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What the Hell Do You Do?

Joe Greeley here, with Nimlok Minnesota

Here’s what’s on my mind – What the hell do you do?

So several months ago, I’m headed to Duluth.  As I’m heading out of the Twin Cities here, I get up to White Bear Lake – Vadnais Heights – just north of there, on the left side I see this giant white building with a big green swooping roof. I think to myself, how come I’ve never seen this building?  It’s not new, it doesn’t look new, and it’s huge! And it’s striking! It’s pretty cool, actually.

On the side of the building it has the word Schwing.  So the next ten minutes I’m laughing, I’m thinking of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey doing their schwing bit in Wayne’s World.  But that only lasted for about 10 miles or so; I have a short attention span some days.  But I spent the next 2 hours thinking, “What on God’s green earth could Schwing possibly do? And who got to name that company?”

So all sorts of things swirled through my head for 2 hours, literally, until I get to Duluth.  I pull into my appointment. I’m early thank goodness, because it’s still on my mind. I grab my phone, punch into the Googler – ‘Schwing’.  What do you think it pumps out?  Mike Myers and Dana Carvey doing their Wayne’s World bit. So I watched it.  But after I watched it, I backed up and put in ‘Schwing Minnesota’.  You know what they do?  They make concrete pumps.  They’re one of the biggest concrete pump manufacturers in the world.  Who knew?  And how come they didn’t put it on their building?  Why didn’t they say something about it?  Why didn’t they at least tell a little bit better story?  I get it, the target market for concrete pumps is probably pretty small, but it seems to me, you have this big space, why wouldn’t you do it?

So now you’re wondering, well how does this apply to a trade show?  Well, think of the last time that you walked a trade show hall.  Whether you were an exhibitor or an attendee.  When you walked around and you saw exhibits, but you weren’t sure exactly what they did because there was no story.  What you did see is a big sign, with a big logo, and a big name, which is great, and I’m not suggesting that you don’t do those things. But what do they do?

As exhibitors we need to tell a story.  We need to do a better job telling a story. Too often we see just the opposite, where it is just the big sign.  We’re proud of the logo we had designed, and we’re proud of our new flex capacitor or whatever our new machine is, but we have to tell a better story.  So maybe some of these ideas will help.  Unless you’re a 3M, Coca Cola or Delta Airlines, we’ve got to tell a better story.

Let’s look at the big hanging sign for a second.  Again, let’s keep it.  And yes, use it for your name – use it for your logo.  Let’s keep in mind though, what this is for.  This is for people from a long ways away to see you, right?  So we’re not going to put a lot up there, so let’s keep doing that.  But as they get closer, what’s the hierarchy in messaging, what are we going to tell them next?

How about a good positioning statement.  How about we start telling them what we do, what we solve, and how we help people, or how we help companies.  And that the visuals that we do support that.  You only have 2, 3, or 4 seconds typically to get somebody to stop.  And if they have to guess at all about what you do or what you solve, chances are they are going to keep moving along, quickly.  And then they’re going to completely forget about who you are.

We spend a tremendous amount of time, money and effort getting to these events, so we need to tell a really good story.  I want you to think about that for the future.  Is your exhibit telling a really good story?

Seth Godin, a famous marketer has a wonderful, wonderful quote that I think fits here perfectly:  “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”  I couldn’t agree more.  We have to tell better stories.  We have to tell clearer stories – we have to tell quick stories, especially in the exhibit world.

That’s all I have for today, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody!

Let us know how we can help.

That’s what was on my mind.

Thanks!