The Lean, Mean Profit Machine
by Susan Friedmann
That’s what every company wants to be, especially now when stock markets
worldwide are falling and threats of recession loom large on every horizon.
Management is being urged to ‘cut the fat’. Many times the powers that be
interpret this to mean eliminating staff training programs and drastically
cutting marketing. But they’re making a mistake. Instead of trimming fat,
they’re amputating the very muscles a company needs to stay competitive in
today’s global marketplace.
Now is the time to make sure that you’re exercising your marketing muscles
efficiently and enough. Regular workouts are important when times are flush
and sales brisk, but they become vital during economic downturns. Let’s take
a look at five strategies to exercise your marketing muscle, how they relate
to your trade show participation, and how all are vital to your company’s
- Go to the Gym:
You can do your workout anywhere, but it’s better in the gym with the proper
workout equipment. In the same way, you can be a contender in the global
marketplace without attending trade shows – but how effective will you be
if no one sees you in the global marketplace? Companies can not buy your
goods or services if they don’t know you exist! Trade shows signify an essential
marketing strategy when it comes to visibility. Exhibiting demonstrates
that you are a serious player in the industry. Staying in the public eye
is imperative if you want that public to remember who you are! Make the
commitment to keep trade shows one of your major promotional tools.
If financial circumstances make this difficult, consider down-sizing your
booth – but don’t abandon the show completely! Doing so creates the public
impression that your firm is in financial trouble – the kind of bad ‘buzz’
no one wants – and that your competitors will happily spread!
- Set long-term goals:
It takes more than one spin class to shed twenty pounds, and you wouldn’t
expect bulging biceps after an hour of free weights. But that’s exactly
what many companies expect from their marketing and training routines. Neither
will provide a miracle quick fix, but as part of a regular, planned, organized
campaign, training and marketing will, in time, produce impressive results.
If on the other hand, you only concentrate your energies on training and
marketing when things are good, and discontinue those exercises during down
times, your results are likely to mirror your actions. Developing a consistent
marketing and training strategy that you can stick to, no matter what the
economic circumstances, will help you keep an optimal operational equilibrium.
- Critique your workout routine:
We all get into ruts, in the gym and in business. How often do you stop to
take the time to examine what your company is doing – and more importantly,
why? Upon examination, many of your corporate actions may be done out of
habit rather than because they are productive and profitable.
This applies to trade shows in two ways. First, take a close look at the
shows you attend. How do they really fit into your marketing strategy? Ideally,
attending a show should attract large amounts of consumers from your target
audience. If you’re at a show that doesn’t do this, ask yourself why. Are
you there just because “We’ve always gone to ABC show”? Are you attending
just because your competitors do? If your target audience is not attending,
you and your competitor are both wasting money at that show – let them throw
their money away alone! Cut non-producing shows out of your exhibiting schedule.
Instead, put all your energy and resources into exhibiting at more profitable
events that attract your target audience.
Employees who are normally careful with company resources tend to go a little
crazy at trade shows. Excessive employee spending is a seldom-discussed
problem, but one of the most common ways for a company to bleed green at
a show. Combating this can be as simple as reserving rooms at a moderately-priced
hotel, setting per diem expense allowances, and enforcing employee accountability
for expenses. Watch out for the ‘entitlement’ mindset – “I’m entitled to
a steak and lobster dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town because
I’m at the trade show.” If employees know they’ll have to explain any questionable
purchases after the fact, they’ll be less likely to splurge on your dime.
- Find good workout buddies:
Spending time in the gym can be infinitely more productive if you exercise
with a motivated, skilled partner. The same is true for marketing. Here,
you are counting on your employees to be the skilled, motivated partner.
When the employee-employer relationship is truly a partnership, both sides
will have common goals and ideals. Everyone will be working together to
achieve these goals – and what better place to showcase this than the trade
show floor? Your booth staff represent your internal customer-service team.
They act as your company ambassadors, representing the entire company with
everything that they do. Their attitude, body language, appearance, and
knowledge help create a lasting impression that attendees will take away
with them. Make sure your employees are prepared by providing excellent
training and making sure they clearly understand what is expected of them.
Training shows your employees that you value their contributions, and demonstrates
to the world at large that you care about what image your company is presenting.
- Keep good workout buddies:
We’re a mobile society. People move an average of seven times in their lives,
oftentimes great distances. Therefore, companies are often hesitant to spend
money on training. What’s the sense, they ask, of making this investment
when the staff are likely to leave, taking their skills with them?
Life is full of risks. When you go jogging the first time, there’s the risk
you might stumble and skin your knee. You might wrench an ankle. You might
fall into a sudden sinkhole and wind up in traction. But when you weigh
the rewards of physical fitness – the increased sense of well-being, the
health benefits, and the trimmer physique – and the relative likeliness
of the risks – you see it is clearly worth it to go jogging.
The same thing holds true with employee training. The benefits of a fully-trained,
top-notch staff clearly outweigh the chance that one or two may leave. Employees
leave for a number of reasons, and it is in your power to minimize some
of them. For example, employees may leave because of frustration, stress,
or a feeling of being under-valued. Perhaps they don’t feel they have enough
authority, growth opportunities, or direction. Providing training can remedy
some, if not all, of these reasons, and help you retain quality employees.
These five strategies will help you transform your company into a lean,
mean profit machine. Keep those marketing muscles working and they’ll be less
likely to be trimmed away as “excess fat”.
Susan A. Friedmann,CSP is the Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author:
“Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve
their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training.
Go to http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com
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