Jim Thompson, Executive Director

“When the Association Executives of North Carolina created a new vision and mission statement we realized quickly we wanted certain groups to recognize us, but we had no idea what we wanted to say. That’s when we were introduced to Lea-Ann. What a treat that was. During a 1-week Advisory Workshop, Lea-Ann guided our organization down a path that helped us understand our value proposition, better than even some strategic planners we’ve used before, and helped us develop clear and well thought out messaging that we can take to our key audiences. We learned a lot about our organization during this process. I had some pretty high expectations going into this process and let’s just say that Lea-Ann exceeded them. Great work!!”

- Jim Thompson, Executive Director

How to (successfully) crash an industry event

Posted on Jan 23, 2017
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I’ve always been a person who enjoys dedicating a concentrated effort to taking advantage of an opportunity. I have come to learn that, as long as the approach is respectful, the end result can be very empowering and rewarding.

When a friend asked for advice on how to promote her web series at a high-profile industry event, I didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance to help. She had a great idea. All the right players would be together at this event – the Sundance Film Festival, and she wanted to find a way to capture their attention, if only for a brief time.

My filmmaker friend asked for a few simple tips that would give her the biggest bang for her buck.

This was my advice:

A) Tell me the WHY 
Define your goal for being there; that one thing you intend to accomplish or leave with.

For example, she could say that she is attending to:
– attract potential online distributors (if so, what does she want from them?)
– learn more about industry trends
– check out the competition to see how they are marketing their product
– check out the competition to make sure her product is unique
– meet potential strategic partners (if so, what does she want from them?)


The key is to set a goal and stick with it. Sure, she can add another goal when she’s there and certainly can tweak her original plan on the fly. There are all sorts of reasons why she may need to do that, but she must remember to not lose sight of her main goal.

TIP Staying focused on the goal helps us make better decisions, know who to speak to, what to say, what meetings to attend… And, when we do, we are more likely to not feel overwhelmed.

B) Tell me WHO can help you achieve your goal
Who are you trying to impact with what you say or do?  

For example: Is she trying to connect with:

  • a key segment of “person” who will be watching the web series?,
  • event managers who can help introduce you to distributors?, or
  • a certain type of media that can convince readers to watch your web series?

If her goal is to speak to distributors, her targeted audience certainly can be the distributors themselves — but how easy is it to approach them? It might be a good call for her to target distributor gatekeepers; people that distributors depend on, listen to, or respect. It’s key to say or do something that impacts the gatekeeper to feel or do something.

TIP  Don’t get stuck on making people like you. Focus on the desired behavior you need from your audience.

For example: If her goal is to get in front of distributors, she can target gatekeepers like assistants or hair dressers or event organizers. These folks can make introductions, recommend her web series as a solution to a problem the distributor may be having, or get her on a party list!

C) Craft WHAT to say and do
Now that you know what you want from your targeted audience, you need to know what to say or do in order to get it. 

HeadnodNetworkingTIP We typically have soooo much we want to say, but — in order to not scare people away AND ensure they fondly remember you — take this two-step approach:

Step 1) Make sure they remember and trust the very basics of what you’re all about. You need to be able to walk up to a total stranger, shake their hand and have them immediately understand what you do, no matter what background they have. The result is: “ahh, I get it.”

For me, when I meet a person who works in my field, my go-to spiel is, in short: “I’m a global marketer.” If I have a chance to stretch it out, I say: “I’m a consulting marketer who helps my clients get their customers to know them better.”

Make sure you communicate (very basically) what you do and how it benefits people or organizations.

Step 2) Stay with what your audience cares about. If you don’t, you’ll lose them and they certainly won’t be your conversation buddy any longer.

My advice to my friend was to be ready with a plan to succeed. She needed to set a goal for being there, know who to impact, and prepare for what she should do or say in order to achieve that goal. And, be memorable — her audience must narrow their focus on who she is and what she does, and easily recall it.

Not so easy, but doable. If she understands her audience and can stay on task, she’ll see success. I know it.