"Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by practice; or if neither by teaching nor practice, then whether it comes to man by nature, or in what other way?" The year was 350 B.C.E. The day was just like today, one cold sunny afternoon. [I can only imagine!]
Plato, who documented every move of this magical sage writes that Socrates tells Meno that "he not only does not know if virtue can be taught, but does not understand the nature of virtue." Meno shudders, his conviction challenged, he tastes the dialectic method for which Socrates sacrificed his life.
For ages, Socrates has been revered as the grand master of intellectual eloquence and inquiry: the ideal critical thinker. It is not one idea that earned him this seat of distinguished honor. It is his method of questioning and cross-examination of opposing views that leads to illumination of ideas. Engaging in the Socratic Method makes us confident about the experience of questioning anything including our own ideas and beliefs. By constantly asking critical questions, dynamic brands are in a perpetual state of flux. Brands like Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Google, Virgin or Starbucks constantly align themselves to the questions of the times. They are courageously passionate about doing business in a more "virtuous" fashion that brings value to the clients and adds momentum to their balance sheets. Their "brand virtue" goes through the high standards of Socratic questioning time and time again. (“Virtue” is not a term that marketers use, yet as a concept it explains growing consumer expectations toward brands and companies.)
The prevalent coffee drinking culture is the result of some adventurous minds who questioned the idea of black beans. When you walk into Starbucks every morning, you are walking into a culture of comfort, free wi-fi access and a brand that exudes happiness, social responsibility and confidence. The coffee is only a very small part of the scenic setting: it is a "well placed treat in the bigger context of the story you walked into. Why else would people pay $4.00 for a $.038 cup of coffee?" - Seth Godin
In July 2008, when a barrel of oil rocketed 140 US dollars, Southwest Airlines was sitting on a pile of cash and fuel hedges. It was way ahead of the curve. In time of massive crunch, when the virtue of the brand could have been diminished, it soared higher gaining rock-hard customer confidence and securing its survival in the hyper-competitive world of air travel.
Constant examination of your marketing plans and your brand perception helps to reign in Focus, Motivation and Connection. Even before you decide to exhibit at trade shows bring in focus the entire company towards achieving its vision, mission, and goals. Align the company goals to that of your exhibit design. Your exhibiting space and your exhibit represents the tangible and the intangible worth of your company.
Motivation: “Changing The World” is a Growing Mandate; one with emotional benefits for consumers. Motivate your booth staffers to be “responsible,” “doing their part to change the world,” “smart and savvy,” and “resourceful”. People like doing business when brand ambassadors exhibit these qualities.
Connection: Brand Virtue Appeals To All Ages. While the trait of “forward thinking”, “cool and contemporary” is particularly relevant for youngest adults, collaboration is important to younger and middle-aged adults. Females are more inclined to push brand boundaries with respect to responsible behavior. 68% of women, compared with 57% of men, believe that brands “sometimes show real courage by standing up for issues that are not always popular..." In Plato's Apology, Socrates is defiant in defending his way of life. In one of the most forceful works in Western literature, "Socrates defends a life of constant inquiry and examination of beliefs and actions". He had prophecized that his death sentence would guarantee him the "heroic figure, one who died for the “crime” of thinking for himself and for encouraging others to do likewise."
Thank you Socrates. You have enhanced the evolutionary process of mankind.
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In the words of the historian philosopher, Thomas Berry: "We are not just passing into another historical period or another cultural modification.......But more specifically we are terminating the last 65 million years of life development." He says, it's all a question of story. "The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story."
The Darwinian story about being stronger, bigger and better is no longer the story of survival. Survival of the Fittest is an exercise in agility and adaptibility. The flawless adaptation to your changing conditions now makes you the master in the Art of Survival. This is the age of knowledge. We are increasingly being rewarded not for our emperical know how of delivering facts but for our ability to make meaning - whether that is telling story about our brand DNA or our balance sheet make up. Management consultant Tom Durel, emphasizes again and again, "everybody thinks it's the return on investment that you're selling...but it's really the story about ROI that an investor takes away."
As we trend towards Type 1 civilization, we are increasingly defining ourselves to be a more homogenous race. When it comes to making a planetary cultural statement, denim rules as the fabric of our lives. To survive in the new post modern value conscious era, Levis Struass is a great story in adaptibility. I think in 2003 Levis Strauss came out with the Signature line. Notice the power of story and make belief at play. What visual cues and emtional expression do you get when you read Signature? Check out their label. Very similar to the vintage iconic label isn't it? What a marvelous way to harness the intangible into tangible.
We humans have been story telling since 100,000 or more so years. We seek out experiences that fire our imaginations and enchants our spirit. Stories are the pathway in. Start at basic. Who are You? Defining who you are is the abiding question for marketers including trade show design architects. Weaving a story along this question alone is an opportunity to create a brand for your company so powerful that your logo or mission statement pales in comparison.
Brian Tarcy, a journalist and an author reveals 5 secrets to the Mastery of Story Telling.
1. Think chronologically. Start at the beginning. A good writer can make the beginning be almost anywhere, but an obvious place to think about is the day the company opened/was formed etc.
2. Use philosophy, but don't preach. People want to learn who you are and what you stand for. Your story is more than just what happened in year 1, year 2 etc. There is something deeper in it. Bring that out. But be careful on your tone.
3. Tell stories. Remember the the events that created who you are. Details are crucial. Use your five senses and make stories come alive.
4. Don't only use your own words. Talk to your employees, board members, anyone invested in your story and see what they remember. Use these memories to paint a three-dimensional picture. Ask more than one person to remember the same event.
5. Make the sum bigger than the parts. You are not just telling your story to tell your story, although it is a nice memento. You want readers to believe in you the same way you believe in you. It should add up into one powerful thing. "Once people make your story their story, you have tapped into the powerful force of faith."--Annette Simmons, Author, The Story Factor.
Your brand belongs to you. Your story belongs to you. The stage that you stand on in a trade show venue is yours. Shape your destiny, build your mountain. "But start at the base and tell everyone who are you and how you did it."
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Standing in front of the sacred rock, I gasped in wonderment. What lay before me was a primal definition in astute presentation. It won't be a stretch by any standard if I do say that the Parthenon is the best example where mathematics presents itself in the form of high art. Yes, the golden rectangle have been the defining factor of this architecture. It is a Doric Temple.
When the great Phidias designed this temple to house goddess Athena Parthenos, I wonder if he realized that this rubble of a ruin would one day stand as a testament to the Athenian Golden Age and parade itself as the paragon of Western civilization. Perhaps not. Any here is why?
Nancy Duarte, the most sought after presentation expert says, 90% of the creative process is actually destructive. You create a slide presentation—and then slowly but surely see what you can peel away. What the mighty Phidias could not possibly achieve, disastrous geo-political affairs managed to turn the temple into a core shell of pristine elegance that seems to follow this destructive law.
When you are presenting at a trade show or an event try using using a single word on a slide to convey your core message. Want your audience to remember various benefits? Don not plaster all bullet-style on a single slide; Reveal them one at a time, unveil a mystery, create a story, and share an example or anecdote to illustrate each one. "Have an image or quote that accurately expresses your idea? Let it! "Don't be afraid to remove everything else from the slide, and let that one powerful image say it all."
The mystery of this Doric temple is gradually revealed when you study the divine proportions. The total height of the building is approximately 1.618 times the height to the top of the columns, and the frieze sculptures (called triglyphs [columns] and metopes [sculptures]) on the entablature closely follow the same proportion.
The mathematical ratio "phi" is a tribute to the phenomenal Phidias. The sculptor of the goddess of wisdom have successfully spread his ideas & moved people over centuries.
Don't just share your ideas or your data; make meaning. Again in the words of Nancy Duarte, don't focus solely on changing minds; put some effort into changing hearts. Powerful imagery and though-provoking video are excellent tools for connecting your audience to your message emotionally—which is how we humans make decisions.
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Lounges have now gained tremendous momentum in the design of trade show exhibit spaces and special events. Dedicated sitting spaces are now integral part of design directives. These areas are resolute in providing a communicative approach to information exchange and information gathering. In today's era of viral marketing and virtual interacting, it is a featured highlight of face to face marketing. When 46% of executive decision makers make purchase decisions while attending a show and 51% of executive decision maker requested that a sales representative visit their company after the show and get this: 95% of the executive decision makers meet with their current suppliers at a trade show it is only makes sense to promote the right kind of atmospheric conditions that fosters such conversation. And a lounge does exactly that. It is a luxurious conclave where talent meets target.
If you have a smaller space e.g 20'x20' or so and if you find the above statistics valuable; you might want to think about a club design layout. However, if you have a larger space you might want to pledge a portion of it to elegant setting with flamboyant and interesting furniture that speaks to the sensuality of the limbic system. The lounge inside your space is a grand setting for show casing your latest innovation. For it is good to know that 50% of the trade show attendees wants to see "What's New" in products and services and 90% of the trade show attendees have not been called upon (face-to-face) by any company exhibiting at the show in the 12 months prior to the event.
Why not make the experience delightful?
Research from Cap Gemini Ernst and Young states that “Consumers don't differentiate retailers by their value propositions.” Brands don't distinguish themselves by having unique products or services as much as they do by the experience they present. A memorable experience is one that thrills or excites customers and prospects. As kids we thrived on thrills. We remember our first touch down. We remember our first voyage on Pirates of the Caribbean. We remember our first festival of colors. As adults, we continue to seek thrills in our professional and personal worlds. "We want the thrill of getting high response rates to a direct marketing campaign; the thrill of exceeding our sales quotas; of earning that next job promotion in record time. Businesses that understand what excites their customers are those that stand to gain higher levels of customer loyalty, no matter the challenges their markets face." Jeanette McMurtry, MBA
Lounging in Cappuccino and Hot Pink is all about the ideal setting that peeks the thrill of "what's new" and what's exciting in a monotonous day to day survival. Next time as you plan your space, think about the ways that you can distinguish yourself in those precious moments of interaction that we call face-to-face marketing in the hyper competitive marketing world of business-to-business.
Source for the above statistics : CEIR.org
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In my writings I am often an explorer, a map maker, sometimes a voyager of the human mind and other times: a creator who is tormented by the inner longing to expand, express and delight !