All posts by Vive Marketing for Manufacturers

Trade Show Success by Design: A Three Part Series Part One: Tips for Planning a Successful Tradeshow

You want a successful trade show experience, but how do you make that happen? We’re going to answer that in a three parts: Pre-Show Planning, During the Show and Post-Show Follow-Up. Let’s begin with the planning.

It all begins before you even step foot on the exhibit floor. Echoing a statement by Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” You need to commit to your trade show goals and ways to achieve them with purpose. Crafting a trade show plan serves many purposes by:

  • Organizing the approach in one place.
  • Defining the overarching goal, objectives, key messaging, strategies, tactics, timelines and budgets.
  • Providing direction when deciding on tactics.
  • Assisting with onboarding team members new to the initiative.

Planning can take almost more time than putting it into action. Here’s a few starting points.

Start early with research.

Ask questions – a lot of questions. What “big things” will your company have to talk about at the time of the tradeshow? Did you have a big success to showcase your capabilities that could be demonstrated at the show? Launching a new product or service? Are you rebranding? Often a company will hold releasing “big things” to have something new and exciting to promote at the tradeshow. This is important not only in outlining your goals and objectives, but also in determining your messaging. Also ask: What does a successful tradeshow look? Is it all about the sales numbers, or is it building your brand, quality leads and fostering current relationships.

Define your budget.

You can have all the ideas in the world, but how much money you have to spend will really determine which ones are feasible. Start with the booth experience. Estimate your structure expenses (renting vs. owning), graphic design needs, promotional items, sales collateral, lead retrieval systems, electrical, internet, etc. Don’t overlook the costs to be there. How many team members do you need to account for travel, lodging and meals? How will you promote your tradeshow presence? Include costs for trade show promotions and communications in addition to any tradeshow advertising and sponsorships that could boost your brand presence.

Set deadlines and delegations.

Starting with the show date. Then work backward and begin plotting out key show deadlines, such as shipping and service orders. Know registration and hotel deadlines. Fill in with dates to communicate your show presence and what channels – this can begin up to six months before a show like NPE2018! Then back up further and assign dates to complete booth messaging and establish the look. You’ll want that to infiltrate through all the tradeshow communication before, during and after the show.

When the trade show plan is complete and all decision makers have signed off, then it’s time to implement! Who will do the work? Gather your marketers, public relations, graphic designers, subject matter experts and any other key players you need to execute your tradeshow plan. Is it just you? Need help – ask Vive how we can help with tradeshow support. We like to say tradeshows can be like Thanksgiving dinner — it takes 10 times as long to prepare than it does to devour!

Vive welcomes Rebecca Easton

As the newest Viver on staff, the team has welcomed me warmly as I’ve welcomed this new opportunity in my career. I’m happy to be back in Milwaukee, and even happier to be at Vive. The culture here is friendly and upbeat, and there is nothing that makes a job better than working on a talented team in a beautiful lakeside office.

My professional experience spans print and digital, with emphasis in design and photography. And while I’ve made creative arts my profession, I also possess the ability to toe the line between left- and right-brain thinking. My educational background reflects that, as I studied creative advertising at Marquette University and recently completed my MBA from UW-Madison.

When it comes to my career, I am most interested in ways that creative design can assist in business development and traction for organizations. That is why working at Vive is refreshing in that I am involved in all aspects of marketing for our clients. As Creative Marketing Manager, I specifically ensure that our creative is top-notch and all-encompassing for the industry.

I believe that great design has purpose and intent. One reoccurring theme in my career is that good creative is the difference. You can have a good marketing plan, but adding strategic, well-thought-out creative takes your good marketing plan to the next level. Vive has a very talented team, and it is my goal to collaborate in making great creative marketing strategies for our clients.

The 4 W’s and an H of an Elevator Pitch

One way to ensure your employees know how to communicate your company’s message is to develop an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is an effective way to share your company’s capabilities and unique differentiator.

What?

A simple and quick summary of what your company does and what sets you apart from your competition. With only a few sentences, your employees can paint a vibrant picture in the listener’s head of what your organization does and how you build successful relationships with your customers, community, etc. This statement gives your employees more to say than “we manufacture plastic parts.”

Who?

All employees. Everyone in your organization should understand and be able to communicate what your company does and its unique value proposition.

Why?

An elevator pitch creates a consistent message across the organization. Your employees are true ambassadors of your brand. When asked “what does your company do?” your defined elevator pitch should be consistent. Without a strong message, an interaction can be a missed opportunity.

Where?

An elevator pitch was designed to be recited in a short period of time, like an elevator ride. However, there are numerous other instances when an elevator pitch is beneficial, such as:

  • Sales calls
  • Industry events
  • Networking events
  • Family functions
  • Community events

How?

Start by creating awareness. Then provide the tools. It’s very important to ensure organizational buy-in. Start by asking your employees “what does your company do?” This can reveal if there is a disconnect and how to combat it. Once the disconnect is understood, it’s time to remove it by crafting a tailored elevator pitch that is easy for everyone in your organization to remember.

 Ensuring your organization is being conveyed with a consistent message is very important for a successful brand. Gather your team and make sure you’re all on the same page with a straightforward, simple elevator pitch.

In the Eyes of the Federal Brand Investigators

The Federal Brand Investigators (FBI) are a true force in the world of marketing, and their jurisdiction encompasses anything and everything that has to do with your brand. Below are a few scenarios when the FBI should be called upon.

Brand Colors

Your logo is the face of your brand. The colors need to be specific and cannot be changed – it keeps your brand consistent and recognizable. Just because an employee’s favorite color is red does not grant them permission to change the original blue logo to red. According to the FBI, that’s against the law. Simply put, a logo shouldn’t be tarnished. However, there are exceptions to this law. A color change for a logo is appropriate, for example, during special events or holidays such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Independence Day.

Social Media

One of your employees enjoys working for your company, so he decides to changes his profile picture to the company logo. It’s great your team member is taking pride in their work, but this is a major offense in the eyes of the FBI. The problem? Anything posted on their social media page is now a direct reflection of your brand. There is no supervision and this employee has the potential to create a very poor perception of your company.

Logo Quality

An employee takes a screen grab of the company’s logo on the website and tries to use this low-resolution logo in marketing materials. This is a chargeable offense per the Federal Brand Investigators. People put in tireless hours to make a perfect logo. Never let anyone tarnish your image by using a low-quality version of your logo. Your logo doesn’t need to be available for the entire company, but it should be accessible for marketing materials.

Elevator Pitch

A brand goes beyond a logo; a brand is communicated through messaging too. Keeping a consistent message of who the company is and what it does with an elevator pitch is an asset in ensuring a consistent brand. Let’s say an employee is out to dinner and happens to be sporting a t-shirt with your organization’s logo plastered on the front. Yes, it’s great brand exposure, but what if that employee doesn’t know how to accurately describe what the company does? Employees are always representing the company during and after hours. If they aren’t sure how to explain to a customer/neighbor/vendor exactly what your organization does that can be detrimental to your brand. An elevator pitch helps to build the personality and value behind a brand that customers learn to recognize and trust.

Don’t be afraid to dispatch the Federal Brand Investigators to make sure all employees are abiding by the rules. Implementing a Brand Standards Guide permits employees to know what variations of the logo, typeface, and colors are acceptable. The Brand Standards Guide plays the ultimate Federal Brand Investigators role, and should be enforced throughout the organization.

Social Media for B2B Companies: Is It Worth It?

One of the most commonly asked questions Vive receives is: “Why do B2B manufacturing companies need social media?” There is no doubt that leveraging social media in this environment encounters challenges, but it is all about strategy and ensuring your brand image and message positively reflects your organization. With the proper plan and execution, social media can unquestionably boost morale as well as increases external interactions and brand awareness.

Get Noticed. Stay Noticed.

smblogThere’s no denying that a vast majority of our population utilizes some form of social media, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube – so why wouldn’t your company want to optimize these channels to promote capabilities, services, and your internal culture? When curiosity arises from those unfamiliar with your organization, typically the second place people visit (following the website) is the company’s social media. If a company doesn’t have relevant, timely posts that people are interacting with, a company may be missing out on a huge opportunity to make a positive impression. It’s critical to build and maintain an online presence and most importantly, create multiple channels to connect with your potential customers, suppliers, or future talent.

Attract Talent. Retain Talent.

Another significant benefit of social media is it attracts prospective employees. If an interested candidate is uncertain he/she would be a good fit for an organization, that candidate can access your social media platforms to formulate an initial opinion and study the organization. One of the best ways to showcase a company’s personality and expertise is by sharing relevant articles, blogs, photos, videos, etc.

Building a strong culture with a team of dedicated internal ambassadors is influential to the success of an organization. Implementing a social media strategy can only enhance this initiative. Highlighting company outings, employee achievements/milestones, and organic moments can offer an insiders perspective of your company.

So, is social media worth it? If providing an effective channel to capture the attention of new customers, suppliers, and talent is important to you, then yes, it is.

Executing the Perfect ReBrand Launch

brandlaunchimage

Launching an updated, refreshed brand identity can be one of the most exciting times in the history of an organization – as long as it is executed correctly. This requires copious amounts of planning, research and time in order to be successful.

Understand Your Audience

First step: Invite your audience to be a part of your brand’s voice. At Vive, we encourage our clients who seek rebranding support to stay in their lane while thinking outside the box to create a new persona. We persuade reflection of the company’s roots and direction of growth. People like new, but make sure it’s relevant to your company’s competencies and industry standards.

Build Anticipation

Reviving your brand is an electrifying time, but it’s even more thrilling when your customers and suppliers are enthusiastic as well. Engage your audience by letting them know a big change is on the horizon. Keep people informed and offer them the sense of belonging to the anticipated transformation.

Timing Is Key

Relaunching a brand needs to be done at the right time. Do some research as to when the best time to do a launch is and make sure you’re prepared. This is a lengthy process, but if done correct can positively change your organization forever.

Be Consistent

Vive has been known to be a brand police because consistency is key. If you change something within your brand (your logo, colors, name), be certain to change it everywhere. It may be time consuming, but it’s critical in order to achieve a successful launch. Be sure not to let old logos or practices sneak back into your organization’s new identity.

When a company recognizes that it’s time to refresh their brand identity it’s most often because they realize the importance of staying fresh and contemporary. Vive has facilitated brand changes for many companies within the plastics industry. Rejuvenating a look even in the most basic elements such as colors, typeface or logo treatment sends a proactive message to the marketplace.

MAPP Inspires Once Again

vivemappAnother MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference is in the books! Vive plans and prepares for this annual plastics industry event with plenty of anticipation. It’s great to reconnect with those in our network and meet new plastics professionals across all areas of the business. There was high energy right from the start as the association’s executive director, Troy Nix, got all 550 attendees excited about this year’s theme, Perseverance.

The theme of perseverance was apparent throughout the entire conference. From a Stanley Cup champion to a prisoner in solitary confinement, everyone showed how they persevered to become the successful people they are today. The presentations were moving experiences and every one of the speakers focused on connecting their stories of perseverance to the plastics industry.

The conference concluded with Lieutenant Colonel Rob “Waldo” Waldman. His fear of heights and what he had to overcome in order to be a fighter pilot certainly moved the crowd. He had people standing up screaming “Push it up!” with their hands in the air. The biggest message taken from Waldo was don’t let fear outweigh your passion. As Waldo explained his fear of heights but his passion to fly, he persevered and overcame his fear to do what he loved.

Just like the conference began, Troy Nix brought the event to a close by encouraging everyone in attendance to make necessary changes in order to persevere and be successful. The Vive team came home inspired to make positive changes individually and as an organization. We’ve already marked our calendars and are making plans to return to Indianapolis for next year’s annual MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference, Oct. 12-13, 2017!

Score a Touchdown with Google Analytics

football-1503586_1280Google Analytics is a free tool for businesses to track how their website is performing. However, it can be difficult to understand and make sense of what all of the numbers and reports actually mean. To make it easier for everyone, and in the spirit of the season, let’s take a look at Google Analytics through the rose-colored lenses of America’s favorite pastime – football.

Coach

All football teams have a coach responsible for keeping track of the team and making sure they are performing at the highest level. Coaches don’t just come in off the street and lead their team to the Super Bowl, they need training and experience to become elite. Being a “coach” for Google Analytics is very similar. Somebody needs to watch and keep track of how your organization’s website is performing and make the necessary adjustments to give yourself an elite online presence.

The Playbook

To be a successful football player it is key that you know the playbook. The same goes for Google Analytics. You need to learn the best reports and metrics to keep track of. Knowing what to pay attention to in Google Analytics will help you have a winning website. A few key areas to keep in mind when reviewing Google Analytics are: acquisition overview, social overview, bounce rate vs. exit rate, highest ranking landing pages, and exit pages.

Training Camp

Football players aren’t born; they’re created through countless hours of diligent hard work. They have years of experience, and even once they get to the professional level they still go through training camp to sharpen their skills and learn new systems and techniques. Google does the same thing. There is a training course for Google Analytics called Analytics Academy. Vive’s marketing coordinator, Austin Haga, is a graduate of this course and attests, “studying is key.” The course is comprised of five parts that dive deep into everything you need to know to pass the Individual Certification. The courses in the Analytics Academy includes: Digital Analytics Fundamentals, Google Analytics Platform Principles, Ecommerce Analytics, Mobile App Analytics Fundamentals, and Google Tag Manager Fundamentals.

Just like football, or any sport for that matter, becoming fundamentally sound in Google Analytics takes practice. There are so many different metrics that it is important you know which ones to track in order to better your website. Score a touchdown with your website by working with someone that is Google Analytics certified and letting them keep track of stats and make the necessary adjustments needed for a winning website.

The QR Code Train Has Left the Station

qr-code-image

It seems like the trend of the QR code died just as quickly as it started. QR code stands for Quick Response Code, however there isn’t much that is quick about it. Let’s go back to where it all started, Japan. The QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that was first designed for the automotive industry in 1994. But around six years ago they made a huge comeback and you could find them anywhere – t-shirts, books, posters – it’s a never ending list. In hindsight, you scan the barcode with an app on your smartphone and it leads you to information. In theory, this sounds like a great idea, but the aesthetics and usability seem to disagree.

Technological advancement has been a real downfall for the QR code. In order to use a QR code you would need some type of application that has the ability to read the code. Since cell phones don’t come with this application it adds extra steps for the user – go to the App Store, download the app, and then use it. In most cases it’s quicker just to type in the URL directly. Also, some QR codes send users to non-mobile optimized sites which is very counterproductive. Since QR codes made their big leap around 2010, many links have expired. An expired link just leaves you with a big ugly code on your packaging that doesn’t even work.

Many people aren’t aware of what a QR code is and what it does. Although it doesn’t seem like a daunting task to take a picture of a code and let the app take you to the website, if someone were to attempt and fail, that could be the end of their use of QR codes. According to an article by Smashbrand.com, only 15% of smartphone users know how to use a QR scanner. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are using the scanner, just that they know how to use it. The odds are not in good favor.

With QR codes you never really know where you’re going until you get there; that poses a big security problem. As the mobile market begins to pass the computer market there is much more access for hackers. It’s a scary reality because you never know where codes take you, and by scanning a malicious code, you could be putting your personal information at risk without even knowing. Typing in a URL or clicking a direct link, you can see where it’s taking you, and if something doesn’t look right, simply don’t click on it. With QR codes, however, you could be going someplace you never wanted to.

QR codes are a thing of the past and they need to stay there. Unless mobile devices are released with an integrated scanner, a new look, and better security features, the QR code train has left the station and is a one way ticket that is not coming back.

The Journey to the Real World

Emma_UpdatedHeadshotWe understand the importance of shaping our youth and preparing them for a future in the workforce. Earlier this summer Vive was excited to announce the arrival of our new Marketing Intern, Emma Nowak. Emma will be a sophomore at University of Wisconsin – La Crosse this fall with a business major.

Being an incoming sophomore in college, I never expected to have an opportunity as great as the one I was offered to join to Vive team for the summer. As nervous as I was to start my internship, I was very determined to try my best and learn all that I could out of this experience.

This internship is a way for me to set the basis of my future career goals and offers an opportunity to get a better grasp on what a marketing job would entail, as I continue my college career with a degree in marketing. I hope to be able to build my personal portfolio and develop a more professional presence. Sitting in on multiple client calls and emailing back and forth with the Vive team, I have begun to understand the type of communication that is expected. The amazing office with an even more amazing view, along with the great team at Vive has made me even more excited to begin this new chapter in my life.

My goal in college is one that I’ve embraced as long as I’ve been in school: to try my best and be proud of my work. I strongly believe that if someone feels confident they have done their best – whether it be for a paper, speech, or even a tryout – you have been successful, no matter the results. Another major goal for me while in college is to narrow down my career options. As of now I have a declared major but there has been very little thought into what I would want to do in marketing. My ideal job as of right now would be to work for a marketing firm in a large city like New York City or Chicago. Although my goals for college are very broad in a sense, they are goals I had set for myself a long time and they’ve always helped me achieve new things.