Monday, March 5, 2012

The High Potential Trade Show Marketer

Key Note Address for the Certified Trade Show Marketer Awards Dinner at Exhibitor Show, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV, March 4th, 2012

Given by Ed Jones, President, Constellation Communication Corp.

CTSM Graduates,

Congratulations! I am honored to address you and those in this room who care about you tonight.

There are those of you who are receiving bronze, silver and gold levels of achievement tonight upon your CTSM certification and I congratulate you. And with your indulgence and support, I want to address my remarks tonight to the newest to join your ranks, the new CTSM graduates.

You have learned more than the average brain can accommodate. Your cup runneth over. You know how to do much more than one person can possibly demonstrate. You have earned the right to an opinion that deserves to be heard. You have assumed your rightful place among the few who will determine the future of face- to- face marketing.

You have done this all while riding a bucking bronco of a full time job, on the rodeo circuit of your company’s marketing events, most often without any accommodations on deadlines or resources.

You are now certified, grade A, blue ribbon, 100% CTSM, Certified Trade Show Marketer. Join us in giving yourselves a hand!

You now join a very elite group, 349 graduates, over 20 years of CTSM ,who have propelled and maintained our industry as the number one B2B marketing spend in support of sales, beating out specialty publications, internet, promotions and PR respectively (according to a recent Market Reality Survey).

Now that you have achieved this distinction, you must figure out how to activate the power of knowledge combined with the experience you achieved through your CTSM program for the benefit of yourself, your company, your peers, colleagues and family.

That is what I want to talk with you about tonight: achieving the maximum degree of success from the extraordinary amount of work you have put into this. Because, as you are successful, you will also accomplish the goals of supporting and satisfying others who are important to you.

I have worked in this industry for over 30 years. I know I don’t look old enough, but it’s true! During that time, I have observed little consistency in the career potential of trade show and event managers. It is seemingly dichotomous.

The job of trade show manager, director (or whatever you may be called) can be a highly respected and important position. One where unheard of levels of decision making authority and budget responsibility are exercised daily, the likes of which cannot be found in any other job at a similar pay grade.

Executives seek this manager’s advice, sales teams comply with his or her suggestions, and are grateful for the opportunities created through his/her efforts. This manager’s events are seen as accelerating the buying process and lowering the cost of doing business. This manager is called upon to take on additional roles and responsibilities.

This event manager’s career potential would best be described as “High.”

Yet, in another company, immediately across the aisle at the same show, a marketing events manager gets little, if any respect. They have a hard time gaining control of the staff and receive unfocused criticism at every turn. This manager is controlled by the budget rather than exercising budget control and suffers at the hands of managers from other departments. Budgets and deadlines are dominating measures of satisfactory performance. Note, I said “satisfactory” not “excellent” performance.

A bright spot is that this manager is seen as indispensable to the success of the next event.

This event manager’s career potential must be described as “low.”

I have not made an estimate of which is more prevalent, high potential, low potential or something in between. I have noted some of the common characteristics and qualities of the high potential managers. My goal for you tonight is to share what those things are.

A few secret herbs and spices, if you will, to add to all those ingredients you gathered from the CTSM commissary for your recipe for success.

Truthfully, one of the most important characteristics may be the hardest to effect. High potential event managers almost always have strong interpersonal skills. Why? Because almost everything they and you do requires the help and approval of other people. There is simply no substitute for understanding what other people need, what makes them happy or nervous, and what they regard as success.

The fundamental elements in productive interpersonal skills are listening, observing, thoughtfully considering that which you have heard and seen, and then tailoring your approach for maximum productivity. These steps must be combined with a genuine, measured concern for the well being of others, in concert with your own goals. Do whatever you must to improve upon your interpersonal power, and seek whatever feedback you can get from the perspective of others.

Of equal importance, and, an important element of the first quality, is the ability to communicate effectively. Good verbal and written communication skills are essential, not only to interpersonal success (we are talking persuasion here), but to successful management of any project and for gaining recognition for your ideas and accomplishments.

Effective communication is also an essential element for event marketing success. You must know what constitutes effective communication to know if your events are communicating productively. If you have not studied and developed these skills adequately, do so immediately! Find outlets to speak regularly. Seek opportunities for your presentation skills to be evaluated.

What should you speak about? Your ideas, of course, for making your company more successful through event marketing!

The third characteristic is a heavy reliance upon collaboration with a wide range of supporting individuals, other departments, organizations and suppliers. Getting people and organizations involved in the success of your program depends upon two things. One, how clear it is to them what personal value they will realize by contributing their time and resources and two, how well they understand what needs to be done and can visualize their role in making it happen.

CTSM notwithstanding, you will not succeed without accessing the knowledge and support of those who run sales, communications, product management, PR or any of a host of other functions in your organization. When people are properly activated and motivated they will help you succeed, because through your success, they succeed.

While I am on the topic of teamwork, the most successful managers have carefully picked their suppliers and made them an integral part of their team. Engage support from suppliers who can deliver expertise and capabilities that are complimentary to your own. Then, go overboard in communicating strategy and sharing information with them, so they can activate their own expertise and resources to help you achieve remarkable results. You should choose suppliers who understand how to translate face-to-face interaction into business results.

The fourth characteristic is discipline in planning, managing and measuring projects. I know for certain that you learned these things in your curriculum (I was there!) and you are well prepared to demonstrate them.

The fifth characteristic is the tendency for these managers to share what they know and to take joy in activating the capabilities of others. Take a minute and think back through the numerous faces of those who shared their knowledge and expertise with you through this program. Those are pleasant thoughts, aren’t they? Because those people shared their secrets with you to make you successful. I would bet that you can remember an "Ah Ha" moment quite vividly! Virtually none of those people were paid to do it.

Now think about a time when a CTSM teacher was personally excited for you when you had a success in your job through the application of knowledge and skills they conferred upon you. I know it always makes me really happy when a student calls me or stops me in the hall at Exhibitor Show to tell me of their success.

And that brings me to the last one, a perspective and discipline that will make your CTSM skills pay off in career advancement. This one is probably the most powerful as a career tool. The main focus of most high potential managers is on the success of the company and those around them, not on the success of the next event.

Not to be misunderstood, success in every event is a virtual requirement. However, if you limit yourself to this scope, you will fall short of being recognized for the full depth of your capabilities and contributions. For example, when you report saving thousands on recent events, by refurbishing an exhibit. Of course, that is a very good thing! Your boss will be pleased, but executives may not notice. Why? Because that level of detail is not on their radar screen and while the amount saved may seem quite large to you, it is not material at higher levels of management. You may demonstrate that you can do more with less and that sometimes is what you will get in return.

A much more important message may be that customers you already have, attending the upcoming show, represent $100 million dollars of your company’s most profitable revenue. And through your astute market awareness, you know what your competitors are planning to do to steal them away and more importantly, how to combat it. Executives (and everyone else) are interested in that message!

So how do you do this?

You must become a consultant to the business and focus your efforts on improving the profitability of the company. Make recommendations that will improve earnings. Build collaboration with managers in other functional elements of the business. Show them how they can benefit from a well thought out trade show or event opportunity. Frame your discussions around the elements of the profit equation, increasing and protecting revenue and decreasing expense, i.e. the cost of doing business, through smart event activity.

I have a client in a very large defense technology company who exemplifies the characteristics and qualities I share with you tonight. The chairman of the board of that company mentioned the trade show program on several of the recent earnings calls. Earnings calls are between the top level executives of the company and the most influential people on the planet relative to their financial well being.

The reason? That trade show manager has elevated the perception of accomplishments at marketing events to that of a profitable business equation, one that is important, even to the chairman. That manager is focused on managing his overall program and its impact on the company. Event success is essential to his overall goal.

I was privileged to teach most of you. So with what may be my last opportunity in that regard, I want to challenge you with some questions to consider about your future! With the superior knowledge and abilities you have gained through your CTSM accomplishment, what will you achieve?

• Will you be recognized for making a significant impact upon the success of your organization?
• Will customers thank you for the clarity, value and the overall excellence of their experience at your events?
• Will you show others how to achieve their goals through your programs?
• Will you teach the new recruits how to do the job and accomplish remarkable results?
• Will you give back to the CTSM program your experience and expertise?

If so, it is a certainty that you will be called upon to accept more important responsibilities and you will see your earnings and job satisfaction increase beyond those of your colleagues.

Tonight, you have shown you have what it takes to accomplish these things. You will be the ones that take this industry to the next level.

The next five years will bring more change than the last twenty. Some of what you learned is already obsolete. Digital and social media, interactive demonstrations and visitor management technology are your new tools, making it possible for you to do things we could have only imagined a couple of years ago. These tools are not only new, they are evolving at a dizzy pace. You cannot stop your learning tonight, just as those who will receive higher awards tonight have continued on.

Do something great! Dare to do something unique!

Wow your visitors and your company.

Wow all of us!

Be the “high potential” manager.

I raise a glass to your accomplishments and your future success!

Congratulations and my best wishes to all of you.

Ed Jones

Constellation Communication Corp.
Trade Show and Event Marketing Evaluation, Measurement, Planning and Return on Investment

1 comment:

b2b trade show marketing said...

Thanks for sharing your thought here. It's very interesting to read.