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trade show consultant

Compelling Threat Intelligence Video Content from Black Hat 2019

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Compelling Threat Intelligence Video Content from Black Hat 2019

Las Vegas, NV- Now live! See below for video marketing content. Video Content Director Don Colliver directed video interview and b-roll footage for Australian Security Company Threat Intelligence at the Black Hat 2019 Conference at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center on August 5, 2019. Don interviewed Managing Director Ty Miller and shot b-roll of his renowned Shellcode Lab Training Session showcasing Threat Intelligence’s long relationship with Black Hat. Pre-production handled by 12 Worlds Marketing Consultancy.

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Trade Show Booth Staff Training Workshop at Dremio

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Trade Show Booth Staff Training Workshop at Dremio

San Jose, CA- On September 12, 2019, trade show booth staff trainer Don Colliver led a 3-hour workshop at Dremio’s San Jose Headquarters for 8 members of their marketing team. To prep for their booth presence at Strata Data New York from September 23-26, Don led Dremio trade show veterans and newbies in immediately actionable improv exercises, on-your-feet role-plays and energizing group best practice discussions. Booth staff learned how to deeply engage with prospects and effectively deliver messaging in order to show a measurable impact on Dremio’s trade show ROI.

Dremio Booth Staff Training Logo

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3 Tips on Failing Elegantly at the Podium

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3 Tips on Failing Elegantly at the Podium

San Francisco, CA- A friend of mine put up a social media post a few weeks ago seeking encouragement. He’d lost the passion to pursue public speaking after years of rejection and denial. This little social media blurb really got me thinking about an internal conflict I’ve often bumped up against, a conflict that relates specifically to realizing my vision as a professional speaker and trainer. On one side: the oft-recommended self-help trope of specifically visualizing your dream, right down to the door knob on your eventual mansion. On the other side: the also oft-recommended self-help trope of staying present in the moment. How do I reconcile these two concepts? Especially when staying present in the moment is terribly painful specifically because I am failing to achieve my door knob vision?

For a highly self-critical and goal-oriented person, living for the future can be the opposite of being present. And even more importantly, when it comes to public speaking, focusing on one’s goals at the expense of being present to your audience can reek of desperation, as opposed to the essential energy of play. Here are three tips to help you stay present while realizing your goals.

Acknowledge that it ain’t easy.

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Acknowledging that we’re in a difficult situation rather than getting angry at our inadequacies can be challenging for hard-driving achievers. I’ve heard Buddhists call this “the second arrow.” The first arrow would be the pain of the situation, and the second arrow would be the suffering we place on ourselves by wishing it were different. In a society that focuses on relentless improvement, there is a surprising lack of acknowledgement of difficulty. It can be seen as ‘weak’ or a waste of time. However, I’ve found that some self-compassion can actually improve my speaking performance when in scary new environments. I’m currently reading Dr. Kristen Neff’s excellent book “Self-Compassion.” It suggests simply placing your hand on your heart and taking a breath during difficult moments as a way to acknowledge and give credit to yourself. Give it a try, it works!

Make mistakes.

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Public speaking happens in public. To get better, we must practice and make mistakes. Hence, public speaking mistakes will be made in public. I love clowning exercises because public failure is the path to transcendence. Failure is not only encouraged, it’s essential. I often refer to an experiment conducted by Social Psychologist Richard Wiseman for his 2010 book '“:59 Seconds.” He had 2 salespeople identically demonstrate blenders to mall-goers. However, one salesperson consistently forgot to fasten the top of the blender, so that salesperson was covered with smoothie in each demo. Who do you think sold more blenders? It was the salesperson who made the mistakes. Mistakes are your friend, folks.

Be kind to yourself.

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I love asking people what they do for self-care. A few years ago, I had no idea myself. It took conscious thought and experimentation to simply figure out what I liked to do if achievement were not involved. If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, you know that my go-to these days is heading off to an afternoon at the Korean spa for alternating hot and cold pool dips. But how do you to figure out what works for you? A good place to start is to sit down and make a list of ten things you enjoyed as a child: coloring, swimming, playing ball, etc.. Some of these can still bring a surprising amount of joy. Credit for this childhood ten things list goes to Julia Cameron’s transformative book, “The Artist’s Way.”

 

Both vision and presence are critical in the pursuit of excellence. Both practices have their merits, but moderation is the key. Have that mansion door knob image, but hold it loosely in the present moment. And remember, if you don’t believe you are already enough right now, everything else just falls apart. “You are enough” is a primary tenet of my presentation coaching curriculum. Hopefully these three tips can keep you present on that road to your vision-mansion. By the way, what do you do for self care? Please let me know in the comments!



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Directing Video Marketing Content at Black Hat 2019

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Directing Video Marketing Content at Black Hat 2019

Las Vegas, NV- Trade Show Consultant Don Colliver directed video interview and b-roll footage for Australian Security Company Threat Intelligence at the Black Hat 2019 Conference at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center on August 5, 2019. Don interviewed Managing Director Ty Miller and shot b-roll of his renowned Shellcode Lab Training Session showcasing Threat Intelligence’s long relationship with Black Hat. Pre-production handled by 12 Worlds Marketing Consultancy.

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State of Engagement: Cannabis Business Summit 2019

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State of Engagement: Cannabis Business Summit 2019

San Jose, CA- Evolving regulations and increasing investment have created a rapidly maturing Cannabis B2B trade show industry. I visited the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in San Jose on July 23 and 24, 1019 to check out the state of booth engagement in this burgeoning industry. CBS is produced by the NCIA, the National Cannabis Industry Association, so advocacy and B2B commerce were heavily focused upon.

hardware at cbs

As this was my first cannabis trade show, I was surprised to find it to be primarily a heavy equipment manufacturing product show, with booths consumed by giant gleaming steel machines and elaborate corporate farming lighting systems. Although there were a few booths staffed by stereotypical overall-wearing farmer-types, many of the larger booths showed growing sophistication in the trade show engagement landscape.

In this edition of my ongoing series of post-show tactical analyses, I offer up a brief overview of some of the engagement techniques I observed at CBS 2019. I hope you can use this info to increase booth effectiveness while saving money and time wasted on unsuccessful tactics.


Hardware

chemistry at cbs 2019

Giant gleaming high-tech agriculture machines dominated booths throughout the floor at CBS. Most of these booths seemed to have an engagement strategy of simply rolling out their giant machines and then letting prospects wander in and ‘kick the tires’ without assertive engagement. Reasons for this laid back approach included “long sales cycles,” “people who want us come and talk to us,” and “we’re just here for brand awareness.” I would highly recommend a re-evaluation of marketing budget in cases like these to judge ROI. If a trade show presence makes hard financial sense, then booth staff training for assertive engagement is critical to make it worthwhile.

Rating: C


Booth Promotional Models

Unfortunately, a few booths utilized skimpily-attired promo models to promote their brand at CBS 2019. Although this tactic undoubtedly works for a small subset of prospects, this somewhat cringey throwback evidences a still-maturing industry trade show environment. There is a clear disconnect between utilizing promo models and delivering use case-specific messaging to prospects. If this industry hopes to continue growing in legitimacy and sophistication, I hope it will redirect engagement budgets to more effective means like booth engagement training and professional presentations.

Rating: D


Social Media Portraits

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A couple of CBS 2019 exhibitors provided professional portrait photographer services in exchange for leads. As one of the few truly useful giveaways on the floor, this tactic successfully lined up prospects at booths. Although not directly related to the solutions provided, as long as booth staff properly engaged and qualified prospects, sales will be in good shape on the back end.

Rating: B-


Recommendations

As a relatively young industry in the process of gaining legitimacy and learning to take itself seriously, Cannabis B2B offers many growth opportunities for trade show marketing managers. A few recommendations:

Industry-Specific Giveaways

I noticed fairly standard giveaways like can coozies and fidget spinners at CBS 2019. A clever marketing manager could easily create buzz by creating a industry specific branded giveaway. A small tool used in cannabis production that could be branded, perhaps?

Hourly Raffles

Ongoing raffles of low-cost prizes are an easy way to create all-day traffic at a booth. However, traffic is only as good as the conversations generated by booth staff, so ensure that staff is prepared to engage and qualify the crowds.

Booth Theater Presentations

At a show like CBS with obvious experts manning the booths, why not have them add value for attendees by offering scheduled expert presentations in the booth? Just ensure that your experts are properly prepared to present in the distracting trade show environment. If a brand overview is relevant, consider a professional presenter, who will not only deliver your messaging in a compelling way, but will also pack your booth all day long.

Until next time, best of luck planning your next event marketing initiative. We’ll see you on the show floor!

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Volume 1: The Captain Talks Trade Show Engagement

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Volume 1: The Captain Talks Trade Show Engagement

San Francisco, CA- Say hello to The Captain, a salty sea-dog who inexplicably loves talking trade show engagement! Here, the Captain breaks down the three kinds of booth rewards, including the one that will get the most prospects into your booth (plus how to get scurvy crew to swab those darn decks). For more information, read “Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products” by Nir Eyal.

Photo credit to Chris Violette

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State of Engagement: Dell Technologies World 2019

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State of Engagement: Dell Technologies World 2019

Dell tech world logo trade show consulting

Las Vegas, NV- The Dell Technologies World Conference was originally focused completely on storage, but these days this conference has broadened slightly to include many more aspects of the IT landscape.

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On the show floor, booths are hard pressed to compare to the massive engagement expenditure put out by the conference itself. From caricature artists, to rescue dog petting stations, to a giant e-sports arena, its enough to make a Events Marketing Manager just give up.

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And did I mention the non-stop food, coffee and booze? Its tough to even recognize the Sands Expo floor with this conference’s black ceiling and uplighting- dare I say… theatrical? Theatrical or not, in this edition of my ongoing series of post-show tactical analyses, I offer up a brief overview of the some of engagement techniques I observed at Dell Tech World 2019. I hope you can use this info to increase booth effectiveness while saving money and time wasted on unsuccessful tactics.


Hardware

On the show floor at this show, booth space is dominated by hardware manufacturers. Here a rack, there a rack, everywhere a rack-rack… Most of these booths seemed to have an engagement strategy of simply rolling out their racks of technology then letting attendees wander in and ‘kick the tires’ without assertive engagement. I assume this is due to the long sales cycle for these products, making it more of a challenge to show exhibit ROI, so they’re going for the non-measured ‘brand awareness’ objective. In situations like these, I wonder if booth space is the best use of live event marketing money. Perhaps either some booth staff training, or spending more on logo presence throughout the show and foregoing the somewhat underused space may be a better spend.

Rating: D


Booth Theater Presentations

A few booths at this show utilized the crowd gatherer/presenter model of engagement to good effect. Attendees seemed willing to sit through a presentation in order to be eligible for a raffle at the end. Although the “qualified-prospect” to the “I-just-want-the-prize-attendee” ratio can be dubious in these situations, its better than an empty booth, and can certainly drive demos. The challenge could come on the backend, when marketing forwards sales hundreds of scans with no qualification notes. Possible solution? Quicker, flashier on-going presentations with no scan required including a hard call-to-action to the demo stations, where attendees are qualified, scanned and provided a use case-specific demo.

Rating: B


Spin to Win

I saw multiple versions of the classic ‘spin to win’ wheel engagement concept on the floor at Dell World, and each one had massive lives down the expo floor aisles. Each had chances to win products like game systems, high tech backpacks, bluetooth mice, speakers and headphones. All good, expensive stuff, so no wonder attendees were lining up. I like the honesty here- this tactic doesn’t even pretend to be connected to the booth messaging, which is fine (but not terribly creative)! It works, as long as booth staff is trained to engage and qualify everyone in the line so sales knows what they’re getting on the back end.

Rating: B-



The somewhat standard booth engagement offerings at Dell Technologies World offer a big opportunity for exhibitors willing to take a chance on a game show or character concept next year. Also, booth staff training could help less engaging hardware-focused booths increase their show ROI.

Until next time, best of luck planning your next event marketing initiative. We’ll see you on the show floor!

trade show presenter at dell

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State of Engagement: AORN 2019

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State of Engagement: AORN 2019

AORN logo

Nashville, TN- AORN, or the Global Surgical Conference and Expo, calls itself the largest gathering of perioperative nurses in the world. Thousands of nurses converge upon this show eager to learn about the latest surgical technologies and products. From an engagement standpoint, AORN provides an interesting case study, as most of the attendees are not actual decision makers. In fact, these attendees have widely varied levels of influence on the decision makers, depending on the structure of their individual hospital systems, so its much more challenging to judge ROI on show expenditures. Additionally, healthcare shows in general play by the rules of the Sunshine Act. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires medical product manufacturers to report payments made to physicians and teaching hospitals. This means EVERYTHING, right down to ball point pens, and that usually means no giveaways whatsoever at physician-targeted shows. Even though this show was targeted at nurses, it still seems that most exhibitors shy away from any giveaways, and that presents an added barrier to engagement. In this edition of my ongoing series of post-show tactical analyses, I offer up a brief overview of the some of engagement techniques I observed at AORN 2019. I hope you can use this info to increase booth effectiveness while saving money and time wasted on unsuccessful tactics.


AORN trade show consultant

CE Credits

Healthcare Providers must obtain a certain number of continuing education credits, or CE credits, each year to maintain certification. Providers can obtain these credits by learning and being tested about new technologies. Offering CE Credits was the most popular and effective engagement technique on the show floor at AORN. CE Credits are a win-win: they offer a valuable service to prospects, and exhibitors have an opportunity to show their product, although it must be portrayed in a relatively unbiased, educationally-focused overview of options. AORN booths either exchanged educational quiz booklets or delivered presentations/quizzes to provide CE credits. From an engagement standpoint, it is essential to have a moderator who can push attendees to demo stations following the expert presentation, since the expert presenter will be delivering an “unbiased” educational talk.

Rating: A


Presentations

As mentioned above, expert presentations were heavily utilized at AORN to provide educational overviews followed by a test opportunity for CE credit. Presenters at health care shows are primarily subject matter experts, along with professional moderators to crowd gather, facilitate Q/A and push attendees to reps and demo stations. Attendees generally find interesting presentations via the show program or app and visit the booth at the designated time, rather than just strolling the show floor to find something interesting. However, I saw some booths successfully utilize crowd gathering techniques for less-attended presentations. As the presenters are generally expected to maintain an unbiased perspective, its critical to have a moderator to add the booth call-to-action, whether it be a demo, a rep conversation, or simply a badge scan. I saw many booths miss this critical engagement opportunity.

Rating: C


Other Engagement Tactics

A few booths utilized some of the more common engagement tactics from across the industry spectrum. I observed a money machine cash cube, a few end-of-day raffles and plenty of pen and grocery bag giveaways (the Sunshine Act didn’t apply at this show). While these were nice starting points, most booth staff at AORN were simply not trained to properly leverage these tactics, so the tactics were left dormant much of the time. Healthcare booths are generally staffed by medical company sales reps with specific territories, so assertive general attendee engagement has historically been less than stellar (unless reps recognize attendees from their territory!) No matter how great a booth engagement tactic may be, if booth staff doesn’t assertively engage with all attendees, its worthless.

Rating: D



The nurses on the floor at AORN were legitimately interested in learning about exhibitor’s new technology. However, due to the laissez faire engagement stance of most exhibitor booth staff, many booths were left empty. This presents a unique opportunity for exhibitors willing to use more straightforward engagement tactics. Whatever your booth attract, be sure to spend time training your booth staff and consider a professional moderator to ensure maximum attendee engagement. Otherwise, you’re wasting money.

Until next time, best of luck planning your next event marketing initiative. We’ll see you on the show floor!

don colliver trade show moderator

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Supercharging Prospect Engagement with Exit Interviews at Strata Data 2019

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Supercharging Prospect Engagement with Exit Interviews at Strata Data 2019

San Francisco, CA- Professional trade show consultant Don Colliver conducted quantitative and qualitative exit interviews for Dremio at the 2019 Strata Data Conference in San Francisco, CA. Don immersed himself in the Dremio marketing landscape, then wrote and delivered iPad surveys and subjective interviews to learn prospect engagement needs and desires. The project culminated with a comprehensive 22-page report with recommendations to increase lead count, qualified conversations and demos.

Don acted as trade show consultant at Strata Data occurred from April 26th through 28th, 2019 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

Dremio crew at Strata Data
Strata Data logo

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Maximize Booth Preso Results with these Rhetorical Hacks

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Maximize Booth Preso Results with these Rhetorical Hacks

San Francisco, CA- It was 2017, and I was working at the Black Hat Conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. A charismatic sales engineer on a makeshift stage had a crowd spilling out of his booth and blocking the aisle. His prospects were transfixed- cheering on his command, eagerly leaning forward, ready to do anything he asked. No, he wasn’t doing a raffle, he was using the principles of rhetoric to persuade and mesmerize his audience. These classic principles can offer huge power to trade show professionals who wield them effectively. Below I’ll define rhetoric and give three tips on how to use it in your booth presentations to maximize your booth results.

Rhetoric on the Expo Floor

Aristotle defined Rhetoric as "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion.” He defined the three means of persuasion as ethos (credibility), pathos (emotion) and logos (logic). Most trade show presentations rely too much on logic and can be far more effective by utilizing emotion and credibility/shared identity to persuade groups of prospects in their booths. The “group” aspect is critical. Whereas a sales deck may be presented to a single person, a trade show presentation will be presented to a group of 8-30 people, and groups behave much differently. Just ask Sigmund Freud, one of the first trade show consultants! According to Freud, when individuals are part of a group, they have a tendency to be infected by any emotion within the group, and then to actually amplify that emotion through what he called, “mutual induction.” So, if you can elicit a group emotion through your presentation, it will become self-sustaining and grow on its own accord.

Sigmund Freud, trade show consultant

Emotion can be powerful, unpredictable and not terribly bright. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt described a model of emotion as an elephant (our emotional side) and a rider (our rational side.) Chip and Dan Heath elaborate in their book “Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard”:

Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose.  He’s completely overmatched.

Admittedly, in the business-to-business space buying decisions are made with input from many stakeholders over time. However, each of those stakeholders is an emotional human being, and on the trade show floor we should utilize the most effective tools in our marketing arsenal. So, here are three tips to use in your presentation to speak to the emotional elephant, rather than the rational rider.

Identify with your Prospect

Most trade show presentations quickly attempt to establish credibility (Aristotle’s ethos) by overwhelming prospects with accomplishments and social proof in the form of testimonials and case studies. A more efficient and effective method can be to establish common ground and a shared identity. Strive to create an inclusive group which includes both your prospects and yourself. A quick way to do this in your presentation is by defining a common problem that “we’ve all faced,” opening the door to inside jokes and lamenting- only to be solved by your solution later, of course!

It helps here to passionately give voice to your prospects’ common sentiments, complaints and aspirations. The word “demagogue” generally holds a negative connotation, but it deserves a second look in the trade show setting. Google defines the word as one “who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument.” Many trade show presentations are simply rephrased sales decks, loaded with highly technical demos and statistics. A quick stroll around the expo floor can show that it’s a tough place for careful, nuanced thought and evaluation. While hard features are important, establishing common ground with your prospect’s identity can also be very effective when used with restraint.

Limit the problem carefully

Uncle Sam, trade show consultant

After successfully establishing credibility through shared identity, its time to frame the problem which your solution solves. Government wartime propaganda offers a useful example here. During times of conflict, news outlets consolidate multiple enemies into one, and portray complicated situations as black/white and good/evil. This is highly effective as a means to create group identity and motivate action, and this technique can also be used in the much lower stakes world of trade show presentations. Consider reverse engineering your problem to clearly point to your value proposition. In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” social psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes an overriding cognitive bias that humans share, abbreviated as WYSIATI, or “What You See Is All There Is.” Essentially, those problems which are most recent and easily accessible seem most important. Consolidating the problem can also further create a shared identity and increase receptivity to your solution. Save those complicated use-case specifics for one-on-one demos.

Connect to basic human needs

Finally, connect the dots from your feature, to your benefit, then all the way back to your prospects’ basic human needs and desires. Sure, your solution is easy to install, but what does that mean to your prospect in his day to day life? More time, saved money, or a longer lunch? Daniel Kahneman offers another tip here from his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow:” Humans have been shown to be primarily loss-averse. In other words, your prospects are more likely to act to avert a loss than to achieve a gain, so showing avoidance of bad outcomes is more effective than showing gains when pitching your solution.

Handle with Care

spidemank trade show consultant

Using these three rhetorical techniques will have a measurable effect on your qualified booth conversations. Their power has been leveraged for centuries for both good and nefarious ends, so its important to use them with care. Keep in mind what good old Uncle Ben said to Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Aristotle himself also had something to say about that:

If it is urged that an abuse of the rhetorical faculty can work great mischief, the same charge can be brought against all good things (save virtue itself) such as strength, health, wealth, and military skill. Rightly employed, they work the greatest blessings.

Any use of persuasion techniques can cross the line into manipulation, and I’m fascinated by where we choose to draw that moral boundary. Please post your thoughts on this historically controversial issue!

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