June 06, 2013

The MeetingPool. Is It Finally Safe to Go Swimming in the Deep End?

So I'm reading this morning's Twitter backlog and I see that Seth Godin is noting the milestone of his reaching 5000 blog posts.

There's a pretty good chance I've been blogging longer than Seth. It's probably close enough to be called a tie.  But I don't have a dozen books nor receive 2000 likes on a given post. Hell, this blog doesn't even have a dedicated Twitter account (even though my coffeehouse was the first cafe in the world to adopt Twitter back in March 2007).

Now, I'm not going to suggest I could've been a wildly successful author/speaker/blogger of Seth's calibre. That would be silly. But I could've continued being the most widely-read Seth Godin-esque blogger in the events industry (which I was for awhile).

The thing is, Seth stuck it out. I went in a completely different direction - coffee. I got frustrated that nobody in the events industry was listening. That I was out there on a limb from 2002-2005 spending my personal money to speak at industry events and proselytize social media (at that time, just blogging). I wanted so badly for our industry to start telling stories and building relationships instead of the standard tradeshow/conference business practice of "wham bam thank you ma'am" to sponsors and attendees.

Eventually I realized I was getting nowhere. Actually, it was my wife realizing that I was spending a lot of money and not getting results from it. She's a Katz MBA :-)

So we went into coffee, although I've kept a partnership with Brian and we've done a number of small events together. And I do consulting gigs now and then.

I stopped caring about the industry in general, although I do peek in from time to time to see what going on.

It's more than a decade later and I'm still not that impressed with what's being done vis a vis social in the context of "big" conventions/tradeshows/conferences.

However, next week there's going to be an event that's probably below most people's radar, but which I think can be the bellwether for our industry finally getting it.

The MeetingPool. Making it's debut at AIBTM at the TechBar.

Yes, BizBash has been out there for awhile now and certainly seem to be on top of reporting on what's working in non-traditional event planning and marketing. But they report, they don't innovate. They're not leading the way.

The folks at The MeetingPool could be finally be the ones that connect the dots for our industry. I say this knowing only one of the principals, Dahlia El Gazaar, who I hired at Passkey (and who ultimately replaced me). Dahlia just doesn't tell you something then walk away. She follows up. And follows up again. And makes sure you understand and are on board. And always with a smile.

She's not like me. She doesn't get frustrated and look for greener pastures. Ever. So if Dahlia is involved, I'm paying attention.

Murray clark barI don't know exactly what I'm doing next week yet. I thought I was going to be at MultiScreen Summit in New York and I might still do that as there are some folks who Brian and I might build an event around. And I've got a couple of coffee meetings in Pittsburgh.

But I feel Chicago calling.

The weather is supposed to be warm. A good time for a swim, perhaps?

10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2013

Another Alternative to TSMR

Hey, before you start cleaning out your Google Reader feeds and finding a new feed reader, thought y'all might be interested in checking this blog out:

Tradeshow Media Institute

This is a 'curated' blog offering news on tradeshow technologies, mostly from an attendance application viewpoint. Which makes sense as the curators' legacy is in show dailies.

Anyway, I've been talking to them about doing someting together as I have considerable (unplanned) time on my hands. So it's possible you might be seeing me over there in the future. Or not. Either way, it's a blog you should follow.

12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 09, 2011

A Suitable Replacement

The other day I actually applied for a contract job managing social media and marketing for an exhibit supplier. It's been a rough couple of years for the coffeehouse and we could really use an influx of outside cash to pay the mortgage and whatnot.

I'm still waiting for a response. Which probably means I'm not being considered.

In Googling the company and looking at them vs. their competitors, I came across a bunch of exhibit producers who were involved in social media.  A bunch of it was junk, but there was one that looked pretty good.

"The Tradeshowguy Blog" had a lot of good info on tools and trends. Practicable advice that could be grasped and put to use by pretty much any layperson (non-techie). 

So if you still miss TSMR and you haven't checked out Tradeshow Guy, add him to your feed.  No, it's not as edgy or opinionated as this blog used to be, but that's probably a good thing for his being sustainable. It was always difficult for me to attract interest from potential advertisers because of the occasional Howard Beale leanings over here.

Meantime, if you know of a company who could use someone with my background in traditional and social media, do a brother a favor and put in a good word. Cheers!

11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2009

TSMI.org is history

11 years ago I had an idea to develop an internet portal (portals were hot back then - remember VerticalNet?) for the trade show industry.  The site was called TSMI for Trade Show Marketing Institute and registered as an .org domain.  It was ahead of its time, built on an alpha version of an ASP-based CMS using exerpts of content from more than 60 different sites (this was before licensing online content was common). 

The reason for using an alpha product was, of course, cost.  Unfortunately relying on unproven software from a tiny company meant a lot of bugs, constant updates and, in the end, no product at all.  The developers went in a different direction and my beautiful ahead-of-its-time site was dead in the water by late 2002 - about the same time I started blogging about trade shows.

In the ensuing years I've given a lot of thought on how to use the domain for something else related to trade shows.  But I never came up with anything.

In a week I'll be letting it go.  No sorrows.  In fact, I wouldn't have even thought about tsmi.org had Network Solutions not sent me a dozen reminders to renew.

10:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

July 20, 2009

The small print...

You can tell I don't spend much time on this blog because it wasn't until this morning that I noticed when I open TSMR on Firefox, it only takes up about 1/2 of the screen and the font size looks like a GM leasing agreement.  Not a problem on Safari. 

Have to think this is something to do with the new Typepad system updates since we didn't change any design parameters on our end.  Will look into it.  Meantime, use your browser's zoom function and accept our apologies.

08:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

July 19, 2009

Had to check the calendar to make sure it was still 2009

Why are we still talking about social media as if it were something new and mysterious?

Social media applications are neither Godsends nor the coming apocalypse for face-to-face meetings.  They are simply tools. Figure them out, use the ones that make sense for your operational culture. And if transparency and high value attendee communications aren't part of your culture, just skip it.  Really, you'll only hurt yourself.

The rest of you will figure it out just like you did fax machines, email and salesforce.com.

Just in case they decide to pull it, here was the TSMR response:

July 19, 2009
In response to: Challenge for Traditional Events and Exhibitions in Embracing an Online Connected World
Rich Westerfield commented:

Re: "Most show producers had trouble understanding how a Twitter account could generate closed deals."

Jesus H. Christ. If that's what they're looking for, they'll never get it, just like they it took a dozen years to begin to understand database-driven websites.

1. Give the attendee an experience of value (and social media helps that).
2. They return next year (and tell their friends) and/or purchase/subscribe to exhibitor/speaker content.
3. Attendance grows organically with QUALIFIED people exhibitors want to meet.
4. Profit.

But no, the bastards want their money today. This industry can't die soon enough.

It's not as if there aren't hundreds of models on how to use this stuff.  But setting up a Twitter account on Monday and watching checks roll in on Thursday isn't one of them.

06:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

June 08, 2009

Friend or Blogger or Both?

Was just looking at this Mintel report on Word of Mouth (WoM).  Mintel's interpretation is that traditional WoM (using actual lips and voice) beats online WoM by a large margin.

But when I read it, I immediately wondered: For people under 30 (and some older folks), to what extent is there an actual difference between the two as it relates to the question being asked?  Does "friend" mean the same as it did to Boomers and many GenXers?  Or is everyone in one's network these days (including Tom) considered a "friend"?

And even if the definition is the same (which I doubt, the way many folks collect online friends), if you heard a product recommendation (or even a mention) online from somebody you trusted as much as a friend, would you consider that person "friend" or "blogger"?

06:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

April 20, 2009

Does Your Event Own Its Twitter ID?

I was exchanging tweets with an old colleague about using Twitter for her upcoming show.  I noticed that her show's name (and logical variants, like <showname year>) have not been claimed.

A Twitter ID may be meaningless to you today if you're not planning on using it right away.  And maybe it doesn't have and will never have the value of a URL.  But it has value.  And just like there were squatters holding URLs hostage, it's bound to happen with Twitter.

Grab your show name and open an account now.  Before I do.

05:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 19, 2009


Let me get this out of the way first:  I lopped it off.  Turns out I really didn't even have to rationalize the haircut.  It's just one less complication in life.  Can't tell you how many times I've searched the house high and low for a small rubber band. No regrets and the staff thinks I look cuter.

So I went on an interview Friday.  Good company.  Owner is a very nice guy and knowledgeable about his product.  And I admire his conviction to sticking to specializing in one small corner of the exhibition world. I could sell it.

But at the end of the day, it's comes down to this being one of those product categories that doesn't really have much of a barrier to competition and isn't changing the playing field.  It's just your ability to sell vs. your competition's ability to sell basically the same thing.  That turns on some people.  And it's certainly why excellent salespeople are compensated excellently.

It may very well come down to working just for the money at some point.  But over the past decade, I've been fortunate enough to find myself in situations where it wasn't just the money.  It was making a difference and an impact, from both product and marketing perspectives.  No blowing smoke up anyone's butt.  That's not necessary when you're too busy changing the entire game for your market.  Did it at Passkey.  Did it with Aldo Coffee.  In some respects we even did it at Coverings.  And before that, the Internet World shows.

In each case, anyone else in that market had to react to what we were doing.  In each case we had many more customers who wouldn't think of going elsewhere because the falloff in value and benefits received was simply too great.  The product delivered.  Customers were allies, not adversaries to conquer.

It comes down to this.

Where's that gig?

08:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

April 16, 2009

Ponytail. Or not.

Conflicted at the moment.  The four years I've spent in coffee has helped produce a different guy.  One of  those old-hippie-ish balding dudes with a grey-brown six-inch ponytail.  Quite a difference from the shaved head look I was sporting at even my most recent speaking gigs.

So, without the promise of a job, but with interviews lined up, should I just lop it all off or take my chances?

07:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)