the tradeshow must go on

dc-info-Trade1Why (some) B2B trade shows still make sense

We know many marketers who look at their budget spend for trade shows each year and groan. And we get it. Trade Show participation — if you’re serious about your presence – are resource-intensive across the board. And yes, some industries (like boating, for example) became enslaved to the idea that pulling out of a show signals weakness. Ridiculous.

But because of what digital has done to B2B communications (reducing human relationships to email and conference calls), trade shows are one of the last places where you can meet your target market face-to-face, provide hands-on demonstrations, and network over drinks and food. That’s why as recently as 2011, 40% of B2B marketing budgets were allocated for trade shows.

Our view? If you’re going to commit to trade shows, get it right.

Don’t “Show and Go”

A common practice at trade shows is the “Show and Go.” You put together a neat booth and staff it with nice people. It’s not enough. Especially in B2B shows where a strong, branded booth is table stakes, and there’s little to no impulse buying.

The Key: Start early

Success is determined months before the show. So consider the following forms of outreach.

Eblast. Eblasts are economical and provide you with up-to-date statistics. They are a good test to gauge how enticing your product or services are. Eblasts can provide you with actionable leads before the event, which are crucial in competitive trade shows.

Hint: If you have a new product or service coming out, tease it in the eblast to gain interest.

Press Releases. Trade shows are often used for launching and promoting a new product or service. But expand your thinking about what may be newsworthy. Example: If you have done research you can report on the findings and offer a presentation at your booth. Send it out to media outlets and offer interviews with your internal leaders to make the topic relevant and reportable.

Social Media Posts. Social media leverages your investment in the show. It can help to put a personal touch on your pre-show outreach, and can expand your ability to follow up. Example: For some clients we have created a contest before the event and asked attendees to post comments, pictures, or videos to a Facebook page as a way to participate.

Hint: Incentivize the target just a bit. Product giveaways are easy and make sure to announce the winner at your booth to maximize contact.

Schedule appointments. B2B targets usually hit the show with a list of booths they really need to visit. Be on those lists. Schedule meetings. Offer refreshments. Do the little things to keep them there as long as possible.

Hint: Online scheduling and appointment booking software are gaining popularity due to their ease of use.

In closing, if done right B2B trade shows can work.

And when the show must go on, we’re ready to talk.


Ski resorts ride ups and downs

The “ski” and “snowboarding” slowdown

Google data shows that during the last 10 years, the terms “skiing” and “snowboarding” are being used less and less.

How much less? Try 65% fewer searches since January 2004. “Golf” has also had subpar performance as a search term: it’s down 33% during the same time frame.

skiboarding_graph_V2Source: Google search inquries for the terms presented over time based on data provided from Google Insights.

So what gives?

A number of factors are at work in this trend. Some are economic. Taking a family skiing for a weekend – including gas, lodging, lift tix, lessons, food and drink, etc – can run more than $1500 all in. Other reasons are demographic. Baby boomers – the backbone of the ski industry for a generation, are aging and less eager to hit the slopes.

 Now the good news: Looking for lessons.

When obvious indicators show a downturn, it’s time to look deeper for value. Bear markets almost always have opportunities.

So we took a deeper dive into search activity. We examined usage of the terms “ski lessons” and “snowboard lessons.” Results: Activity around these terms is RISING—but only in certain states.

Massachusetts, for example. The Bay State has seen an 80% rise in search queries based on “ski lessons” and “snowboard lessons” during the last 6 years. We looked further and found that many states are seeing the same trend – but not to the same extent at Massachusetts.


Source: Google search inquries for the terms presented over time based on data provided from Google Insights.

4 ways to read the tea leaves

The upsurge of interest in lessons can mean a few things:

  1. Gen X families are maturing. Their kids are tugging on mom’s coat to learn a cool new sport.
  2. Bargain hunters smell value. Climate change has shortened the winter season and consumers know it.
  3. Resort marketing is working. Many resorts have marketing programs that reach into digital spaces to attract new followers. Resorts have also shaped their terrain and parks to attract everyone from boomers to Millennials. Recruitment messages may be working.
  4. Snow sports are durable. Skiing and riding have die-hard followers. They have great equipment technology that makes it easier to learn. The X Games continues to draw interest. So skiing and riding may be down, but they’re definitely not out.

Trends: Proceed with caution

It’s important to follow data trends in the resort industry. They tell us a lot about where interest levels are and what opportunities may exist. While we don’t believe in basing strategies on trends, we do believe that reading trends is a good way to take the temperature on an industry.

If you are interested in learning more about how consumers are searching for resort related activities in your target markets, let’s chat.

Did you miss the Facebook bandwagon


Good old Facebook

Early in 2014, Facebook will celebrate its 10th birthday. That’s a pretty major milestone for a fickle industry like social media. Facebook has more than 1 billion active users and over 50 million pages. Yet there are clients out there who haven’t established a presence, and they’re asking, Am I too late?

Why Facebook got old so fast

Look at the rise of Facebook, both in terms of user growth and ad revenue growth.

All that economic and social activity has resulted in Facebook fatigue – a level of exasperation with the platform’s omnipresence, and a corresponding desire to be different, especially among younger users.

Why Facebook isn’t what it used to be

Due to the over saturation of branded posts, advertisements, promotions, and daily contests, Facebook users are much less likely to “like” a brand than they were several years ago.  Marketers have responded to this trend with lots of new content but unfortunately, creative copy and cute pictures won’t get you very far with today’s algorithm.  You will need money and intriguing gimmicks to get noticed.

So, for a business to begin from ground zero on Facebook today – no fans, no social media program or presence, no active content calendar – the cost per fan acquisition most likely won’t generate a worthwhile ROI.

When does Facebook make sense?

The demographic of your target audience will play a huge role in the decision to begin a Facebook page at this stage of the game. If you’re looking to reach the tween-teen-young adult market, forget Facebook.  See  “My Grandma Uses Facebook!” for more information.

But if your targets reside in the 35-54 range, skew female, and if your brand has a built-in social dimension to it, maybe Facebook can work for you. Be prepared to invest in strategies for content development, fan acquisition, community engagement, and building a social platform beyond Facebook.

If your brand is product-centric consider Pinterest and Instagram, which have good visual platforms for showing off new products. If your brand is a B2B entity, LinkedIn will do a better job than Facebook of getting your headlines in front of the right people.  Check out a full breakdown of Social Media demographics.

As always, we are here to talk social strategy when you are.

New Privacy Policy Requirements for Websites

As an amendment to the existing California Online Privacy Protection Act, the “do not track” law went into effect on January 1, 2014.  The amendment has two distinct additions to the act:

  • Disclose how the operator responds to Web browser “do not track” signals or other mechanisms that provide consumers the ability to exercise choice regarding the collection of personally identifiable information about an individual consumer’s online activities over time and across third-party Web sites or online services, if the operator engages in that collection.
  • Disclose whether other parties may collect personally identifiable information about an individual consumer’s online activities over time and across different Web sites when a consumer uses the operator’s Web site or service.
    From California Assembly Bill No. 370

These stipulations require all websites with potential traffic from California residents (even if the company does not have an office or physical presence in the state) to include specific information in their privacy policies.

  • Information collected from users
  • How 3rd parties collect personally identifiable information
  • How to opt-out of the collection of information
  • How to opt-out of receiving targeted advertising
  • How the operator responds to “do not track” signals

One of the most widely used third-party data collection tools is Google Analytics.  A recent update to analytics allows you to implement demographics & interest reporting- which also requires a line in your privacy policy about how you use that data.

You can provide users with a way to opt-out of being tracked through the browser add-on from Google found here.

The first step is to make sure your site has an updated Privacy Policy.  It should include everything on the bulleted list above.  The Privacy Policy should be available to your site visitors in an easy to locate and distinctive position, most likely in the footer.  It should also include the date of the most recent update.

Another important part of your Privacy Policy will be to help your consumers understand the benefits of allowing these features.  Cookies and tracking are generally used to help improve the overall user experience.  We use it to help improve the flow of content by determining the most relevant and popular information.  Additionally, it can help personalize your individual experience by remembering previous interactions, displaying appropriate content and saving history of purchases for e-commerce sites.  Aside from improving the overall experience by enabling cookies, some sites require cookies for access to content.

We are not attorneys and cannot instruct you with legal advice but can guide you to a good one, if needed.  If you have any questions or concerns about internet privacy and how to ensure your sites are compliant with the new regulations, please don’t hesitate to contact us.