New Event? Here’s Your Project Kick-Off Checklist

Must Haves for a Great Project Kick OffA project kick off is always exciting. If it’s a new client, then teams are pumped to meet each other and see where their creative expertise can take them. If it’s with an existing partner, then everybody’s psyched to build on previous successes and take their events to new levels of engagement.

Having just attended a project kick off meeting with one of our favorite clients, we decided to compile a list of items every event kick off should have. When putting together that agenda, here are some musts:

A Good Brief – No-brainer? Maybe, but writing briefs that inspire great events is an art. In general, we look for two sections: one with the nitty gritty on the event (date, location, target audience, objectives, overall messaging, etc.) and one with an overview and communication mandatories for each featured product and service.  Be detailed but concise. Go beyond generic objectives and give your event planner concrete goals.  How will you measure success after the event? What sets your company apart? Many agencies, including ours, will provide tips and even templates to help craft your event brief.

Audience Insight – The cardinal rule in marketing is “Know Your Audience,” so give your agency all you can to help them understand yours as well as you do. What would make your targets’ lives and jobs easier? What are their existing beliefs about your products and services, and what might keep them from engaging with you? How do they speak, and how are they used to being spoken to? If budget allows, let your agency do some interviews to see what insights they can uncover. And of course, provide all branding/equity guidelines upfront.

A Realistic Budget (or Realistic Expectations) – If you envision a Broadway-caliber show, an experience on par with Disney, or a soiree to rival Vanity Fair’s Oscar party, then you’ll need to fund accordingly. If you don’t have that kind of money you can still have a great event, you’ll just have to approach your vision more creatively. A good agency will help you understand what your budget will buy. Be upfront with them: what does the budget cover and what items could be funded from another source? Are the numbers hard and fast, or could an exceptionally exciting idea shake down additional funds?

An Empowered Key Contact – To help ensure an on-time, on-budget delivery, you’ll want to designate a go-to guy or gal for answers to questions and speedy approvals. This person should be empowered to make important decisions. If not, he or she should be able to easily and quickly access all key personnel, then compile their collective feedback.

Production Schedule – We usually come to kick off meetings with a preliminary production schedule which we refine as concepts develop. You can help by letting us know any watch-outs. Legal approvals, team member vacations, holidays, and possible snags in product development or claims can all impact deadlines and budgets. It’s best to plan for these early rather than be surprised later.

Quality Assets – What do you have that we can leverage as we create the experience? Testimonials, video, TV commercials, photography, social media campaigns–make all of it available and we’ll mine it as appropriate. Just make sure everything is approved by your legal team, and that images and footage are high-resolution. That goes for all logos, as well. It may seem obvious, but we encourage clients to make sure , especially if multiple agencies are involved.

Now that we’ve listed what you should bring to a project kick off meeting, let’s talk about what not to bring. It’s simple, really. Leave preconceived ideas about what the experience should be at the door. We want to know your vision, of course, and collaboration is key to success. But a presentation technology that worked for another company might not be the best way to tell your unique story. And your budget, logistics and other details might mean it’s best to go a different direction from the one you’ve been mulling.

If you’ve provided the kickoff basics, then we’ll have what we need to work with you on an effective, engaging and memorable experience that will exceed your initial expectations. Want to know more? Visit us at moeningpresentations.com or give us a call about your next event.

What Does It Take to Be an Event Planner? See if You’ve Got the Right Stuff

By Eckhard Pecher (Arcimboldo) (Own work) [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsPlanning an event is a little like participating in a decathlon. That’s what we’ve been thinking as we’ve watched the 2012 Olympians compete for gold.

Event planning and production might not require the physical prowess of an athlete who competes in 10 different track and field events. But if you think about the sheer variety of skills required to go from hurdles to pole vaulting to throwing the javelin, plus seven other activities in the space of just two days, then you get a taste of what an event planner needs to create winning work.

Think you’ve got right combination of depth, breadth and stamina? If your job requires you to plan events, here are some qualities you must possess.

Boundless Creativity – It all starts with a great concept, which means translating your clients’ objectives into something fresh, exciting and memorable. Be curious, be open-minded, and actively expose yourself to new people, places and ideas. Let yourself be inspired by everything from art and pop culture to nature and technology.

Mad Juggling Skills – Events bring together a huge variety of disciplines, from logistics and catering to entertainment and digital marketing. Keeping it all straight, meeting deadlines, and crossing the finish line having successfully realized your clients’ vision requires real talent.

Maniacal Attention to Detail – The tiniest oversight can mean the difference between award-worthy and a ho-hum. In some cases it can spell disaster. Even the most detail-oriented planner should have strategies for ensuring that nothing gets overlooked.

A Cool Head – If the Olympics demonstrate anything, it’s the importance of grace under pressure. Very few events are free of glitches and gremlins. But while anything can go wrong behind the scenes, your clients and their guests should experience nothing but friendly, flawless service. A great event planner can work cordially with many different people, all of whom are under their own sets of pressures. Strong, steady leadership will help everybody keep calm and carry on no matter what challenges arise.

The Ability to Tap Dance – If and when something does go awry, you need plan-B waiting on the sidelines, ready to step in.  And if plan-B backfires? Then you’ve got to be able to improvise. This is where that boundless creativity comes in handy. So does having good connections with vendors and colleagues who can help you out in a pinch. Remember: your clients don’t care how strenuous and stressful the job is; they just want an outstanding finish.

Passion and Integrity –  Let your clients see how much you love what you do. Engage them in the process and help them feel confident that you really are on their team. Be transparent and honest. Deal fairly not just with those you work for but with those who work for you. When an event comes to a successful conclusion, you want everyone to feel as though they share in the glory of a job well done.

Want to see some of MPG’s event work? Check out the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival and Cincinnati’s Tech Olympics Expo.

 

How to Work a Trade Show: 6 Musts for Successful Exhibiting

MPG’s trade show work has given us a lot of insight into what works, what doesn’t, and what companies are doing to keep their trade show exhibits fresh.  In our next few posts, we’ll be exploring some trade show best practices and offering ideas for successful trade show marketing.

A friendly professional host can draw people to your trade show booth and help engage them.

You’ve got a beautiful trade show exhibit with a great mix of activities that bring your brand promise to life. Now it’s up to you to bring in the leads. Here are some tips for getting people in your booth, then making the most of the relationships you build there.

  1. Get Your Team on Board: Hold a pre-show briefing to detail what will be happening in the booth. Preview all activities so team members know what to expect, and make sure all are on the same page with your key messages. We like to do one comprehensive meeting the day before a show opens, then a smaller “check-in” meeting each morning before the crowds arrive.
  2. Prepare ‘Em for the Spotlight: Your people are the face of your company, of course, but trade show days can be long and tiring. You never know when a VIP could catch someone letting down his or her guard. So lay some ground rules to help ensure your team is at its best. For example: No texting, checking email or playing on smart phones, no eating or chewing gum in the booth, and make sure all attendees are greeted with a smile. Designating an out-of-view spot to decompress and staggering lunches and breaks will help keep everyone fresh and on their toes.
  3. Use Professional Hosts and Crowd Gatherers: Marketing at trade shows is a special skill. You may have great company reps but drawing people into your booth might not be their strongest suit. Plus, when things get busy you want your best people closing sales. Professional hosts and crowd gatherers are engaging, approachable and expert at bringing a steady flow of attendees to your booth. A company like Moening Presentation Group can help you hire hosts whose look and demeanor best represent your brand.
  4. Pre-Qualify Attendees: Hundreds of people can go through a trade show booth every day, but not all are what you might consider prime prospects. Some are looking for swag, some are just browsing, and some are family members of attendees. You’ll want a plan to target those who are truly interested in your offerings and prepared to either buy or recommend. Your professional hosts and crowd gatherers offer a great low-tech way to find and send high-interest attendees to your reps. Or you can go high-tech with a digital pre-marketing campaign. Learn more about that here.
  5. Designate an Answer Expert – Arm everyone in your booth with basic talking points so they can handle most attendee questions, but have on-hand one or two super-knowledgeable brand ambassadors or thought leaders to take in-depth queries. Make sure booth personnel know where these folks are at all times. If your go-to person has stepped away, let the attendee know he or she will follow up as soon as possible.
  6. Turn Leads into Relationships –Today’s trade shows are more than a way to showcase your products and services, they’re openers to ongoing relationships. So make sure you’ve put a system in place to keep communicating.  If your marketing strategy includes social media, then encouraging Facebook likes is a great way to start. Even better is a program that collects attendees’ contact information and allows them to opt in for further conversations with your team.  If you’re curious about how this could work for you, contact us and we’ll fill you in on our suite of solutions.

Trade Show Booth Tips: Exhibits That Go Beyond Expectations

Your trade show booth is your company’s home and identity when you’re on the road. It’s how prospective customers experience your brand and, depending on the show and the size of your booth, it’s no small investment. So you want to make sure your trade show booth does all it can do for you. Here are some tips for creating displays that leave a lasting impression.

Good trade show booth design brings a company’s brand promise to life, while cutting through the clutter of a busy show floor.

Invest in good design. “A brand experience is the promise of the brand on the show floor; it has to look like you,” says Gino Pellegrini, President of InterGlobal Exhibits. “Having a good designer on board really makes a difference. Anybody can cram in your programming needs and slap on your brand colors. But a great trade show booth needs a soul.”

A good designer also will make sure your trade show exhibit communicates quality in the details. Lighting, fabrication, and reproduction of graphics—it’s easy to assume attendees won’t notice, but they do. “Sometimes companies want to have lots of structure, instead of going more simple and focusing the budget to make less with more quality,” Pellegrini says. “Level of detail is important.”

Make it easy to find. Trade show real estate is like all real estate—location is key. Study the floor plan and think about traffic flow. Which spots give your booth the best visibility? It’s worth spending a little more to make sure your booth is seen. Take a look at your signage as well. Too often, we see booths with graphics that are too low or don’t prominently feature a company’s name and/or logo. You want attendees to be able to pick you out immediately when they scan the busy show floor. If it fits your branding and overall booth design, then raise those banners high!

Fill it with engaging activities. We’ve seen too many trade show booths, big and small, that feature little more than signage and a counter behind which stand bored-looking sales staff. There’s really no excuse for that considering all of the options available these days. Hire an engaging professional to conduct can’t-miss product demos. Give an interactive live presentation—these work well in big or small spaces. Video backup will help provide visual interest while a professional presenter engages and educates the crowd. Check out our 6 presentation ideas for your next trade show.

If it fits your branding and message, then create opportunities for attendees to have fun and make a little noise.

Make it an event. An empty booth evoking the sound of crickets or one filled with people who are laughing, cheering and actively engaged: which would you visit? Crowds are drawn to crowds, and attendees naturally follow the sounds of others having a great time. Hire professional hosts to invite people into your booth. Then incorporate ways to make a little noise: Have people shout out a key buzzword. Have a competition that gets people fired up and cheering. Weave a camera crew into the experience to create the appearance that you’re making news.

Get the word out. Wouldn’t it be great if people came to the trade show ready to seek you out? You can let prime prospects know about your booth though pre-marketing efforts that put you on their must-visit list and help continue your relationship after the show ends. If the trade show you’re attending allows it, get the attendee list and send a pre-mailer inviting them to a personalized URL. There, you can tease show specials, offer VIP perks for visiting the booth and allow them to opt-in to receive future communications. Click the link to learn more about Moening Presentation Group’s digital pre-marketing solution for trade shows and events.

For advice on how to make your exhibiting efforts a success overall, check out our most recent post on this topic.

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Successful Trade Show Tips – Be Your Company’s Convention Superstar

Whether you’re just starting to exhibit at trade shows or you’re looking to reinvigorate your existing program, we’ve identified some “must haves” for trade show success. Check out these trade show tips, and let us know if you have any to add!

Let people connect with people at your trade show booth

This interactive presentation for IAMS allowed attendees to connect with a personable and professional brand representative in a booth that provided a welcoming “wow.”

Bring in the experts. It can be tempting to DIY, especially for a smaller trade show exhibit (and you’re probably thinking, “of course, a company that specializes in trade show marketing is going to encourage me to buy their services”). But professional designers and producers will bring the level of quality you need to be competitive—in fact, they could save you money by doing things right the first time. They’ll troubleshoot areas you probably haven’t considered, help with hidden costs and free you up to focus on your attendees.

Let people connect with people. The point of a trade show is bringing people together.  Technology can be powerful, but don’t overdo it at your booth; attendees can interact with touchscreens at the supermarket on any given weekday. Instead, take advantage of the face-to-face nature of tradeshows and create opportunities for them to engage with human beings.

Staff strategically. Make sure everyone represents  your brand with excellence. Choose only your best, most personable sales reps and thought leaders. Then back them up with professional hosts and presenters who can draw people to the booth and make them feel like VIPs.

See tradeshows as part of the conversation. These days, trade show exhibits aren’t on-off, once-a-year things. They’re a chance to start and continue conversations and relationships. Reach out to attendees before the show and invite them to visit you. Collect their data and track their interests while they’re at your booth. Then follow up and keep them engaged until the next time you meet. MPG is using event digital marketing to help clients do just that.

Be a spy. Make sure to get away from your booth for a little reconnaissance. Check out what your competitors are doing. Look for inspiration from other exhibitors: How are they engaging attendees? Is there anything you could take and make your own? Include your agency and designer in this exercise; it’s never too early to start planning for the next show!

Track ROI. With budgets getting leaner, it’s vital to demonstrate how marketing at trade shows benefits your company’s bottom line. Decide what trade show success means for you—is it number of visitors? Actual sales? Qualified leads? Whatever the benchmarks, track them and follow up. Also, consider investing in a good “sizzle” video to communicate the excitement to higher-ups who couldn’t attend.

6 Presentation Ideas for Your Next Trade Show

If you’ve never considered trade show presentations, consider this: An interactive presentation is a tried and true strategy for engaging audiences. Not only can it attract a crowd, it can improve traffic flow, ensure prospects remember your message and deliver more qualified, knowledgeable leads to your sales team.

Think a live presentation is just a one-sided spiel? Think again! We’ve got 6 winning approaches to serve any message or budget.  Check out these presentation ideas:

Vignettes Want to bring case studies to life? Looking for ways to show potential customers you understand their clients? For an emotional, personal touch, use live actors to create a series of vignettes. Show your product or technology at work in a simulated clinic or office setting. Show consumers interacting with your products or services in their home environments. Present your vignettes as a series of walk-throughs, or put them on a turntable show for an even bigger “wow!” Here’s a great example.

Professional Product Demo Sure, you could have your sales reps show off your latest products and technologies. But how can you guarantee they’ll stay on-message while moving the most people through the experience? Hire a professional presenter. Then, after your audience has absorbed the basics, your reps can step in and close the sale.

Video Interaction Give the presenters something to talk about with images, footage and other back-up displayed on an array of monitors with multi-source feeds that allow them to show different visuals at the same time. Use the main monitor for a “conversation” with an on-screen thought leader that looks as if it’s happening live, in real time. Fast paced and impressive, this approach keeps ‘em captivated while you tell your story. Here’s an example.

News Format Create a buzz by turning your booth into a newsroom, complete with live anchors who conduct in-person interviews and interact with “remote” reporters either live or on video. This type of presentation is great for product launches and other occasions when you really do have news to deliver.

Audience Involvement Give your audience members hand-held remote devices that let them contribute to the show – or have them interact using their cell phones via Twitter or a specialized app. Ask questions and get responses in real time. Ask people to vote and instantly display the poll results. Audience response systems  can be worked into any number of presentation formats, from seminars to game shows.

Expert Q&A Bring your thought leaders to the booth and allow them to interact with your audiences. A professional moderator can filter questions, monitor the time and make sure your personnel look their best. An on-site producer can also manage visual support, freeing your people to focus on delivering critical information in a relaxed setting.

Some of these ideas might seem simple enough to DIY, but hiring professionals to craft, produce and present means you can be assured your presentation runs non-stop and is top-notch 100% of the time.Want to know more? Check out this post on effective presentation strategies.

Must Haves for Successful Trade Show Presentations

Our team just returned from the 2012 American Academy of Dermatology meeting where, once again, we helped P&G engage with doctors and key influencers whose recommendations are crucial to the company’s beauty and grooming brands.

We’re always proud of our work at AAD, and this year’s success reminded us again how a live presentation—correctly and expertly executed—can make a company the star of the trade show floor. P&G for Dermatologists was packed from start to finish, while attendance lagged at competitors’ booths.  And derms walked away with a full message about how P&G is a leader in science and a partner in solutions, thanks to an experience that included a main presentation detailing key products, a pre-show exploring P&G’s scientific heritage, and a demo experience that gave dermatologists a deeper dive.

What is an effective presentation? Here are some must-haves:

A Compelling Script – There’s an art to weaving science, research and (often multiple) product messages into a presentation that’s credible and interactive.  You’ve got to hold the audience’s attention and set a fresh, conversational tone.  A professional writer knows how to hit the sweet spot combining optimal timing with a balance of hard science, entertainment and audience engagement.

Eye-catching Visuals – High-quality images, video and graphics are a must for effective presentations.  We can work with clients to make the most of existing assets, or we’ll shoot our own to ensure that they look great on the show floor. Many of our presentations use multi-source video, but we are equally adept at weaving great assets into platforms such as Keynote and Prezi.

Professional Presenters – For a truly effective presentation, you need world-class talent to deliver your message. Professional presenters know how to take a great script and make it sound natural, conversational and engaging. At MPG, we put prospective presenters through a rigorous audition process, then hire only those we know will connect with our clients’ unique audiences.

Variety – Nobody wants to sit through a dry lecture, so shake things up by incorporating testimonials, interviews and interesting themes and transitions. Look for as many ways as possible to get the audience in on the action. You want the experience to be memorable, so work in simple messages with taglines and calls to action that stick with peoplelong after they’ve walked away.

An Element of Surprise – We’ve got a ton of tricks up our sleeve—technical “wows” that leave audiences asking “how’d they do that?” It’s all in the name of keeping peoples’ interest, but we never indulge in whiz-bang tactics for whiz-bang’s sake.  Everything we do helps tell our client’s story; if it doesn’t, then it ends up on the cutting room floor.

Optimal Timing – Tradeshow attendees have limited time and attention spans. Keeping the presentation to 8 minutes or less ensures they will retain more of your message. It also helps ensure they’ll spend more time  engaging in other booth activities and talking to your sales representatives.

A Great Support Team—If your presentation is top-notch you won’t need much help keeping your theater full, but a team of professional hosts can help gather crowds, pulse them into the seats and make sure everybody has a great experience.

Giveaways/Samples – Let attendees know you value and appreciate their time by offering product samples or another giveaway tied directly to your message or theme.

Whatever your objectives, an engaging trade show presentation can significantly increase traffic flow, message retention and sales. And who doesn’t want that?

New Year, New Message, New Experience

We at MPG can’t believe it’s already mid-February! 2011 ended with such a flurry that we scarcely had time to update our blog, but we’re very proud of what came out of that busy time. In January, we unveiled a new booth experience for Crest Oral-B at Yankee Dental Congress in Boston. Crest Oral-B wanted to reach out to dental professionals as never before, and we helped them stage a big success with a fresh new presentation expressing appreciation for the many ways that dentists and hygienists help patients go “Beyond Open Wide.” The interactive presentation included real-time results from a pre-show survey sent to professionals before the convention and accessed via a QR code.

We engaged the target audience’s minds and hearts, winning rave reviews with impressive new booth graphics by our partner agency, the emotional main theater presentation, our Innovation Station demos and brushing stations, where visitors got to try out Crest Oral-B’s newest products.  We also helped Crest Oral-B continue relationships built during the convention by engaging them in line with iPads where they could “like” the brand’s Facebook page and, in doing so, enter for the chance to win an iPad themselves.

By all accounts, Crest Oral-B’s new message at Yankee Dental was a hit. Next up: Chicago Midwinter!

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MPG Wins Spirit of Cincinnati Partnership Award

Image1The MPG team has been honored by the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau with a Spirit of Cincinnati Partnership Award for its work on a multi-media live spectacular that was presented as part of the closing ceremonies at the 2010 World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China.

Titled “The American Dream,” the show introduced singers from around the world to the city of Cincinnati, which will host the World Choir Games in 2012.

Calling the show “one of the most powerful tools we had to demonstrate the power of American music and Cincinnati USA,” the convention and visitor’s bureau gave MPG the Partnership Award at its 2011 annual meeting.

“MPG created a truly memorable show, and let the world know that Cincinnati USA will be ready to take center stage in 2012,” said members of the selection committee.

Written, produced, orchestrated, cast and costumed entirely by MPG, “The American Dream” featured Broadway caliber performers with video transitions that followed a young boy from China and a young girl from Cincinnati as they chatted via computer about their plans for the 2012 games.

MPG Kicks Off Countdown to the 2012 World Choir Games

Recently the MPG team had a chance to let our city—and the world—know about an amazing event coming to Cincinnati in July 2012. It’s the World Choir Games, and we couldn’t be more excited.

So we were thrilled to help create and produce a Countdown to the Games event in Cincinnati’s Fountain Square. The lunchtime celebration featured Drew Lachey as emcee, performances by Kelly King of last year’s “American Dream” show in China, an introduction to Whirl and Twirl, the 2012 Games’ official mascots, and a “musical postcard” welcome (below), which is being broadcast to the world on YouTube.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouuO2OcZ4CU&w=640&h=390]

Despite the record heat, we had a huge turnout for the Countdown, and everything went off without a hitch. Team MPG is so appreciative of the many volunteers and performers who helped make this event a success, and we can’t wait to help create even more memorable moments when the games arrive here at this time next year!

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