What in the world?
WoW! WoW! WoW!
This summer I started working with a client that was interested in export training.
Angelyn DeYoung, International Trade Director with the Montana Department of Commerce and I put our heads together to talk exporting. We planned a workshop in December but decided to move it up to August. This gave us one month of prep time - which as many of you know, can totally spell disaster.
What happened? Angelyn and her team at Export Montana brought the house down! They were expecting around 20 people. Seventy, that’s right, 70+ people (all exporters) showed up at the party!
Here’s what Angelyn DeYoung and her team at Export Montana did right and I think that everyone should consider when marketing an export event.
1. Marketing. They appealed to the business owner. Export Montana combined the “meat”, with some interesting fancy sides. Their marketing campaign let every attendee know that businesses were going to learn a proven #Exporting8StepProcess backed by plenty of testimonials. They also advertised a guest appearance by Betty Sue, Export Queen - which was catchy enough to get a second look. They avoided government jargon and communicated in real world terms.
2.Positive Deviants-They deviated and did the uncommon. As you may remember from Part One -Positive Deviance is an approach to behavioral and social change based on the observation that in any community there are people whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers, despite facing similar challenges and having no extra resources. Angelyn and team had the courage to try a different approach introducing BettySue. (She admitted to me that once she introduced BettySue, she had a few sleepless nights.) In the words of one attendee, “I admit that I was skeptical about Elyse, given the "corny" notion of her high haired, gravel-voiced, Texas-down-home oddball-export backdrop in the promotional link that was part of the invite to this seminar. But there was enough meat in the topic outline, that I thought ‘What the heck!’”
3.Connection. No mass emails and links for exporting YouTube videos from this group. Export Montana believes in knowing their people and they do. They personally reached out to their existing and potential exporters and told them this was a unique experience and they needed to be there. Exporters were there. In total there were more than 70 exporters in the room and only four government service providers.
4.Export Training For Entrepreneurs By An Entrepreneur. Any person who is giving export training should do some research on adult learners. (Duh!) When you’re sleeping you’re not learning, when you are bored you’re not learning. Angelyn DeYoung knows her people and knew that if she was bored at an export seminar, they would be bored too. She met Betty Sue at a State International Development Organization (SIDO) conference and was sold on the entrepreneurial approach. Angelyn gave me, Elyse, the credit for having the guts to don a 2’ tall blond wig at a serious exporting event.
5.A room of smart entrepreneurs learning together. The room was a mix of experienced entrepreneurs (i.e. Paradise Dental Technologies who exports to 50+ countries and gave us a great testimonial) and newbies. Even though some had a lot of experience and some had none, we recognized that they all had something to share so we all learned from each other.
This is a sale job like any other but with higher stakes. Getting exporters in the room is the first part. It takes a person-to-person approach speaking with businesses in a way that is relevant and compelling. The second part is to deliver solid goods (i.e. The Riddle of the Exporter™) in a way that is usable and digestible. Cannot have one without the other.
Proof is in the pudding. All 70+ attendees stayed all day 8am-4pm. (No one ever leaves early.) We worked together, learned together and laughed together. In one day, we produced a draft export plan for Betty Sue to export her products around the world.
At the Montana event, the skeptical attendee who traveled 4.5 hours round-trip to attend wrote a one-page testimonial on why he was glad he came. “How could anybody take a dry topic with more acronyms than Carter has pills, and keep me engaged for a full day? Elyse did it. Engaging, practical, humorous, illustrative...even during the harsh "hour of hell"...after lunch. This is unique! Time is my biggest currency and this was well worth the time invested.”
Thank you, Tom. Another attendee shared, “This was almost too much fun to be an export seminar.” It’s called edutainment, folks and its how people learn best.
Export Montana set the bar high, but not unreachable. They found out how to get the right people in the room and deliver the goods. You can too.
For more information on The Riddle of the Exporter™ give us a shout.
Let’s get people excited about exporting!
The Riddle of the Exporter™
Export Training For Entrepreneurs By An Entrepreneur