Event Production

Facebook Live at Trade Shows: Tips for Exhibitors

fblive_grabFacebook’s new “Live” feature became widely available this spring, allowing users to host their own live broadcasts. For companies exhibiting at tradeshows, it’s worth exploring. You can take advantage of the visuals and activity around your booth to showcase new technologies or give a glimpse of how you’re engaging with other professionals on the road.

As part of our social media campaign for Crest and Oral-B at the American Dental Association annual meeting, MPG incorporated a Facebook Live broadcast that garnered the highest engagement of our social media activities at that event.

Here are some tips you might find helpful if you’re considering Facebook Live at conventions.

Test First – Convention halls vary in the quality of their wifi, and providing your own within your booth can get pricey. To make sure you’ll be able to do a good-quality broadcast from the show floor, conduct a test the day before around the same time and under the same conditions using a personal Facebook account.

Be Prepared – Decide in advance who’ll be featured in your broadcast and what their talking points will be. If you plan to move around, then map out where you’ll travel. This will help with our next tip, which is…

Watch Your Background – There’s an element of danger to going live: you never know what could happen. A wise guy making rude gestures in the background won’t reflect well on your brand. If you’re concerned there’s even a remote chance of that happening, then choose locations with a backdrop or that limit views of the crowd.

Time It Right – Think about what time of day your audience is most likely to be on Facebook and schedule your live broadcast accordingly. Make sure you broadcast for a good length of time—at least 10 minutes—to give people time to discover and tune in. Don’t forget to give periodic reminders who you are and where you’re broadcasting from to bring those new viewers up to speed.

Enjoy the Interaction –  Facebook Live allows you to see comments and questions in real time, so don’t be afraid to engage with them. Try doing a Q&A with the viewers at home, or give a shout-out to specific fans. The live format is supposed to be fresh and spontaneous, so have fun with it — as much as your brand equity will allow.

For more ideas on how to amplify your trade show activities using social media, check out our article on how to execute a fun and successful Facebook video campaign.

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Making Messages Memorable at a Big (And We Mean Big!) Tradeshow

An MPG professional presenter details the benefits of Trimble's Connected Farm software for a packed audience at Farm Progress 2015.

When Trimble Agriculture exhibits at a trade show, it’s big! Big booth. Big audiences. A big variety of solutions to share. And the shows themselves are enormous. Farm Progress, billed as the nation’s largest producer-attended outdoor agriculture event, encompasses more than 2,570,000 square feet with an average attendance of about 160,000.

With so much competition for the attention of farmers and advisors, how does Trimble stand out? With a new live presentation introducing all that Trimble has to offer.

Trimble had already experienced success with MPG brand ambassadors, who welcomed visitors and helped detail Trimble solutions at earlier tradeshows. For Farm Progress 2015, Trimble asked us to create a presentation that would open the booth experience. The goal: let visitors know about the breadth of Trimble’s offerings, focusing on the agriculture management software that brings it all together—Connected Farm.

Trimble is best known as an industry leader in guidance and steering, helping farm equipment operate efficiently and thoroughly in the field. Connected Farm brings the data collected by that equipment into one place, allowing growers and their advisors to make better decisions.

MPG’s theme, “Expect More with Trimble,” allowed us to challenge the audience’s prior knowledge of Trimble, then demonstrate how Connected Farm technology can help them get more out of their investments.

Our professionals gave back-to-back presentations throughout the three-day show. Our brand ambassadors, meanwhile, continued to welcome newcomers, direct traffic, answer questions, and put a friendly face on the Trimble experience.

“The MPG team was a pleasure to work with,” said Trimble Event Coordinator Ashley Limoges. “They pulled our marketing materials into one memorable message. Then, they delivered a great experience at the booth. The professionals presenters set the stage for our representatives to have meaningful conversations with our visitors. And the brand ambassadors made sure everyone felt welcome. As a result, we had increased booth traffic which led to new customers and higher post-show sales. We felt like we were in great hands.”

To see MPG in action at Farm Progress, including selections from our live presentation, check out our video. To learn more about our trade show and corporate event services, visit here.

What We’ve Learned from 10+1 Years of Growth and Success

Unisys

Ten years ago, our presentations often included song and dance numbers, like this one.

November 2013 marks a special milestone for MPG. We’re celebrating 10+1 years of being in business!

“But wait a minute,” you’re saying. “Eleven years isn’t a big anniversary. What happened to celebrating #10?”

The truth is, we were so busy that we let our tenth slip by without fanfare. Now, as we head toward Lucky 11, we thought it would be fun to take a look at how much MPG and the experiential marketing industry have changed.

It’s not the same old song and dance. Years ago, we routinely created flashy numbers and other theatrical tricks to sell everything from fire equipment to home security systems. These days, clients still expect an unforgettable experience to communicate their messages, but substance is every bit as important as style. Today, our presentations are more science-based, often with demos that bring tough concepts to life. We’re ready and able to bring out the singers and dancers, but we’re also equipped to talk hard science with the most discerning audience member.

AAD presentation

These days, our presentations are much more science-based, incorporating a broader spectrum of technology and presentation techniques within lighter, more environmentally friendly properties.

Properties are lighter and more sustainable. Companies want to reduce costs. They also want to be kinder to the environment. So they’re requesting booths made of materials that are easier and less expensive to ship and assemble—properties that can be put to multiple uses, that, if possible, are created from recycled goods, and that require less fuel to move from one place to the other.

Technology has boomed. This is no surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock. The tools at our disposal to wow audiences and help our clients build relationships are simply amazing—and they seem to be evolving by the minute. Through it all, we’ve challenged ourselves and our clients to remember that “whiz bang” for “whiz bang’s” sake isn’t a winning strategy. Technology only makes an impact if it connects and communicates in a meaningful way. And technology is still no substitute for the face-to-face interactions that happen at live events.

Travel is tougher. We definitely are not immune to the challenges posed by fewer flights and higher prices. We’ve gotten very good at teleconferencing and reducing costs in other ways. But when our team needs to get to a show, we have to get creative so that travel costs don’t eat up the budget.

Giveaways are no longer throwaways. Trade show attendees used to be happy with a tee-shirt or a pin. These days they want something they can use, something that helps them connect with a company or brand in a meaningful way. Samples are more sought-after than ever—the bigger the better. Attendees also appreciate clever gifts that help keep our clients top-of-mind.

Timelines are tighter. Yesterday’s deadlines now feel leisurely thanks to technological advances, shrinking budgets, and a culture that demands quick thinking, fast response, and ultra-efficiency. Our clients are under pressure to deliver more, faster, which means we’ve grown accustomed to doing great work in record time.

Despite the challenges of a growing industry, some things remain the same for our team at MPG. We’re just as passionate about our work as we were when we started this company. We still have a great time together. And we’re still 100% committed to bringing our clients creative solutions that make their messages unforgettable while forging lasting connections. We’ve been honored to work with amazing companies and partners. Thank you for helping make the last 10+1 years so great.

Event Scripts: Less is More!

Image courtesy of jomphong/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jomphong/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Can you guess one of our biggest challenges as an experiential marketing firm? Is it budgeting? Logistics? Making sure hundreds of people have a wonderful, memorable time?

You might be surprised that one of our most challenging tasks often is editing! As in, making sure scripts for events and experiences are short—but meaty—enough to hold peoples’ attention and get them excited about our clients’ messages.

Right now we’re crafting scripts for several projects, and with each one we’re reminded how important it is to keep things short and sweet. Optimal running time for main presentations at trade shows is 7-8 minutes. Demos should run no longer than about 5 minutes. For a breakfast event with several speakers and entertainers, we made some tough cuts to bring the time in under 50 minutes.

It’s a real art getting all of our clients’ science, claims and product benefits into an experience that’s compelling and compact. We want audiences to walk away wanting more, so they’ll be more likely to engage with our clients face-to-face. That’s where real relationships are built.

And that’s why it’s important to have a skilled writer on your team. Even then, never be satisfied with a first draft. Read scripts aloud, preferably with the talent who’ll be delivering them. Listen for spots where your attention starts to wane. Look for ways to get the same thought across with fewer, snappier words. It’s better to make 2 points memorably than to make 10 and leave the audience numb.

And since this post is about brevity, we’ll cut it off here. Do you have any stories about a particularly challenging event script edit? Tell us about it!

The Care & Feeding of Brand Characters at Conventions

???????????????????????????????The walkaround brand character is a tried and true crowd pleaser. Costume characters are always a hit at theme parks and other events, so why wouldn’t the same be true for conventions?

It is true, as we found with a recent client who asked to feature a couple of brand characters at dental conventions. It was a great way to engage people as they waited in line for our main theater presentation, and it gave our client additional exposure as the characters walked the trade show floor.

Our MPG team wasn’t surprised—we have extensive theme park experience and, thus, a lot of knowledge on the care and feeding of costume characters. If you’re considering using them at your next convention, here are some dos and don’ts.

DO: Invest in Quality Construction – Your character’s costume will take a lot of wear and tear, so make sure it’s well-made and durable. Have extra shoes/”feet” created, since these tend to get scuffed and damaged easily. Never underestimate the stress a costume will go through—you may even want to purchase a couple of back-ups.

DON’T: Leave Your Character Unattended – It’s hard to see in front of you when you’re wearing a character costume, let alone use peripheral vision. A costume character should be escorted at all times, for everyone’s safety. Even if your character isn’t in a full head mask, he or she needs protection from kids and even adults who might think it’s funny to mess with them. The escort can do some gentle scolding while your actor stays in character.

DO: Know the Boundaries – Each convention has its own rules about where your costume character can roam. Find out in advance whether he or she must stay within your booth footprint, and consider purchasing some extra space, separate from the booth, where the brand character can “live.” If your character is allowed in public areas, make sure they’re part of his or her regular route.

DON’T: Kill the Illusion – Working as a costume character is physically demanding, and your actor will need to rest for about 10 minutes every hour, in addition to lunch breaks. Make sure you provide a place where he or she can take off the head and sit that is out of the public eye. Plan for this in your budget, and make sure your actor is never seen in partial costume.

DO: Be Social – Since people are already taking photos of your brand character, let them know how they can tag you on Facebook and other social media.  Your character’s escort can hand out small cards with the information. Likewise, post your own photos of your character interacting with crowds—make the most of it!

Event Trends for 2013: The Year of “More”

2013As 2012 comes to a close, we’ve enjoyed a ton of articles and blog posts predicting 2013 event trends. Based on what we’re hearing from clients and seeing from colleagues, Team MPG is calling 2013 the year of “more.”

We predict events will be…

…More Connected – Technology continues to bring us all closer, making events just one touch point in an ongoing conversation. We predict we’ll see live events, mobile, digital and other mediums converging in even more innovative ways to help people forge more meaningful connections.

…More Intimate—Big events will always have their place, but we’re seeing bigger demand for smaller gatherings.  Companies want customers, consumers and influencers to feel more personally connected and invested, so they’re creating events that feel less like crowd blasts and more like one-on-one conversations.

…More Targeted – Greater intimacy is possible thanks to our ability to better identify, reach and talk directly to niches of people.  Data can now tell us, in great detail, who our targets are, as well as their specific needs, interests, and communication styles. This allows companies—and event planners and producers like MPG—to create experiences that are tailor-made for specific  audiences.

More Emotional—The more we learn about audiences, the more we find that they still want to be engaged emotionally. Storytelling—finding that moment of truth that touches hearts and opens minds—is more important than ever.  And knowing audiences better means we’re better able to tell just the right stories to reach them, touch them, and move them to action.

We’re excited to see what the coming year holds for all of us. What do you see as major event trends for 2013?

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.