Category: Be a marketing pro!
Marketing so bad, it should be spanked
In these enlightened times when I can get the very best internet access from some paddock on the outskirts of Melbourne, where same sex marriage might even become law in these conservative ruled times, that I have a smart device that tells me I slept 6hours 13 minutes and woke twice (once to try and figure out what episode of Game Of Thrones I was up to, second time to wonder why I was not married to Henry Rollins)…why, WHY does bad marketing persist?

There’s so much big data around to tell marketers and advertisers who their customer is, what they want to buy, how they want it delivered to them, what colour option they’d prefer and what the name of their first car was…and yet, we’re bobbing about in a sea of bad marketing.

Why is that? Seriously I’m mystified.

Exhibit A, members of the jury: This Mercedes-Benz ad


I worked with Mercedes from the mid 90’s to 2006 doing their motor show stands across Australia. And I totally fangirled the brand. How could I not when I slid into the seat of the CLS coupe that was worth 4 times the amount I paid for my 1 bedroom cupboard in Melbourne? They got the shakes after the GFC when their message become muddled and unfocussed which in some ways was understandable after it got the cash stripped out of it, jettisoned the nutty match up of Chrysler and then sought to re-establish itself in the luxury car market. If this ad is any indication, they need to go into the room of mirrors and take a good hard look at themselves.

Alienating 50% of potential purchasers with a dour, fun-killer female is lazy and bad marketing. What kinda blows my mind is that this claptrap made it past the agency concepting whiteboard, through the suits at Mercedes and at every level it got ticked off without anyone saying “Hang about, isn’t this going to piss off a core group of our customers?” When you are dropping some serious coin on a luxury car you want to feel successful, prestigious, free and golden. Unlike the commercial that portrays women as hard nose harridans capable only of smirking like a know-it-all or eye rolling. Mercedes, time to lift your game, ladies love the luxury marques too.

<strong>Exhibit B, members of the jury: The Australian Liberal Government</strong>

No surprises, I’m not a liberal lover. And I could write a 7,489 page manifesto of the things that tick me off about them and not being able to market their message affectively. And let’s be clear, every government needs need market effectively, it’s how you bring the public along on the new vision you are creating for Australia’s future. They need to get their message out to the community, sell the hard policies and successfully celebrate the wins. But jury members, we reached a new low on morning TV recently. I nearly choked on my toast and vegemite one morning when Tony Abbott was rabbiting on about dealing with the children of suspected terrorist who have left Oz. Just watch.

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I can’t even….

Mr Abbott said the law would be applied to people regardless of their age or gender and that the children of criminals would be “dealt with in the same way [they] are usually dealt with”.

Like Tony, exactly how do you deal with children…<strong><em>children</em></strong> of alleged terrorists? Is it sending them to an off-shore detention centre, housed in the most basic conditions, for an indefinite period, behind barbed wire, mingling with people who have suffered trauma, are dealing with complex mental health issues and most heart breakingly, have abandoned all hope.

These are children we’re talking about, whose only crime is being born to alleged batshit crazy parents. One more time with feeling: <em><strong>children.</strong> </em>Tony’s really missed the marketing opportunity to sell his proposed citizenship reforms by going all hardline with kids who should be playing with Tonka toys and instead have the misfortune to be stuck in Syria with a dead dad and a mum who’s stateless. Way to go Tony coming on all heavy on the kids. Marketing fail.

<strong>Exhibit C members of the jury: St George Bank</strong>

I just paid off the home loan of my 1 bedroom broom cupboard in Melbourne. But context: This cupboard was bought back in ye olden days where you could pick up a home in Melbourne that did not require living 6 lifetimes to pay off the mortgage. But still, I was pretty pleased with myself paying it off and no longer co-owning with a bank.

So I received letter from my lender St George in mail. I’m a hopeful Harry. I try and think the best of people. I like to think that people are not dumb arses and have no clue about merging in traffic and instead are helping me develop fast muscle fibres as I avoid collisions with cars that inexplicably own no indicators or rear view mirrors. So I was hoping for a nice letter from St George congratulating me on me achieving the Great Australian Dream. But no. I was encouraged to plunge back into debt and fund some lifestyle purchases such a boat, a holiday or a pool with obligatory pool cleaner named Coco. The call to St George to see if I got any congratulatory love went no better. After a terse exchange because I was passed through several departments to reach “I-want-to-discharge-my-loan-and-not-take-up-your-offer-of-pool-and-Coco” I was dealing with the happy news to free myself of the St George loan shackles, I would be charged $350 and what account could they take it out of?

“Um…none? What does that $350 get me exactly?”

“It was in your contract you signed”

“Yeah, that was back in ‘97 so details are a bit sketchy 18 years down the track…but what’s the $350 for?

“It was in your contract.”

“I’m hearing you.  But what’s it for? Exactly?”

“Your contract.  The fee was in there.”

“I can’t even…”

So sum total of that total waste of a marketing opportunity by St George to congratulate me, treat the event as something to be acknowledged with a branded something sent in the mail…hell, I would have been been happy with a plush mini dragon at that point.  Instead, the lack of feel-good marketing has got me thinking instead of shifting all my banking to a smaller firm that understands that it much easier to keep an existing customer happy than chase a new one.

The green dragon needs to ante up. Marketing FAIL.

Ok, I’m hopping off Dobbin my personal hobbyhorse to shake by tail to this:

Yep, no good marketing comes easy. Feel free to share your own bad marketing examples in the comments below.


A love letter. This week’s ode to marketers who got it right.
I love marketers. Those crazy kids who are seen as cost centres who spend shedloads driving customers to buy products and services from the company that employs them in these austere times.  I like renegades and therefore I love marketers!

Two micro business entrepreneurs rocked my world this week. And they covered themselves in marketing glory.

An aside…what type of weirdo gets on a plane with 4 litres of laundry liquid as part of their carry on?!?! I’m writing this blog on a plane and into the middle seat has slid a young lady toting the mega value pack laundry liquid. Before I go off on all sorts of tangents wondering why anyone needs extreme cleaning power on a flight, best I get back to the theme of the week…

A card arrived in the mail this week and I was totally gobbed. It was from this small business who I had to buy no more than $30 worth of electrical gear to repair my Himalayan salt lamp.  Don’t judge until you’ve reclined in the soft glow of the lamp when listening to Nine Inch Nails. It soothes a frayed psyche. There was no little reminder to buy more product or tout a monthly special, just a simple thank you and the most gorgeous photo ever of the owners of his small business. Yet, do not be fooled by this seemingly charming yet ordinary couple. They are hard-core marketing pros. Who do you think I am going to go to if I need anything in the realm of crystal, alternate therapies or just general whacky shit? They have got me for life. If I just get a card or a $30 spend, how much do you reckon they love what they do and totally embody the “be excellent to each other” of the spiritual space.  I bow to such simple marketing. It cost them a dollar for the card and 60 cents for the stamp and they got themselves imprinted themselves on my loyalty list.


Next up on the love letter is my demonic personal trainer Nathan Morris. We’ve just kicked through a year if working together and I was clearly in the drop off zone in terms of commitment in turning up and doing the work. I am six weeks out from finishing the rowing season and I was coasting. I was turning up late under the guise of a good excuse and still dining out on my rowing successes. To celebrate our first year together did I get flowers? A gluten-free protein bar?  A photo book detailing before and after shots of me tackling the TRX?  No, I got a freakin’ “Come to Jesus” talk!  Nathan knew after a year together and hitting some high points that was in that zone of “Well, that was nice, lifted a few weights, did some mobility stuff but it is now time to ease up and get on the lounge with a cheesecake” and I could have tapered off my involvement with him.  Nathan’s marketing pitch for us to continue working together was explaining that it was my choice and my money but I was not getting the best out of him and our time together and that I needed to show up on time fully warmed up to get results.  He could have just shut up and taken the money but he recognized that having a personal training business depended on having committed clients that show up and are pushing hard on the gym floor. Other potential customers can see how hard he works his clients and adds in advice about nutrition and having correct form. Nathan’s marketing spiel worked.  I am getting there early doing my warm up and am fully committed to at least trying to love jumping around like an excitable bunny under the assumption that this is doing something really rad for my body.


So how could you uses these examples to produce outrageously good marketing in the trade show environment?

Could you send a hand written card to the top prospects, thanking them for visiting your stand?

Could you practice some radical honesty with a prospect about your products and services and steer them towards a better fit, even if it is with an opposition firm?

Over to you, what would you like to share about some mind warping marketing you have seen or experienced recently?  And can you explain 4 litres of laundry liquid on a plane?!?

This weeks tune is a song I reckon is one of the 10 best Australian songs ever written.  Have no idea what they are banging on about but that line “I’m the re-run that you’ll always force yourself to sit through”.  KILLER!

See you next week!

The quick and the dirty way of making sure your images are large format friendly
This how to video was inspired by my marketing managers and coordinator clients who are in turmoil about what images can be used for large format reproduction.  By large format, I am meaning anything above 1 metre high x 1 metre wide.  It seems that my clients and perhaps you have a whole bunch of images you would like to use on your display but are not sure if they are the right size.

This video should help soothe your furrowed brow.

And just to recap:

  • A file size – say 35mb or even 350mb – is no indication on how suitable the file size should be when enlarged
  • You really need to check the size it has been set up as and you can do this via Illustrator, Photoshop or other graphics package of your preference
  • Enlarge the image to the size you require and then check how it looks at final size.  If it looks like soup, then there is buggar all you can do apart from applying a heavy blur and you really need to select another image. No, there is not magic box to make an image “better”.  I will always remember the advice from my friends at The Image Box:  “Crap in, crap out”.  Word.
  • Just because an image is drawn from a file / download / shoebox marked “high-resolution” does not mean that it is a high resolution for large format printing.  It might mean that it is large format…at A4.  That information alone has caused many a marketing manager to snap their pen in frustration.

Please feel free to leave any questions you might have about large format printing in the comments section below and I’d be happy to answer them.

See you next week!


The modern marketers lament: I need more time. Here’s 4 ways to claw back your time.
Back from Frakenstorm Sandy this week, I was head first in a series of meetings with my marketing clients.  Apart from the normal witty banter and the discussion of projects, what I am hearing over and over is from my marketing managers and coordinators is: “I need more time, I am under the pump, I am just overwhelmed”.  Ok, so you could take this as a good thing that marketing is ramping up and budgets are being resuscitated but while I think that this is correct to some degree, I am also seeing that the “busyness” of work life has reached a critical point and we need to get some sanity around this.  I might not be so concerned if my marketing clients look energised by this fast paced activity but they look worn out, grey and in need of a lounge and a sherbert.

Get on the lounge with a sherbet!

Get on the lounge with a sherbet!

So here is my lifeline for marketers and in fact anyone else that feels like they are on the hamster wheel that is cranked to ELEVEN.  Some of these tips are Diva tested, others are in the experimental stage:

1. Asana

I only got on board to Asana train these past few months but I can tell you now it has given me back brain space.  It is on online cloud based project management tool that is FREE. If you are anything like me, I strut about with a whole heap of ideas and to-do whirling about in the grey matter that is set to repeat every 3 – 4 minutes.  Using Asana, I can do a brain dump into individual projects, assign others to complete tasks and place dates against the list.  You can even tick stuff off as DONE!  This is freakin’ GOLD and has given me back a sense of control of the 58 (that IS NUTS) current projects I am running.  Go here for Nathalie Lussier’s introduction into Asana.  Promise, this will help you claw back time and give you a greater sense of control over the projects and events you are running.

2.  Chuck anything – and anyone – superfluous.

Yeah, I get asked a lot about how I get through my workload.  No secret.  I don’t watch TV.  I read a lot of work based material but it is usually only a scan to pick up the news I need.  I live in a one bedroom apartment which controls the amount of crap I can bring in and then have to manage.  I have outsourced cleaning of the car and home.  I have a personal trainer so I don’t faff about at the gym leaning against the vending machine pretending that counts as tightening of the abs. I don’t watch cute cat videos on youtube. I have a regulated filing system so I know (mostly) where everything is.  When I travel, I don’t queue.  I am a member of Qantas Valet, the Qantas Club, Budget Business Club and Accor Awards so I am assured of smooth passage.  When flights are delayed, I don’t bitch, I get busy attacking the to-do list.  I have a calendar that all appointment both personal and business goes onto and if I start feeling like the week is starting to get overloaded, I start culling.  Now I am not sharing all this to show you how AMAZING I am at scheduling but to show what I give up and what I streamline in order to get what I really need ie. more time to spend doing things I love.  Here’s the thing.  We all have the same 24 hours and it is up to you, YOU on how these hours are spent.  You will have to get selfish about how you spend your time.  You may upset people that you have been accommodating to the past but you can’t afford to extend this luxury to them in the future.  No doubt, my scheduling is made easier by not having kids but don’t give yourself a pass on this even if you have kiddies.  If you really looked hard at your schedule I am positive you can find areas you can chuck.  If the whole idea of being so strict with your time sends you into a meltdown, just chill.  Think of it as scheduling the things you can and know about so you can free up space to…be free and spend more time doing the things you love!

3.  Time blocking

So – deep breath – this is going to be a new one for me.  I have always been available on email and phone for both suppliers and clients.  I will interrupt stuff I am working on to take calls and then get caught up solving that query, then I jump down a rabbit hole of distraction so when I come back to what I had originally been working on, sometimes 12 hours later I have lost the source of inspiration or have no idea where I was going with a particular idea.  At the tail end of 2013 I can see that I am getting burnt out and I want to change this for 2013. I will be trialling time blocking.  I have come to see that multi tasking is making me dumber and since I work in the creative field, I need to allow quite time to come up with the genius stuff.  I am going to try restricting the answering of emails to twice daily blocks.  When I am designing and doing working drawings, distractions are the devil so I will be secluding quite time for myself and hitting the do not disturb button on the smart phone.  I know this won’t be perfect and I will have to negotiate how this works when I have installs going in and need to be available to take queries on the positioning of last-minute graphics, if extra power is required for the client machine and where the hell the forklift key is?!?  But I have to give this a try, I think some of the best work I have done has been realised in the past few years and I want to keep dialled into that muse rather than running my brain down to slo-mo.

4. The great big no.

Ooooh, doesn’t that word just make you feel tighter.  We really aren’t allowed to say this often but I think it is key to claiming back your time.  So many of us are conditioned to say yes because that is who we are, we are obliging folk.  But what is yes have made us a prison?  Rather than be the first with the hand up, sit back.  Or, sit on your hand if you can’t trust your “Yes, me!” impulse.  If the outright no is too confronting, when given a request, buy some time.  Exhibit A: “My schedule is pretty stacked right now, I will take a look and get back to you”. The good thing about this is that you are already setting the expectation that you are not able to assist and you are giving yourself some time to see if you can really agree to the request.  Do not fear the “No”.  It is not a dirty word.  Unlike French Bulldog and Coldplay that are dirty, dirty words.

Alright, I am keen to hear from you if you have any other time-saving tips and techniques you might have so please leave your suggestion in the comment section below.

Now that you have given yourself some time back, we need to go to spin a tune.  When I free up myself enough time, I will be donning the sequined hot pants and lace tights and grooving to this (next life: I am coming back a female drummer).

See you next week!

I survived Frankenstorm Sandy and learned some valuable marketing lessons in the process.
I write this blog direct from my North American office – the Grand Central Terminal dining concourse, don’t cha know – and I am afraid I have a dire confession to make. I think I might have accidentally manifested Frankenstorm Sandy. I had always wanted an extended stay in NYC and looks like I got my wish. Ah, if only I could use my powers for good instead of evil. After being bumped flights a couple of times, I am now due out Sunday night to triumphantly return to Sydney on Tuesday in time to don a hat and back horsey No 5 in race 6 on Cup Day.  Disclaimer: That’s not a hot tip, it’s just the numbers I like.

So while I revel in my extended NYC stay, I have been able to reflect on what a great job NYC has done marketing itself during this heartbreaking event. Here is what I have admired:

 1. Communication

We hear it all the time but it really is key. Frankenstorm Sandy had been solidly all over the news in the days leading to landfall allowing time to prepare. On the Sunday before Ms Sandy’s arrival, I was attending an event and there were regular updates and a commitment to finish well before the subway shut down at 7pm. At the hotel I was staying in Midtown there were postings in the common areas and room drops. The news stations were predictably hysterical in their coverage – creepily, even predicting how many would die – but to solve that I turned off the sound and just took in the images and banner scroll at the bottom of the screen. Internet access at the hotel allowed me to stay online and get updates from SMH (bless you Fairfax) even while Sandy pushed my hotel a metre down town. At all times I felt safe despite the craziness going on around me. Mayors, governors, heads of rescue and even the Prez has been all over the news providing information and updates. And while so many others in the storm zone don’t have power or Internet access, the messages are being repeated and spread out across social media in the hope that the information can get passed through to those in the blacked out areas.  So in good times and bad, communication is the number one priority.


2. Be like a Boy Scout and prepare, prepare, prepare

I think in times of a crisis we all function better if we have stuff to do. On Sunday night before Sandy made landfall I washed all my clothes as a girl as to have clean gear even under locked in conditions. You let presentation standards drop and that is one slippery slope my friend. I made my grab and go bag (this mainly consisted of chocolate until I rethought it and added alcohol and Pringles), filled the bath so I had a water reservoir to lap from (!) and charged up the communication devices. Because I was so busy preparing I did have time to freak the hell out or be afraid. So it was a great move by authorities to give people a list of preparation to follow. The more you are engaged with a task, the less likely you are to be running through the streets pulling out tufts of your hair or panic buying s’mores.



3. Normal programming will resume as soon as possible

The thing that really struck me with Sandy is that people value and crave life’s rituals. From riding the subway to getting coffee at Starbucks’s, people are obsessed with getting their lives back to normal as soon as they can as it is a sign that life goes on.  I’ m so lucky to be in Midtown but about 10 blocks south of me is the lower Manhattan area where there is still no power in most parts. When people who live in this area are interviewed their main question relates to the resumption of power. If you have power, you have lights, TV, a fridge full of pop tarts and life starts feeling normal again. The sense of relief is palpable for those returning to work as it is another sign of normal service returning.  We do have power refuges everywhere throughout Midtown though. Any lobby, shop, cafe or bank foyer with a spare power outlet is crowded up with people charging up their communication devices.

4. I heart NYC

Like all great marketing, the aftermath of Sandy has revealed a very large heart at its core. Scores of people have either helped with the recovery or stand ready to. Strangers ask how you are doing and actually care about the answer. Even politicians have left a lot of argey bargey to the side while they get help to the people in need. The response is not perfect and there are still whole communities in dire need but it is hard to really fault the emergency services and community leaders when it is obvious they are doing there very best under pretty crazy circumstances.

I have always loved New York and the marketing of the city has always been top shelf. But I think Sandy has given her an added chance to show her proactive and caring side. I’ll be back for sure…I just have to leave first!

And for our weekly tune, what better song to pick than Hova’s love letter (with some killer marketing taglines) to NYC.

See you next week!

Do trade shows still matter? (Hint: They do, and I am not the only one to think so)
Holy cats, I hope so! Otherwise I have hitched my wagon to a very sick and strung out donkey.  (More on the donkey later).  I recently wrote an article for the new Aspire Magazine “Why 3D marketing matters”, and this really got me thinking, if I was wearing the client hat & heels, would I still feel paid up and passionate about trade shows? And if I was sceptical about the value of exhibition participation, what would I say to the client version of me?  I, hand on the heart, believe trade shows and exhibitions still matter and I’m not the only one:

1. Seth Godin thinks so.

Seth, dubbed “America’s Greatest Marketer” by American Way Magazine was interviewed by Dave Egan on his blog “The International Centre for Exhibitor and Event Marketing” about his take on the trade show and event industry. While he feels that trade shows will suffer in relevance within 10 years due to online engagement, he acknowledges there is a great opportunity for the industry to drive the change and benefit from it.  A number of my clients are already using social media as part of their entire trade show participation including pre-show marketing, promotions running during the event and post show follow up.  The exciting thing about this the show that use to last only a couple of days, now has a lifespan well beyond the trade show floor, making the reach and penetration of trade shows that much more powerful.

But…(and there is always a cautionary tale)

The trade show industry will decline if we stay stuck with the current format of row after row of booths that all look the same, are staffed by the same disinterested sock puppet who drinks the free coffee from other stands and is only interested in texting his mates for the booze up at the lap dance palour later that night.

2. The government thinks so.

In a move to update New South Wales aging exhibition and convention precinct that no one will miss  (especially the loading dock that is the size of a typical one bedder apartment), the state government is spending $1billion dollars to develop new world class facilities.   We all know that all levels governments are bleating about the bare cupboards, tightening belts and conservative fiscal policy, so why would a government find $1 billion dollars behind the back of the lounge? Uh, that would be because it is estimated that the trade show and exhibition industry contributes around $200 – $250 million dollars a year to the NSW economy.  And NSW is not the only state to get on board the trade show train.  Victoria recently added a new Convention Centre to their exhibition campus area.

 But….(the government is involved, ‘nuff said)

Because the government is involved, they will most likely sell off the operating rights to the highest bidder so they can be seen to be recouping the investment for the NSW taxpayer.  And because the winning bidder has to make money on the rights they have bought, you just know there is going to be some crazy pricing of services.  It’s already going on.  I was quoted by a venue recently the price of $224.00 per hour for an operator, a garden variety juicer and some oranges so my client could have fresh juice to offer visitors to their stand.  After my client and I had stopped laughing, checked the price and started laughing again, we decided to ditch the idea and spend the money elsewhere.  Venues will continue to miss out catering options when their pricing fails the “Are you for real?!?” test.  The venue operators shouldn’t be sharpening their axes and eyeing off the pretty golden goose.  The goose is likely to get jack of it and go find another pond to paddle in.

3. You and your fellow marketers do.

From our industry body the EEAA for the period 1st July 2011 to 31st December 2011 a survey was held across the membership base and:

  • Venues hosted 92 new events, which represents 29% of shows held.
  • Trade events had an exhibitor base of 6,621 participants, attracting 202,688 visitors
  • Consumer shows drew 699,170 visitors with 4,309 exhibitors

That’s a lot of small, medium and multinational businesses that see value in exhibitions participation.

But…(it’s not all cupcakes and unicorns)

  • 73% of the membership expect decreasing exhibitor budgets to inhibit growth in the future.

I’m not paddling the doom canoe despite that nugget of information. I figure it is a great opportunity to get creative and find unique and interesting ways to work with a more streamlined budget.  Get lean and go crazy!

I am great company with the fellow trade show supporters I have mentioned above and I’d be happy to answer any query you might have on the state of play in the exhibition industry.  Go here to get in touch or leave a comment in the section below.

Now back to the donkey…hot damn! It was not a donkey, I messed up, it was a deer in the video I was thinking of.  With bonus Josh Homme & Dave Grohl on the skins!

Enjoy and see you next week!

6 killer tips to find inspiration for marketeers (and the rest of us struggling with creativity blocks)
We all get the funks. You think you have seen it all, done it all and heard it so many times before. Nothing is new and nothing lights you up. In both the creative and marketing worlds where business life moves like the perpetual hamster wheel, seeking inspiration can be like tapping the accelerator when your car is coasting on empty. In our on demand, dialed up world it is expected that creativity and innovation will just leech from you. Sure. I have days like this. But other days are full of blank paper freak out and hair pulling inaction, trying to will the inspiration to flow through your veins.  So if you are stuck fast trying to find different ways to engage your customers, write a compelling marketing proposal for more funds or generate marketing copy that does not suck, here are my favorite inspiration sources:

 1. The Cool Hunter

So many awesome sources of designed products, advertising, commercial spaces (the list goes on) in one handy location. Will you find a well-crafted marketing plan in there? No. But you will be so awed by the creations of others you will be drawn back to your challenge at hand and commit to finding an elegant solution to your problem.

 2. Seth Godin

Sorry to be Captain McObvious here but he has rad and reality based insights into the marketing world. Dive into his juicy blog that will demand more of you and your talents as a marketer.

 3. Google it

I often type my problem area into Google such as  “how do I repatriate a continuously barking dog” or “how do I stretch too tight but kicky on sale heels” into the search field of the worlds best and free assistant. It will blow your mind how many others share that exact same problem. Talk a wander through Google’s suggestions and see how others overcome the same sticky situation you are in.

4. Paddle in a different pond

My mum Noelene knows buggar all about exhibition design but she really has pulled some gems for me over the years. From suggesting turning the design upside down, to using more green to even – hold onto your heels – adding more feathers, it does pay to go to a different source for inspiration. If all you do is rock a problem between your marketing team, then all you can expect is solutions drawn from their background and experience. I yap at everyone when I am greedy for inspiration. The gals I row with. The taxi driver who picks me up at the airport. The dude at the bakery. Cast your net wide and you will pull a smart and knowledgeable fish.



5. Marketing Magazine

Content rich site guaranteed to almost have a solution or article from someone dealing with a similar problem to yours. The case studies are great too as the words and picture combination help flesh out the solution to a tricky  marketing brief.

6. Empowering websites

Sometimes inspiration is not lacking it is the feeling of tiredness, overwhelm and downright feeling washed out and beige that sucks your mojo.  Time to fire up those websites that will kick you into gear and get you on task again.  Here are my latest finds for self actualisation: (I admit this one is not about self actualisation but the writing is laugh out loud funny and humour is a MAJOR inspiration booster)

That’s my cheat sheet for inspiration, please feel free to share your own tips in the comments section below.

Now I also visit the Church of Rock when I need to amp up and inspiration level and there is none better that the High Priest of rock, Dave Grohl.

Enjoy and see you next week! Fiona x

Go for gold! Why your trade show finish is essential in guaranteeing your success.
I love the Olympics.  If only to see my sport of choice – rowing – get some prime time television love from the major networks that does not involve someone either (a) laying down during a major race or (b) getting batshit crazy a few weeks out from a major competition and being booted off the team.  So yeah, I love me some olympic rowing.  What I am fascinated with is how crews plot their final 500 metre dash for the line.  I know in my own rowing that I have struggled with the finishing off the race and I have been working HARD to overhaul my technique.  My previous idea had been to blow all my energy in the first two-thirds of a race and then have nothing left in the tank to put on a final surge for the line.  One of the best races I have been in was the women’s C category race in the NSW 2012 Masters where, for the first time – praise to baby jesus – I was in a crew that actually improved its split time in the final 500 metres over the first.  The icing on the cake was a bronze medal but it just proved to me how important the finish is and how this can be applied to your trade show performance and ensuring it is successful.



1. Start with the end in mind

With most trade participation being about gathering leads, what processes are you putting place during the show to meet this target? Ohhhh, back up, do you even have a target?  Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking every soul that walks through the venue doors is your target as there will be many people there that have no buying or influential authority within an organisation.  You need to focus on who you want to reach at the show and make it your business to ensure they stop by and learn more about your products, services and their benefits.  A company I worked with earlier this year has a total of 6 – no, that is no error – key influencers they wanted to have on their trade show stand out of a delegate list in excess of over 1500.  So their activities were all around getting this gang of 6 on their stand and made sure their messaging, the images, the inclusions and even the booth staff were all about what those 6 would want to see, hear and touch.

2. Make a plan – and stick to it

Once you have your target list you now have to make a plan on how to gather their details on the stand.  Trade shows are fast-moving and delegates only have limited time available especially if they are being shunted through the morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea windows of access to the trade show display.  So I recommend having a mix of lead gathering techniques on the stand:

a. The badge scanner.  This is often offered through the show organiser and while it can be good to systemise the information, I have seen too many bad examples of both babes perched at the info counter just scanning badges to up the metrics.  The problem is then transferred to the back-end where you have a whole bunch of names but what do they want?

b. The business card bowl.  Well, it certainly beats the pants pocket of the head sales guy, but like the badge scanner, who are these people and what the hell are they interested in?

c. App technology.  You can use App’s like Card Munch to take details but make sure your stand staff have had pre-show training in this.  Not a good look on day one when your stand staff are head scratching.

d. Forms.  This is good, especially when stapled to a business card so all contact details are correct but it can be made so much better when the booth staff fill this out on your behalf either while you are there or straight after the chat.  I get real cold when I get passed a form for me to fill out when visiting a stand.  You want my information?  Then you take down the information about me that you require.

e. QR codes and augmented reality. The QR codes have been around for a while though not used widely and augmented reality is in the early days of trade show take up but both offer huge possibilities and ongoing engagement long after the show is over.

3. Actually follow-up on the leads – I know, CRAZY TALK!

This is where the gold medal is earned.  Follow the damn leads up.  I have this exercise when I visit trade shows to see how many of my details get followed up on.  I am tracking around the 40% follow up mark at the moment which is just shameful.  All the effort of planning a trade show stand, buying the space, doing pre-show marketing, having a stand designed and built, trucking out all your best stand staff and housing them in a different city and for what?  Buggar all.  Truly, this is key.  People have given you their details, they expect to hear from you and with technology being what it is, they would expect to hear from you within 48 hours of the show close.  Or sooner.  Don’t be satisfied with a sub-performance.  Strive for gold!

I have seen so many firms sabotaging their gold medal performance by failing to finish well by collecting leads in a systemised way and following them up.  Hey, the Beastie Boys wrote a song that parlays nicely into this.  And if you have others ways of collecting and following up leads, please share in comments below.

Vale Adam Yauch (MCA).  See you next week!

3 fab ways to stop the pre-show planning phreak out
I have a very casual relationship with planning.  I began Diva Works in 2001 with no business plan as I decided instead to be my own living embodiment of  “if is is to be, it is up to me”. My pad in Sydney was seen on-line at 10.16am and the deposit was slapped down at 4.53pm that same day.  And for my most recent car purchase, I was handing over the bank cheque as soon as the back seats flipped up to reveal space for rowing riggers, suitcases, tools, my bike and the esky.

So yeah, planning the big life stuff I am rather cool on.  However on the smaller, daily details and gotta-get-dones, planning and I are happy co-habitants and I see so many benefits with having a strong and actionable pre-exhibition or event plan.  Here are my 3 major points to keeping your cool, having great nails (less likely to bite them when you follow through on my pointers) and actually enjoy the process leading up to the exhibition or event.

1. What the hell are you doing here?
Just because you have been told that your company attends this exhibition or event every single year does not mean you have to keep trudging down this well worn trail.  It may sound odd coming from someone who has a business based on companies attending trade shows, but really, why are you going and what do you hope to achieve? Exhibitions and events are time and money eaters and if you do them right and with heart, you will get awesome benefits.  However if you and your company are attending just because you have to be there otherwise your customers will think that you are suffering in the new normal, or because the Steve the sales rep will get all steamed up if he misses out on the booze up on the final night or that Marion the brand manager really likes to travel and get a break from her family, you need to get a grip.  Seriously. Sit yourself down in a quiet place away from the chatter and write your list of objectives that you want to achieve by attending the event or exhibition.  If they aren’t based on growing your business, developing face to face relationships, promoting the unique and brilliant solutions your company offers then pull the rip cord and bail the hell out. Get real and get better results!

2. Pack a geek.
I have just returned from the Queensland Mining exhibition in Mackay and my giddy aunt, aren’t they a friendly bunch up there?!?  I was chatting with some sales fella from a nearby stand and asked him if he got good return on investment from attending exhibitions like these. “Dunno” he drawled, “I’m just told to turn up and collect the business cards”.  Now I am no psychic (however for my beloved Arians, better times are ahead) but if I checked back in with my excitable fella at show end I reckon he would have had a poor outcome. As a marketer, why would you send someone to a face to face marketing event that has no personality and has no clue how to engage customers? You need someone who is going to go off like a frog in a sock on your stand!  So buck the traditional path and grab Sally in the IT department who never gets to travel but is chatty as all get out and – hold onto your heels – take Brad the personable young man from procurement so he can understand that marketing is not just a cost centre within a business but is the engine that drives sales and promotes the business.  Man your stand with people who are geeks, that are super passionate about their area of work and let them loose on the stand.  We live in an age where face to face conversations are becoming rare so please don’t waste this golden opportunity.  Don’t stack your stand with company drones, no matter how much they might be earning on commission, take people who like other people and are who are curious about others.  This tip will totally transform your exhibition or event performance, guaranteed!

3. Get yourself a Markita workbench (or equivalent).
I know you are so busy with all the hats a marketer has to wear but there are plenty of tools out there you can use to build your arsenal, revitalise your “workbench” and develop your rep as a star performer. The tools I recommend to help with pre-show planning:

Basecamp Project Management


This is a web portal accessed by a unique password that allows all project documents to be shared throughout the team, deadlines set and tasks assigned. Never again will you waste time sending out emails repeatedly or locate missing files, just upload and with internet connectivity, you have immediate access. Ridiculously cheap plans so try the 45 day free trial and enjoy the time savings!




Awesome for taking notes on the fly (most of my bogs are written on it via the iPad while zooming about on planes), clipping ideas and images from websites, syncing across all devices with the option to share throughout your network. A free and upgrade version are on offer so never again be caught with a killer idea or image and no systemised way of collecting and storing this genius.




The event and exhibition industry relies on the visual, so why not use this website to share inspiration amongst your team? You could nail down a show theme by collecting a bunch of visuals together and asking your network for their comments. You will instantly have leapfrogged over the blank page stage.

I know you would have other pre-show planning tips and tricks so please share in the comments below.

You know I had to do it. The only type of phreak out I like. Roll tape.

See you next week!

4 loved up tips for picking a partner

If you are a crazy busy marketer, chances are you have to engage the services of other professional types like graphic artists, digital / advertising agencies and display designers to assist in the delivery of projects. But where to start? You can get recommendations from others, do online searches and seek out work you admire but when rubber needs to meet the road, how do you actually pick who is going to work alongside you and support you to reach your targets and deliver cut through work?

For me, the principles of picking a business partner is a lot like dating. Hell, I might even use this post as a cut out and keep for my next foray into the dating game! But in the meantime, let me share what I look for in selecting project partners.

1. The Zen of Reliability

The is totally key. Number one must have, not negotiable. You can have the hottest shot sitting across from you with the coolest pitch but….can they make it happen?  Great ideas are only ever of value if they are actioned.

In my business I have to rely on my close network of Team Diva suppliers to help fully realise the projects I am working on. So while I am the front person, behind me is an awesome support crew that create 3D visuals, scout locations, build my displays and print my graphics. Some of these suppliers have been with me since I started in the industry 17 years ago but they remain on Team Diva through being totally reliable. The know the quality I am after, will pick up the phone is there is a problem and will be flexible when last-minute client requests come in, even the seemingly impossible ones.  I know I can rely on them and I never have that keep-you-up-at-night stomach churning feeling that I am going to be massively let down.  Here’s a non-researched statistic that is based on my experience: I reckon the partner reliability rate is 1:5.  Say if you have 100 graphic designers (I am already reaching for the smelling salts) then you could happily ditch about 80 of those as they will rule themselves out through non-reliability.  Go for the partner who delivers on what they say they will do.

This is one of may favourite project partners: Bob the Builder.


2. I am a specialist in 32 areas

This one always amuses me. I always thought that if you were a specialist, you were exceptional in 1 or 2 areas, perhaps 3 tops.  But I see so many potential partners claim specialist stakes in a roll call of disciplines. My granddad always said “every man to his trade”.  And he is bang on.  If we accept that to be a master of your chosen field with 10,000 hours on the clock then how can this apply to a shopping list of skills?  One of my clients had their advertising agency do their sales office design and fit out as the agency saw an opportunity to expand their income stream by offering this service as an add on.  It was not a happy experience.  The agency forgot crucial items like power and data points in the layout and then gave up and handed back to my client elements of the fit out deemed “too hard”.  You need a pro to partner with, so go for the pro that is an expert in their field not a part-time hobbyist that wants to boost their revenue.

3. I like you

Slightly controversial this one as skills should trump the personality of the partner you are selecting but likability should have some sway.  Business life is stressful and demanding and you need to be in the trenches with someone with the skills to move you forward but give you a laugh as well.  I don’t work with partners unless I like them and would be happy to have them around to my place drinking chardie and playing Uno (I wish I was a hardcore card shark but alas, that is on my to do list for my next life).  I have passed on working with some types that leave me cold and a little unsure if they were true to their word (there’s that reliability thing again).  Save yourself some pain and don’t deal with douches.

4. You need to know you

So while the other tips have been about them, this one is about you.  What are you looking for in a project partner?  How do you want the relationship to function?  How much contact will you require?  What – exactly – do you need?  I, nor any other potential partner can assist in any meaningful way until you are clear about what you require.  A good potential partner will ask you questions like these to determine if and how they can assist but you have to get clarity on what you are asking for.

If you need some names of partners who might be able to assist with your next project, please get in touch here.  My black book is stacked up against the Uno cards.

To keep the partnership theme rocking, I would like to share “Your love alone is not enough”.  Because the best partnerships are based on reliability, skill, not being a muppet and having clarity about what you need. Remember if you like the song, buy it and see you next week!