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Choosing Your Marketing Tools- What Should You Use?


Social media confuses you? Call MoldaveDesigns

Outbound/inbound, digital/traditional, push/pull, emerging/

Marketing tools – seems like just when you choose your marketing mix, something new emerges – and it’s generally digital. But we’re here to remind you that traditional marketing tools are still around, they’re still popular, and they can work with digital marketing to reach your target audience.

This is the first in a series of blogs in which we’re going to look at choosing and using marketing tools strategically.


Marketing Toolbox 2014: What Should You Use???

Cross-channel Marketing: Integrate, Don’t Eliminate

The traditional versus digital marketing discussion can overshadow the more important discussion about content. Marketing tools offer multiple ways to convey a consistent, coherent message.

As marketing consultants, we need to understand all the available tools, so we can advise clients not only how to use them, but whether they make sense for them at all. We’ve had many conversations that go like this:

    Client: “I need a facebook page.”
    Us: “Why?”
    Client: “I don’t know, doesn’t everyone have one?”
    Us: “Are your clients on facebook? Your competitors?”
    Client: “I don’t know.”
    Us:  “What will you post on facebook?”
    Client: “I don’t know.”

Our feeling is that it doesn’t make sense to start with any marketing tool until you’ve done enough research to ensure that your investment of time, effort and budget will  be worthwhile. This series of blog posts will help you make that determination.


Marketing infographicX20034% of marketers did not have a “documented plan” in 2013. Companies with fewer than 50 employees were least likely to have a plan. In addition 22.5% of respondents indicated they don’t have “measurable marketing goals.”  Remember, optimizing the mix of marketing tools involves doing the foundation work needed to understand your audience and how, when, and where it’s best to reach them and then developing a marketing plan that aims for 360 degree reach. Integrating traditional and digital marketing gives you more options for optimizing the opportunity for push and pull reach.

Which Marketing Tools are Marketers Using?

A recent survey, How Are Marketing Departments Allocating Budgets?, has us thinking about whether we marketers might be overlooking legacy marketing tools by thinking of them as passe, rather than adding tools to the marketing mix strategically. Or, maybe we’re trying to mix and match to see what works, sometimes without an overall plan.

The survey asked respondents whether budgets for specific tools would Increase, Decrease, or Stay the Same. Another choice was Not Applicable (NA) or Don’t Know.

We have to assume that since the respondents are marketers, “Not Applicable” is far more represented than “Don’t Know.” At least we hope so, because if marketers  “don’t know” whether a tool is being used, it could mean that they aren’t involved in configuring their own budgets or implementing marketing strategies. Uh oh.




Here’s the breakdown of marketing tool usage with 25% more marketers responding “Increased” and the combined “Decrease” plus “NA or Don’t Know.”

Table 1: Marketing Tools and Percentage of Marketers Reporting Increased and Decreased/NA/Don’t Know Budgets.

  Increase   Decrease/NA/Don't Know
  Email marketing   64%   Product placement   76%
  Web site   69%   Telemarketing   70%
  Social media marketing   63%   Place-based advertising   70%
  SEO/paid search/Google AdWords   58%   Teleprospecting   53%
  Online display ads   51%   Print ads   53%
  Live events/trade shows   26%   Direct mail   41%
  Mobile marketing   48%   Mobile marketing   27%
  Direct mail   25%   Live events/tradeshows   35%

Marketing tools in the 25%-50% range in both categories in Table 1 were live events/tradeshows, direct mail, and mobile marketing. What could this mean? Perhaps these tools are more important or less important on an industry-by-industry basis or maybe their relative usefulness is being adjusted within a narrow range as other marketing tools are integrated or tested. Add to this the fact that roughly a quarter to a third of marketers allocated the same budget for live events/tradeshows (39%), direct mail (33%), and mobile marketing (26%), the takeaway may be that marketers try these tools and, if the tools work, marketers stick with them.

Marketing tools in the 51% and up range do break down clearly, with digitally based tactics increasing and traditional tactics decreasing.

Let’s break out the combined Decreased/NA/Don’t Know category:

Table 2: Percentage of Marketers Categorizing Marketing Tools as Not Applicable or Don’t Know

  Tool   N/A or don't know   Decrease
  Email marketing   4%   2%
  Web site   5%   2%
  Social media marketing   10%   2%
  SEO/Paid search/Google AdWords   12%   4%
  Online display ads   16%   6%
  Live events/trade shows   23%   12%
  Mobile marketing   25%   2%
  Direct mail   26%   15%
  Print ads   29%   24%
  Teleprospecting   46%   7%
  Place-based advertising   58%   12%
  Telemarketing/radio ad   59%   11%
  Product placement   70%   6%


Is it a coincidence that the “Not Applicable” category is weighted towards traditional marketing tools? Is that a good idea?

Just Like in an Investment Strategy You Have to Diversify!

The rule of seven said that a prospect needed to see or hear your marketing message seven times before the message would be absorbed. Today, with a constant flow of information, that number may be higher. So how do you know the best way to get your message through to the right people? Start by looking at your target audience, and compare the demographics with those of the users of different media. Then, get your hands dirty and dig! Find out specifically (and it’s not that hard to do) where your prospects, customers, competitors and industry thought leaders are getting information, and make sure your business is using those channels.

For more information, contact us or visit our blog regularly. Some other great sources are:

Our upcoming series of blogs explores marketing tools and how and when to use them.

Contact us to find out how we can help you develop a marketing plan that works for your business!

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Get Buzzed With Buzzwords


MoldaveDesigns buzzwords


SXSW, One of the biggest interactive/music conferences in the world, is being held this week in Austin.  We all know how techies love their buzz words and jargon- social media and web site development abounds with them.

Here’s a video of four of the top tech columnists talking in tech buzz words.


We admit it – we have some favorite buzz words. What about you?

Here’s a short self-survey see how buzz word savvy you are.

Question 1: Choose one answer.

a. I love buzz words! Use them all the time.
b. I can’t keep track of all the new buzz words.  I don’t even know what they mean until
    everyone stops using them.
c. I don’t need buzz words. The ones I’ve always used are just fine.
d. I make up my own buzz words and use them when I'm looking in the mirror.

Questions 2 – 6: Choose the most appropriate synonym for the following, when used as buzz words or phrases.

2. Phoned it in

a.  Didn’t try
b.  Garbled
c.  Undocumented

3. Face time

a.  Going to a spa
b.  Meeting in person
c.  Looking tired

4.  Parachute in

a.  Interrupt a discussion
b.  Assign an experienced person to a task or position
c.  Suddenly put someone in a new job when others do not expect it. 

5.  Thought showers

a.  Brainstorming
b.  Ideas you get in the shower
c.  Brought your umbrella but didn’t need it

6. Parking lot issues

a.  Ideas or issues brought up during a meeting that are not relevent to the agenda, and are "parked" for later discussion
b.  A management ploy used to assign tasks that nobody really wants to do
c.  Arguments about where employees park their cars.

Extra Bonus Question!!!

Fill in the Blank! Match the buzz phrase with its most common business-related usage: 

A. Out of pocket Capacity ___
B. Operationalize Clarify ___
C. Nontrepreneur Biggest problem ___
D. Disambiguate Do ___
E. Long pole in the tent Risk avoider ___
F. Demassify Layoff ___
G. Critical mass Not here ___


We'd love to give you the buzz on MoldaveDesigns and find out your buzz!

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The new Black+Decker logo and brand design. Why is it irritating me?


describe the imageI’m not a big “Hey you gotta have a new logo!!” kind of designer. My first thought is usually why? Then I review the overall branding program to see if it’s effective in its current state using the current logo design and move on from there.

And, by the way, is the customer experience with the client good one? Because that’s where the brand really starts.

I also don’t believe that a great logo makes a good branding program or vice versa.

But… if you are a design or branding firm I think you have to do your best and try to bring an aesthetic sensibility to the visuals and not blow it off or take the easy way out.

Black and Decker new logoThus my irritation with Black+Decker’s new branding.

Apparently one of the main drivers of the rebranding is to help brand the company’s new “powering people” mission. According to their director of brand marketing “The BLACK+DECKER brand extends beyond product features and product innovation, it is about being honest, intuitive, involved and thoughtful.”

Even assuming this logo represented all of that (which to me is questionable) couldn’t the same exact design be applied to a law firm, accountant, architect, or even a marketing and design company??

Is Black+Decker going to register a round cornered rectangle?

A couple of the brands that Lippencott (the branding company) looked at were Ikea and Uniqlo. I’m really aware of Ikea, Uniqlo not so much. But when I look at those brands I see something unique. Unless someone rips Ikea’s logo off, I know that logo immediately for the brand it represents. For me it’s not an aesthetically pleasing logo, but I would never mistake it for a law firm’s logo either.

Another area B+D (so are we supposed to say Black Plus Decker from now on?) addressed was product and package design. From the branding firm: “At stores like Home Depot, if you pin a blank sheet of paper to a shelf, it sticks out like a sore thumb and that was our main attraction to this design.”

I totally adescribe the imagegree with what he says about shopping at Home Depot- it makes my head spin - but to have that awareness and then to design packages like these and expect them to jump off the shelf makes me suspect that theirs were spinning too.

black decker_new_drillAs far as the product design goes, Lippencott felt that “A lot of Black + Decker’s products were over-designed and too decorative – there was a lot of noise. It wanted to re-position itself as a humble, friendly brand that’s accessible and easy to use, and we decided the best way to do that was through a more minimal look”. But take a look at the drill design-it looks like it’s from TRON- the original

In my mind they had other options: the original Black and Decker brand was so strong, I can't believe that the marketers behind the new campaign couldn't see something to salvage- either typographically or visually. The hex symbol is strong and flexible enough to adapt to consumer lines other than the hardware and tools line. Use it as a framework going forward for housewares, appliances, etc. If the product lines were too diverse to accommodate that approach, I would have explored keeping the same typographic feeling as the old logo; again, too strong to throw away, especially for something as generic as the new logo.

If you can pin a piece of white paper to a shelf in Home Depot and it will stand out, then make your package the billboard it should be. Having the round cornered rectangle merely closes up the amount of space on the package front and makes it LESS like a piece of white (or Black) paper. It's just as cluttered as anything else in the store.

All of these examples say to me that, even though the thoughts and research behind the branding may have been sound, the aesthetic and visual elements were given short shrift. They look old fashioned, cheap and generic. I’m afraid that since this is what the consumer will see, that’s what the public perception of the company will evolve into.

For other points of view and to see some of the source for this post:

Creative Review


Have thoughts or questions about your branding? Click below to contact us and we'd be glad to have a no-strings-attached chat.

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How to Use Direct Mail to Increase Your Web Traffic



Our Guest blog today was written by Ryan Cote from Ballantine. Ballantine is a family-owned direct and digital marketing company, established in 1966. They offer their clients a full range of marketing services including direct mail, creative, personalized URLs and online marketing solutions.

Many businesses that once depended solely on Google now realize search engines do not do your selling. Well-developed direct mail and online marketing campaigns are the best way to get people to take action. Direct mail marketing and online marketing go together as well as peanut butter and jelly. While they are distinctly different types of marketing, your campaigns can be designed to complement and fuel each other.

MoldaveDesigns Mountainside New jerseyDirect Mail Sends Targeted Traffic to Your Website

Search engine marketing attracts traffic but they might not be interested in what you offer. For example, a person might search for ballet to find a local show rather than the leotards your company sells. This traffic is meaningless because it does not result in a sale. Direct mail is one of the most effective ways to reach your target market. People have been using direct mail campaigns for decades. Targeted mailing lists are available to reach out to people who want dance supplies rather than tickets. A mailing with your website address can encourage them to visit your site and make a purchase.

Direct Mail Reaches Out to Everyone

Most people have a computer at home and at work. There are still people who do not own a home computer, especially people who live where limited Internet service is available. These people might depend on computers at work, the library or a local community center. Often their surfing time is limited. They might not check email often. Direct mail marketing reaches out to everyone. People always get mail and will look at your correspondence. Offer a special deal for visiting your website. They will save this information and use it at their convenience. Sending an email is likely to get overlooked, especially if it lands in a spam mailbox.

Postcards are Convenient

Direct mail campaigns don't have to be complicated or expensive. A simple postcard with a unique deal can go a long way. Include your website address for exclusive savings or a promotional freebie. A postcard can be left by a work computer until the person is ready to access the deal. People can affix them to their refrigerators at home to remind them to check out the deal when they have a minute. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), postcards are the most likely form of correspondence to be read by the recipient.

The Personal Touch

People often prefer the personal touch of a direct mail letter or brochure over a generalized email. Certain email marketing campaigns are targeted to each consumer but most are mass produced. Direct mail is more intimate and inviting. Businesses can send a congratulations card to a valued associate to honor a milestone moment. Birthday cards and holiday cards with a special web offer can be sent to valued customers. This helps to build loyalty and attract people to your website.

Coupons at Customers' Fingertips

Online coupons need to be printed or displayed on a mobile device to get cashed in. Sometimes certain codes must be copied for customers to get the discount. All of this involves work and effort on the customer's behalf. Sending coupons via direct mail is easy. Customers don't have to print, copy or remember anything. All they have to do is save the coupon and cash it in when they are ready. Include a code on the coupon so it is a breeze to redeem on your website. This gives customers the option of cashing in the coupon in-person or online. People always prefer to have convenient solutions and multiple options. Coupons are also an excellent way to get people to take action. The DMA reports consumers' use of coupons went up to 79.8 percent in 2012.

Direct Mail Succeeds When Web Surfing Fails

A potential customer typically visits your website for just a few seconds before making a decision to stay or go. If the web surfer is having a bad day or doesn't like an image at your website, you can lose a possible sale. Direct mail adds another tier to your marketing and branding efforts. When someone forgets about your website, they might be lured by a compelling direct mail campaign. It takes more than one approach to attract customers and make them want to buy.

Using Your Website for Direct Mail Campaigns

While direct mail can increase your web traffic, you can also use your website to tailor direct mail campaigns. Offer coupons, discounts or a free report to encourage your web visitors to share their mailing addresses. Use these mail addresses to create a targeted mailing list for your next direct mail campaign. People who leave their mailing addresses want to know more about your business. Give them what they want and see your dual marketing efforts result in actual sales.

Conversion is the key to any marketing campaign. Use direct mail marketing and online strategies to boost your business brand and encourage people to take action. Reach out to more potential customers by using a tiered approach to marketing.

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Design Guidelines and Useful Tools to Create an Effective Infographic


Infographic design- moldavedesigns

In our last post we discussed some of the esthetic considerations about infographics in general, but how can you create one?

A Team Effort

It takes a diverse set of skills to create a good infographic and unless you’re a renaissance person, you might not have all of them. Aside from design, market research, number crunching, etc. may come in handy. So use all available resources.

Define the Problem and Structure

First, define the inherent characteristics of the data set you want to present. These will determine the way in which the data should be presented visually. Do the data represent a process? A comparison? A trend? Are the data geographic?

Whatever  the data characteristics are, think about the structure first. Like a web site, the visuals shouldn’t get in the way of the story you want to tell and the information you want to present. So take some graph paper, a legal pad or the napkin left over from lunch and do a rough sketch of what you want your graphic to look like. You’ll be amazed at how many problems you can solve at this point with a pencil and paper.

A Metaphor

Then look for a metaphor to help the viewer relate to something familiar. Maybe the imaginary National Association of Transfat Manufacturers from our last post would use unclogged plumbing pipes as a metaphor for the clean arteries and veins you get from having a cup of hydrogenated vegetable shortening with every meal.

The “M” Word

How do you transfer all of the numbers and information in your data set to a visual metaphor? For me, the M-word is math. If, like me, you’re math challenged, chances are that you know someone who isn’t, and knows how to use Excel® or another spreadsheet program. It makes slicing and dicing data easy, and you (or your non-challenged associate) can create basic charts and graphs that will make visualizing your final infographic easier.

tools smallTools

At some point you’ll have to put the pedal to the metal and actually produce your infographic. So what tools do you use?

If you’re a designer, the choices are obvious- Adobe® Illustrator® or Adobe® Photoshop® software. Illustrator uses vector graphics, which makes it easy to design images and text in any size relatively quickly. It can also generate charts and graphs from data you input directly into the program or import data from Excel. You can also use Photoshop, but it’s a little more awkward to handle text in the program and the files can get massive. I create the originals in Illustrator and import them into Photoshop for effects and touchups that can’t be done in Illustrator.

What if You're Not a Designer?
A program just about everyone's familiar with is PowerPoint®. It's easy, you can import Excel data, use clip art from paid and free sites and use the included art and templates to create a look that you want. You don't have to stick to the default screen page size either - you can create pages in any size you want and export your final product to a jpeg to post online or insert into a document.

Some Online Tools
There is a bunch of online tools you can use; some free, some paid. They offer a wide variety of capabilities and design options, and most offer data import.

You can either create your own look or use Piktochart themes. The free account comes with the use of 6 templates and branded info graphics. The premium account provides access to 110 themes. is currently in beta, but with 343,401 graphics created it’s pretty well tested. It has an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface, dozens of themes and art objects.

Google Charts
Of course Google had to get into the act. If you need interactive (or not) data visualizations on your web site, this might be your answer. You have to load chart libraries, list the data that you want to use, and customize your chart. It’s free, but some familiarity with html will help. offers many of the same tools to create infographics and data visualizations as some of the other online tools, but it also serves as a source of existing infographics and over 35,000 designers, journalists and illustrators who can do your data analysis for you for a fee. Prices vary. offers more than 30 chart types that are helpful in creating infographics. You can enter your data into an online spreadsheet or import Excel files. You can download your chart in .png or pdf format to share, or embed the code in your web site.

If you want to create a data visualization easily and quickly, this might be the place for you. You can either upload your own data set or choose from over 17,000 pages of datasets on the site, pick the type of visualization you want to use, and share it. From IBM.

So now there are no excuses for having charts or infographics that look like they were created on graph paper with a ruler and protractor. If you have a story to tell, or data to explain, there are myriad resources to help you get your information to your audience in an effective way.

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Infographic Design... It's More Than Just Lookin' Good.


Way back when, a chart was simply a way to view data visually. We created bar charts, pie charts, line charts, and made them as attractive, accurate, and easy to interpret as possible.

Technology has created an information explosion, so the task of helping people get their hands around tons of information they may or may not actually need has gotten more complex.

For now, we’ll leave the important question “when is information actually data?” for another blog.Path to green card small

Which path would you rather follow to get a green card? Click to see a larger image.

What Should a Good Infographic Do?

Edward Tufte, in his book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, defined what he thought a graphical display should do:

  • show the data
  • induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production or something else
  • avoid distorting what the data have to say
  • present many numbers in a small space
  • make large data sets coherent
  • encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data
  • reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure.
  • serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration.
  • be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set.
  • Graphics reveal data. Indeed graphics can be more precise and revealing than conventional statistical computations."
Tufte, Edward (1983). The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, Conneticut: Graphics Press.

1972 map optThe first time I became aware of what can be done with information graphics was in the seventies when Nigel Holmes was doing elegant, witty and understandable charts for Time Magazine and Massimo Vignelli designed his first New York City Subway Map in 1972. The map was controversial (and redone 5 years later) because it made the subway lines horizontal and vertical instead of showing their actual angles and it made Central Park a square instead of a rectangle.

Both the map and Holmes’ graphics did exactly what an “infographic” are supposed to do- they make the information they contain accurately accessible.

What Visual Elements Make a Good infographic?

A recent study at Harvard called What Makes a Visualization Memorable, provides some interesting insights::
  • Visualizations with more than six colors were much more memorable than only a few colors or black and white
  • Graphics with a lot of visual density were more memorable than minimalist approaches
  • The subjects remembered charts with more curves than they did with straight lines
  • Bar charts and graphs were easily forgettable because people said they all looked alike

Does this Mean the Busier the Better? Does Memorable Mean Effective?
Tufte called a busy graphic “chart junk”.  There’s a difference between information being presented in a visually memorable way and information being understood and viewed critically.

In the Harvard study, researchers do not appear to have assessed how well the subjects retained or understood the information, just whether or not they retained the image.

I suppose in some cases study subjects might as well have been looking at wallpaper samples.

What About the Data and the Source of the Graphic?
Consider the source- If the infographic comes from, let’s say, the imaginary National Association of Transfat Manufacturers, are you really going to believe that the big bold headline with a heart next to it that says “Have a cup of hydrogenated vegetable shortening with every meal!” along with some “statistics” that seem to indicate transfats won’t necessarily cause coronary heart disease?

Do the Data as Presented Tell an Accurate, Complete Story?
Mark Twain popularized the phrase: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Does the graphic tell the whole story objectively? Charts and diagrams can be set up to show results differently; if the graphic uses a poll, who conducted the poll? How were the questions phrased? Was the sample size large enough to have a true meaning?(click here to see examples).

It’s Not Just the Presentation!

So for the designer, the task is to make the Infographic as clear, attractive, informative and honest as possible; for the viewer the task is to look at the information contained in the design and make sure that the story it’s telling is true and not just an attractive surface.

Charts:, Reason Magazine

Next time: Tools to create infographics.

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Here Are The Answers to Last Week's Halloween Quiz


Illustartion by MoldaveDesigns

For which holiday is the most candy sold? 

a)     Mother’s Day

b)     Halloween

c)     National Dental Health Day

What happens to people who use Silly String on Halloween in Hollywood?

a)     They are taking part in National Silly String Art week, which coincidentally occurs the last week of October

b)     They are discovered by a major Hollywood studio and become instant celebs

c)     They get fined $1000 if they’re caught

What is samhainophobia?

a)     Fear of anyone named “Sam”

b)     Fear of pumpkin seeds

c)     Fear of Halloween

What is the significance of October 30?

a)     It’s National Candy Corn Day

b)     It’s the biggest single day for sales of masks

c)     It coincides with National Toilet Paper Manufacturers Appreciation Day

How heavy is the 2013 world’s largest pumpkin and where was it grown?

a)     657 pounds – New Jersey

b)     1,872 pounds – Nova Scotia

c)     2,032 pounds – California

What were the very first jack-o-lanterns made of?

a)     Pumpkins, just like today

b)     Turnips, because they grew but nobody wanted to eat them

c)     Watermelons, because Halloween was originally in August but got changed since people were too hot in their costumes

What are the top three favorite Halloween candies?

a)     Snickers, Reese’s, Kit Kat

b)     Lollipops, candy corn, mini-marshmallows

c)     M&Ms, Milky Way, Almond Joy


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Tags: ,

Enough about Trade Shows – Here’s the MoldaveDesigns Halloween Quiz

final halloween blog header

Send us the right answers and you’ll win absolutely nothing but our respect for how much you know about Halloween.
Warning – there may be more than one correct answer, or there may not. We’ll reveal the answers next week.

Click here to take Our Official MoldaveDesigns Halloween Quiz or put your answers in the comments section.

For which holiday is the most candy sold? 

a)     Mother’s Day

b)     Halloween

c)     National Dental Health Day

What happens to people who use Silly String on Halloween in Hollywood?

a)     They are taking part in National Silly String Art week, which coincidentally occurs the last week of October

b)     They are discovered by a major Hollywood studio and become instant celebs

c)     They get fined $1000 if they’re caught

What is samhainophobia?

a)     Fear of anyone named “Sam”

b)     Fear of pumpkin seeds

c)     Fear of Halloween

What is the significance of October 30?

a)     It’s National Candy Corn Day

b)     It’s the biggest single day for sales of masks

c)     It coincides with National Toilet Paper Manufacturers Appreciation Day

lucky halloweenx300pxHow heavy is the 2013 world’s largest pumpkin and where was it grown?

a)     657 pounds – New Jersey

b)     1,872 pounds – Nova Scotia

c)     2,032 pounds – California

 What were the very first jack-o-lanterns made of?

a)     Pumpkins, just like today

b)     Turnips, because they grew but nobody wanted to eat them

c)     Watermelons, because Halloween was originally in August but got changed since people were too hot in their costumes

What are the top three favorite Halloween candies?

a)     Snickers, Reese’s, Kit Kat

b)     Lollipops, candy corn, mini-marshmallows

c)     M&Ms, Milky Way, Almond Joy


Click on this button for a free, not very scary, evaluation of your marketing. The candy's on us!

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Face-to-Face Interaction at Trade Shows is More Valuable than Ever!


Trade Show MoldaveDesignsYour Trade Show Exhibit Booth Staff Makes It Happen.

48% of trade show attendees say that face-to-face interaction with trade show exhibitors is increasingly valuable, and 43% expect the value to continue growing.1

So it’s more important that ever to select your trade show staff strategically and train them thoroughly – and it’s essential that booth staffers represent your company and its brands professionally. The results will show up in your trade show ROI.

Before the Trade Show: Preparation Beats Winging It!

Will you select trade show staff members from within your company or will you outsource trade show staffing? It’s possible to outsource trade show staffing if your company can’t divert staff to trade show assignments or doesn’t have staff with the characteristics needed to optimize interactions with customers and prospects. It’s also possible to outsource training for in-house trade show staffers.

But here we’re assuming your company will handle the trade show training and staffing.

Staff Selection: The First Step in Making the Most of the Face-to-Face Opportunity!

Long days? Yes, but staffing a trade show can be a chance for your staff to shine, so choose staffers who are energetic and excited about working the show, reconnecting with current customers and creating new ones, and reaping the rewards of face-to-face interaction!
  • Choose a blend of experienced staffers and newbies, and assign roles and objectives accordingly – it’s a great way to provide on-the-job training.
  • Choose staffers who know how valuable it can be to do something that seems simple – really listening to customers and prospects.

Staff Training: Ready, Set, Market!

Tradeshow-specific preparation is key – your trade show booth may be visited by industry media representatives, key opinion leaders, and competitors, in addition to customers and prospects.

Training should address these questions:
  • Why is the company participating in this particular show and what are the attendee demographics?
  • What are the roles and objectives of each staff member?
  • How will management assess results?
  • How should we attract, engage, and qualify attendees?
  • How can we disengage graciously from unproductive interactions?
Training should include:
  • Brainstorming scenarios, discussing how to handle them, and engaging in related role playing
  • Hands-on experience demonstrating products
  • Encouraging and addressing suggestions and concerns raised by staffers during the training
After training is complete, staffers should:
  • Understand their individual roles and objectives for the trade show
  • Understand the desired customer profile and your company’s Universal Lead Definition (ULD)
  • Understand the company’s strategic objectives for the trade show
  • Be able to demonstrate the company’s products or show how the company’s service work
  • Understand how to engage (and disengage) attendees at the exhibit booth

At the Trade Show: Be Ready for Anything!

The time before the exhibit hall opens is important.
  • Once your exhibit booth is set up, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
  • Ensure that electronic and other infrastructure-related systems are working properly
  • Scout out locations of services booth visitors might ask about – for example food vendors, rest rooms, and shuttle bus stops. This little “extra” can you’re your company stand out
  • Take some time to visit exhibits booths – your suppliers, competitors, and companies that provide products or services related to yours will be there. Is anyone doing something new?

Common-sense rules of professional etiquette apply.

For instance:
  • Keep a sensible after-hours schedule
  • Be prepared
  • Dress appropriately for the show
  • Wear a name tag
  • Stay focused and maintain eye contact
  • Maintain the supply of deliverables and the general order of the booth
  • Save the cell phone calls and texts for break times
  • Keep the exhibit booth up and running for the entire length of the show – no packing up or breaking down exhibits early

After the Trade Show: It’s Not Over Yet!

There’s lots of follow-up after a trade show, but it shouldn’t be limited to pursuing leads. Staffers have returned to the office with a wealth of knowledge, so hold a debriefing session as soon as possible where staffers can share their experiences and discuss how what they’ve learned can make the next trade show even better.

What worked? What didn’t work? Did anything unexpected happen? If so, how was it handled? Were demos and deliverables well received? Are there any additional tools that might have been useful? How can overall trade show planning and staff selection and training be improved? Should the company invest in the same show again? If so, is there anything the company should do differently?

Leave us a comment to let us know how your company engages the trade show staff in post-tradeshow evaluation activities.

Free Marketing Evaluation

1Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), Change in Value over Next Two Years and Effects of the Great Recession and Online Media, 2012,

Other sources:

Trade Show Exhibit Booth - Make Yours Stand Out

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There Are 400 Exhibitors at the Average Tradeshow1

Trade Show Planning Is Incomplete unless You’re Maximizing the Effectiveness of Your Exhibit Booth before the Tradeshow Even Starts!

Exhibit staffers have about 4 seconds to engage an attendee walking past the booth and between 5 and 15 minutes to make your company’s products or services stand out.2

How can you be sure the customers and potential customers you attract will be wowed with what they see and experience?

Get to Know the Venue and What the Sponsor Will Provide

Understand Roles and Responsibilities. Don’t assume all trade shows operate exactly the same way. Understand your roles and responsibilities and those of the trade show sponsor.

  • The trade show sponsor will provide information that outlines typical demographics; a calendar; fees; policies; services; booth specifications and furnishings; services such as materials handling, and exhibit transportation; floor plans; rules, regulations requirements and restrictions; forms; and advertising, sponsorship, and other marketing-related opportunities.
  • Minimize the chance for unwelcome surprises by confirming all your tradeshow-related arrangements ahead of time.

Develop and Implement an Exhibit Booth Design Strategy

You don’t want your booth staff to be lonely, but you also don’t want them overwhelmed.

  • Your exhibit booth should reflect your company’s strategic objectives for the specific tradeshow. And those objectives should be customer-based.  If you’ve implemented a targeted pre-tradeshow marketing campaign, you’ll want a specific type of space for meeting with customers and serious prospects. If you’re aiming to attract a wide audience, you’ll want open space that facilitates flow and strategic placement of staffers. If you’ll be demonstrating a product, you’ll want that space easily accessible to an aisle.

There are many types of booths and displays for many types of budgets.3 Here are a few:

  • Portable (Pop Up) Displays are available in several sizes. They’re affordable and simple to transport, set up, and take down – and it’s easy to switch graphics on a show-by-show basis.
  • Inline exhibits are available in several sizes too. They can include pop up displays as well as furniture, custom graphics and media.
  • Peninsula exhibits have aisles on three sides. They come in a variety of sizes and offer lots of opportunity for customization.
  • Island exhibits have aisles on all sides and are also available in a variety of sizes. They’re super-customizable and some have more than one level, but they’re the most expensive.

Speaking of displays . . . Signage and graphics

Work with a graphics communications firm or your in-house communications department to make sure your visual message is in sync with the company’s identity, your tradeshow objectives, and sponsor parameters.

Design attracts attendees to your booth; text educates them.4 Your visuals unite the two.
  • Choose a relevant theme
  • Deliver a concise message that’s consistent across all your tradeshow deliverables
  • Signage should be distinctive, visible, and readable from a distance
  • Choose, balance, and contrast colors that complement your space and help convey your message
  • Go for quality over quantity
  • Avoid visual clutter and complicated or excessive text
  • Transport signage and graphics to and from the tradeshow carefully

Make your exhibit booth comfortable, inviting and safe – for staff and attendees alike.

For example:
  • Make sure carpeting is padded – everyone’s feet get tired
  • Make sure lighting is adequate – you may need to supplement site lighting, and you can use lighting as a design element
  • Manage cords and wires to prevent falls
  • Make sure exhibits are stable and can’t be knocked over easily
  • Encourage staff to wear “sensible shoes” or at least leave the brand new shoes at home
  • Consider becoming a charging station or hotspot if it makes sense in terms of your traffic objectives and you have the space
  • Bring the outdoors in – plants bring vitality to your space and can refresh attendees
  • Ensure that your exhibit booth adheres to the tradeshow sponsor’s rules and requirements

Tradeshow Gadgets and Gizmos – What Do You Think?

Are they treasures, trash, or something to give to the kids? Are they effective marketing tools? Leave a comment below to tell us what giveaways you bring back, giveaways you could do without, and why. We’ll let you know what we find out.

Next time: Choosing, Energizing and Using Your Exhibit Booth Staff

1 Tradeshow Tips from Skyline Exhibits,
2 How to Boost Traffic at Your Trade Show Booth,
3 Dimension Craft,
4 Ideas for Trade Shows,

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