Archive for December, 2009

Imation – A Dynamic Company

Recently I had the opportunity to present three programs at the world headquarters of Imation.  This is a dynamic and innovative company that is poised for continued success.  I was very impressed with the wonderful people and their kindness to me.  I was also impressed with their “Wall of Patents.” Imation holds over 340 patents on data storage items and on this wall is a plaque for each patent and a salute to the people who helped develop the innovations.

Imation’s products cover the 4 major types of data storage – magnetic, recordable optical, flash and removable hard disk media. They have also acquired several major brands such as Memorex. Memorex was my favorite brand of recording tape back in my radio days in the late 70’s.

In 2008, Imation acquired XtremeMac, the leading supplier of iPod and iPhone accessories, adding popular mobile products to its portfolio.

The Imation team is encouraged to build strong relationships with customers.  This is beneficial as they are able to use customer insights to help them innovate and improve. Their goal is to be a leader in this field and their sharp team is the key to their current and future success. They promote creativity in their staff and that is a vital key to innovation in products and marketing.

On the  NYSE they are: IMN. Learn more at Imation.com.

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Magical Keys to a Successful Trade Show by Norm Barnhart

A trade show is a wonderful place of opportunity for you.  From the moment the doors open, opportunity is knocking for your business.  The guests are there to get ideas and learn about new products or services.  Most people who come to a trade show are in need of a service like yours, they just might not know it yet.  This is the best place to meet new and motivated customers. This is your opportunity to share how your product or service can best help them. This face to face meeting can have better results than web or print advertisement because they get to know you and get a real feel for what doing business with you would be like.

The following are a few keys that will help make your product or service shine. These keys can lead to great results for you and your business.

Key #1: Make a great first impression. It is said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. A positive first impression should be your initial goal. From the way you design your booth to the friendly courteous attitude of your staff.  The magic of quality and service should shimmer from you and your team. You should be seen as friendly, supportive,  a good listener and one who strives for excellence. This is as important as your skill and product knowledge.

Consider what Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, and known as The Tradeshow Coach, from Lake Placid, NY says, “Beginning well means you’re half done. Once you’ve established a rapport with the client, once that positive foundation has been laid, the hard work of negotiating a deal and closing a sale becomes so much easier.”

Key #2 Give them your Undivided Attention.  You only have a few moments to convey that you and your business would be advantageous to the client.  This can be demonstrated in the way you greet and talk with the potential client. The trade show environment is one of excitement, noise and distractions. When you give full and direct attention to each individual who comes into your area, you can help keep them from being distracted.

Key #3 Ask questions. Get them talking about themselves and their ideas.  This shows your sincere interest in them and this is the basic foundation of the relationship.

Price and other objections melt away when someone feels a connection with you.  They feel they can trust you and your team to deliver the high quality and service that you offer.  This cannot be an act. You should be in business because you like people and you love to help them achieve their goals and dreams. Let that shine through. Show your concern and desire to make their business the best it can be.

The desire to give quality service needs to be more than a sales trick, it must continue right through to the last detail of your dealings with them. When you have delivered your product or service and they are highly satisfied, then you will succeed. Let your excellence and expertise shine from the first impression and you are off to a great start.  Continue on to a great finish and this will lead to more opportunities as your client raves to others about your excellence.  It’s not about the sale, it is about the satisfaction.

Key #4 Make it Fun: A trade show is like a carnival or a county fair. It is a fun and exciting place to be. There is music, food, friends, and fun all under one roof. Let the fun radiate in your attitude, business is serious business, yet it is for to be of service to clients and help them achieve their goals.  Be yourself. Be fun, playful, interested, considerate and full of great ideas on how your product or service can make them a success. Are they clients? Yes. Are they friends who you enjoy helping? YES, YES!

People can tell if you don’t really want to be at the trade show booth. Non-verbal communication plays a huge role in creating good impressions. Attendees are aware of what is going on. They are observing your body language. It if conveys that you don’t want to be at the show, or are too busy, tired and not very interested in engaging with attendees, or it looks like you are just going through the motions, they’ll pick up on that and go elsewhere.

Key #5 Demonstrate Product Knowledge: Show that you know what you are talking about, don’t just rattle off statistics. You have asked a few questions and then show how your product or service would be a good match for what they are planning. Have a firm confidence in your skill and ability to deliver. Yet the main ingredient that is more important than knowledge is – building a relationship.

Key #6 Demonstrate Adaptability: Being easy going and flexible is a skill that is hard to demonstrate. You may have a few pictures or examples of how you were able to adapt and help a client.  When planning your trade show booth consider having a folder of photos or letters of reference handy to demonstrate this if needed.

Key #7 Take Good Care of Yourself.  It is tiring to be on your feet all day doing a trade show. Don’t let it stress you out. It’s fun to meet people and talk about what you can do for them. Don’t worry about it, get a good night sleep the night before and make it fun. Take breaks.  Drink lots of water, have some healthy snacks like grapes handy for your breaks.

Key #8 Collect Contact Information and Follow Up. You want to stay in touch with the client via an occasional card or e-mail. You can gather information by having a door prize when they fill out a form or give you their card. Do not just hand them a brochure or card and hope they will get back. Also be sure to take advantage of the swiping of badges and use that information to stay in touch with potential clients.

Send a friendly reminder about your service or product a week after the trade show. Write a note that says something like, “It was nice to meet you at the XYZ Show. I hope your plans are coming along good. Please call if I can be of service.” If you have collected even more information, you can personalize it even more. Do another follow-up with a flyer and note 2 weeks later.  Your interest in them and concern for their success will continue to impress them and show your good will.

Key #9 Be A Trusted Friend and Advisor. This is your goal. Consulting and advising is much more fun than “selling” something. You can show the Trade Show attendees how your skills, relationship style and personality will come alongside and blend with theirs.  Many people make decisions based on a gut feeling. Just be yourself. Be someone they would enjoy doing business with. This is all they need from you and it is the reason you do what you do. You are the expert. People enjoy being treated with special interest.

You are someone they can consult with to make their special day memorable and pleasant. You are there to help take away the worries and stress. They can see that they can trust your judgment and skills to make their wedding the special day it needs to be. What you are selling is you.  Remember, it is hard to sell, but easy to consult.

–   Norm Barnhart is a speaker and consultant at InspireBiz.com. He is a motivational keynote speaker and trainer who helps businesses excel in service and teamwork. He is from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He also takes messages about company products or services and tailors an attention grabbing trade show routine that draws people in to the booth and conveys the message in a fun and memorable way. His eye catching illusions can make trade show presentations magical.

Speaking and Teaching in California

I’m excited to be on my way to California to speak in Hollywood for a group of professional magicians.  These people are the top of their field from all over the US as well as around the world.  I get to share a bungalow with 2 guys. One is  from Puerto Rico and has his own weekly TV show and the other is from Columbia and has been a full time entertainer for many years.  These guys will be fun to hang around and I look forward to learning some new things from them and the other special guest speakers.

The leader of this organization is David Kaye, from N.Y.C.  He is one of the top New York magicians and has performed for the families of Bruce Springsteen, David Letterman and many other celebrities.  He was also featured on CelebriMagic a show produced by VH1 last year.

I will speak and teach on adding comedy to the act as well as demonstrate the methods for a number of my original magic tricks.  It is fun to be a Comedy Magician in Minneapolis, but it is very nice to get away during the Cold of January.

2009 – A Busy Year of Entertaining other Entertainers.

I have so much to be thankful for. This year has taken me to some wonderful cities to meet many great people and teach at conferences for Magicians, Speakers and Entertainers. It is fun to share my original comedy methods and magic inventions.

It was great to travel to warm Florida and work with Harry Anderson, Charlotte Pendragon and Harry Allan at Daytona Beach, Florida State Magicians Annual Convention. Before the stop in Florida I had an opportunity to lecture and teach in Norfolk, VA.  This workshop was a presentation of my inventions and ideas on comedy magic. I shared many of my creations and the crowd was very receptive. Everyone is looking for something new to make their act stand out so I was thrilled that they really liked the indeas I brought.  I also like to teach the methods that make the comedy stronger.

I meet so many unique and amazing people in this business. One gentleman, Sergeant David Rosado, works in the Sheriff’s office in Chesapeake, VA and uses his magic to encourage kids to say no to drugs.  He said that he picked up many good ideas at the workshop.  I may be seeing him again next fall as he is the president of his local Society of American Magicians in North Carolina and he said that he plans to get his group to invite me to speak there.

In August of 2009 I was the banquet entertainer and taught Comedy Writing Techniques at a convention of entertainers in Indianapolis.  Back in May of this year I was invited to teach 4 workshops on subjects ranging from Comedy Writing to Business Building and Marketing Techniques for Entertainers in Calgary, Canada. I was honored to be their headliner act that year and I was thrilled by their reception to my show at their banquet.

In February I was the headliner Act and taught three workshops for entertainers at a convention in Williamsburg VA.  There were many fun and funny entertainers here and it was a joy to M.C. their show and be their featured act. It is fun to meet other entertainers and to share some of the things I have discovered in my years in this unusual business. I learn so much from the people I get to meet that I am doubly blessed.

It is an special honor when your peers invite you to come and entertain them.  I am a bit nervous as some of these folks have been in the business a lot longer than I and they have seen it all.  But I realize that, like anyone, they love to laugh and have a good time. I relax, do my best, in my own style and watch them enjoy the show. It is fun to see their reaction. Many come by and comment on how much they laughed and that their sides hurt, etc. Everyone needs a good laugh once in a while.  I find great joy in bringing laughs and humor to people. It’s a wonderful life.

Keys to Corporate Success

Working as an author with Capstone Press taught me a lot about what is right in business and the corporate setting. My awesome editor Aaron made me look great. As did the photo artist and graphic designers.  A top notch team at Capstone Press! They all strove for excellence and in the end the four hard cover books really look great.

I had the opportunity to observe their process from start to finish and was amazed at their efficiency and skill. Teamwork like this is an example of excellence to all businesses.

I observed several keys to corporate success.

The First Key is:  Clear Communication. The editor and I had many helpful dialogs that made my writing go easier as it was clear what they were hoping for in a finished product.  This made everything smooth all work out for the good in the end.  They work with hundreds of authors and were very patient and kind to me. This encouraged my creative output.

Around 55 tricks were selected from the ones I developed for the books. Each one had to be written in a clear and readable style. Inventing some tricks was fun. Others were adaptations of old tricks doen with new props or storyline. Writing out the method for the magic tricks can be a challenge; we plotted out the photos and made sure it would be understandable so the readers could actually make the tricks work on their own.  Aaron, the Editor simply encouraged me to do my best. Thanks to him, I came out looking great.  I also saw clear communication between the departments and this kept the project moving along at a brisk pace. Communication should be clear and concise so no one’s time is wasted. Aaron was a gem. His kind suggestions and clear guidelines made the text and flow of each book come out in a superior way.

Each person that was involved in my books were also working on various stages of several other books at the same time and they went from one project to the next with excitement for their work and with cool confidence. Clear communication was a major key to this team’s success. They knew how to do their job and they did it well, and worked well with each other. This brings us to key #2.

Key #2 – Hire people who are experts and let them be free. At Capstone press I saw extremely creative people working with excellence and style. The results of their work was artistic, and in many cases very stunning. I paged through many of their other books and the body of work was absolutely excellent.

The photo artist who took the pictures for the book was equally skilled and had a keen eye for the composition of the photos. She set me at ease and it was a relaxing and fun photo shoot. Setting the subject at ease goes a long way to the overall quality at the end of it all. There were hundreds of photos taken in one day and you can see in the books the playful way it all came together to teach the subject in a fun and clear way.

The key is to hire experts and let them do their thing… excellence will result.  A great team needs one more thing in their people. This characteristic is: to be just plain nice people.

Key #3  The key is to simply be kind and nice. This is simple yet can be difficult. These seem like obvious skills that we learn in kindergarten and from our parents, but without these attributes no business will last long. To keep a positive working environment is vital. If there is bickering or putdowns in the office, creative people shut down and the negative effects can come across to the clients or customers.  A positive attitude and cheerful disposition can be cultivated in ourselves and spread to others. These are valuable traits that bring joy to the days work and contribute greatly to success.

Key #4 Set reasonable goals and achieve them. This team knew what they were capable of and they set goals that were challenging yet, doable. They worked out the approximate time needed to achieve each goal.  In my case, there were four deadlines one for each book.  The deadlines were tight but within reason. When I got approval in each magic trick I would go forward and write the final draft.  Of course there were many changes and adaptations and it was fun to see the books evolve throughout the creative process.

Brad Childress has a great year with the Minnesota Vikings

Magician Norm Barnahrt with Vikings Coach Brad Childress

The Minnesota Vikings have had a stellar year under the direction of head coach Brad Childress.   He is an excellent coach who allows his players freedom to adapt to the situations that face them. Brent Farve was that final key component that made this team what it is today. Each player brings certain skills to the game, but together the teamwork has made this year’s Vikings one of the best ever. We all wish them continued success as the season moves forward.

I have had the opportunity to  entertain with my magic and comedy two years in a row at Coach Childress’ home and have enjoyed meeting his excellent coaches and staff.  He has a very sweet family too.

Joyce Payne – A Creative Whirlwind

A photo Joy sent after I won an award

Joyce Payne’s Nickname is “Joy” and this is a perfect fit. Her joy for living is infectious. She has entertained and delighted audiences for years. She inspires me to do my best.

Joyce strives for excellence and is very creative in the process. Her attention to detail is excellent. One example is the way she color coordinates her act, from props and backdrops to shoes and jewels. She explodes on stage in a whirlwind of excitement that grabs the audience and gets them laughing with her comic presentation.  As a lecturer and public speaker, she is equally dynamic as she delivers her creative ideas and insights.

Aside from serving children at her church and in her community, she has served in many capacities in the W.C.A. Most recently as competition director. Her attention to detail is an skill that fits nicely with her creative approach to work. Life is full of challenges and having an open and creative mind is a great asset.  Joy does not seem to let problems affect her mood and attitude. She has a keen eye that is always looking for creative  solutions.

Creativity starts with attitude. A ‘can do’ spirit and a positive outlook will lift a person and keep the mind clear so solutions can pop to the surface.

I admire Joyce greatly and most of all I cherish her years of kindness and friendship. I like people like Joyce because, being around her encourages me to strive to be like her.

Today’s Key: Find great people to hang around, some of that greatness could rub off on you!

 


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