Amp Up Your Trade Show Success!

Those veteran marketers among us will recall when we were told that trade shows soon would be things of the past. Everything would be digital and everyone would be comfortable “kicking the tires” online. Didn’t happen.

People still want to be together and have hands-on experiences with products and services. And exhibitors still need to grab – and hold – their attention to make the sale.

At Next-Mark, we do a LOT of trade shows for our clients, and we’ve learned a lot in the process. What does it take to make an effective trade show experience? Here’s a quick look at 10 elements that should stay top-of-mind for trade show beginners and veterans:

10 Key Elements for Effective Trade Shows

Bonnie travels to Alaska
Bonnie travels to Alaska
Bonnie shows her adventurous side in Morocco
Bonnie shows her adventurous side in Morocco

Our leadership team of professionals includes an eclectic blend of youthful and seasoned talent, united by their commitment to our clients’ marketing, communications and business strategy needs. This blog is part of a series of posts designed to showcase what makes each member of the team tick.

One of the most dynamic (and entertaining) members of Next-Mark’s leadership team is Bonnie Merrill Limbach. Bonnie was born to be an extraordinary journalist and persuasive writer. But, what makes her tick?

Convinced there was more than just creative copy and strategic messaging channeling through her fingertips and electrifying her computer screen, we decided to venture into the mind of Bonnie Merrill Limbach.

What influenced you to choose this career path?

Writing always came easy to me, so I probably took the path of least resistance. At one point, that started to worry me, so I paid for a battery of occupational tests. $200 later, I was informed that the only thing on earth I was qualified to be is a city planner. Some questions should remain unanswered.

How would your friends describe you?

I’m the comic relief. And, despite empirical evidence, they think I’m smart.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

Not believe everything I was told about the limits inherent in my station in life.

What do you like most about your profession?

In my heart (and soul), I’m a writer, which has always seemed like alchemy or some kind of magic to me. Someone lobs an idea at me, and words start coalescing around it in my head. Eventually, they find their way to my laptop, and the rest is history. I guess that’s why I enjoyed being a print journalist, as well. You started each day with a blank roll of paper that somehow wound up full of information lying on front lawns the next morning.

What is your favorite song?

(Multiply life by the) Power of Two by Indigo Girls. I’ve been married 38 years. You do the math.

Which areas of the world would you like to explore and why?

All. Because they’re there. We’re always planning a trip or on a trip.

Who are your heroes?

The passengers of United Flight 93.

What’s the most important day of your life?

The day I graduated from college at the age of 32 with a 4.0 GPA and a medal around my neck. For many people, a college education is a given. To me, it was a gift.

When are you completely satisfied with your work?

Whenever I know I’ve done the best I could in the time I had with the resources I was given.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

It’s a cliché, but I consider myself extremely lucky to be getting paid for doing something I love to do.


After months of preparation, client engagement, hard work, and even some fun, the Next-Mark team partnered with three clients in maximizing their exposure in a series of national conferences this month.

Next-Mark Launches LexisNexis Government Solutions at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Annual Conference in Philadelphia

Next-Mark partnered with LexisNexis Solutions for Government to develop a comprehensive communications strategy, leveraging a patriotic theme during the IACP trade show in Philadelphia on Oct. 20, 2013. Our team developed all booth design and messaging, collateral, produced an animated video and provided other promotional support.

The “Preserving Liberty” theme was a strong fit for the historic city, which houses the iconic symbol of American Independence, the Liberty Bell. LexisNexis is an industry leader, providing a wide-range of solutions including their latest offering, “Social Media Monitor.” LexisNexis reported strong booth traffic and generated significant interest for this growing solution suite.

LexisNexis Booth at IACP Event
LexisNexis Booth at IACP Event

Next-Mark Launches Bundoo at the American Association of Pediatrics Conference in Orlando

Next-Mark has been retained as a comprehensive public relations partner for Bundoo, a new innovative online parenting community launched by physicians. We recently partnered with the Bundoo team in their official launch at the AAP Conference in Orlando, Fla. this month.

Bundoo is designed to give new parents the information and tools they need too meet the challenges of raising a family. Bundoo is founded on the premise that pediatricians, childcare experts and parents can connect through a rich, interactive online platform.

With more than 36,000 Facebook “Likes” and accelerating web traffic to, the future of Bundoo looks very bright.

Team Bundoo at AAP Event
Team Bundoo at AAP Event
The Bundoo team met with Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting
The Bundoo team met with Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Next-Mark Launches Elsevier “Wake-Up” Call Campaign at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Conference in Atlanta

Next-Mark was on site this week at the AHIMA Conference in Atlanta to launch the Elsevier eLearning ICD-10 “Wake-Up” Call campaign.

Next-Mark provided comprehensive marketing communications support including the development of all content, booth concepting and design, three animated videos, collateral, and premium selection and design along with other promotional support. Our team was on site filming client testimonials at the event to further enhance Elsevier Revenue Cycle eLearning’s position as a leader in coding and compliance education.

Elsevier booth at AHIMA Conference
Elsevier booth at AHIMA Conference
Next-Mark's Steve Wroczynski and Joseph Grano at AHIMA Conference
Next-Mark’s Steve Wroczynski and Joseph Grano at AHIMA Conference

The Next-Mark team is thrilled to have been involved in these national events on behalf of our clients. We also have two more major conferences in 2013. If your company is interested in learning more about how we can assist, our “booth” is located at 32 S. Osprey Ave., Suite 203 in Sarasota, Fla.

Body Language Cues

Body language can be extremely powerful when it comes to networking and building relationships with others. Within the first seven seconds of meeting you, people check you out visually.

According to BNI founder and contributing writer Ivan Misner, you should keep the following four key factors in mind when rubbing shoulders with prospects:

1. Eye contact. Some of the most powerful and successful business leaders in the world are known for the impressions they make during face-to-face meetings. Their gaze never wavers from the eyes of the person they are speaking with, making them feel as if they are the most important person in the room. With a little practice, anyone can do this.

Are you making good eye contact throughout the conversation? Or are you looking behind the person to see who else is in the room?

2. Arm movement. If you are speaking to someone and your arms are in a position that gives even a subliminal hint that you’re not interested, you’re not going to give off a positive impression.

What are your arms doing? Are they folded, signifying boredom, or tucked behind your back, indicating interest?

3. Your stance. Make an effort to stand in a manner that is open and welcoming, rather than blocking people out of your conversation. Are you leaning on something, as if bored or tired? Are you unable to shake hands because you’re juggling a plateful of food?

4. Facial expressions. Maintaining an interested facial expression goes hand in hand with maintaining eye contact. Are you smiling, or holding back a yawn? Are you showing interest? What does your face say?

Remember that much of your future networking success rides on how you come across in that first encounter. You want people to perceive you as alert, interested, knowledgeable and trustworthy.

The Next-Mark team frequently assists clients with identifying and fine-tuning their unique body language habits to boost media interviewing skills and reduce presentation apprehension. There’s no need to keep your fingers crossed. If you need advice, we’re only a phone call away.

Next-Mark client AchieveGlobal launched a new video today showcasing their Needs-Based Coaching™ Series.  This state-of-the-art program is designed to increase engagement, drive productivity, and improve business results.

Our team was tasked with creating engaging animation, an original storyboard, and supporting graphics for this production.

At Next-Mark we do more than write copy and provide graphic design services – we engage audiences and create brand awareness through storytelling and powerful communications strategies.

To view this video and others, visit our YouTube page.

Telling your story through social media

Every successful film, song, person and business has a story. Perhaps the fastest way to share stories in the modern world is through social media.

PR Daily’s article, “5 Tips to Help the Chances of Your Content Going Viral,” highlights an approach to help your story reach the masses. Here is a summary from their site:

1. Look around.
Become more observant of your surroundings. The world is your theater; your subconscious will do the work. News is constant and people are naturally entertaining, so just sit back and observe.

2. Make your content resonate.
Can people relate to the content you share? Does it elicit an emotional reaction? Is it positive, negative, humorous, appalling, or enticing? Does it outrage or inspire? Is it controversial, entertaining, funny, salacious, or cute?

3. Keep it short.
A person shouldn’t have to think about what’s going on; the message should just flow. Don’t pack too much in trying to explain; you’ll dilute the impact of what you’re trying to convey.

4. Make it topical.
Does it have immediate relevance to what’s going on in the world, current events, or trends?

5. Make your content easy to find.
Pay close attention to keywords, phrases, and hashtags. Keywords drive search engine optimization. Use the Google Keyword Planner to determine how to title or write the description of your content for better SEO. Post on social platforms that drive momentum: Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Tumblr, Youtube, Imgur.

Finally, if your content does go viral, prepare yourself for the online firestorm or hurricane that will ensue. The Web can be a fun place, but it can also be fraught with repercussions.

The Next-Mark team routinely develops online copy across client categories.  Please let us know if we can help!

Power Up Your Strategic Messaging and Brand Direction

Perhaps the greatest challenges organizations have is how to communicate their unique brand promise and tell their story.

We’re talking about messaging – Current, Clear, Consistent and Compelling messaging that sells both your company and its products/services. How do you achieve these invaluable “Four Cs”? For our clients, it begins with an exploratory process and ends with a map that keeps everyone on the same course when communicating.

Briefly, here are what we see as the 10 basic steps in this critical process.

1. Commit the Time

Understand that developing a strategic messaging platform will take some time. It’s too important to treat as an afterthought.

2. Assign the Responsibility

Consistency in messaging requires discipline and oversight. There must be someone or a team of someones at the helm of this process with the ability and authority to make the resulting messaging known and implemented enterprise wide.

3. Get an Outside Look

This is why many of our clients come to us – to get that unbiased view and the expertise to use and improve what we find to create memorable messaging. We generally start with a Messaging Direction meeting with client representatives to get their input, perceptions, expertise and insights into strengthening their brands and messages.

4. Messaging Inventory

This involves a survey of all existing messaging, that is, what you are saying about yourself and others are saying about you – in print, online, everywhere. When we do this for clients, we usually find:

  • Outdated, conflicting and incorrect information
  • Messaging that is all over the board, with different employees, departments, marketing collateral and/or other materials saying different things about the same products
  • Content that reflects who companies were, not who they are, as they’ve outgrown their original concept and somehow forgot to let everyone else know

5. Review Existing Content

Making our own recommendations, we work collaboratively with our clients to review the inventory, deciding what to change, what to keep and what to say next.

6. Build Your Brand Promise

An inward view also can be valuable in another way, forcing enterprises to take hard looks at their businesses and practices – and ensure they really do deliver on their brand promises. Remember: Words can’t solve everything.

7. Tagline. Identity. Perception.

Is there a memorable phrase connected to your brand that reflects the premise of your company or product – for now and where you hope to be?  not, this is the time to create one – in the form of a tagline or a new look for your logo.  This is critical to establishing the baseline perception of your business.

8. Create the Copy

At Next-Mark, this is the point at which we create a Messaging Platform that meets the goals of the Four Cs and solidifies how the company and its products should be described throughout all communications.

9. Don’t Forget Design

Professional design, like professional writing, is a hallmark of A-list companies and a factor in how they are judged by prospective customers. When needed, we work with clients to ensure their web sites and other materials convey the tone, consistency and sophistication they need to be taken seriously.

10. Create the Marketing Plan

With the strong knowledge base we’ve achieved through this process, we prepare a marketing plan that moves the client forward and meets specific goals – from increased brand recognition to new-market sales.

If it sounds complicated, it can be. However, we do what we can to ease the process, taking on the more cumbersome and time-consuming aspects. To learn more about this, or any other facet of our marketing services, contact us today.

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Sometimes the simple way is best; at least, that’s how we feel about creating brand strategy and identity for clients.

Some firms use toys, paper dolls and noisemakers to stir the creative juices of clients during brainstorming. We prefer to keep them on track simply through their interest in/passion for what they do and hope to accomplish. The result is a carefully thought-out strategy, as well as an accurate – and current – identity.

Of course, the process for start-ups is different than that of existing companies looking to reinvigorate their businesses and images. Since most of our clients fall into the latter category, though, that’s what we’ll address here.

The fact is that many organizations trying to move ahead don’t realize they’re shackled by their past. While growing and changing, they’ve neglected to communicate this growth and change to clients and potential customers. Thus, their web sites, tag lines, descriptors, marketing collateral and sales materials are less compelling inducements and more historical documents.

That’s where we come in, working with our clients to supercharge them, creating the content and visuals that puts them on a trajectory to a successful future. We would, of course, be happy to do the same for you and urge you to contact us soon to get started. In the meantime, though, here are a few tips you can use to clear the rubble off the road to a better organization.

– Make it someone’s business to insure your web site is current and that it meets or exceeds the look and substance of your competitors’.

– Ask yourself if you’ve outgrown your tagline or ways you describe your company, then take measures to make changes that connect who you were with who you are today.

– Look for dated messaging in materials, updating for fact and phrasing.

– Invest in great design. Just because anyone can use clip art doesn’t mean they should.

– And most of all, don’t work in a vacuum. Keep everyone – especially those in direct contact with clients – aware of what’s new and how it should be described.

There’s more, of course, but that’s a good start.

This post is part 2 of a 2-part series on email marketing best practices. This week, we present ten tips for creating effective marketing emails. In Part 1 of our mini-series, we focused on the current landscape of email marketing.

1. You Don’t Need the Kitchen Sink

With marketing emails, less is, emphatically, more. Take care to limit the amount of copy in your emails; only provide the most pertinent information; and, feature your call to action prominently.

2. Be True to Your Brand Promise

As with other aspect of your marketing plan and your business, your marketing emails should be true to your brand. Your emails should reinforce your brand’s unique promise and reflect your brand identity.

3. Know Your Audience

Select the optimal email list to appropriately target your audience. If time and resources allow, test your campaign on a random sample of recipients from your list then use your findings to tweak your email before sending it out to the whole list.

4. Monitor Your Results

Most email partners (e.g., Constant Contact , SilverPop) collect metrics such as open and click through rates and provide you with tools to monitor results. Be sure to share these results with colleagues and stakeholders.

5. Integrate Social Media

Give your recipients the tools to share your email on their social networks and follow your company on your social networks.

6. Don’t be an Email Nuisance

First up, know your company’s rules and policies on spam. Many companies require that marketing emails or newsletters make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe or opt-out. Getting lots of un-subscribes? It’s probably a sign that it’s time to move to a different list.

7. Select an Optimal Email Partner

There are a lot of email marketing software providers to choose from. Some solutions for small businesses include: Vertical Response, MailChimp, Constant Contact and iContact. Large businesses can turn to enterprise systems like Silverpop, Eloqua, Marketo, and Pardot or opt for CRM integration.

8. Keep Mobile Applications Top of Mind

A large portion of people opening your email will be doing so from a mobile device. Keep screen size in mind when writing and designing your emails – use simple subject lines, streamline your design and prioritize content.

9. Create Sustainable Templates

Using your brand’s look-and-feel, create a simple template that you can re-use for different campaigns. No need to re-invent them each time – a template will make it easy for you to create your emails and make them recognizable.

10. Emails are only One Solution

Emails are only solution in an arsenal of many marketing communications tools.  Be sure to integrate your email marketing efforts with other strategic marketing initiatives for powerful results.