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Top Ten Most Absurd Respondent Requests

By | Be Honest, Be Reasonable, Have Fun

If you’ve ever worked in Market Research, you’ll understand. If you’ve ever worked in any industry where you have to make people happy, you’ll understand. This is my Top Ten, all-time favorite, most absurd respondent requests.

10. You should do a survey about my cats.

We’re working on something even better. A survey for cats. We have to train them how to read first.

9. Please delete my address and my name and all the information you turned over to the NSA.

Just for the record, we don’t share our respondent’s information with anyone. Even if they ask us really nicely.

8. Can you make your online surveys compatible with Windows 95?

This request was from 2016.

7. I cannot remember my username, password, why I contacted you, or who you are. Why aren’t you helping me?

I’m guilty of losing/forgetting my account passwords all.the.time. But usually I can remember why I got the account in the first place.

6. What about something for the [random bigotry] member? Thanks Obama.

Obama told me to tell you,  “You’re Welcome.”

5. Where’s the $100 dollars I was promised for the a five-minute survey about my Rock, Paper, Scissors strategy?

Let’s settle this like adults. I’ll Rock, Paper, Scissors you for it.

4. Instead of a Walmart gift card sent to my registered email address, can you please submit a Western Union payment to this totally legit IP-masked Russian website?

Not sketchy at all.

3. I don’t have to tell you my age, location, or gender, and I ignore your emails. Why wont you send me surveys I can get paid for?

Usually our clients want to know who’s opinion they’re paying for.

2. You’re just a robot anyway so why should I believe you?

In my experience robots are very trustworthy. They haven’t been programmed to lie. Yet.

1. How am I supposed to complete your surveys if I don’t lie?

So you won’t stop lying until we stop asking questions? Noted.

In the mood for more ridiculous Top Ten Lists? Check out Top Ten Bizarre Client Requests and Top Ten Most Ridiculous Respondent Email Addresses.

I Know Something You Don’t Know. Wanna Know?

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Bet you didn’t know…Sam Ashburner, one of SoapBox’s Project Managers, once worked at The Price is Right. His job was to warm up the crowd.

Get to Know Your Staff — They May Surprise You

Some people like to keep their personal lives and professional lives completely separate. I don’t really get those people. One of the things I enjoy most about being a business leader is getting to know my employees on a personal level. I’m super lucky to work with such an amazing group of people. Learning what makes them tick has been half of the fun. Although sometimes the things I uncover leave me shaking my head, these are totally worth sharing. Here are the Top Ten Most “Interesting” Facts I know about my staff…

  1. Aaron Cole, SoapBoxSample Director of Systems and Programming, spent 2 months traveling around in Japan. When he ran out of money, he survived by eating out of dumpsters. This was before he started working at SoapBox, and I’m happy to say that we pay him enough to buy food.
  2. Sam Ashburner, Project Manager, once worked on the TV show The Price is Right. His job was to warm up the crowd. (Pictured above. Look how warm that crowd is.)
  3. Kevin Moran, who does our panel support, practices fencing (sword-fighting) in his free time. In fact, he and his wife do it together. Makes me wonder if that’s how they settle arguments.
  4. Dan Parcon, who has been with SoapBox from the very beginning, has a weird talent for running into celebrities. The biggest star he ran into was Brad Pitt. They shared an elevator in 1996, but Dan didn’t say anything to him.
  5. Nicole Restivo, our Sales and Marketing Admin, appeared in the music video for the 2004 mega-hit “Hey Ya,” by Outkast. She shook it like a Polaroid picture.
  6. If you ever want to torture Kristin Muir, Junior Project Manager, act like you are going to touch your eye. It freaks her out.
  7. This one is not so much weird, as it is impressive. Bruce Tate, Chief Technology Officer at icanmakeitbetter, has written 10 books. All of them are about computer technology, otherwise known as Things I Don’t Understand.
  8. Meg Ryan, SoapBoxSample Senior Account Executive, collects political buttons.
  9. Andrea Spiros, Project Manager, likes to drizzle ketchup and mayonnaise on her pizza. Some people get very disturbed by this.
  10. At the age of 6, Kealan Crowley, Estimator and Vendor Relations Associate, appeared on The Jay Leno Show with his First Grade class. He wowed the audience by playing the slide whistle.

I could probably come up with a hundred of these quirky tidbits. I love knowing entertaining things about my staff, and sharing them with the world (through this blog) makes it even more entertaining.

Top Ten Most Ridiculous Respondent Email Addresses

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Take Risks

When I talk about what I do for a living I sometimes say that I am in the business of  buying and selling people. This statement sometimes causes shock and alarm. I then have to explain that I work in Market Research, and part of my job is to find people to help companies answer their business questions. Occasionally the people we find are a little…eccentric. How do I know this? Just take a look at some of their email addresses. Here is my Top Ten list of the most outlandish respondent email addresses.

10. MirandaBananaPanda@

I’m trying to imagine the thought process behind the creation of this email, my name is Miranda, and I love pandas and bananas?

9. CrazyDrunkMouse@

Is the mouse both crazy and drunk or is his drunkenness making him crazy?

8. UndeadClownJuggalo@

I have no idea what this might mean, and I’m too scared to google it.

7. GagaForGaga@

I’m just picturing a person dancing around in their bedroom in a full Lady Gaga costume. (Hopefully not the one made out of raw meat.)

6. LlamaFarts15@

Did the llama fart 15 times or is this the 15th llama farts email address?

5. Mr_Squishy@

Notice this one has an underscore, I’m guessing Mr.Squishy was already taken?

4. JohnsBeerMoney@

Hoping that this respondent isn’t drinking beer while he’s taking surveys, and that the beer is his reward for a job well done.

3. VegasAlien2001@

An alien who lives in Vegas who likes to fill out surveys in their free time? I guess that’s one way to learn about earth culture.

2. SexyBeard88@

Is the email address of a person who gets really excited by beards, or someone with a beard of their own that they enjoy? Maybe both.

1. SneezeTushy@

Try to avoid visualizing this one. It’s a head scratcher.

Treadmills, and Yoga and Slides…Oh My!

By | Be Honest, Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Chyla is our new Social Media Marketing Intern. While I’m out here at SampleCon debating the future of sample, someone decided it would be a good idea to leave her in charge of the blog. The experiment paid off, and Chyla came up with a timely and insightful blog post about what millennials really want in the workplace. (Hint: it’s not just STUFF.)

Millennials & Workplace Culture

Everyone seems to be obsessed with creating a standout company culture these days. From treadmill desks, to unlimited vacation days, to gourmet cafes, there are lists and tips all over the internet trying to teach companies how to be more like the Googles and Zappos-es of the world by incorporating this stuff into their organizations. There’s also a multitude of articles about Millennials and what we really want. According to these articles, I want a lot of stuff.

The truth is, most of us just want an opportunity to carve out our own paths. Not that long ago, another SoapBoxSample Millennial, Sullivan, wrote a guest blog about his transition out of college and into the workforce. Like him, I’ve been learning a lot. We have been labeled as the generation of “entitlement”, but I (and most of the other Millennials I know) just want to work hard and grow like my parents did. So what does that mean for workplace culture?

1. We don’t need a yoga room… We need to not be overworked. I would rather get my work done and leave the office than spend part of my workday doing downward dog.

2. We don’t need a slide… We need to enjoy the work we’re doing. Sure, even adults like to have fun—so why shouldn’t the actual job be enjoyable?

3. We don’t need a game room… See number 2.

4. We don’t necessarily need treadmill desks, but it would be nice to not be glued to a regular desk all day. Here at SBS we even have a plank challenge throughout the day to get the blood flowing. It’s that simple.

5. We don’t need themed or quirky collaborative spaces, we need functional collaborative spaces. Don’t get me wrong, teams are awesome! But wouldn’t it be weird working on the set of “Up” after a while?

It’s not so much about the stuff. We don’t need it. I honestly don’t care if my job prepares gourmet food for me or supports my fitness goals. I can go to Chipotle or join a gym for that. What I care about is the opportunity for growth and the emotional intelligence of my leaders. I care about doing work that matters. SoapBoxSample doesn’t have a giant slide in the office or yoga breaks in the middle of the day. What it does have is an awesome group of people who are kind, open, and passionate about the work they’re doing. The opportunity to learn and grow from a company like that is way better than any treadmill desk could possibly be. Sure, the stuff is nice, but it’s the intangibles that really matter.

And the Winner is … Not Me!

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others | 13 Comments

It’s Not a Popularity Contest (But if it Were, These 10 Blogs Would Be the Mean Girls)

Around this time of year, it’s hard to avoid the ubiquitous Top Ten list — Top Ten Best Movies of the Year, Top Ten Worst Celebrity Breakups of 2016, Top Ten Most Hilarious Internet Videos Involving Squirrels… maybe not that last one, but there are a lot. But don’t think we are jumping on the bandwagon or anything. Top Ten lists are kind of my thing. This is the Telltale Ten, after all.

The Telltale Ten Top Ten Most Popular Blog Posts of 2016

Millennials — They Don’t Suck

Don’t Let Business Get Personal — I Disagree

You Have 30 Seconds to Sell Me This Pen

Be Reasonable

Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean — or Don’t 

What Do Embarrassment, Fun and Ridiculous Have in Common?

Stop the Insanity — 8 Ways to End Meeting Madness

I Ran Out of Gas. Literally. True Story.

So You Want to Be the Boss

4 Survival Tips — Staying Sane with an Insane Boss

Looking at this list, I think of two things. 1. I can’t believe I actually blogged every week for an entire year. 2. There seems to be a theme here — people seem to like the posts with real, genuine and practical advice. You Have 30 Seconds to Sell Me This Pen is about how to ask interesting and revealing interview questions, Stop the Insanity — 8 Ways to End Meeting Madness is about how to hold meetings that are actually productive and Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean — or Don’t is a handy guide to interpreting what your boss, employee, or co-worker really means when they say X. (Example: When an employee says, “Just as an FYI…,” they mean, “I’m now asking for your forgiveness, because I neglected to ask permission.”) Have an idea for another practical advice topic I didn’t cover last year? Tweet me, @jax_rosales

Side note: Yes, the number one post of 2016 was actually not written by me. It was written by a real, live millennial named Sullivan. Maybe we need to have more millennial guest bloggers, starting with a Top Ten list — Top Ten Millennials Who Blog About Top Ten Lists. Or something like that.

Give This, Not That

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks | 18 Comments

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Experience Gift Giving

It’s the holiday season and America’s quest to buy more crap is at an all-time high. This is a breakdown of 2016 holiday spending so far (and it’s not even December yet!).

Black Friday — 70 billion
Small Business Saturday — 18.3 billion
Cyber Monday — 3.45 billion

All I can say is holy crap that is a lot of crap.

I don’t know about you, but my family and I have managed to accumulate so much stuff. Stuff, upon stuff upon stuff. We are a family of three who has filled 3,000 square feet of living space and can barely squeeze a single car into a three-car garage. We also have stuff stored at my Mom’s and park one of my husband’s work vehicles at his Mom’s. It is pure insanity. I am not even sure I can pinpoint when it got so out of control.

Most of the stuff is not even good stuff. Not expensive, just freakin’ stuff we have collected over the years. Truth is, I am at the jumping-off point. It is DRIVING me nuts. So as you can imagine, as the holidays are coming closer, the thought of buying MORE stuff seems literally insane. My 10-year-old has more “things” now than I had accumulated for the entire 18 years of my childhood (multiplied by 10). My husband grew up in a country that was at war, and did not even have electricity, never mind more than one pair of shoes.

How we got here is another BLOG all together and likely requires another couple years with my therapist. The good news is that the mindset shift has started. For the past 2 years (since our car accident) we realized the value of experiences over stuff. It’s not just for Christmas time either. For Ella’s birthday in September we took her and her friends horseback riding and it was so awesome.

Recently, I started to notice a cultural shift. More and more articles started popping up about experiential gift giving. I kept seeing people posting on social media saying, “my kids have everything, what should I get them?” Instead of trying to present them with back orders from Santa for the latest Hatchimal, try giving them an experience instead. There is no shortage of experiential gift-giving opportunities out there. Here is a list of ideas, broken down by the type of person (or group of people) you are buying for. Consider this an early holiday gift from me to you. You’re welcome.

For the Family

  • Zoo memberships
  • Movie tickets
  • Sporting events (if you are on a budget, check out a local sports teams)
  • Theme park passes
  • Concert tickets

For the Adventurer

  • Membership to a rock climbing gym
  • Ski lift tickets
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Skydiving lessons
  • Indoor skydiving
  • National park pass
  • Horseback riding session
  • Surfing lessons

For the Fitness Enthusiast

  • Entry fees for a race/obstacle course
  • Bootcamp passes
  • Personal training sessions
  • Spin gym passes

For the Spiritual Guru

  • Yoga classes
  • Meditation classes
  • Sensory deprivation flotation tank
  • Send one book about spirituality every month

For the Nostalgist

  • Day at the roller rink
  • Go-kart racing
  • Bowling tournament
  • Mini golf off
  • Mixed tape (ok, wanted to see if you were paying attention or not)

For the Foodie

  • Restaurant gift certificates (duh) – try places in another town. Even drive a few hours.
  • Cooking classes
  • Tickets to a food festival
  • Road trip to a food festival (day trip or overnight)

For the Artistic Type

  • Wine and painting class
  • Sewing/ crafting classes
  • Pottery classes
  • Museum membership
  • Gallery passes

For the Alcoholic

  • Brewery tour
  • Wine country tour
  • Bar treasure hunt (If you really want to get creative, make up a mystery bar tour in your own city – complete with Uber of course)
  • Wine of the month club

Instead of doing 12 minutes of gift-opening at 5 am on Christmas morning, consider giving 12 gifts (one for each month of the year) to be opened up once a month. And no one knows what it will be until they open it. Some examples include; movies tickets, bowling passes, family game night, a 2-hour drive to have lunch at a restaurant in another town, or an overnight stay in a local hotel with a pool, a hike, a nap …anything!

The act of opening a present can be an experience in and of itself. Here are some tips for creative holiday gift wrapping. I like to wrap my tickets, experiences, treasure maps etc. inside of random things. The more random and unrelated to the gift the better. I am not sure what better gift there possibly can be, than family laughter.

  • Cereal boxes – for some reason Lucky Charms box’s are funny
  • Diaper boxes (child or adult diapers) – wrap your ten-year-old son’s tickets to the latest Star Wars movie in a Diaper Box. He may not laugh, but everyone else will.
  • Tape gift cards to the bottom of cans of beans or a can of SPAM. SPAM makes everyone smile. Or a can of Fruit Cocktail. They are just funny.
  • Put concert tickets inside of toilet paper or paper towel rolls.
  • Tape gift certificates to the bottom of a plunger (can’t wait for this one this year).
  • Put something (tickets, certificates, gift cards or a small toy) inside a bag of rice so they have to dig through the bag to get it – obnoxious, messy and fun.
  • And my all-time favorite … Wrap your husband’s sporting event tickets in a tampon box and laugh hysterically when he opens it up in front of his family.

This year I recommend focusing on experiences rather than stuff, and connections instead of crap. Have some experience gift ideas I didn’t mention here? Tweet me, @jax_rosales

Lazy and Genius Had a Baby

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Inspire Ideas | 14 Comments

Easy Food Prep Tips from Someone With No Free Time

While many Americans are running around committing countless hours to prepare a single meal of thanks, it seems as appropriate a time as any to share a few time-saving meal tips.

If you have spent any time with me, you know I eat a lot. Like all the time. And if I’m not eating, I’m generally pretty worried about when I will eat next. It’s sort of annoying and I even get aggravated with myself. And to make things extra complicated (as most things tend to be with me), I have all sorts of dietary restrictions.

Just like most people I know, whether employed in-the-home, or out-of-the-home, male, female, athlete, non-athlete, parent or child-free, the one thing I ALWAYS wish I had more of is time. I constantly listen to people telling me that they don’t have time to do all sorts of things. Truth is, we all have the same 24 hours in any given day, and have to find our own ways to make the most of those hours.

People often think I’m some sort of super hero. I’m not. I’m your basic over-scheduled, always tired, generally not-feeling-well, just trying to have fun, navigating my way through life kind of gal. I do have a secret though. I do share this secret a lot (so I guess it’s not an actual secret) and people either laugh at me, roll their eyes at me, ignore me or are fascinated by my secret. You ready? Here it is. Crockpot. Yup, that’s right. Crockpot. And I have 3.

I live, and would otherwise die, without my wonderful hunks of stainless steel and ceramic. True. I cook everything in it from overnight oatmeal to bone broth to the most amazing dinners. I do all my food prep, eat healthy and serve food that is so super yummy and nutrient-dense. People taste the food I lug around with me ( you can pretty much always find me toting around my 6-pack fitness bag full of said deliciousness) and make comments like, “Oh my God. This is so friggin’ good!” Um yeah. I don’t like to eat stuff that tastes bad. Duh.

You can find 7,890,877,678 or maybe more, recipes on the internet. And I know you have time to search the Internet. I have some favorites which I have shared below and pretty much anything you make from the Paleo Sow Cooker Cookbook is amazing.

If you have multiple crockpots, you can fire them all up on any weekend morning, let them cook all day, portion them up, freeze them or even take the lazy way out and store them in the fridge in the actual crockpot ceramic and then just put on warm up on the day you want. All meals done for a week! Or make a big pot of chicken and then you can shred it for salad, tacos, pasta, rice bowls or whatever.

I do have a few Jacqueline tips to crockpotting. Here they are:

1) Always, always, always use a crockpot liner. When you are done, you pull it out and throw it away. Give the crock a rinse and you are done. It’s like lazy and genius had a baby. Best $3 you will spend. 4 in a pack so I use multiple packs a week. You can buy tham at a grocery store, Target, Walmart or Amazon.

2) Use fresh herbs. It makes even the most basic meal taste gourmet. For instance: line crockpot with red potatoes, chopped onions, put the chicken in, add some broth, top with rosemary. So easy, tastes good and makes your house smell yum. You can get way fancier, but you can’t get much easier than that. My favorite herbs include…

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Also, fresh lemon juice

3) Apples are the magic goddess fruit of crockpot. Don’t believe me? Try this. Peel and core apples. Like a dozen. Chop them. Add like a cup or so of water. Sprinkle some cinnamon. Turn on. Yummmmm. Or get totally crazy and add chicken. Whaaaatttt??? Yup.

4) Use homemade broth if you can. So this takes a little extra time but is still made in the crockpot. I like grass fed bone broth (recipe here) but you may not be into that so you can make any type. Portion into ziplock and freeze. Soooooo next level.

5) Meat can be frozen. True story. If you only have frozen meat, go ahead and put it in there with some liquid and you are good to go. Think you have nothing? If you are super desperate and trying to fly out the door to work, school, kids events or whatever and can dig up any combo of these, you are good – frozen or unfrozen.

  • Ground turkey and pasta sauce
  • Ground beef and pasta sauce
  • Chicken and salsa
  • Chicken and enchilada sauce
  • Chicken and apple
  • Beef roast and broth
  • Pork and apple cider

Now stop complaining you don’t have time to cook or food prep. You do. You can start with all those leftover turkey bones and make some stock. Happy holidays to you and yours……

Should Researchers Be Living the Hashtag Life?

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others | 4 Comments

If you read the BLOG last week, you learned that SoapBox’s very first employee, our current Director of Systems and Programming, also is a professional (as in actually was certified in France) Champagne Sabreur. Turns out, he also follows social media trends and proposed we hop on the #mannequinchallenge. I dutifully agreed, not even knowing what he was asking me.

 Apparently he had a grand plan to stage a SoapBox #mannequinchallenge with the in-office staff. Mind you he brought this up a few weeks ago when it was SUPER cool. It is still cool, but starting to get a little stale already. He suggested I also write a BLOG post about how Market Researchers tend to overlook these trends as we are not fast or nimble enough to catch on. I dutifully responded, go for it. Congrats! You just earned yourself the next guest writer spot on Telltale Ten.  So here is Aaron (aka systems extraordinaire Champagne Sabreuring Social Media expert – he also runs marathons. In case you care about that kind of stuff.)

With the prominence of social media in our daily lives and the ability to share connections with individuals we have absolutely no connection to, it’s no wonder that viral trends gain such high levels of popularity. From the Harlem Shake to the Ice Bucket challenge, these viral sensations have the power to captivate our attention, whether we’re truly entertained by their content or we simply want to know what the heck everyone else is talking about.  These trends have the ability to spread like wildfire through their use of quick entertainment, hashtags, and celebrity endorsements. The latest entry to the #viralclub is the #MannequinChallenge.

Now for those of you who’ve been living under a proverbial rock for the past couple of weeks, the mannequin challenge involves a group of individuals posing in various positions as if they’re frozen in time while the cameraman traverses the scene capturing all of the action. The trend started with a group of high schoolers, who posted the inaugural video on October 26, 2016 with music from the hip hop duo Rae Sremmurd. Word of the original video got back to the artists, Rae Sremmurd, who then performed their own mannequin challenge in concert with help from their audience. Since then the challenge has caught the internet by storm; from a Destiny’s Child reunion to Kevin Hart to Disney World to numerous professional sports teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and many others. Seemingly knowing no bounds, the mannequin challenge even spread into the political arena with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton posting her own rendition prior to the election encouraging viewers not to ‘stand still [and] vote’.

Not only is it super impressive how these trends can come out of nowhere and become so big that even celebrities and major news outlets take notice, but it’s also impressive, maybe even more so, how they can be tweaked and crafted to showcase our individual voices and broadcast our own messages. In the case of Hillary Clinton (and this is not an endorsement for, or a statement against, so just calm down), she took a viral trend that was envisioned as nothing more than clever entertainment and applied to it a relevant and meaningful message: “Don’t stand still. Vote today.”

With that in mind, it raises the question if we as researchers are missing out on a golden goose? Should the Market Research industry pay more attention to these viral trends and capitalize on their reach?

It’s no secret that some of the biggest struggles faced by online research today are 1) finding your target audience, 2) getting them to respond, and 3) reaching younger age groups (especially males) and minorities. Well this may come as a shocker, but guess who some of the biggest proponents are for these viral trends? Millennials. Many of them males, and many of them minorities. Jackpot! There’s your audience.

The challenge then becomes engaging them in a meaningful way.

We here at SoapBoxSample decided to experiment with this and posted our own Mannequin Challenge with the help of a few employees and some clever ideas (levitating balls anyone?). Needless to say, we were quite impressed with the movement we saw. We had hundreds of views within a couple of hours of posting. It’s quite apparent why we saw the sudden surge in activity, and the answer is “viral trends”.

Imagine if we had taken this a step further and tied in a survey opportunity or panel recruitment? It would have resulted in free marketing, clever marketing, that could have easily facilitated our online data collection both for gen-pop and niche demographics.

Sadly, I don’t have the magic formula for how to best capitalize viral social media trends in online research (and if I did I might be inclined to keep it secret), but I am confident that there is a formula to be had. That formula just needs to be solved. And once it finally is, who knows, the possibilities could be endless.

What Do Embarrassment, Fun and Ridiculousness Have in Common?*

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others | 2 Comments


“If you have a great team dynamic, it makes every single person on the team better. If you don’t, it makes everything a drag.” — Jack Dorsey, Twitter Co-founder

If you want to work at SoapBox you have to be willing to either A) — make a fool of yourself or B) — be cool enough to get away with just laughing at those who are willing to make fools of themselves.

Working in a start-up environment can be insane. Long days that run into each other, lots of tears, missed events, high emotions, lots of triumph and lots of disappointment – and that is just an average Monday and Tuesday.

SoapBox launched in October of 2012. We started with 1.5 people and have grown to nearly 30 full-time employees. SoapBox was founded on the TellTale Ten – personal values that I believe in as a set of guiding principles for work and life.

  1. Create Value
  2. Inspire Ideas
  3. Motivate Others
  4. Take Risks
  5. Invoke Passion
  6. Be Genuine
  7. Be Honest
  8. Be Reasonable
  9. Be Clear
  10. Have Fun

We’ve spent our last 4 years living these values day in and day out. We decided (by we, I mean me, as not sure anyone else would have willingly made this same decision) the best way to celebrate our 1,460 days of survival would be on a beautiful property, with amazing food, good wine and a candlelight courtyard dinner – right after Sumo wrestling complete with blow up suits (ISA’s Chairman was among our first challenger), a Velcro wall that you ran and stuck too (ISA’s President was reigning champ), a team challenge where we threw (yes, actually threw) team members as high as possible on to the Velcro wall, and let’s not forget the egg off (basically the elementary game of tossing eggs and moving further apart until they break).

We topped the night off with a champagne sabering presentation by our Director of Systems and Programming, who was our first employee, and super fab throwback music by DJ Dan, Our Director of Client Services and our 2nd employee.

It was super fun. We giggled hysterically, cheered raucously and exchange sentimental moments *single tear shedding*.

*If you are still asking yourself what the answer to the headline is, cool. That was my intention.

Trade Show Tricks … And Treats!

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Motivate Others, Take Risks | 13 Comments

You’ve heard of “Take-Your-Kid-to-Work Day,” but what about “Take-Your-Marketing-Director-to-a-Trade-Show Day?” Although I’ve been involved in planning SoapBoxSample’s trade show presence for the past several years, it wasn’t until last month that I actually got to be there for an exhibition. Attending the MRA Corporate Researchers Conference in person let me see trade shows through a new lens. I learned a few simple (and free!) tricks that can help any company bring in a big fish.

Focus on what really counts. It’s not just the flashy booth graphics (although they help), the perfectly-worded handout (probably doesn’t help at all) or the even the free giveaways (although I am a sucker for a good stress ball). What stood out the most for me was the people. Here’s what I picked up.

  1. Being Bored Is Boring

You know how you start to yawn when someone around you is yawning? Yeah, it’s not a good look. So cut it out. Keep your energy up. Tell a joke. Do a few jumping jacks. Be silly. It’s better than putting people to sleep.

  1. Avoid Predatory Practices

Have you ever walked through the mall and gotten the sensation that you were being stalked? It’s probably the overzealous perfume counter girl looking for her next victim to spray. Don’t be like this girl. You can feel her stare from a mile away and it immediately makes you want to duck and run. An overly intense salesperson can cause the same effect. If you notice people quickening their pace and suddenly burying their faces in their phones as they go past your booth, someone may be putting off a desperate vibe.

  1. Seven Deadly Body Language Sins

60% to 90% of communication is nonverbal. Closed-off body language sends a clear signal to potential clients — Don’t stop, keep walking. Here are some examples of behavior that can drive people away from your space. If you see anyone on your staff doing any of these things, throw a stress ball at their heads.

  • Constantly checking their phone (or watch)
  • Scratching, picking, poking, or doing anything to their bodies that should be done in private (It’s just gross!)
  • Staring at the ground
  • Standing too close to people
  • Tapping fingers, feet, or worst of all, clicking a pen
  • Fake, frozen smile
  • Over-blinking (or staring without blinking) (Super creepy! Don’t be known as the company of serial killers.)
  1. Don’t Be a Broken Record!

Have you ever gotten a robo-call? If you’re lucky enough to have avoided them, they are pre-recorded telephone calls, usually from a telemarketing company or a political party. And they are THE. WORST. EVER. Don’t let your staff pitch like robots. Robots memorize a script and recite it on repeat. Encourage your team to LISTEN, and ASK QUESTIONS. People want to feel heard. They want their uniqueness to be acknowledged. Show your value by showing off your human side. In other words, be real.

  1. Steer Clear of Smack-Talkers

Market Research is a small, tight-knit industry. People know each other. If I started talking smack about my competition, it would get around. Fast. Even if you work for a huge industry, it’s not a good idea to trash talk your competition. This is especially true at a trade show, where competing companies are sharing the same space and the same food supply. There are ways to show off your capabilities without putting others down. It makes you look desperate, and unprofessional. And it might make people wonder if you’re equally uninhibited about discussing clients and their confidential information.

  1. When the Show’s Over, You’re Still on Display

Before attending this conference, I thought that Market Researchers were a meek and mild bunch (like accountants or insurance adjusters.) Wrong. Market researchers like to drink and party. A lot. And when they start drinking, they start coming out of their shells. (Some of them should have stayed in their shells.) Speaking of staying in, it’s a good idea to look out for … (how can I put this delicately?) overexposure. After the cocktail reception mingling, potential clients should come away with more knowledge of your products and services, not more knowledge of your salesperson’s soft tissues.

And yes, I actually witnessed all of these things first hand. Some even more than once. I was there for 2.5 days.

I have always known, that having a decent trade show presence can be expensive and time-consuming. But if it’s done well it can have a great ROI. In other words, you can be the best Marketer in the world, but work with your leadership team to make sure your hard work isn’t ruined by a salesperson with a creepy stare who picks his nose in your booth.