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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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EnduraCool: A towel that sells itself

Infomercials have a bad reputation. The products sometimes look cheap, almost too good to be true. The lessons that you can discover, however, from a sales, marketing, and merchandising perspective are many.

I’ve been watching some of the NBA and NHL playoffs (yes, I do watch hockey) on television. The final teams are battling it out on the ice and the court. Six months of grinding, fighting, pushing, shoving and strategizing come down to one fluke bounce of the puck or one misjudged inbounds pass. Sweat is spilled, elbows are thrown and bodies heave and lunge in every direction to put the puck in the net or the ball in the basket.

One commercial that’s been in heavy rotation on ESPN and TNT for the past few weeks has been a commercial for EnduraCool, a towel that appears to have magical powers to cool down even the most overheated worker or athlete. The commercial packs the best of a long-form infomercial into a 30 or 60 second spot.

EnduraCool towel

EnduraCool does a masterful job at demonstrating a reason to believe.

Did you ever think your life was lacking a towel to cool you off after a hard workout or a grueling day of outside labor? The commercial does a superb job of selling the benefits of a plain, simple, pedestrian towel.

So what’s the formula? What makes this product pitch a lesson to follow? Here are the 3 keys:

1. Credibility/Authority: Yes, the product does have a 1-800 #, but it’s also available at all Lowe’s stores. Lowe’s is a recognizable, proven, trusted brand; if they are carrying this product, the legitimacy skyrockets. This is no fly-by-night operation.

Super star athletes Dwayne Wade, Reggie Bush and Serena Williams endorse the product. We may never move fluidly like Reggie or drive to the hoop with purpose like Dwayne, yet we’d certainly like any athletic edge to help us get there.

“The towel helps me stay focused on my goals,” Dwayne says as he places the towel around his neck. I nearly reached for the phone.

2. It’s simple:

  • Step 1: Soak the towel in water.
  • Step 2: Rinse the towel.
  • Step 3: Snap the towel, unleashing the cooling power.

It’s perfect timing that the EnduraCool towel enters the market now because summer is on the doorstep. Whether you need a cooling sensation while cutting the grass or refreshment while washing the car outdoors, the EnduraCool towel seems to provide instant relief.

3. Show me, don’t just tell me the benefit: The secret sauce appears to be the technology that keeps the towel cool while the outside world bakes and scorches in the summer heat. The EnduraCool commercial shows a temperature gauge on an outdoor worker’s shirt – the temperature reads 89 degrees. The temperature gauge then points to the towel and tells a different number: 59 degrees. Now that’s an escape from the summer heat.

EnduraCool does a masterful job at packing credibility, celebrity and clear, true benefit into a 30 second commercial. Leverage these tips, tricks and techniques for your business’ advertising, promotion and positioning. You may find yourself with more business than ever before.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Words that kill: I am just a sales guy

I was on a product demonstration yesterday when I heard a salesperson say, “I am just a sales guy.”

In isolation, one could think this phrase is harmless, but let me continue to document an alarming trend starting to blanket the business world.

Imagine you are visiting a restaurant for Mother’s Day, and your waiter shares with you the day’s specials. You respond, “Wow, that omelette sounds great. This place looks cool. How long have you been open?”

I am just a sales guy.

Just ‘doing the job’ doesn’t cut it today. You need to exceed all expectations — no matter the role.

“I am not sure. I am just a waiter. I’ll have to ask my manager,” the waiter responds, his voice quivering with indifference. In your mind, you wonder why this waiter doesn’t care enough to know this answer.

You sit in the dentist’s chair as Dr. Smiles views your molars for decay. “Have you been brushing and flossing every day?” Dr. Smiles cheerfully asks.

“I try to floss every day, but sometimes I just forget,” you respond. You notice his University of Texas degree on the office wall and say, “I see you are a Texas graduate. I love the Longhorns. How long have you been a dentist?”

Dr. Smiles answers: “Oh, I don’t remember, a few years, I think. I was hoping to become a surgeon, but I wasn’t smart enough, so I just became a dentist.”

For a man that might be drilling holes in your mouth, this string of words isn’t a way to fill you with confidence.

These words that kill can also infiltrate your home.

You’ve plans to turn your backyard into a blanket of color and beauty with some native Texas landscaping.

A number of landscape experts visit with you, sharing details and proposed costs of the work you want done. One gentleman, whom you particularly like, shares: “I can probably do this work, but remember, I am just a lawn guy.”

This phrasing, this unfortunate sequencing of words: “I am just a ___ (dentist, lawn guy, fill in the blank) is a demoralizing put-down. As a potential buyer of your services, I am immediately second guessing if I’ve made the right choice.

You’ve immediately placed yourself into the world of a commodity. Instead of being a unique, talented professional with specialized skills, you’ve branded yourself as a regular, typical, ordinary worker.

My time and money are valuable. When I choose a restaurant, dentist, landscaper, I want to know that I am working with people who think of themselves as artisan craftsmen, not just someone after a paycheck.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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