This is a follow up to:
What goes into a convention visit:
The first day is travel and setup - usually from sunup to sundown on a Sunday.
Feet on the ground, get bags, get cab, get moving...
The Display Booth
We have had numerous display booths / exhibits over the years. This year we decided to try a new configuration, with an emphasis on product display and maximizing space. Five of us working 8 hours a day in a 10'x20' space requires coordination and planning.
First we sat down and discussed our needs. Then I did a sketch on notebook paper.
Followed by a Photoshop composition:
Some light carpentry to fill in some of the missing pieces, and voila:
Next time we will get the LCD monitor mounted to the center column, add a laptop shelf and add some shelving under the display counters. To reuse one of my favorite 80's catch phrases, "I love it when a plan comes together!"
One of the goals of displaying at a convention is to give attendees who visit your booth something to take with them. We made brochures for books, videos, services and other meetings/courses. When we make a brochure, whether it is a single folded sheet, a multi-fold or a saddle stitch, we include an address / postage panel that can turn it into a self-mailer. New postal rules require an envelope if something is saddle stitched but not a magazine or catalog, so we are doing a lot of multi-folds.
The columns of the display have a surface that sticks to Velcro. We make 20x30" posters for new products or events we are promoting, and stick these to the wall.
This is the first year we have used a large LCD monitor as part of the booth. I created a 4 minute loop of new products, services and events, edited asn HD Premiere sequence, exported as Blu-Ray h.264 and authored in Adobe Encore. Compiling the Encore Blu-Ray project to an ISO allowed me to burn a Blu-Ray project to a DVD-R. Our Sony Blu-Ray player interprets the DVD-R as a Blu-Ray disc and it looked beautiful, and attracted some additional attention.
We only get 1-2 seconds to attract the attention of someone walking by.
Shuttle Bus Promo
Most conventions taking place at convention centers utilize a system of shuttle buses, to transport attendees from hotels to meeting and back, around the clock from dawn to dusk. At some meetings there is a video loop that plays on the bus. For one new product we created a 30 sec spot, which ran about once per 15 minute trip of the bus.
Conventions - The Rest of the Story - Support Video
The booth necessarily breaks down into crates and pallets, shipped via common carrier freight. At the end of the event, breaking things down takes a lot less time than setting up.
Then we wait for the empties to be delivered, pack up, shrink wrap, and head to the airport.
Once the days wrap up, usually around 5 or 6pm, it is back to the hotel. Once I got my bearings in DC, which is a series of grids and wheels with spokes (thank goodness for google maps on a smart phone), I found it pretty easy walking between locations. Most nights it is straight to dinner (skipping lunch, while not recommended, seems to happen). Having been to many major cities around the country for conventions, I have learned a few important things:
1. If you are really hungry, eat near the hotel.
2. If you are eating late, keep alcohol and dessert to a minimum.
3. If the hotel has a restaurant, check it out. It can save cab fare and/or exploring a strange city at night, and you need to save your strength.
4. Likewise, if the hotel serves breakfast, check out the prices. $14.99 for a burger at night seems like a better value than $14.99 for a bowl of fruit with yogurt or $4.50 for an english muffin. "Highway Robbery" my grandpa used to say. In these cases, finding a nearby coffee chain is in order. Also, for whatever reason, hotels with sit down breakfast service seem to take a really long time to serve you.
When I come home from such a meeting, people always ask "Wow, Chicago. Did you go to any museums?" or "Wow, Washington, did you go to the Air and Space Museum?" or "Wow, LA, did you see any movie stars?"
The response is usually, "No, I was WORKING." It is common to see nothing but the hotel and the convention center.
But once in a while we have time to walk around and see some sites.
This time in Washington we went down to the White House area, walked around, saw the Obama vegetable garden and the motorcade returning to home base. They parked out back waiting for the Prez to go to his next function. No sign of Bo, the first dog, so we returned to the general vicinity of the hotel for dinner.
Other "Walking around" highlights from past convention cities have included:
San Francisco - seeing the Blue Angels perform over San Francisco Bay
Denver - Visiting the Colorado State house
Chicago - going up in the Sears Tower (or whatever it is called - it was still the world's tallest building at the time)
Dallas - Visiting the 6th Floor Museum and walking on the infamous Grassy Knoll
Philadelphia - The Liberty Bell
In summary, it is back to work on day to day projects, and planning for future meetings, shoots and long term goals.
Thanks for reading.
After a week of travel, which was more like 3 weeks due to the preparation and focus on nothing but the end goal, it is like returning from a long journey. Amazingly, the voicemail was empty and there were no packages piled on my chair. Why? Because nearly everyone I work with on a regular basis was in the same place as I was, many of them at the same hotel. So it was like I was at a high school reunion, assuming that I was part of a class that took 20 years to graduate.
So here I am back in the saddle (squeaky office chair) with a full plate of communication tasks, aka, new business development.
1. Followup with people I saw last week. Last week, for those keeping score at home, was a medical convention. There are occasional threads in the business and marketing forum about the benefit of attending trade shows.
It depends upon the trade and the show.
2. Followup with people I did not see, but hoped to.
This is an important part of acquiring new business. That is, developing relationships with people, even and especially those people with whom you have not yet done business. Remind people you are there, out here in the ether. When they need you they'll remember you if you remember yourself to them periodically.
3. Contact people I neither saw nor planned to see but with whom I'd like to meet at some future date.
4. Followup on outstanding proposals.
Writing clear proposals, SOW's or contracts is a vital part of work for hire. If you are a vendor, get good at describing what you do, what you charge, and what they get for what you charge for what you do.
5. Send out new proposals.
6. Chat with co-workers about ongoing projects, shoots that happened while I was away and future projects and goals.
MBWA - Managing by walking around.
6a. Followup regarding ongoing milestone chasing (another future blog post right there).
7. Create some plans for new products, the ideas for which we gathered from customer requests during our big event. Free market research is a beautiful thing. Well maybe not free, given travel and exhibit costs, but gravy over an already generous helping of mashed potatoes.
Always be thinking of the next sliced loaf of bread.
8. Organize notes - that is - post-its and scrap paper - in a book labeled, cleverly, "The Book." More on this in a future post on getting shtuff done.
So while I say back in the saddle" one should always be IN the saddle, riding on the range, tending the flock helping other ranchers get their cattle to market. Rather than a six-shooter on my belt, a blackberry will have to do.
Thanks for riding.