My BETT – day by day…Thursday

So Wednesday has come and gone, and Thursday is here.  This time last year, we were hopeful that things would get better, this year, we were hopeful that things would be as good as yesterday!  The good news is that the stand was busier from the outset all the way through the day.

One of the problems you have as an exhibitor, is the problem of making sure that the people who come on to the start of a presentation stay all the way through to the end.  One of the ideas that was had was to have a prize draw at the end of each presentation to ensure that people stayed around to listen.  Some call it bribery, I may agree.  Whatever you call it, it worked!  We really did have a lot of people taking part in a lot of presentations (14 per day!) and many people stayed to listen to more than one.

At this stage, I have to say a huge thank you to the presenters who, between them did 56 presentations, and there were only four of them!  They were Russ Payne, Tim Meek, Paul Naish and Paula Hubbard.  It is a testament to their professional presentations that we had such an amazing show.

We had been showing Read & Respond Engage a lot during the show, and we were getting many good responses from people, some saying that it was just what they needed and signing up there and then.  One visitor said that it was refreshing to see a digital resource that kept the children’s book  at the heart of the resource.  Another said it was the best thing they had seen at the show.

It was on Thursday that I met some people I have followed and respected for a very long time, Ewan McIntosh, John Davitt  and David Whyley.  It was nice for me not to be on stage for most of the day, so that I had the time to talk to these very inspirational people!  We were delighted to host two TeachMeet Takeover slots on Wednesday from Bev Evans and Kevin Mulryne. 🙂

Thursday night was Collaborate for Change at BETT night, and I went along to take the photos (yes, I was the annoying git hovering over you taking photos!).  It was really good to see a room full of teachers sharing ideas about the resources they use in the classroom.  It was also good to catch up with Ant from 2Simple (@2simpleant), Ian Addison (@ianaddison), Charlie Deane (@charliedeane) and many more!

The good news was that I got back to the hotel in time for food before the mayhem that was Friday!

My BETT – day by day…Wednesday

BETT is one of those shows that you think about for a long time.  We started planning BETT 2011 in February 2010, allowing ourselves time to have crazy ideas that keep us awake at night, and then distil them into common sense punchy ideas for the show.  For example, back in May we had the idea of a QR treasure hunt, and then in September I listened into a great presentation at the Scottish Learning Festival Teach Meet by Jennifer Harvey about setting up a QR treasure hunt which helped focus our minds.

BETT is also the worst time in the year for an exhibition – a week after you return from Christmas!  This year we also had the dreaded flu to contend with, which took out our exhibitions coordinator until the Monday after BETT!  Nevertheless, the stand on the Tuesday seemed to be ahead of the year before, and we even had time to do some presentation run throughs before we finished setting up at 8pm.

Wednesday morning started with me in Sainsbury’s buying my own body weight in Chocolate Eclairs (we had this idea that we should have a purple theme, and it was the only sweet that fitted the bill).  On the stand, we had a massive problem with the Internet connection.  For some reason, our brand new router decided that it didn’t want to do a full time job.  We didn’t really need the stress, but after a couple of hours it was back and we could start the show with everything working!

Wednesday was busy.  Compared to the Wednesday before, where it was so quiet we played spot the visitor, this year we were busy fro

m 10:30am to about 4:00pm.  We met so many excellent people on our stand it has been hard to remember them all – but needless to say that the show started with a bang!

The Wednesday evening was TedXOrenda.  Organised by Drew Buddie (@digitalmaverick), one of the most passionate and energetic people I know, it was a great start to the three day teacher-curated BETT.   I absolutely loved listening to the speakers – top of the list would be Naomi Jane (@missnaomijane)who gave a talk about the effect that teachers can, and do have on the lives and prospects of pupils.  Maybe it was because I could relate very closely to what she was discussing, or whether it was because she was such an assured public speaker, her words were incredibly inspirational.  I was delighted how well the Hexayurt programmes went down, a homage to the work of Vinay Gupta (@leashless).  Again, the compering by Bill Thompson was excellent, this Ted event is going from strength to strength!

Unfortunately, we got back to the hotel very late, too late for food, so I ended the day having eaten no more than breakfast.

#tmtakeover11 help required!

Due to mechanical error (printer breaking down), and local company error (not printing enough and running out of time) I could really do with some help to print the TeachMeet Takeover 2011 flyer.

The PDF is in my dropbox here.  I have managed to get 200 done, but I would think that every stand hosting would need a similar number.  Could I ask that everyone who can, prints as many as they can and brings them along to BETT?  The format is very simple, double sided A4 folded to A5.  If you can’t help, let me know and I will find another way around it!

While I am handing links out, here is the link to the PowerPoint with the TeachMeet Takeover logo on, for display on stands…

On both links, it is easier to right click, and ‘save target as…’

Thank you!

A week in the life of a ‘Sales Vulture’ – BETT 2011

I am sure it was firmly tongue in cheek, but this morning on Twitter, there was reference made to ‘always sad at the sales vultures on the trade stands at bett with expensive things for the gullible’.

It did remind me though of BETT last year, and how with TeachMeet Takeover on the stand teachers handing out TeachMeet Takeover flyers to visitors got incredibly frustrated as they ‘weren’t selling anything’. Then in Ed Tech Roundup #54, teachers voiced how incredibly annoyed that they were ignored, walked and barged past, even though they had something very important to talk to them about that was FREE!

I’m afraid that is the way of the exhibiting world.  I get infuriated by people saying that they have walked around all of BETT and there was ‘no content’ anywhere to be seen.  Why do I get frustrated?  Because I have worked for eleven months to produce a stand that has nothing on it apart from content!  We have some stunning resources this year, that are just what teachers need to engage and excite learners, and it is my job to ensure that if you are looking for resources, you talk to us!

This year, we are looking forward to a good BETT.  Our first meeting was in February, and we  have been working to improve on everything we did last year. Our presentations will be more interactive, the stand will be more colourful, we will engage more than just the people who are on our stand.  Why are we doing this?  We need you to see what we are doing!  Exhibitions is only a small part of what I do at work.  There are teams of people creating top quality content for teachers to use in the classroom – my job is to make sure that you see it!

We do try and let people know what we are doing before the show, and we do try and talk to people to ensure that we don’t waste your time at the show (if you go around the exhibition properly, it can take two to three days!). But for every teacher who reads my posts, articles and press releases about what we have in store for you, there will be ten who don’t – it is these people that ‘sales vultures’ need to talk to at the show.

So, as you wonder around BETT this week, don’t think about the people on stands as sales vultures, think of them as people who are trying very hard to show you just what you are looking for!

Yours, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, Chris!

Scholastic at BETT 2011 – smile, we dare you!

TeachMeet Takeover from 2010...2011 will be amazing!

Image courtesy of the most fabulous Ian Usher

Righto, BETT is around the corner (literally for some, a train ride for others), and Scholastic are gearing up, pulling out all of the stops (that’s enough tired old clichés, Ed) to ensure you have the best BETT ever! Oh, and if you can’t make it, don’t worry, you can still take part!

Last year the Scholastic stand was pretty good, but we realised that a tweak there, a polish here would really make the stand sparkle, and that is just what we have planned for you this year. The watch-word is ‘fun’. If you leave the stand and you aren’t smiling, we will chase you down the aisles until you do! 🙂

So, here are the things that we are planning:

Come and meet Anthony Browne!

Anthony Browne, Children’s Laureate will be coming to the Scholastic stand (G40) to launch Read & Respond Engage. We are quite rightly incredibly proud of Read & Respond Engage. It manages to retain the wonderful feel of Read & Respond (using high-quality children’s books such as Gorilla) with some amazing new features that only the web can offer. Anthony will be with us on Saturday, and we are very excited!!

A prize draw, every 30 minutes, every day!

Now, some people (we won’t name names, you know who you are) took advantage of my good nature and suggested this quite ridiculous idea. I said yes, they have me on tape, I have been committed. We are looking to hand over some pretty amazing prizes – come along on the day to find out exactly what you have to do to get one!

A QR treasure hunt to win an iPad!

A lovely mashup of QR codes, treasure hunts and in a weird sort of way, orienteering – whichever way you look at it , there is an iPad to be won at the end!! If you can’t make it to the show, and you still want to join in, we have a virtual treasure hunt as well…more details to be posted on the first day of the show for this!

More amazing new stuff?!

Oh yes, a stunning new interactive primary science scheme. A maths reading scheme for KS1 with more ebooks than you can shake a stick at. More Class PET (this time with mental maths and homework); more Story Stage, a new look Child Education and We Are Writers has been shortlisted for a BETT award!

TeachMeet Takeover

We are hosting Teach Meet Takeover on our stand – two per day from Thursday to Saturday, and the line-up this year looks really good. Take a look at the TeachMeet schedule here for more info!

And there’s more!!!

Get your portrait done on our stand with our resident charicature artist (on stand all week), charge your phones, have a play with Story Stage on the smart table, graffiti on our doodle wall, eat our chocolate, sit on our sofas…and if we can make it work hack into our wifi for free and watch everything you like on the live stream!

I’m exhausted before we have started!

Customer Service – keeping customers happy and gaining new ones in tough economic times

I wrote a guest blog for ‘The Best of Hinckley’ this week, so have republished it here. You can see the post in it’s original setting here.

People have a limited amount of money in their pockets during these tough economic times and they are being more and more selective about where they spend it.  What can you do to help them spend it with you?

Whatever your business, I believe that the same basic principles will always apply …

  • treat your customers well
  • ensure that you talk to them regularly
  • remember who they are and what they like

… and they will come back time and time again.

Of course, you might say that works when you are selling the best and the cheapest product but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that exlusive or low cost a product to get good customer retention (people will often sacrifice a little of quality, and pay a little more if they know they are going to have a good experience buying it).

Customer Experience

In practice, here are just a few examples of the companies, local and national, that I think have amazing service:

The Barber of Bosworth – I know that hairdressers are meant to talk to you but most of the ones I have been to before will talk about where I went on holiday, etc. but Leanne at The Barber of Bosworth knows her customers; she knows how old my daughter is, her name and what I do for a living.  There are many hairdressers much closer to where I live, but I drive for 15 minutes and pay for parking to get a haircut there!  How could you do something similar in your business?

Barwell Butchers – every time I go in, I get a smile and conversation when I buy local and high-quality food that isn’t ridiculously priced! In your everyday life, is there a chance that you could make someone smile?  If you can, they’ll come back! – it is pretty difficult to be different when you make a business card, right?  Well, where everyone else sells themselves on being the cheapest, Moo go for the WOW factor. Fancy having a picture on your business card? How about a different picture on every card in your pocket? Think what effect it would have handing out a unique business card – will that make you stand out in the minds of your customers?

Using new technologies – Social Media

One of the interesting things that has started to happen recently is for companies to conduct their customer service online.  I did a bit of research this morning and I couldn’t find many local businesses on twitter (the micro-blogging service).  Using Twitter well can help you to gain new customers, keep people engaged and improve your retention rate.

How to use Twitter effectively is a whole other blog post though but the first rule is simple – be there!

Strategic Partnerships

Don’t be afraid to go over the top, or join up with another company to create something amazing…how about this as an example. I work for a large national publisher that offers £15 of stickers free on every order placed, even when the value of the order is lower than £15.  Crazy, right?

Not really, the stickers are provided by another company that specialises in stickers.  The free gift gives my customers the warm glow and enhances our retention rate, the sticker company gets exposure and follow-up orders.

I trust that my first blog post on the bestofhinckley has sparked some thought and in particular, what can you do to make your business stand out, how can you retain your important customers and are you spreading the word about ‘your amazing business’?

A Short History of Classroom Resources

After a week of putting it together, the first draft of the Short History of Classroom Resources is now complete.  A week ago I asked on this blog for people to help put together a Google spreadsheet to help categorise what happened when. I had an amazing response to this, and I have to thank everyone for putting themselves out. I definitely, genuinely couldn’t have done this without you!

It isn’t finished though – looking at what we have, I can see some glaring omissions in the Hand Held column, plus the software and teacher resource areas are a bit light. However, this could change – if you want to change things, or add things in, then just edit the spreadsheet (make it clear what is new!) and I will update the prezi.

So to the presentation. It is held in Prezi, and I have set it to reuse, so feel free to download and set your own paths.  I think it works well as a (although chronological) non-linear presentation.  And as always, thoughts welcome!

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