Thursday, October 3, 2013

Should You Trade the Trade Show for Your Own Event?

This idea might be a wiener: hosting a solo exhibition or road show


We’re busy making final preparations for two big trade shows this month involving our clients. It’s exciting, because trade shows still offer a great marketing stage for manufacturing and other B2B companies.

However, advancements of the Digital Age present new opportunities to connect directly with customers at a fraction of the cost. It’s now more affordable than ever to drive the necessary publicity to host your own successful event.

Open houses, road shows and other self-styled exhibitions have distinct advantages:
  • Focus – Without the distractions, noise and competition of a typical trade show, you have the captive attention of your guests.
  • Depth – As the exclusive presenter, you have the floor, allowing for detailed presentations tailored to specific needs, rather than a quick, condensed overview at a trade show booth.
  • Diversity – Your company likely serves more than one market. Your event can appeal to all your customers – demonstrating the full array of products, services and expertise you offer.
Realizing these advantages, however, isn’t necessarily easy. Even more so than for a trade show, you must attract the audience to make it all worth your while. All the strategic planning, preshow promotional emails, landing pages, media kits, etc., become even more important.

For example, these events typically target a certain geographical area, making local newspapers a critical communication channel. To gain national attention, many companies have taken their shows on the road. Consider the classic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Or General Electric Co.’s mobile truck, a great success when it launched the company’s new FlexEfficiency 60 power generation technology.

With the right preparation and publicity, starring in your own show can be a cost-effective and powerful way to interact with customers face-to-face and deliver an unforgettable brand experience.

Friday, September 13, 2013

6 SEO Results You Should Be Searching for

An organic approach offers benefits well beyond increasing website traffic

Search engine optimization isn’t just about getting visitors. It’s about getting the right visitors – along with better data and a stronger competitive position.

The most successful SEO is aligned with your unique strategies, built with best practices in programming and driven by content that’s relevant to your audiences. When you take this approach, here are six key advantages. 

  1. Gaining credibilityIf you’re on the first page with your subpages listed, your company and your brand command a level of respect that ads and PPC alone cannot bring (and at a lower cost, too). 
  2. Standing out – There are hundreds of millions of active websites. It can seem nearly impossible to get attention. But when your website is optimized for targeted keywords your audience uses, it can provide the differentiation you need.
  3. Getting clicks – About 18 percent of click-throughs on Google go to the very first search result, according to a 2011 study by Slingshot SEO. The second position comes in at 10 percent, the third at 7 percent, the fourth at just under 5 – and all others at sub-2. Securing a spot at or near the top is a key way to gain a significant edge.
  4. Increasing competitiveness – Your competitors are applying SEO practices, too. Stay ahead of them by executing in a way that’s smarter and more strategic.
  5. Helping your customers – Search engines are unique in that they provide targeted traffic – people looking for what you offer. Support their quest by making it easy for them to find you through a search engine.
  6. Learning and adapting – By revealing what people are searching for in your industry, SEO analytics help you uncover shifts in demand and market conditions, which can in turn help you adapt your products, services and strategies for more revenue.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Quick, Appealing, Captivating: Learn How to Create an Effective Infographic

Here’s a simple truth: people process visual messages more quickly than text.

That should be all you need to know to spur you to make visual media a priority in your content marketing efforts. With the staggering amount of information available to your audiences, you need to help them absorb your message in every possible way.

However, for those who are less artistically inclined, the thought of putting together a visual presentation may be daunting.

But how about an infographic? A good infographic conveys information in a concise and aesthetically pleasing style, which helps increase retention. Plus, they can easily be built using various online tools.

This one, for example, was built with the help of Piktochart. Please absorb and enjoy these 5 tips for creating an effective infographic.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Innovate Creatively to Address the Talent Paradox in Your Organization

Manufacturing is consistently seen as a key component of a strong economy and as a critical job creator. Yet according to a recent public perception survey conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, many individuals don’t consider manufacturing careers highly desirable. These insights and more were shared during a recent webinar titled, “HR Management in Manufacturing: A Vital Lever for Talent-Driven Innovation.”

The war to attract and develop talent through creative innovation is a growing trend in the manufacturing industry. That trend is driven largely by difficulty in filling talent gaps, escalated turnover costs and a demand from potential employees for engaging and meaningful work.

So, how can you successfully address this talent paradox? As noted in the webinar, here are just a few actions that are already working:
  • Establishing partnerships with community colleges, trade organizations and industry peers
  • Building and monitoring social media engagement focused on recruitment
  • Aligning onboarding and retention strategies with what’s important to vital recruits
Other actions to consider include:
  • Developing a careers website dedicated to recruitment
  • Supporting your recruitment efforts though media relations
  • Hosting an open house or other special event that allows potential employees to explore your facility, ask questions and learn more
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, winning the talent game requires smart strategies, utilizing a variety of channels. Explore more about how our agency is helping clients deal with the crucial talent issue. Or check out the case study below: 

Case Study (PDF): How a comprehensive program can support  HR recruiting efforts

Monday, June 17, 2013

Act Globally. Think Locally.

I recently returned from a two-week trip to Shanghai for the annual meeting of IPREX, a global network of communications agencies. 

It was my latest in a string of opportunities to travel overseas in recent years, on account of taking on an increasing role in IPREX (I was sworn in as the new president at the meeting), as well as serving several clients with global operations.

But throughout my relatively modest travels, I’m always reminded of an important truth upon my return: I still have a lot to learn about the people and places I’ve visited. 

So who can help me better understand these essential elements? Only the people who’ve lived there all their lives. 

If you’re looking to succeed on international fronts, there’s simply no substitute for local expertise. You need people who not only speak the language fluently, but also truly understand the culture, the mindset and the current environment.

That’s why our partners throughout IPREX are so important to our business and our clients. In a global economy in which knowledge and speed are crucial, these relationships ensure instant access to professionals who really know how to advance success in Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Sydney and so many places in between.

Friday, June 7, 2013

No Lead Left Behind – It’s Easy to Keep Track with Today’s CRM

How many times have you engaged in a conversation with a potential customer and never made contact again? Whether you lost their business card or simply forgot about them, you missed an opportunity.

Lucky for you and your team, there are powerful tools available to help you make sure you never let another one slip away. It’s now easier than ever to stay on top of leads through web-based customer relationship management (CRM) programs like

Here’s a quick primer at the two main categories of leads and how to use them.

Leads – Pretty much anyone that meets your target audience criteria. Leads are categorized by cold (people or businesses that do not know who you are) and warm (leads that have a prior relationship with you). Each can be assigned to a specific person on your sales team to increase accountability for converting this lead into revenue.

Opportunity Pipeline – Leads who recognize the need for your company’s services and have engaged in multiple conversations with your team. Keep track of the conversations in the “status update” section to gauge your progress and share notes to tailor your next message to that company’s needs. The opportunity pipeline is separated by three stages:
  • Prospect – Recognizes the value of your products or services and has engaged in initial, informal discussions about moving forward.
  • Dance – In the process of talking about specific products or projects, but yet to decide if your company is the perfect partner.
  • Quote – Has received a formal proposal that outlines the cost and timeline of a given project.
If you’ve never tried one of today’s online CRM tools, you’ll be surprised just how simple they are. So give it a try. There’s no reason to ever lose another lead.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

No One Is Coming to Save You from the Skills Gap

Your company is going to have to take the initiative. Trefoil Group’s principal, Mary Scheibel, reflected on this reality and how companies can win the talent game at the recent Society of the Plastics Industry conference in Miami. 

Open almost any major manufacturing publication and you’ll see a common thread: the ever dooming skills gap. Despite the worrying, however, many mid-market manufacturers are not doing all that they can do to make themselves attractive to skilled recruits.

So how can you do a better job? Let’s break it down into three focus areas.
  • Differentiate your company. Why should people want to do business or work for your company? Don’t blend in with all the competitors. Tell a compelling story. Be the bold, colorful competitor that sticks out. Keep in mind that a strong brand that appeals to customers often appeals to recruits as well.
  • Define and drive your culture. Culture is more than a competitive advantage; it’s the number one attribute recruits value most. If you don’t have a culture that’s driven to succeed, start to build one right now.  If your employees are inspired, they’ll help you win against the toughest competition. 
  • Build a strong online presence. A recent study done by Cisco demonstrated “that 1 in 3 college students and young professionals consider the Internet to be as important as other fundamental resources like air, water, food and shelter.” Thus, the web offers one of your strongest opportunities to showcase your brand personality and engage talent. 
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to tackle this tough issue today. For further insights on recruiting, retaining and aligning a great workforce, you can review Mary’s presentation below.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Identifying Your Content Marketing Mission

It’s not about what you’re saying. It’s why.

For your content marketing program to be effective, you need to start with a clear, simple mission.

That’s just one of many valuable insights shared by Joe Pulizzi (Twitter: @juntajoe), founder of the Content Marketing Institute, in a recent presentation hosted by AAF Madison.
The three keys to your content marketing mission statement
Joe's presentation included several examples of content marketing mission statements.

Joe advises answering these three questions to help guide all your content:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What kind of content are you delivering?
  3. What outcome are you trying to produce for the audience?

Start with that foundation, and build compelling stories from there.

Enjoy many more content marketing tips from Joe’s presentation, posted below.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Honing the Elevator Pitch for Analyst Presentations, Media Interviews and More

Guest post from Tom Gable, founder and CEO of San Diego IPREX partner firm, Gable PR

Whether working with a CEO who loves to spin long tales about his company and his successes, a Ph.D/M.D. who knows too much, or a startup or anyone else who is new to trying to connect with financial, media and other audiences, we’ve found a good starting point in the communications process is drafting a classic elevator pitch.

The challenge is writing short copy, especially for engineers and scientists who are used to citing published articles, case histories and other resources ad infinitum. The long approach is perfect for pitching peers and colleagues, less so for connecting with analysts, the media and non-industry audiences. Thus, the following was created by Gable PR as a starting point for honing a one to two minute pitch (also referred to as the cocktail party pitch) to grab the attention of your audience in the shortest amount of time and set the stage for next steps.

TAG LINE/SOUND BITE – The opener – an instant picture or quick summation of your positioning.  What you do, what you stand for, to what effect and why it’s important. One sentence is best. Practice with people who don’t know what you do and keep honing this one sentence (two at the most) until it rings like Shakespeare.

PROBLEM, SITUATION ANALYSIS – What exists – the pain or problem you solve?

DYNAMICS AND OPPORTUNITY – Quick historical overview of how it got to this point, how the challenge has been addressed, what is the sweet spot for your company or organization (keep it to three important points, no more!).

WHAT (solving the problem) – Your company (or organization) has been working X years to plan for and develop D, E and F to solve the problem, take advantage of the market opportunity and grow and succeed over the next Y years.

OVERVIEW FROM 30,000 FEET – We have done it: the macro view, the big picture of how your great concept all comes together and grows market share, sales, traffic, profits, benefits the community, whatever – the BIG PICTURE vision of future success rather than technical details and features.

SO WHAT (benefits) – You will succeed because of the creative planning, results and ultimate value you deliver.  Create a mental picture of the benefits to science, patients, customers, the world. If there is a good case history, cite the proof of principle in a sentence or two. Do it in two sentences and you get a Pulitzer Prize (plus the desired result).

THE TEAM – The team includes executives with national credentials in A, B and C. It has a combined ZZ years in the industry, has built MM, helped YY other companies or institutions grow and knows the market and how to provide an expanding array of products and services to help it succeed (make it relevant to the big picture).

THE CLOSE (call to action on the elevator) – “We have the people, the plan and the commitment to succeed in a rapidly growing new market.  I can provide incredible detail that I believe will convince you to … (invest, interview, buy, etc.).  How about a follow up meeting?  Where would you like to meet?  What else can I provide?”

Ask questions that will take it to the next step!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Corporate Social Responsibility Isn’t Just Good PR

It’s also a recruiting tool. A path of professional development. And a whole lot more.
For example, I serve as the PR + Media Chair for Autism Speaks Milwaukee. We’re just coming off some big events in April for National Autism Awareness Month, most notably the fifth annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks in partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. 
Together, our committee of 10 young professionals gained the support of numerous corporate sponsors, participation of 25+ area businesses that support the autism community, secured media sponsors and coverage in our local market and produced awareness pieces with one of the Bucks’ most notable players – Brandon Jennings.
Events like these require a fair amount of time and energy. But I’m happy to do it, because it’s a cause that’s close to my heart. And I’m just as happy that our agency encourages me to support it. I believe many young professionals like me are looking for opportunities to give back to the community, and we gravitate toward employers that boost these efforts.
Many of my coworkers also donate time and talents to individual causes, and we participate as a team in corporate fundraising campaigns for organizations including the United Performing Arts Fund, as well.
In the process, we’re improving the communities in which we live, work and play – while also improving individual skill sets by taking on additional professional responsibilities outside the office. I see that as a win-win-win for me, my community and my employer.
What about your organization? What do you do to advance CSR?
By the way, look for these upcoming Autism Speaks events: Team Up! with Autism Speaks during the Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Run on June 13 and Ride for Autism Speaks at the House of Harley on July 15.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Capitalizing on the New LinkedIn Company Pages

If you haven’t already made LinkedIn a priority in your company’s social marketing and business development strategy, it might be time.
The network has proven itself to be a powerful lead generation tool for B2B marketing, but many aren’t using it to its full advantage.

The first step in a LinkedIn strategy is a solid foundation -- when’s the last time you visited your company page? Do you know if you have a company page?

If it’s been a while or you aren’t sure, don’t feel bad. It’s not all your fault. It’s also LinkedIn’s fault. The network has not been nearly as friendly and effective for companies as it has for individuals.

That is, until recently.

Following the lead of other more visually-appealing and interactive social networks, LinkedIn has been diligently adding new features to the company pages.

Here’s their complete guide and tutorial to the new features available.

And here’s our guide to the four features we find most valuable:

1. Add an image to your company page: รก la the Facebook cover photo. Here’s a quick, effective way to showcase your unique brand personality. Use it to highlight products, client list, employee photos, markets served, etc.

2. Add your company’s featured products and services: For each of your core offers, include an image and short enticing description. Bonus: You can also link each offer to its corresponding landing page, place on your website, unique call-to-action. Talk about website traffic generation.

3. Request recommendations for each of your products and services: Build credibility by taking advantage of peer-to-peer referrals.

4. Post status updates: Include relevant and valuable information, news and articles. Integrate updates with your content marketing and social media distribution strategies. Stay organized and plan ahead, aiming for 3-5 posts per week. Bonus: you can now include photos, images and presentations.

For further exploration, you can see how we've incorporated some of this advice into the new Trefoil Group page. 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Content Marketing Makes Your Integrated Strategy More Important

Fearless prediction: In 2013, you’ll continue to hear a lot about content marketing.

And rightly so. In an age when audiences are increasingly likely to ignore your hard sell, content marketing is a way to hold their attention by informing and engaging them. (It’s an approach that also supports the longer sales cycle of many B2B companies.)

But like any other effective marketing tactic, creating content your customers and prospects care about takes a fair amount of effort. You want to make sure you make the most of it. That’s why an integrated strategy is more important than ever.

Here are three steps to get you started toward consistent, efficient, effective content marketing in 2013:
  1. Involve your sales team. Ensure your content aligns with your sales initiatives and appeals to your customers’ evolving needs.
  2. Spread the word across channels. Use and reuse – taking different angles with different audiences – in blogs, social media and more.
  3. Create relevant landing pages. When you share free content, you can bring audiences back to properties you own to capture leads and continue the engagement.

 If you’re interested, explore these other integrated marketing ideas.