The Smith & Smith team has attended dozens of tradeshows over the years, the most recent being Optrafair, the biggest event in the UK optical sector’s calendar.
You simply cannot put a price on the value of events such as this. It is these opportunities that afford businesses the chance to conduct vital, face-to-face meetings, find out the latest industry news and network with key contacts.
It is also a great time to catch up with friends and partners and there a number of steps that companies can take to maximise the time they spend there and at similar shows.
When it comes to such events, forward planning is both crucial and a fine art to say the least, one that we have had plenty of experience in perfecting.
To get the most from attending or investing in a stand, you need to have a strategy. Knowing what you would like to accomplish before, during, and afterwards will help to optimise your time there.
Our top tips for attendees include:
- Avoid confusion on the day by pre-registering for a pass and know which stands you need to visit, the items you need to purchase and the product lines you would most like to sell. Time is limited and the worst thing you can do is wander aimlessly around a show.
- An updated show guide will probably be provided when you arrive. Take some time to carefully look through it and revise your plan if necessary. See which suppliers are attending and visit early to book appointments.
- It might sound obvious but make sure your badge is in plain sight while browsing tradeshow booths as this will make it easier for people to offer you relevant advice or help. Request that literature and samples be emailed to you instead of having to carry them around for an entire day.
- Take advantage of specials, discounts and sales so that you are able to source bargains, making the trip truly worth your while.
- Allocate time to see and speak with new suppliers and not just companies with whom you are already doing business so that you can keep abreast of the latest industry happenings.
- Check out the seminar and workshop programme beforehand as there might be some exciting new developments and useful sessions to benefit from.
Our top tips for exhibitors include:
- Know your inventory needs before the show, set appointments with anyone you would really like to meet and only bring the people from your business who can add value; whether it is your best salesperson or most inspired designer.
- Contact the show beforehand to make sure you have made the most of all opportunities to feature in listings, any free editorial or news items on the website. Your PR agency can do this for you.
- Let your contacts and customers know you are going to be there. The best deals could come from a walk-on prospect, not just via appointments.
- Draft a press release about your latest ranges to leave at the press room. This will give journalists who attend ready-made information to include in a round-up of the event. If you have staff available, perhaps even consider making appointments with key magazines if you do not have a PR agency.
- Check freight costs and delivery dates and keep a log of all orders placed so that you do not let any existing or new customers down or worse, miss an opportunity.
- Bring plenty of business cards to hand out to potential leads. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to as many people as possible and attend seminars and workshops where possible that will help to grow your business.
- After the show, identify if your objectives were met and if the cost of attending had a positive long-term effect for you and your business. Follow up on all leads, no matter how weak.
- Evaluate if you had not attended the tradeshow, what would have been the cost and time to achieve the same amount of business.
- You or your PR agency should follow up on all editorial appointments and opportunities. Make sure you honour promises such as a blog post or feature offering.
If you carefully plan your approach and use your time efficiently, you will be confident in knowing the time you spent at the show, either as an exhibitor or an attendee, was a worthwhile investment.
Inbound marketing, particularly in the hustle and bustle of the consumer arena, can be a tricky business. Creating funny, engaging, shareable content which people will engage with on behalf of a brand is an inexact science, but one medium which has enjoyed more success than most for inbound marketers is short, viral videos.
But no-one can accurately predict what people will like, what they will share and the holy grail, what will go viral. For car manufacturers, perhaps most of all, the need for original content is essential, as they work in one of the most competitive industries out there, with billions spent in marketing and advertising each year. Get it right, as Volkwagen did with its adorable 2011 ‘The Force’ clip, and a relatively inexpensive video with the germ of an idea gains you priceless global exposure; with nearly 60 million shares and international media coverage, this ranks as one of the most successful video content campaigns to date.
To stand out from the crowd, content needs to be, above all, original. And to achieve this, sometimes creators overstep the bounds of good taste. Volkwagen had hit the headlines years earlier for a highly controversial clip marketing the ‘small but tough’ new polo, featuring a suicide bomber. The company denied all knowledge of the ad, and proceeded to sue its creators, but the brand took plenty of damage nonetheless.
This week, a car brand’s inbound marketing content has again been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, as Hyundai drew the fierce ire of commentators on social media, blogs and newspapers. The company reportedly released an advert designed to promote the zero emissions of its new model featuring a realistic portrayal of a man trying to kill himself in his garage with exhaust fumes. Following a storm of protests, the ad was almost immediately pulled - but the damage lingers on, as more and more people join the debate. That’s the double-edged sword of viral content; when it takes hold, there’s really no way to stop it.
As our background is in public relations, we’ve been very interested in the way that inbound marketing has once again been viewed as totally separate from PR, and how that no doubt Hyundai’s crisis management team is now working furiously, and largely hopelessly, to douse the flames when had they been consulted initially, the false move may have been averted.
The entire incident serves to illustrate the necessity of having a PR agency or in-house PR team fully briefed when external teams are creating inbound marketing content as public relations, particularly crisis management, is not something which works at its best when brought into play after the fact. Just as often, good PR is about heading off disaster as fighting it.
Better yet, why not make the PR agency, whose job it is to create great content for you anyway, solely responsible for your inbound marketing? We think it’s too elegant a solution to be ignored, which is why we’ve added inbound marketing to our armoury.
What is inbound marketing and what does it have to do with a PR agency in South Manchester? Inbound marketing is about publishing the right content, in the right place at the right time, making marketing relevant and helpful – not interruptive. See any similarities to public relations yet?
There are many facets and tools that PR agencies are skilled at in order to achieve a number of things for your business, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to reputation. Whether that’s managing your reputation in the event of a crisis, raising awareness of your company’s reputation within a specific area or for a product or a service, leveraging your reputation through public affairs – the list can be exhaustive but the results are the same: making sure you have good relations with all of your company’s stakeholders. But Smith & Smith PR has been looking very closely at what has been happening with inbound marketing and working on how we, as a PR agency, can use our skills in content creation and communication to generate leads for clients.
The infographic was designed and recreated by Sally King from SK Graphic Design www.skgraphicdesign.co.uk/. (CC) Gavin Llewellyn.
According to Hubspot, who Smith & Smith PR has chosen to work with as one of their first UK partners, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online since 2006 – and that was 7 years ago!
It looks at replacing paid-for email lists and paying for ads, (much in the way PR looks at other methods of raising awareness than paying for advertising), with creating quality content to draw people to your company and product in a natural and buyer-led way. Hubspot’s methodology is that “by aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time”.
Here are some compelling stats:
· According to MarketingSherpa, 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance
· Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. (Source: Jupiter Research)
· The Annuitas Group found that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads
· Companies that automate lead management see a 10 per cent or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Source: Gartner Research)
Inbound marketing is a natural addition to our service offering at Smith & Smith PR. After all, we are all about creating high-quality, relevant content – be that for media relations, internal comms, your company blog or newsletter, or equally, your inbound marketing workflows.
We are excited to be offering this to our clients as a way to make marketing a more powerful business tool and to work alongside PR to generate leads. Inbound marketing isn’t suited to every business, but if you want to know if it will work for you, why not request our inbound marketing assessment and we’ll get you to do some homework.
To find out more about what we are doing with PR and Hubspot, or to take the inbound marketing assessment please give us a call, or email, email@example.com.
I’m a huge believer in the value of public relations; to think otherwise while doing this job would be an exercise in extreme masochism, and that’s just not my thing.
However, the issue of ROI is one that has plagued the PR industry since its inception, and it’s a major obstacle for a marketing manager in justifying PR spend to their boss.
The objective for companies that invest in PR varies from reputation-management to lead-generation, but one thing that most PRs agree on is that advertising value equivalent (AVE) is not an accurate way to measure the success of a campaign.
AVE involves measuring the column inches of editorial then working out how much the company would have paid for that space in advertising. But the question that companies really want to know the answer to is: did this make a difference?
In 2010 many of the public relations industry bodies agreed on seven principles for measuring PR, one of which is that the effect of public relations on business results can and should be measured where possible. While this makes it very clear that measurement can be achieved, unfortunately the principle is not so effusive on how.
The answer, in my humble opinion, is gradually coming to light as the world moves further online, and all that needs to happen is for the entire global public relations industry to completely redefine itself. Okay, perhaps not, but there does need to be a small step further towards marketing.
Here’s the crux of my argument: on the internet, content is king (just ask Google). It’s also the thing that any PR worth their salt excels at producing. The key is making sure that you are writing stuff that your target audience will find, that they value it, and that it speaks to the strengths of your company.
For businesses, this means having a blog integrated into your website, regularly updated with searchable, useful content aimed directly at your potential customers. The next step is for your audience, having read said useful article, to be able to click a button for more substantially relevant stuff in return for giving you, say, their name, email and industry.
Now you have a measurable, justifiable lead that can be nurtured into a new customer. Okay, it’s not traditional PR, it’s not blogger relations and it won’t help your company’s reputation if it gets in a pickle. But it’s a great way to start properly targeting and measuring the effect of the content you’re producing on your business.
It’s called ‘inbound marketing’ and it’s something that we’re already doing at Smith & Smith. We think it’s the future.
The public relations industry, like the wider world it reflects, is constantly changing. It is a basic function of any decent PR agency to keep up with this fast pace and continue creating relevant campaigns by whichever means possible to fit a shifting brief. Isn’t it?
Increasingly a number of PR agencies, particularly newer ones, claim to specialise solely in digital or online PR. Visit their websites and you’ll see pages of blurb alluding to their online credentials, paying particular regard to social media and blogger outreach. They boast of a profound understanding of the internet; “only once you have this seemingly rare insight can you achieve successful interaction with a web-based audience”.
What skills are required for this particular way of communicating? You’ll need the ability to understand your online audience for a start, and you should also be able to write content in a different manner to, say, press releases or features. And don’t forget the talent for building up a network of solid contacts. However this skillset is absolutely no different to that which should be held by any traditional PR agency.
The crux of successful PR, whether online or offline, is communication and relationships. We should know how to translate often complex messages to a varied audience via multiple means. We have to be able to select the most appropriate platform according to a particular need at a specific point in time. Why choose to specialise in just one of these and ignore the rest? We think they are missing a trick.
Take social media, for example. This is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to communicate with thousands of people at the click of a mouse. But we refuse to neglect the importance of a well-written press release, expertly-placed thought leadership feature, vibrant media relations campaign or any other traditional form of communication that has proven a success. It’s the skill of uniting all these methods and knowing how best to use or avoid certain platforms that will see a PR agency stand the test of time.
By Benjamin Pfeffer
OK, so we were probably more inbound than hot.But we did receive some really hot tips this week at the first inbound marketing conference of its kind in the UK, InboundUK13. On Wednesday I left the cosy confines of our PR agency office in Manchester to venture into Liverpool, where the new and relatively unexplored territory of inbound marketing beckoned.Inbound marketing is a term used to describe a fresh breed of marketing, which concentrates on placing the customer at the fore. Where previously advertisers and marketers spoke at people, interrupting them with content they hadn’t asked for and typically didn’t want, now they are looking to present consumers with engaging, interesting and fun collateral. Struggling to make customers talk about something as everyday as razor blades? This guy isn’t.
You might (quite legitimately) be asking why a PR agency was interested in hearing about all of this. Although public relations has traditionally involved some crossover with digital marketing, for instance when doing blogger outreach, the more technical aspects we try to leave well alone (well, I do; there are far
too many acronyms to remember). But in many respects, inbound marketing has even more to do with PR than marketing.
While each speaker had their own approach to inbound marketing and community engagement, all stressed the same thing: content is king. In the digital marketplace, in order to raise brand awareness and drive traffic, companies have to be both publishers and curators.
And what is one of the single most important things a good PR agency provides? Creative, dynamic, engaging content. We in the PR industry create things people want to read or watch, and need to share. Here at Smith & Smith PR we have been creating relevant, valuable content for clients for many years and it’s this experience and know-how that will stand us in good stead as inbound marketing really takes off.
We’re extremely excited about the new creative opportunities this form of marketing affords the PR world in general, and our agency in particular. It promises to reward those offering the most inventive content and valuable information to customers, which is how we feel it should be.
Keynote speakers included Martin McDonald
, Inbound Marketing Director for Expedia EAN, Paul Fabretti
, Head of Social Media at O2 and Alex Blaikley
, Industry Head at Google. It was an entertaining and informative conference which covered everything from creative engagement, electric baths, community outreach, woolly hats, burglaries and an obsession with David Hasselhoff (those afflicted are termed ‘Hoffsessed’, apparently). And that was just the 25 minutes from Joe Mcewan
, Communities Manager at Innocent Drinks.
As I listened to each successive speaker drive home the importance of content, of speaking to rather than at people, I couldn’t help but smile. They may be talking about new forms of delivery and tracking, but these experts were, to this public relations practitioner at least, preaching to the converted.
By Benjamin Pfeffer
Twitter has been abuzz this week with the launch of its video-sharing service, Vine. Not affiliated with Tim, or Jeremy for that matter, Vine is a free app that lets you upload a six-second animated snapshot directly to Twitter from your phone’s camera. More stable and easier to create than the standard GIF file, and able to be embedded directly within tweets, Vine’s instant popularity is no surprise.
The first week of Vine’s release has seen a predictably wide range of uploads, lurching from the mundane to the artistic, via a multitude of Instagram-style food shots (what is
the internet’s obsession with home-made meals?) It has also not been without controversy, living up to its tagline ‘make a scene’ a little too literally. Vine hit the headlines
when the internet did what it usually does when presented with a new toy; it immediately began using it to share explicit content. Twitter has moved to ban the users responsible and will remove the option to search for such content. However, the unmoderated nature of the app and its capacity for instant sharing means this is surely a losing battle.
PR companies and brands have been quick to get in on the act, with some such as Dove
and Ritz Crackers
posting videos within 24 hours of the app’s launch and getting quick, easy coverage
. It’s a medium that demands creativity to stand out though, so we’re expecting to see some people do some really amazing things with it - and the office is quite excited by the possibilities it raises for our own clients. Vine can feasibly be used for anything, including behind the scene clips, teasers, quick how-to guides, sneak peeks and product demos.
So after the ascent of micro-blogging, are we seeing the infant steps of micro-vlogging?
Well, it’s probably too early to say. The app is by no means the first to offer the ability to upload short videos, and as many in the know have pointed out with Vine having some teething problems it’s probably not even the best. Nevertheless, its compatibility with Twitter is a huge point in its favour and has helped it gain momentum and the ease by which user can share clips, embedded directly in tweets, has been a key factor in its uptake. This can be contrasted with the noticeable decline in the use of Instagram on the social media site, after it blocked the direct embedding of its photos
A site which will help you decide for yourself whether Vine is here to stay, and possibly the most addictive on the internet at the moment, is video roulette aggregator VinePeek.com
. Be warned, the site shows an unmoderated feed of all worldwide uploads to Vine on a continuous basis, so may not be safe for work.... What it offers is a fascinating, moving window into the lives of countless social media users and the things that drive them. Within sixty seconds, we saw cute pets
, a charity’s heartwarming thank you
and a bizarre office prank
involving an inexplicable amount of tin foil.
And of course, a man making breakfast
Pic: glamour.comChannel 4 recently announced its intention to broadcast Britain's first-ever wedding proposal 'advert' on primetime TV – with a hefty price tag of £130,000.
A lovelorn suitor has been given the chance to buy the expensive Valentine’s Day slot so that they can propose to their unsuspecting sweetheart.
The idea was dreamed up by luxury website VeryFirstTo.com and the Moving Picture Company, the brains behind high street behemoth John Lewis’ Christmas ads.
For the 30-second feature, the 'proposer' can choose whether they want the big question to be animated with specially created versions of themselves or via a 'green screen' where he or she can declare their love in various scenarios or settings.
Call me idealistic but how romantic can a proposal blasted across C4’s airwaves be? Not least one that is being manufactured by an advertising company that gets people talking about John Lewis more than any other topic over the festive season, including religion.
Surely the very nature of a marriage proposal is that it is personal and sacrosanct, bearing the promise that a sacred union between two people shall follow? It should be private, emotional, heartfelt for want of a better word, and not some conjured ‘version’ of a person proposing, which is about as real as fairy dust.
Unfortunately this is no longer the case. The looming arrival of this primetime Valentine’s Day invasion has long been superseded by skywriting stunts and choirs serenading young lovebirds on public transport, with many of them tenderly uploaded to YouTube within a matter of minutes.
Let’s not stop here, but take some time to reflect on other utterly inexplicable and impersonal approaches, such as those involving fans, friends and followers who have permitted Twitter and Facebook do the dirty work and propose on their behalves.
I personally shudder to think what’s next on the horizon – a declaration of love blasted from space and across the internet for all to see, hot off one of Richard Branson’s Virgin-emblazoned Galactic space shuttles?
By now a large number of you will have read about little Luka Apps’ very cute letter to Lego and the wonderful customer service response it engendered. This is because, while the story grew organically out of social media, it has been now featured everywhere from MSN to the Huffington Post.
Lego has clearly cottoned on to the excellent publicity that these types of gestures generate, as a cursory glance through Google brings up a remarkably similar story from the USA last month.
James Groccia, who has Asperger's syndrome, began saving for an Emerald Night Train set two years ago and was so disappointed to find it discontinued that he wrote to Lego. It responded with a brand new model of the collectors’ item.
Lego seems to have a clear strategy when it comes to each response – they have to be seen as ‘one-offs’ in the sense that the company is able to manage the expectations of anyone who reads the story and immediately writes a letter asking for the same thing.
In the Luka Apps story, the customer service man, Richard, manages this by beginning his response with the fact that his bosses said no to replacing the Lego figure for free, but credits an imaginary character for giving him the go-ahead; a genius deflection which pre-defines the customer service department’s response to the hundreds of inevitable copycat emails. For James Groccia, the fact that it was such a rare item does exactly the same thing.
Rich Leigh over at Ten Yetis anticipates these types of responses becoming de rigueur in the PR industry, and it’s easy to see why.
For a toy company to be regularly in the news as an organisation that makes children’s dreams come true...well, it doesn’t take a PR guru to recognise how much a reputation like that is worth.
Here we are again, that strange week between Christmas and New Year when most of us momentarily lose our bearings somewhere between the sound of the Queen’s Speech and the chimes of Big Ben. Aside from gorging on leftovers and chocolates, the only thing to keep us occupied during this lost week is to look back and reflect on the year that’s passed. And judging by our blog here at Smith & Smith, it has been quite an eventful 12 months...
In January we were amazed and inspired by our client Graham Short
, as he spoke to Libby Purves on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek about his unique talent and skill of being able to carve microscopic designs on items as miniscule as the edge of a razorblade. We also paid our respects to activist and academic Vic Finkelstein
, who changed a great deal in the way all thing about and perceive physical impairment – particularly as communicators.
February was all about social media, with the case of LA Fitness
teaching us a valuable lesson in how it is changing the legal landscape. We also marked world Social Media Week with a rundown
of some of the laws employees should follow when logging on to their favourite network. The theme of law and privacy continued in March, as we looked at how the government’s Responsibility Deal
could create PR opportunities for the food industry, as well as considering the new EU e-Privacy Directive
In April we welcomed former journalist Hannah
into the fold and we were given an extra reason to celebrate in May, when we headed to London with our client Red Hot World Buffet as finalists
in Marketing Week’s Engage Awards 2012. Sitting alongside the likes of Heineken and Microsoft was an experience in itself, and though we didn't win we were extremely proud to be in the room.
In June we spoke out
about an issue that’s a real passion at Smith& Smith; ensuring interns get a fair deal. Young and inexperienced workers are all too often taken for granted and this gives our industry a bad name. We always ensure interns are paid for the hours they put in and wholeheartedly encourage other agencies to follow suit.
July and August saw the much-anticipated London Olympics
, with social media playing a huge role. According to Twitter
, there were more tweets in a single day before the Games officially began than during the entire 2008 Beijing Olympics (that’s a 29,900% increase
). We got firmly in the spirit of things here at Smith & Smith – including our newest recruit Benjamin – as we heading down to London to soak up the atmosphere and watched world-class football down the road at Old Trafford.
As the Games drew to a close in September we discussed social media yet again, as Kelloggs
launched a Twitter campaign to introduce a new range. While this proved popular, it was arguably not as entertaining as this genius spoof YouTube video
from Bodyform in October, following an entertaining trend for brands showing a real sense of humour and personality when it comes to social media.
November was a landmark month for the US – if not the world – as Americans voted in Barack Obama
for a second term as president. The power of a strong celebrity backing arguably won the election for Obama, along with a clever and persuasive use of social media from these allies. Closer to home we celebrated an equally momentous occasion for our client JMC IT, as they hosted a high-profile event
for more than 200 businesses in the North West. Held beneath the wings of Concorde, the seminar invited delegates to explore ‘a new era of work’ before enjoying a tour of the infamous aircraft and was met with glowing praise from attendees.
And to round off the year in December we blogged
about one of the year’s most talked-about brands; Apple. As one of the world’s most popular companies it’s pretty shocking to learn they have no active corporate social media presence. Could this be set to change in 2013? Only time will tell...
Rather than sending Christmas cards or e-shots this year, Smith & Smith have continued to support an amazing initiative called Inspired Individuals
, a tradition we started when the charity was only a page on JustGiving. The premise of Inspired Individuals is based on empowerment, providing social entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need to achieve incredible things in communities all over the world. With your help, the charity continues to grow, so we believe that this gift is one that is really worth giving again this Christmas. Have a wonderful New Year.