of index cards to begin the exercise.  1,184 miles later (flying, not walking around looking for index cards) we have our major “user stories” written out for Website, Email, Social Media, Collateral, Lead Nurturing, Advertising, PR, Events, and Metrics.  The idea is that we can break our big jobs down into smaller bits and COMMIT to having them delivered in a specific timeframe.

We expect that we’ll get much more done faster, and be more aware of the tradeoffs at any given moment of choosing one priority over another. Now we just need our own SCRUM board (Justin, how about another trip to North Birmingham?!?)