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If I Have to Go to One More Happy Hour…

networking_news

Networking always seems like it revolves around a happy hour or cocktails in a conference room with some finger foods. These events can be effective in bringing people out to mingle, but really lose their luster after a while. Below are a few networking ideas that stray from the traditional “bring your business cards” happy hour networking events.

Building Relationships – Strengthening Bonds

Today, business networking is more than an exchange of business cards. Your time is more precious than ever, and spending it with people you barely know may feel like you’re taking away from other work and family time. If you want more meaningful interactions, then it’s time to change your point of view about networking and concentrate on building relationships. One of the best ways to break out of the happy hour habit is through alternative forms of networking.

Volunteering

Some of the strongest bonds you can form are with like-minded people. Volunteering for a non-profit organization will get you in touch with people who care about the same things you do. With your business experience, you may choose to sit on the board and use your strengths where they are needed. The added bonus is that there are a lot of other business people who are the board for non-profits. They donate their time to causes they care about, which will be something you have in common.

For Entrepreneurs

There are many community organizations for entrepreneurs. Usually, these are focused around specific areas and have criteria for getting admitted. Nothing too stringent, just rules in place that limit the types of businesses in the group. You can practice your elevator pitch and share some insight into owning your business.

Social Media

Build and reach out to your network through social media. This is a great venue to share information about your business or the industry. It’s also a good way to share any leads to people in your circle. Remember to keep your profiles up-to-date and regularly post interesting information to capture their attention.

Even when we volunteer, we need to open ourselves up to talk to strangers. Try not to be too shy and maybe you’ll have something in common. If so, focus on talking about those things, then branch out from there and talk about business. These are like-minded people, so just be yourself and enjoy your time together.

 

Keys to Trade Show Follow Through

trade show roi_news

Guest blog by Susan Canonico, CEO of ADM Two.
The show is over. Everything is in storage, ready for the next event, and you’re back at the office. Now, it’s time to get your return on investment. You’ll need a good trade show follow through plan. Start with organizing all of the contacts and personal information, or notes taken during the show. These may have already been entered into your CRM. If you don’t have a database, then use a spreadsheet. Either way, it’s time to get in touch with these folks.

Here are eight steps to follow through with all of your contacts and leads.

  • Bring everyone together: Each team member has information, too. It’s time to pool together their information. This is where you can assign order of importance for each lead. Timing is important, so don’t let those hot leads cool off.
  • Divvy up the work: A team meeting will get everyone on the same page and make the load manageable.
  • Practice your pitch: The sales pitch after a show should be easy to remember, quickly delivered and friendly. It also needs to be passed on and rehearsed.
  • Continue the conversation: Give them a call and try to reconnect, using the personal and professional notes from the show.
  • Connect on social media: Connections with show attendees grows your market reach and provides new-quality leads.
  • Marketing activities: One way to grab attention is to send e-newsletters with interesting content. This may include statistics on the trade show, who was in attendance, and anything that happened while there. You can sneak in a product announcement in there, as well.
  • Be respectful. There are ways to make negative impressions, such as being pushy and rude. Stay positive and maintain a respectful approach to garnering attention. Be respectful and be persistent, not aggressive.
  • Debriefing meeting: Sharing the success, shortcomings, and failures is a great way to improve for the next show. The only way to do this is to be honest and mission focused, leaving personal issues aside for the sake of the bigger picture.

One of the goals for every show is making it a positive experience for visitors to your booth, as well as your employees working there. Maybe it’s time to try something new, like technology and interactivity, to add to your experience. Some of the things on your list after your trade show follow through may take several months, such as additions to the booth or redesign. Plan your next show well in advance and you’ll be able to capitalize on the things you learned.

ADM Two staff are experts on display design and fabrication, so give us a call at (813) 887-1960 and one of our knowledgeable staff can assist you with your display, no matter where your event takes place. Also, check out some of our other articles to get more information on trade show booth layouttrade show graphics, and etiquette.

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Spotlight on: Leeward Bean, CEO of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts

leeward bean video

Pinstripe project manager Nikki Devereux met Leeward in the beginning of 2017. They instantly clicked, and chatted over coffee for more than two hours about a video project for Leeward’s franchise brand, Big Frog Custom T-Shirts and More. Leeward’s description of the Big Frog brand and family was so enticing that Nikki instantly wanted to be a part of it in any way possible! In the end, her role was to film the 2017 Frogathon, and she had a great experience doing so. Frogathan is a 4-day event where all the Big Frog franchisees come together in St. Petersburg, FL for education, mingling, food, drink, and fun.

“The Big Frog team made me feel like a part of their family, and every person I met was kind, happy, and energetic. Big Frog brings that out of you and that’s what was so compelling when I first met Leeward – he was all about the franchisees, taking care of them, making sure they were successful, making sure they were HAPPY. I wanted to be a part of that,” Nikki said after filming the event. Stay tuned for the video, coming soon in the portfolio!

Name: Leeward Bean

Title: Chief Executive Frog

Company: Big Frog Custom T-Shirts

City: Dunedin, FL

Web site: www.bigfrog.com and www.bigfrogfranchise.com

 

What inspired you to found Big Frog Custom T-Shirts?

A young couple who worked with me at another company wanted to start their own business.

What do you like most about the your industry and community?

Helping people start their own businesses and making people smile when they get their new favorite T-shirt.

What challenges does your industry face?

Managing and directing 90 independently owned and operated business.

How do you measure your success?

How well our franchisees do.

What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career?

When we sold our last company, eleven people became millionaires.

What do you think is the biggest mistake companies make when working in your industry?

Not focusing on the franchisees.

What is the most interesting trend you see in your industry?

The ability to produce one T-shirt at a time cost effectively.

How has technology helped your work?

The extremely high resolution and reliability of the direct-to-garment printers.

How do you stay on top of your field?

Always putting the customer first and under promising and over delivering.

What resources do you recommend? (Books, magazines, web, etc.)

My favorite book is ‘Start With Why’ by Simon Sinek.

If you could give one piece of advice to Tampa Bay companies, what would it be?

Get up every morning with a positive mental attitude and listen to what people have to say; especially your customers.

What was your first job?

Selling eggs door to door when I was six years old.

What are your hobbies?

Fishing!

Favorite food?

Cuban sandwiches

Last book you read?

Total Control by David Baldacci

Pinstripe and Southern Roots Realty Win Silver Davey Award

Tampa Bay web designPinstripe Marketing and Southern Roots Realty – proud recipients of a silver Davey Award for the Southern Roots website. What is a Davey Award? We asked the same question about a year ago, and the path leading to us receiving one is a prime example of good marketing (both on our part and the Davey Awards).

We receive a lot of mail. Much of it is promotional mail of various types, and the Davey Awards piece we received was no exception.

Except it was.

I opened the envelope, which has since been discarded, but must have been compelling in and of itself to prompt me to open it. Inside I found this Davey Awards poster. pinstripe davey awards website design I loved the design! I couldn’t throw it away. It wasn’t just a promotional piece – it was a work of art, and just so happened to look nice on my wall. There it stayed for several months until one day I really looked at it and noticed the deadline to enter was approaching. Come to think of it, I hadn’t really bothered to visit the website, I just liked the poster enough to hang it on the wall – indefinitely. So, that morning I decided to go to the website.

Upon entering the site, I realized that the Davey Awards suited Pinstripe Marketing perfectly.

“Small agencies. Big ideas.” That’s us.

Meanwhile, we had also just put the finishing touches on the Southern Roots website – and it was beautiful. I browsed the award entries until I found the right category for Southern Roots, took a look at some past winners and decided that we had a fighting chance. So we entered. A few months later, I received notification in the mail – we won the silver! It’s such a great feeling to receive outside recognition for something you’ve worked hard on. To be sure, the Southern Roots team loved their site and showered us with endless praise, but to have a panel of judges tell us that we deserve recognition as well, that was a good feeling. Also, it’s plain old good marketing. Sometimes you have to seek outside recognition for your work, and once you do, you are sharing that work with many people who may not have seen it otherwise (plus the bonus bragging rights if you win).

And on the part of the Davey Awards marketing team – kudos for coming up with an idea that hooked me, even though it took six months for me to realize it. If they had sent a regular postcard, I probably would have thrown it away, especially if I didn’t have a project to enter at the moment. But, because the poster had the longer shelf life of a work of art, something I really connected with, an entry materialized over the several months that the poster hung, and it all came together eventually. We try to keep this in mind with our marketing materials as well. Good design connects with people, people connect with it. Find that connection, and you’ve found a pot of gold.

residential real estate web site wolfnet integrationHere’s to a job well done by all involved, from the Pinstripe Marketing creative team, the Southern Roots team, and the Davey Awards team. Each of these people played a role in this award. We all decided to do a photo shoot with our trophy and then celebrate afterwards, (minus the Davey Awards team because they are in New York and we thought it was too short notice to fly them down for the shoot). Here’s to a job well done for all of us who worked on this site!

~ Nikki

If you are craving good design, let’s chat!

 

Photo: Judson Kidd, Sarah Calabrese, and Natalie DeVicente from Southern Roots

Evie Larson, Nikki Devereux and Lyndsey Shaw from Pinstripe Marketing

Not pictured: Chris Jenkins, ImTheirWebGuy, developer

Maybe You Should Write a Blog

St. Petersburg online reputation managementAre you publishing your own business-related blog?  Maybe you’ve looked at the endless array of verbiage already on the web and wondered why you should add more. We get that, but we’re going to try to talk you into it anyway.

Your blog is about your business, not the millions of others on the Internet. You don’t stop talking just because billions of other people are already flapping their gums, do you? You’ve got something to say, and a blog could be an effective way to be heard by a receptive audience.

A blog shouldn’t be that hard for you to write. Blogs can be short; 250 – 500 words is perfect. You shouldn’t have to do (much) research because you are the expert! Keep the focus narrow then write as though you’re explaining something to a client or new employee.  If you aren’t confident of your grammar, spelling or construction, let someone with those skills clean it up for you. (Your friends at Pinstripe can help!) The goal is to convey interesting information in a way that’s easily digestible. You don’t have to wow anyone with your literary style.

A blog enhances your relationship with customers. This is a simple way to turn your expertise into a resource that’s easily accessible by your clients. Your willingness to make this effort, along with your display of knowledge, builds trust. Writing about things to which customers can relate helps you connect on a personal/human level.

A blog helps improve how your website is ranked by search engines. Google and other search engines like to see that a website isn’t just sitting stagnant on the web. Regular updating indicates the website is dynamic and has worthwhile content. Adding a blog or two a week is a good way to accomplish this.

Blogs work well with other social media. Having a new blog gives you something to tweet about, or to mention on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Then the more the article gets retweeted, liked or shared, the more traffic is generated for your website … with stronger PR for your company.

A blog can re-enforce marketing campaigns. Your promotions will be directing customers to make a purchase, but a blog can come in handy for delivering a more subtle, thoughtful message that complements the advertising. Share an anecdote or interesting statistics that help highlight the value of your offerings in a way that makes prospective customers think and understand as they work toward a buying decision.

A blog can help explain “who you are.” Many companies have mission statements, but lofty words are often vague. A blog lets you continually sharpen and define that message so that everyone associated with your business—whether it’s clients, employees, suppliers or investors — grasps the issues you believe are important.

Do we have you convinced to give it a try? If so, you might like to check out “The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post: The Data on Headlines, Length, Images and More” as a helpful, how-to article.