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5 Things to NOT do at your company’s next trade show – Part 3

In our first part and second part of this three-part series, we introduced the first two crucial mistakes that companies routinely make at trade shows.

Let’s close out this series with our final faux-pas about lead quality vs. lead quantity.

  1. Focus on quality not quantity
    I know – events are expensive. The expenses add up quickly – travel to the venue, hotel, food, booth fees, registration costs. As you tally up the totals, you can easily deduce, “Wow, we’re making a huge investment to go the ‘StarJumboBig’ show'; we must find a way to collect many leads” Your mind then goes into overdrive, developing strategies and tactics to capture ‘lead’ information from every human that walks within 100 yards of your booth. The result: you have many leads, but very few people are actually interested in what you have to offer. You have a bunch of names, but very few ‘opportunities’. You’ve polluted your database with contacts that could (if lightning strikes twice in the same spot) become your customer one day.

A better solution: set up your booth for strategic consultations. Try to listen more than you talk. Take thorough notesand understand why a visitor has decided to spend his/her time with you. Once you completely understand your prospect’s situation, repeat it back to him or her, and then position how your product or solution might be able to help. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole; if your product/service isn’t a match, recommend someone or somebody who might be. A goodwill gesture of that sort will pay dividends down the road.

Stay away from these 5 common conference/trade show mistakes and you’re on your way to make your company’s investment a positive one. Do you have a few tactics that have worked wonders for your company at a trade show? Please share.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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5 Things to NOT do at your company’s next trade show – Part 2

In our first part of this three-part series, we introduced the first two crucial mistakes that companies routinely make at trade shows.

Let’s continue our journey with reasons #3 and #4:

  1. Sit behind a table
    There are a few situations where I can see sitting behind a table making sense:
    a: if you are Troy Aikman (or any other famous person), and I’ve come to your autograph signing
    b: if you are a conference organizer, and I am checking in at the conference registration desk.

    Most other scenarios create an unnecessary barrier between vendor and visitor. Nothing creates a disparaging “I am vendor/you are prospect” vibe like placing a table in the middle of your booth. If you need a table to place information sheets, collateral, giveaway items, make it impossible for anyone to sit behind the table. Removing all chairs from your booth may cause some initial friction, but it ALWAYS helps engagement and quality of interactions.

  1. Wait for attendees to come to you
    It takes courage and gusto, but sometimes you might actually have to step outside your protective, comfortable, safe 10×10 booth and bring people to you. Think back to 7th grade dance. The girls were on one side of the room; the boys were on the other; it took a bold strike of confidence to walk over to the other gender’s side and make the 1st move. Be the person who takes the first step in understanding a) why did the person come to the show? b) what did he/she learn? Ask these two questions out of the gate and you remove the sleazy, used car salesman factor.

Stay tuned for our final part of this three-part series in a few weeks. You won’t disappointed by this last tip around lead quality vs. quantity.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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5 Things to NOT do at your company’s next trade show — Part 1

We’ve all worked trade shows at one point or another in our careers. It’s an easy gig, right? Stand there, talk to a few people, hand out a few goodies, and then wine and dine some customers or prospects.

If your company knew this is all you did, they’d have a serious problem. Engaging solely in these behaviors is hazardous for your future and your business’.

Here are the 5 behaviors you should NOT do at your company’s next trade show:

  1. Check your phone while working the booth
    I know – your friends just must see the pic you just snapped in the conference hall. If you absolutely, positively must pin something to Instagram, walk far, far away from your booth and pin away. Your company is paying you to represent the company professionally, make new contacts, answer questions from attendees about their challenges and how your product or service can help. As hard as it will be for some, keep the phone in your pocket or backpack.
  1. Create an environment that makes it difficult for attendees to talk with you
    People do the strangest things. I recently attended an event where the vendor had a set of speakers that continually played a voiceover loop of the company’s overview, mission and product specs. I walked up to the vendor and asked: “What do you do?” Instead of turning off the speakers, or giving me the ‘shh’ sign while pointing at the speakers, he tried to outduel the speaker with his loud, booming voice. After a few minutes of indecipherable babble from the well-intentioned vendor expert, I walked away from the booth with little direction as to how they could solve my problems.

Stay tuned for #3 and #4 of the ‘Things NOT to do at your company’s next trade show’.

Until next time,

Dan Naden


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Are you ready for your most important go-to-market strategy?

I remember that nervous, yet exciting first drive home from the hospital with our tiny, precious daughter.

Every turn was cautious. Speed limit signs didn’t register. Everyone else was a crazy, mixed up driver. We would drive slower than a turtle to protect our daughter from the massive, fast, hectic world.

As we approached our home (the 3 mile drive nearly took 3 hours), my wife and I felt overjoyed with love, yet a question began to echo louder in our heads: Now what?

Don't lose sight of your most important 'launch'.

Don’t lose sight of your most important ‘launch’.

In my view, fatherhood is readying our son or daughter for life outside of home. Yes, you’ve have laughs, incredible highs, rock bottom lows, sorrow, excitement along the way, but it all leads up to those final emotional moments. Enjoy the journey, but the road will end, and hopefully, your son or daughter takes the wheel with confidence.

It’s tough to picture it now, but there will be a day when our son or daughter leaves our home and navigates the rhythms of life: a new job, dating, grocery shopping, bill paying, a home purchase.

As a product marketer for much of my career and a proud Dad, I’ve seen some parallels between bringing a product to market and getting a child ready for life.

Don’t have kids? Don’t want kids? Maybe you have a young cousin or friend that needs a helping hand or encouraging boost? Or maybe you are just curious? Read on for the tips and tricks.

1. What are you selling?
If you are selling a business information service, you have to decide what exactly are you selling. How is what you are selling different than everyone else’s? What’s unique about your product or service that will separate you from your many competitors? If you don’t have a way to stand out from the pack, you’ll be considered a commodity that lacks true value. Get insanely focused on how your value is second-to-none.

As a parent, you certainly can’t think of raising a child as ‘selling’ anything, but, let’s keep the metaphor from falling apart.

I am selling a responsible, accountable, active, courageous young person to the world. Despite my best intentions, my son or daughter falls short of these ideals more often than I’d like to admit.

But I’ll never give up on coaching, guiding and leading him/her towards understanding the upside of being responsible, accountable, courageous leaders.

2. Who will buy what you are selling?
Selling a business information service might seem to be easy pickings for a marketer. Who doesn’t want reliable, accurate, timely business information collected by a team of dedicated researchers and experts? It’s vitally important, however, to understand the characteristics of your most successful customers. Who are they? What industries do they comprise? Narrowing down to a target market or markets will bring a refined focus to your messaging, positioning and packaging. Suddenly, you’ll go from broadcasting your message to the masses to narrowcasting your message to a group of exclusive categories that will have a propensity to buy.

As a Dad, you must guide your son or daughter to not fall prey to every whim or temptation that crosses his/her path. It’s a cruel lesson for a young mind to grasp, but there are consequences for misbehavior. A child who doesn’t grasp the nuance between right and wrong is going to swim against a steady current in the game of life. It’s up to every individual family to decide, but in our home, we have a strict set of rules to follow. As tough as it can be to get a young, frenzied mind to focus, it’s a beautiful thing to see your children understand how to act by the examples of a parent, friend, colleague.

Just as a product benefits from a razor-sharp focus on a particular market segment, a child will blossom when he see a specific model (hopefully a responsible, accountable, courageous example) of how he should be when he grows up.

When the lump in your throat appears before that magnificent, critical product launch, make sure you’ve done all you can to increase your odds of success.

When you pull away from the hospital with your infant strapped in for dear life, you might think you’re not ready for the rest of the story. Have faith that you’ll do all you can to launch your child into a meaningful, fulfilling, joyous life. You’ll never be involved in a more critical product release — your child’s future.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Why I like Marketing

As I little boy, I dreamt of on stepping onto the soccer field as a professional player in front of thousands of fans.

I could visualize wearing Arsenal’s jersey with pride or maybe even the hometown jersey of the now-defunct Chicago Sting. Screaming for the Sting at Wrigley Field (yes, they used to play soccer at the home of the eternally under achieving Chicago Cubs!) will always be one of my most cherished live sporting moments.

I transported myself from a 10-year old boy to the finely-manicured fields of England, Germany, and United States through a wonderfully brilliant game called Subbuteo.


My fervor for marketing was ignited by a magical tabletop soccer game.

My friend Kevin and I jumped feet-first into this incredibly intricate and realistic tabletop soccer game.

On Friday nights, we staged elaborate soccer matches: the New York Cosmos vs. the San Diego Sockers or the Montreal Manic vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps. Powered by endless bowls of buttered popcorn and salty pretzels, we played until it was way past bedtime. We recorded the matches, announced the participants, kept statistics and standings – this was more than a hobby; this was a BIG deal.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the game for me was imagining, creating, conceptualizing and building the advertising that adorned the bleachers and stands bordering the game field.

I took care to place hand-written advertisements in spots that would be seen by the standing-room only audience.

This NASL Championship sponsored by:

State Farm Insurance
Rest Easy Tonight

Empire Carpet

Pizza Hut
The official pizza of the NASL

Marketing and advertising became a passion, ignited by rolling a small soccer ball across an extremely lifelike soccer game.

So why do I like marketing? Why does it still inspire me years after the final whistle has blown on the all-night Subbuteo games?

It stirs my soul because:

1.       The challenge is great. Whether your industry is air conditioners, potato chips, or office supplies, the competition is strong and only getting stronger. As a marketer, it’s up to you to not only find the ‘right’ person for your message, but incite him to investigate, research, evaluate, and solve his challenge with your ‘answer’ – not one of your competitors.

2.       The data leaves a trail of insight. If you are building a landing page, mobile campaign, or PPC experiment, you can get immediate, instantaneous feedback that would leave marketers from the 1970s jealous. Today’s remarkable analytics platforms give marketers unparalleled evidence as to why a particular campaign/site/page is exceeding expectations, missing the mark, or somewhere in between.

3.       There’s no shortage of learning opportunities. If you have a mentor, you are in a great position. If you don’t, start searching now for a match. Marketing moves quickly and you can’t harness all the rapid changes on your own. In between mentor meet-ups, leverage the abundance of online marketing resources at your fingertips.

Some of my favorites are:

If you’ve a soccer-playing son, daughter, cousin, friend, introduce them to the wonderful game of Subbuteo. The game’s magnetism might just have them dreaming of playing for their country in the World Cup 2026. And who knows, you might unearth a curious, eager marketer in the process, building advertisements that cause a zealous audience to act.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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