For exhibit and event professionals  

Timeshare Your Face-to-Face Marketing

March 29, 2012 By Editor

Get more for less out of marketing and sales initiatives
by Linda Kazares, President, Face-to-Face Connect

One of the dominating messages we’ve received from our industry contacts is the need for new, interesting ways of maximizing reduced budgets and reaching new customers. Yet, instead of changing their “diet” to a heart-healthy solution of low-cost, innovative marketing and sales campaigns, many companies continue to eat from the bloated buffet of traditional, been there, done that, let’s see what sticks to the wall programs.

Street smart

Although companies have cut back tremendously on staffing, they still need to step back once in a while to evaluate what’s working and, if it’s not, what can work in its place. Like my Feldenkrais teacher chants, “Check to see if you’re still breathing.”

The message here is: Listen to what’s under the surface. What sounds like a gurgling stream could be level-five white water. Using your gut sense of what will work and putting a little time into finding solutions that could free up a lot of time and produce tremendous results is street smart.

Low risk, high value

An interesting model we’ve been integrating with our clients is one that, like timesharing, shares the program expenses. It also penetrates new consumer markets.

We work with clients to bundle companies into regional markets where they’re part of a shared program that reduces their costs by over 50 percent. It also allows those without the right type of staffing (consumer oriented) to expand their sales and branding on a guerilla level.

We researched a variety of face-to-face programs, both existing and new. Over a six month period, we developed approximately 25 iterations to get to the final program configuration. The resulting product is an exclusive, multi-vendor exhibit placed at high-volume consumer events where selling is not only encouraged for most participants, it’s the only reason they are there. Branding and marketing are secondary, though these are also viable reasons to participate.

The audience demographics are off the charts. They exceed every average for computer and Internet usage (especially important to high-tech clients), and almost every attendee owns his or her own home (important to any consumer and home products company). The programs are turnkey from setup right down to the demo staff, eliminating reliance on vendor staffing which has been cut to the bone.

Hybrid models can be problematic

You’d think because we worked with the clients to mastermind this model it’d be a no brainer for every one of them. The cost, as one called it, is “chump change.” The reward, based on gut and research, can be pretty spectacular. The problem for some? It’s a hybrid marketing and sales opportunity.

In the high-tech industry in particular, companies aren’t used to actually selling product face to face, real time to individuals. So, when they see the numbers that are sold through at these events they’re both astounded and skeptical. You should see the conversations sometimes in our meetings. It’s like one of those wacky Road Runner cartoons with finger pointing every which way when they’re asked who has the final decision authority.

KISS – Keep it simple and salable

Here are my basic three points for face-to-face client acquisition programs:

  1. Simplify even the simplest model. Make the program either a marketing or sales event. You can always upgrade the program (to the hybrid model) after you’ve gotten one or the other group to buy in.
  2. Limit your pain-inducing messages to three. Get their attention by understanding what hurts them the most in their jobs. This isn’t mean; it leads to providing great solutions and service.
  3. Create a Lighthouse account. Get one great brand or relationship that will lead to others.

Now, it’s time to eat my own dog food. Let’s see where I can start to simplify …

Linda Kazares is President of Face-to-Face Connect, a company that designs and implements sell-through programs, face-to-face marketing through live consumer events, integrated promotion and field sales support activities. She has over 25 years of experience in technology sales, marketing and channel development. Her career highlights include senior executive positions with Ambit International Inc., Merisel, Key3Media Events (Ziff-Davis) and Nth Degree. This fall, Kazares will launch Take IT Home Consumer Technology © Tour — technology that entertains, educates, automates and communicates to drive demand and sell-through direct to consumers for several high-tech companies.


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