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304 – Online Craft Shows: Everything You Need to Know about Exhibiting with Robert Allen of At Home Event
Episode 3048th February 2021 • Gift Biz Unwrapped • Sue Monhait
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Online Craft Shows with Robert Allen of At Home EventThe challenges of 2020 have brought some overlooked ideas to the forefront. One of those? Online craft shows. Today, we're diving into exactly what you need to know to be successful with virtual shows - because guess what? They're here to stay. Robert has emerged as one of the most sought after virtual event producers working today. With over 30 years of video production expertise, he helps companies pivot to take their event experiences online. For more than three decades, Robert was an award-winning event video journalist. He was inducted into the WEVA Hall of Fame in 2002, received the prestigious Bob LeBar Vision Award, a multi-year International Creative Excellence Award winner and for two years in a row was named to the Event DV 25 who are considered to be the most influential videographers in the field. In 2005 Robert advanced onto the new media landscape with the creation of Wedding Podcast Network which quickly became a leading authority in bridal media. Today, Robert develops and produces strategic internet marketing campaigns for a variety of for-profit and non-profit clients. Robert's latest endeavor is At Home Event producing interactive virtual event experiences with his partner Holli Ehrlich.

BUSINESS BUILDING INSIGHTS

  • Understand that you are unique. Others can emulate what you do but they can’t exactly copy. Everything we do has our signature thumbprint on it.
  • When you create a demand for yourself and your unique offering, people will not only want to work with you but will pay a premium to do so.
  • You must have an online presence. Without a stronghold in the online space, you’re at a disadvantage in today's business world.
  • Look at successful people and businesses. Look at their path to success and see what you can use for your own.
  • Momentum is key. Now is not the time to sit back and wait. It's time to put things in action and move forward. Take action!
  • Help, guidance, and mentoring from the right person can make a world of difference in your business.
  • Gathering emails is vital. It’s something that nobody can take away from you. <-- Pro tip!
  • Always be authentic. People buy from people they know, like, and trust.

Online Craft Shows - What You Need To Know

  • Advantages of online craft shows:
    • Virtual shows allow you to connect with people who would never attend an in-person event.
    • The virtual space is a lean-forward environment. When people attend a virtual event, they are fully engaged. They want to get something out of it.
    • Reach a much wider audience than ever before - even worldwide - with today's technology.
    • You don't have to be a well-established business to take advantage of the virtual space. If you have the drive and the ability to implement constructive criticism, you can do well.
  • Challenges of virtual shows:
    • There is a gap between a society that is ready to attend online events and business owners who don't know how to present virtually.
    • The experience is an evolving landscape as we learn what works best and what doesn't.
  • Tips for online craft show success:
    • Your virtual space must look great on camera. Create a virtual "showroom."
    • Up your product photos game. Have photos on simple white backgrounds as well as lifestyle photos.
    • Create descriptive product details including the senses they can't experience online (how it tastes, feels, smells, etc.).
    • Focus on your bestsellers or seasonal items for shows. Don't list everything you offer. Too much creates confusion and overwhelm.
    • Work your networks and email lists to get the word out about your online events. Nobody will just happen by, as might happen at an in-person event.
    • When all exhibitors draw in their networks, everyone in the show benefits.
    • Join virtual events early to take advantage of all promotional opportunities.
  • Listen to the full convo for lots more on online craft show success!  

Robert's Contact Links

WebsiteFacebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

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Become a Member of Gift Biz Breeze If you found value in this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you automatically get the next episode downloaded for your convenience. Click on your preferred platform below to get started. Also, if you'd like to do me a huge favor - please leave a review. It helps other creators like you find the show and build their businesses too. You can do so right here: Rate This Podcast Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify Thank you so much! Sue

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Transcripts

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Gift biz unwrapped episode 304.

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Someone can emulate what you do,

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but they can't copy what you do.

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Because everything we do has our own signature thumbprint on it.

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Attention gifters bakers,

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crafters, and makers pursuing your dream can be fun.

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Whether you have an established business or looking to start one.

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Now you are in the right place.

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This is gift to biz unwrapped,

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helping you turn your skill into a flourishing business.

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Join us for an episode,

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packed full of invaluable guidance,

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resources, and the support you need to grow.

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Your gift biz.

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Here is your host gift biz gal Sue moon Heights.

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Hi there.

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It's Sue Coming to you from snowy.

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Chicago go.

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I'm a huge lover of snow.

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As you may already know if you're not in snow country,

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let me paint a picture of the perfect blizzard.

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It starts with huge fluffy white flakes falling lightly to the

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ground. As time goes on,

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the air gets more crowded until there are beautiful glistening flakes

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dropping all around.

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As if you were standing inside a snow globe,

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you're treated to a calm muted world with the tree branches,

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accented and weighed down by snow.

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The path ahead of you is angelically untouched.

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It's like walking into a world full of peace and tranquility.

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And if you catch it at the right time and you're

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the only run around,

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you can easily hear the soft crunch of each of your

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footsteps. Perhaps you can even find tiny footprints of animals who

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have just passed by a perfect snow.

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And I'm always so grateful for the times I get to

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experience it.

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So I had to share it with you.

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When I think of the pure white untouched snow.

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I'm also thinking about how I want you to enter into

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this episode without past footprints leading you in a predetermined direction.

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I say that because we're going to be talking about virtual

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events, selling directly to the consumer.

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And I don't want you to immediately categorize this conversation into

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wholesale trade shows or think of this as a face-to-face craft

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show, just moved online,

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kind of like a second best.

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It's a mistake to go there.

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Virtual shows are a completely separate category entirely.

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Did you hear me?

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Virtual shows are a completely separate category.

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Entirely. These online events come with their own potential.

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They have unique qualities you need to understand,

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so you can take advantage of all the opportunities and there's

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huge potential for new that up until now.

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You may never have approached like a direct connection to a

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national audience.

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And well,

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why don't we just get into the show and you'll hear

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all about it.

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Today. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Robert Allen

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of new media connection.

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Robert has emerged as one of the most sought after virtual

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event producers working today with over 30 years of video production

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expertise, he helps companies pivot to take their advent experiences online

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for more than three decades.

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Robert has been an award-winning event,

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video journalist.

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He was inducted into the Weaver hall of fame in 2002

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received the prestigious Bob Labar vision award,

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a multipurpose international creative excellence award winner.

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And for two years in a row was named to the

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event DV 25,

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who are considered to be the most influential videographers in the

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field in 2005,

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Robert advanced onto the new media landscape with the creation of

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wedding podcast network,

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which quickly became a leading authority in bridal media today,

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Robert develops and produces strategic internet marketing campaigns for a variety

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of for-profit and nonprofit clients.

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Robert's latest endeavor is at home events,

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producing interactive virtual event experiences with his partner,

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Holly Ehrlich,

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Robert, welcome to the gift biz on wrapped podcast.

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Thanks so much for having me.

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So We knew this was coming.

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We've been talking about this for a while and I am

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thrilled that you're here.

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Can't wait to dive in,

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but I've already warned you about my traditional question.

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Haven't I?

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Okay. So if you were to describe yourself as a motivational

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candle, what color and quote would be on your candle?

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Well, the quotes easy,

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and I was thinking about the color and you know,

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me, I usually dress in very dark colors,

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but when I think about it as my candle,

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I think my candle would be rainbow because I would want

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it to be all inclusive.

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Am I quote,

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would definitely be by Ralph Waldo.

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Emerson do not go with the path may lead go instead

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where there is no path and leave a trail.

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And that's really a quote that I live by every day,

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Mark your own path,

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make a name for yourself,

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be different,

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which calls attention to you and makes you stand out from

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the crowd.

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Exactly. And I've always been a sharer and a teacher.

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And I think if I had another path to take in

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my life,

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it would have been a teacher because I never minded sharing

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what I learned,

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never feared someone trying to copy me or anything like that.

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Always felt that if I knew something,

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it was my job to be able to share it and

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lead the way,

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love that.

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Well, I'm going to Ask you,

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and this might catch you off guard a little bit,

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but this is an issue that we have with my audience

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all the time is if someone is just starting a business,

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they don't want to tell anybody because what if somebody steals

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their idea and let's face it,

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very few things have never been made.

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You might make a different version of a candle,

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or there's a different way.

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You bake cupcakes or create your pottery.

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What's the advice you would give people who are so anxious

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about sharing their ideas because that's ingrained in you.

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What would you say to people who feel like they have

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to keep it a secret?

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I think that human nature kind of tells us that,

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right? We want to protect what's ours.

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Okay. But when you're a creator,

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when you are someone who loses creativity,

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someone can emulate what you do,

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but they can't copy what you do because everything we do

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has our own signature thumbprint on it.

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And that's what makes us who we are.

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So I think that that concern is valid,

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but it's not something that should hold anyone back from achieving

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their goals and their dreams.

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The idea will get out eventually and people will nip at

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your heels,

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but look at it as a compliment.

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They say that imitation is the best form of flattery,

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but it's something that you have to learn to live with

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as someone who creates,

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because someone will always try and emulate what you're doing.

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Right. And I guess the way I think of it also,

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based on what you're saying too,

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is you don't need every single person out there to be

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following you to be successful in your business.

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I mean,

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think of how many people there are,

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even just in the United States,

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you need a group,

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not totally small,

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but you need a group of people who are loyal and

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committed and following you.

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And from there,

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everything just unfold.

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Absolutely. I think everybody needs a handful of raving fans.

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And I think once you establish that base,

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I think the natural exponential growth happens,

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but staying true to what you do and not trying to

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please everyone,

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but I think the word niche marketing targeting in on who

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wants you,

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the idea of just kind of browsing the pages of a

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newspaper, let's say,

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you know,

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are few and far between everything is targeted.

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Now we search for exactly what we want to see.

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So the people that zero in on what you do,

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what you create are the people that are looking for that.

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So I think as we move into the technology that lies

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before us,

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I think it allows more people to be able to find

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us easier.

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Have you heard the quote different is better than better?

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Have you ever heard that,

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that came to mind also as we're talking,

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because it's almost better not to follow people who are in

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your industry necessarily because you'll be tempted to just try and

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copy what they're doing,

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but better versus I'm going to stick with candles here,

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making a candle that's different than to your point,

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so that your niche down,

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you have a different quality to your product and people will

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love it and follow it because you're the one who's doing

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that. Not just making yet another candle,

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even though all the candles are great.

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I bought No,

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no, I agree.

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And that has been my business philosophy all along is to

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create the demand for me,

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for what I do so that people would not only want

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to work with me,

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but would be willing to pay a premium to do so

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because they get you.

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Yeah, exactly.

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And what doesn't work if you're looking to mass produce,

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okay. Because you would need to create something that can be

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kind of stamped out,

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let's say,

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but that was never my approach in anything that I did.

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So I always wanted to create from scratch.

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And when you do that,

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that should command a much higher price tag because of the

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work that went into creating that.

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Sure. Well,

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tell us a little bit about how you've gotten to where

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you are today.

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Well, I have always from when I was very young,

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as young as the seventh grade,

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when I was made the captain of the intermediate school,

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51 audio visual squad,

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and it was all downhill from there.

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From that moment on when I had a room full of

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projectors and film,

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strip projectors,

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and very early video equipment.

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And we're talking,

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I don't want to date myself,

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but we're talking about the mid 1970s.

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And that's really where it started.

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My love for capturing images was born at that moment through

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photography and video.

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And it took me through a video career in capturing special

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events and teaching my techniques.

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I had the opportunity to do a number of celebrity weddings

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in my career and be in situations in places where it

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kind of had to pinch myself say,

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am I really here my really doing this wedding?

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And it was very exciting,

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got to meet some very interesting people that morphed into creating

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wedding podcast network in 2005 when the iPod was literally just

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born. And I remember when we live in New Jersey and

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Holly and I would travel into Manhattan and as we started

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to create the network and do interviews and we'd be riding

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on the subway car and I would,

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she'd be reading her magazine.

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And I would be counting the number of people on the

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train car that had the white earbuds in,

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because I knew that they were listening to an iPod and

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they could very possibly be listening to our podcast.

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And it was very exciting at that time to watch how

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this medium began to unfortunately like many things I've done in

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my career,

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we were way ahead of the curve and the 2005,

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2007, and went on for 12 years,

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we would meet with brand managers and they would look at

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us cross-eyed they had no idea what a podcast was or

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how powerful it was.

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And we had a very hard time monetizing that back then.

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And then now here we are doing a podcast together and

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podcasts are everywhere.

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Yeah. But I can only imagine back then,

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Robert, because I know when I started my show,

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which is about,

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Oh gosh,

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I'm going to be going down to six years now,

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even then people didn't really know podcasts.

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I mean,

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even my audience right here,

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you had to educate people.

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What's a podcast.

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How do I listen?

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Is that a URL?

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Do I have to go on the computer?

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Like people were still very confused.

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So I can only imagine back in 2005,

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what it was like,

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It was almost impossible to get that message Double because you

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had to educate people and then direct them to the show

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at the same time.

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Absolutely. It was a challenge.

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And like you said,

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it still remains a challenge with any evolving technology like this,

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teaching people and getting them to understand just how valuable it

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is. Sometimes take some work.

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What do you feel the advantages are of being an early

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adopter? Gosh,

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you end up with a lot of equipment that you don't

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ultimately need.

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That's one of the paintings.

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I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage.

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I guess for me,

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it's a mindset.

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I was always a leader.

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I was always one,

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I guess,

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to jump into the pool first and give it a try.

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And because of that,

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I made some mistakes,

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but I also had the distinct advantage of being a first

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mover in the space.

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And it's a lot of the reason why even now,

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when we talk about virtual events,

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it's being done at a much quicker pace than we would

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do under,

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let's say normal circumstances because we want to be a first

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mover in this space because it will give us a distinct

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advantage as we move forward.

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Absolutely. And you also see the opportunity is upon us,

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based on what's gone on in the world,

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we've had to shelter in.

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And so how were people going to get the word out

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and sell their products?

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And let's face it when you talk about wellness or wedding

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or whatever you want to talk about.

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Events still went on.

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Some got delayed,

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but some continued to go on.

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And what way can you get the word out there?

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But virtual Indeed,

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the days of consulting the yellow pages for what you need

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are over.

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And we're in a very fluid situation that's continuously changing.

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And if you don't have a strong hold in the online

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space, then you're at a distinct disadvantage in doing business today.

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There are still businesses out there who don't have an internet

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presence, whether that be a website,

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whether that be an social media presence,

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you still meet people that say,

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Oh, I'm not on Facebook.

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I won't do that.

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I'm like,

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all right,

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you don't know if you want to miss out on what's

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going on around you.

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That's your choice.

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But there is a lot of technology pushback.

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Like I don't want to do that.

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Okay. Well,

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you're going to need to learn and adapt.

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If you want to move along with the rest of society,

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that's just the way it is.

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Kind of see it as the evolution of media all along.

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I mean,

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in the beginning,

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what did we have word of mouth,

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if you want to go way back,

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but then newspapers came out then radio.

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Then the addition,

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not only,

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but the addition of TV,

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then direct mail and now social media.

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So this is just the way the culture has evolved.

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Like today.

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You wouldn't only be listening to just radio or putting ads

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for your business on radio,

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but you would have 50,

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60 years ago,

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70 years ago,

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whenever you want to say,

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right? So social media now and everything that's online is just

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the newest way to do it based on what technology allows

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us to do.

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And, Oh my gosh,

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Robert, I mean,

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we can reach as a small business from our home nationally.

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We can touch potential customers coast to coast now,

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even worldwide,

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if you wanted to go that far,

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how exciting is that?

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The enormous power that each of us possess because of our

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ability to interact with the world at the press of a

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button is something that I think there are as,

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as a segment of the population who has taken advantage of

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that in a good way,

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but there are many more who have yet to even dip

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their toe into that pool of being able to see the

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potential and see the power.

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And especially if you get the right people to help you

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and to guide you and to mentor you,

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it can really be something that changes everything in someone's business.

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Unfortunately, there's a lot of misinformation out there on how to

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do things,

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but I think if people take a step back and just

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use common sense to see just from their own behavior,

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how they act and interact online and even in the real

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world, right?

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Because we talk about what works and what doesn't work.

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And if you think about it,

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we drive around and what do we see all over?

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At least I know where I live.

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Our billboards billboards are all over.

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You drive up and down the highway,

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you see billboards and you see people advertising on billboards.

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And you know,

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something, if it didn't work,

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if billboards didn't work,

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guess what they would be blank companies wouldn't be spending money.

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All you have to do is look around you at successful

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people, successful businesses,

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what are they doing?

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What are some of the things that they're doing that you

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can emulate that might help you?

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It's as simple as that,

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it's picking someone who you admire,

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someone who you would like to be like that your business

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to be light and dive into what it is they do.

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And I'm not talking.

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This brings us back to the beginning of the conversation of

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copy. I'm not talking about that at all.

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I'm talking about walking in their footsteps,

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right? Of what path did they take?

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And can I get on that path?

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I think if more people did that,

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if they identified the people who were successful in the ways

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he would like to be successful,

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work-life balance,

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things like that.

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I think we would all be better off,

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but we have to do it with eyes wide open and

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you can't achieve that unless you are watching.

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So that's how it comes about in life.

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I would agree with that,

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get on that same path,

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but do it your way.

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And I feel like the time is right now,

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too, when we are on another cusp of change.

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And that is,

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as you were talking about before virtual shows this summer,

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I had the opportunity because there are a lot of pretty

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big shows that normally would happen in my area here.

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Fine. Art shows some smaller craft shows.

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And then of course there are the really smaller community craft

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shows and church bazaars and farmer's markets,

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you know,

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all of that,

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but I had the opportunity to get out.

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And although it's social distance,

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those of you who've been following me have seen the Facebook

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lives I did when I took you through and showed you

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exactly how things were being managed.

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We've also done a podcast from one of the show producers

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talking about how they were managing through physical shows.

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But what I continue to hear from artists was number one,

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they were obviously doing less shows because many of the shows

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were canceled.

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Number two,

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a lot of people were getting online for the first time

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ever because some of these makers give business owners.

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This might even be you and no fault,

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right? But things are changing.

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They didn't have an online presence because by nature of what

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they did and the people who they are,

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they love going out to face-to-face shows.

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But they're also seeing I have to get online this year.

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If I'm going to be able to sell and have limited

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shows that I can even go to if at all,

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I have to go online.

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So I think a lot of people were forced online,

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but now people are comfortable.

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Let's think of it.

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Like I would have never expected some of my older relatives

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ever to be on zoom.

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And now zoom is as easy as picking up a telephone.

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So we've gotten to a point where the population has become

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much more comfortable communicating online.

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We've also seen,

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and this was what I was hearing from artists that they

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probably will keep up more of the virtual activity that 2020

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forced them into because they're seeing that there can be a

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good compromise.

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You can do a little bit of both.

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I talked to one person in particular,

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he did 40 shows a year and he says,

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you know what,

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I'm going to probably drop down to about 10 and the

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rest I'm going to do online.

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So to your point of being an early adapter,

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I am all in and right behind you and supporting you,

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Robert in that idea,

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that virtual shows will definitely be a strong way for the

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future. Yeah.

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We're definitely on the same page there.

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So that's for sure.

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Yeah. So talk to us a little bit about what you

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see as the strength of virtual shows overall.

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So for somebody who's like,

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all right,

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well maybe yes,

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but why and what would the advantages be?

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Yeah. So that's a great question.

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And there are so many answers to that Coming up after

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the break,

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all about virtual shows and why they are definitely something for

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you to be considering in 2021.

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Okay. So what you said about people getting more comfortable now

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is exactly the case.

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People who have been exposed to the virtual space has increased

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exponentially over these last six to eight months because of necessity,

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right? We were all headed in this direction,

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the pandemic accelerated it.

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So that's why we are where we are.

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So the advantages that I see in some of these have

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been revealed to the population at large due to the pandemic.

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Number one to me is that doing the virtual shows allows

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you to reach a population that no matter how beautiful a

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day it is would never be able to come out to

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an in-person event.

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And the majority of people who would like to come to

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the event,

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don't come to the event for one reason or another.

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So by being in the virtual space,

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it eliminates many of those barriers that you would have for

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an in real life event.

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Secondly, the virtual space,

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as I describe it is a lean forward environment.

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And what I mean by that is when people are attending

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a virtual event,

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they are fully engaged with virtual event.

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They're going to it with purpose and they want to get

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something out of the experience,

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which leads me to my third point about the virtual events,

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the way they exist today,

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we've done extensive research and being able to develop the virtual

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experiences that we do.

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And what we found is that most of the people who

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were involved in the virtual events and I'm talking about from

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the vendor side were extremely unprepared for that experience.

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And what I mean by that is that virtual experience from

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a vendor perspective is very different than an in real life

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event when you're at an in real life event.

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And you arrive on that morning to set up the event,

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organizer asks you your name and says,

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Oh great,

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Sue you're in booth 23.

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And there it is.

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And they point to it.

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And from that moment on,

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you know,

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exactly what to do to be able to present at that

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event in the virtual space,

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you have to be taken by the hand,

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or you should be taken by the hand and shown step

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by step by step,

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how to effectively present at a virtual event.

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And that's where the breakdown happens.

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So while we're ready as a society for this,

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the business person at large is not ready for the virtual

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experience to be able to maximize the benefit of that.

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So while we have a distinct need for this,

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and I believe it will continue,

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we have a huge gap in people being totally comfortable in

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attending these events and especially businesses being comfortable presenting at these

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events. Interesting that you say that,

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and I think this would be a good place for us

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to talk about how you and I got connected you,

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me and Holly,

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because I think we're going to start talking about in a

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little bit more depth,

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what you've experienced and found out from the shows.

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And I know some of that now,

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too. So I've talked a lot with people and I did

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a podcast in December about how we connected and I'd love

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to hear from your vantage point.

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Maybe you could share with everybody how we got together.

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Sure. So Holly probably knows this story and much more detailed

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than I do,

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but I do believe that our first contact was you attending

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our at-home wellness expo.

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Isn't that correct?

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That's right.

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Yeah. So I believe we met in one of the vendor

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boots in the video chat.

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I think someone Holly was connected to introduced us,

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or it might've just been by chance,

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is that correct?

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Actually, one of my makers,

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MBA students was a participant in the show and I'm not

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sure exactly how she got in there.

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And she reached out to me and she's like,

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Sue, are you aware of this?

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You should look at this and et cetera.

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And so I was going to talk with Holly after the

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week of the wellness show,

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but I thought,

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well, I want to know what this is all about.

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I want to know more before I talk with Holly.

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So I jumped into that show and was pleasantly and I

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was so surprised at how smooth it was conducted,

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how efficient it was,

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how easy it was to navigate and really excited about the

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overall virtual show.

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Cause it's not one that I had experienced as I'd popped

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into other,

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and I'm going to put loose quotes around this other virtual

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shows because a lot of the virtual shows are just directories.

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You know,

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it's just a list of people,

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what they offer and here's the link to the website and

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this was totally different.

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So I was really excited about it.

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And then when I talked with Holly,

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that's when she shared a little bit more about what you

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guys were doing,

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then we saw some commonality in terms of what we're both

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trying to do to help our audiences.

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And we had different skill sets.

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And so that's where we started seeing other potential.

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Well, it was obvious that there was an immediate spark of

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worlds coming together.

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It was evident.

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I mean,

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immediately, as soon as Holly kind of looped me in on

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things and it was evident that there was that right connection

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because of how we were able to move forward in this

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space. But what I think was so great was that you

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got to experience it before we even had that conversation,

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which is really important because I think if you didn't sense

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that there was something there that subsequent conversation would have never

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happened, Right.

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Or it would have happened in a different way because it

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would have been taught to me more about this.

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I was actually thinking of having Holly come on,

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my Facebook live.

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I don't even know if you know this Robert,

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but in my private Facebook group,

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gift biz breeze,

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I come on twice a week and we do Q and

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a so we can answer any questions people have,

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but I've also been bringing on guests and some pretty significant

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guests to talk about services that are available for people and

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not everybody needs everything.

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Right. Different people need different things.

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So I was thinking about having Holly come into that group.

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And since then it's been,

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you who's come into that group.

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So of course,

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you know,

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cause you were there.

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I forgot,

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but that's actually what I was looking at when I made

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that initial call to Holly.

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And as you said,

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it's kind of like the fate stepped in or the gods

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stepped in because one thing led to another and we both

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left that conversation,

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thinking that there might be opportunity for something greater than what

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we initially thought.

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And that's where we are today.

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Exactly. It's interesting because some things like to me,

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this was the way it was supposed to evolve and this

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feels right.

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And so far things have really been clicking in place and

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we've seen a lot of really good results out of what

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we've been doing.

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Yeah. It's super exciting gift biz listeners.

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If you don't know,

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I have merged with Robert and Holly for their craft and

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gift shows.

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Now they do other shows,

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you do wellness and you do wedding,

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right. And I don't know what else you have on the

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docket, Who knows.

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Yeah. Who knows it's a mystery until you announce it.

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But we have just now completed our first show together and

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we have a couple more coming next year.

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So stay tuned for that back to some tangible things.

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So people,

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when they leave,

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can take away a learning and know for the future.

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When you say people came in unprepared,

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give me a couple of ideas of where people could start

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working now so that if they're ever looking at a virtual

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show, they can be prepared.

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So I think one of the things that was quickly evident

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was that even the basics weren't covered for people and really

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the reason this happened this way was simple.

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If you look at it,

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there were a lot of show producers that had in person

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shows planned.

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And I don't know if a lot of people realize this,

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but show producers work on very thin margins as well.

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And what happens generally is that show producers use the booth

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revenue that comes in to produce the show,

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marketing personnel,

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printing, whatever it is.

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So it's very,

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very difficult if not impossible for show producer refund money.

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So what happened was most of these show producers said,

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okay, let me scramble.

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How can I do this?

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And let's just make it a virtual event.

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And what they did was they just created a virtual event,

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which for a lot of people just meant a website and

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threw it up there with very little preparation for the vendor,

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from the vendor side on how that would be different.

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Their goal was to not refunded you Well,

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people then who would have done live shows.

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And all of a sudden they saw this isn't happening this

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year. I can't refund everybody's money.

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How do I save the show in some way,

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shape or form?

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That's what you're meaning is taking a physical event and turning

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it into virtual.

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That's exactly right.

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And while that might seem the easy solution at the surface

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and in real life event and a virtual event are completely

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different. And I think the distinct difference in the events that

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we produce are that they are created as virtual experiences from

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the moment of inception.

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So the moment we start planning it,

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it is planned as a virtual experience.

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It's never a shift from in-person to online.

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We're planning it as a virtual experience from the very first

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moment. And that's why it's so different.

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I'm kind of reviewing in my mind's eye,

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the shows that I was supposed to go to last year.

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Now, some of them just flat out didn't have a show.

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And they said,

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are you willing for us to keep your money?

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So that you'll be there next year?

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Cause obviously they want to keep retention.

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They want to retain everybody.

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And some people will fall off for sure.

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So people just didn't do a show at all.

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Other people made the transition,

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but are intending to go back to what they were doing.

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So it was kind of a stop gap year,

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if you will.

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So put something up that could be a value and then

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they're going to go.

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Exactly. But the thing is,

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this is one example,

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okay. When you're talking about our events,

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one of the things that we use,

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one of the tools that we use is a video chat

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feature. Now that for many people just might translate into a

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zoom call,

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right? That's where they think about.

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But when we prepare our vendors,

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it's a very,

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very different experience.

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We're actually coaching on building a virtual showroom so much in

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the way you would set up a display for an in

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real life event.

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One of the things that we talk about is how do

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you present yourself visually in the virtual space?

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And that's a very different approach than if you were setting

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up at an in real life event.

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And most of the vendors that we've worked with so far

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have had no experience in that regard.

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And we are teaching and showing them for the very first

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time. So if you're going to be presenting in a virtual

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space, one of the things you should really consider because you

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will be doing video interaction is how do you set up

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your virtual space to look great on camera?

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And there are some very distinct things that we talk about

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with the vendors that choose to work with us about how

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to get them ready for that visually appealing experience for their

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attendees. And this is something that they've never ever done before.

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This is something that is very,

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very unique to at home events.

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I haven't seen anybody else doing this yet and the way

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you've incorporated it in,

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I first have to say that my biggest observation was how

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smooth everything went.

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Tech wise,

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people. They might not have known necessarily in the beginning until

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we taught them.

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But the buttons,

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when you press them actually work,

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you know,

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like a button,

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if you're pressing and pressing and it's not doing what it's

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supposed to be doing,

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there's tech issues underneath the system that you have is so

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solid from a tech standpoint,

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that first off gives everybody confidence.

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But then the addition,

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and I'm guessing you do this with all shows Roberts.

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We did it for the craft and gift show,

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but you have Q and A's available where we make sure

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that everything is in place for every vendor and one of

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the Q and a topics and a big one because people

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were very nervous to your point about being unprepared is all

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right. If I'm going to go on camera,

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I'm out of my house,

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what is this going to look like?

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What should it look like?

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And that was so valuable.

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We're not going to go through all the details of what

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that is.

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Cause I want to get to a couple other things of

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how people can start setting themselves up to be prepared.

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But that's one of the things that we cover.

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If you're a vendor at the show.

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Yeah, there are definite that we share with our exhibitors that

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without too much heavy lifting can really change the visual appeal

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of what they're sharing in the online space.

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And that makes all the difference in the world.

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For sure.

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What are a couple other things that people could be doing

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in terms of the foundations of their business so that they

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would be set up the best that they possibly could if

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they're doing a virtual show?

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Well, I think that you have to have an understanding that

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what you are embarking on is truly a community endeavor.

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And what I mean by that is unlike in real life

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situation, which the shows that people participate in have a natural

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attraction to them.

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It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

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Let's go out to this park and walk this show.

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And people do that as part of their weekend activities.

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It's much different in the online space because what we rely

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on and this is really,

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really important.

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And we've had much success because our vendors understand this is

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that we all need to work together as a community in

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drawing people into this event,

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we have to work our own networks in being able to

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spread the word and we help.

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In this regard,

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we provide graphics.

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We provide sample text content to be able to share it

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within your network,

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because let's say that every vendor was just responsible for bringing

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in 10 of their friends,

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into the event.

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Just think about how many more people will attend the event,

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just from that effort alone.

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And it's through that effort in bringing community together and everyone

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inviting their own networks of people.

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That's what makes these experiences extra special because now not only

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do we have our own clients and friends and family attending,

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but now we're meeting new people that others are bringing to

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the event.

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So it really changes the complexion of who's attending,

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why they're attending.

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And that is one of the real benefits that comes from

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working with us because we really impress upon our vendors that

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this is a group lift,

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we're all responsible.

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And you know what they say,

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a rising tide raises all the ships in the Harbor.

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So we are truly all in this together.

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And these events allow us to be able to bring that

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to life.

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Yeah. I mean,

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this is in addition to the Facebook advertising that you do.

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So we bring in people who would naturally be interested in

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coming into the show.

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So that's one way that attendees are gathered from across the

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country. But then also as Robert just said,

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who are the people,

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whether it's family,

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friend, your email list,

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people on social.

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So just imagine if you were in a show,

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let's just say 50 vendors.

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Okay. And all 50 vendors,

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not only talked about it to their email list,

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but talked about it on social media that enhanced with other

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ways, it's not just Facebook ads.

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There's other ways that your bringing in people into the show,

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Robert. So all of that together makes this mix of eyes

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that think about it.

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If someone comes in because they're your friend and wants to

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come and say hi to you in your booth,

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look at your things.

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Do you think they're just going to pop out?

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No, they're going to go,

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well, who else is here?

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So you are giving and receiving from that,

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from the power of everybody doing this at one time,

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from my perspective,

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one of the most exciting things about the virtual show that

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we just did together is I think for the very first

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time, people began to really understand why some of the foundational

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elements that we talk about that you should have for a

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business are really important people.

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Were I struggled with the word not prepared?

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Yes. Some people definitely were not prepared.

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They hadn't even ever started an email list.

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We had a bunch of people from the last show they

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collected their first email addresses they've ever had.

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So now they're motivated to start an email list,

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but some of these things,

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either weren't in place at all or were never utilized and

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they kind of,

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they knew they should do it.

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They didn't really get around to it.

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So it was kind of a trigger point for people to

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really get in place foundational things for business that you should

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have all along.

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Absolutely people were less prepared for that because it's not just

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the sales that you get at a show it,

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how do you get to communicate with them again so that

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they'll either buy again or remember you when they're ready to

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buy? Absolutely.

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I think most small businesses don't realize just how powerful an

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email addresses and the reason behind that is nobody can take

Speaker:

that away from you when you have a Facebook page or

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an Instagram account or anything in social media,

Speaker:

you're at their mercy.

Speaker:

They can close you down for any reason they want to.

Speaker:

And unless you have a big legal team behind you,

Speaker:

that's going to fight Facebook or fight Twitter or fight Instagram,

Speaker:

guess what your account is gone.

Speaker:

And all of those followers that you amassed over the years

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are gone.

Speaker:

So unless you're gathering emails and you are regularly corresponding through

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email, you're missing out on a lot in terms of business.

Speaker:

So that's one of the first things that we work with

Speaker:

our exhibitors is how to start gathering those email addresses because

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they're so vitally important.

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Absolutely. Another thing that I found was that people weren't really

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prepared with their photos.

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We had anticipated that they've got product photos,

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certainly for promotion and for within the shop.

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And I'm not saying everybody of course,

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but some of the photos were less than photo ready,

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audience ready?

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I guess I would say,

Speaker:

or there weren't photos.

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So some people were scrambling around.

Speaker:

So that's another thing that you can make sure you prepare

Speaker:

for just for a solid business so that when opportunities come

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up, it's easy to integrate everything in.

Speaker:

And I'm going to suggest with photos,

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your top selling products,

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make sure you have them just on a clear background,

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just on white,

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just like a flat lay on a white background or marble

Speaker:

background. However you want to do it.

Speaker:

And then also in a lifestyle shot,

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how do people use your product?

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Someone wearing the jewelry,

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someone putting it on,

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maybe it's in a jewelry box,

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things like that.

Speaker:

But I feel like photos is where a lot of people

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can up their game.

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What do you say,

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Robert? Oh,

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without a doubt.

Speaker:

I mean,

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we're visual creatures and we're tactile creatures.

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And that's something that where people are going to have to

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learn how to do.

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And I think you do it through visuals,

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whether it be photographs,

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videos, you bring your products to life.

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And if your product is something that people would normally be

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touching and feeling,

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you're going to have to,

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through your visuals,

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bring to life that texture of what they might touch and

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feel. And that might have to translate in your copy,

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that accompanies photographs getting really descriptive in your text.

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And then of course,

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testimonial from people who love your products is incredibly powerful.

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Especially if you're dealing in the online space,

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because normally what you could experience in person taste it,

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touch it,

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smell it.

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You can't do.

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But if someone has touched it and smelled it and tasted

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it already,

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and they're explaining how wonderful it is to how it feels

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on your body,

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how it feels in your hands,

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how it tastes out smells.

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That is one way of being able to bring that to

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someone who would normally be able to experience that in person.

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True. And I'm thinking the other thing is because a virtual

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show is open 24 seven.

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If someone's looking around at two in the morning,

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they can't sleep.

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Whatever you have there that they can look at or a

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video that they may be able to click into.

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Maybe it's a demo of you talking and doing your product,

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anything like that,

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all of that is set and has to speak for itself

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versus a face-to-face show where you can,

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hi, come on in,

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you know,

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like show your personality that way.

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What do you have on screen has to be able to

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be a standalone and speak to it.

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It does.

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It has to tell your story accurately in a way that

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people will have it resonate with them.

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That's really what you're trying to do.

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And I think it all boils down to authenticity.

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The more authentic you can be in whatever you're translating to

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your audience is where you want to be because that your

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energy and your vibe that you give out is a lot

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of the reason why you're successful.

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People like to buy from people they know like and trust.

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So if you can establish that,

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then you're more than halfway there in being able to make

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a sale.

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And that takes some creativity in the online space.

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You may be wonderful belly to belly,

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but you may need some work in translating that energy in

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that field,

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to the online space.

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That's where we come in because we learn so much from

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the people that we work with.

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And we do that for a reason.

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We want to know what their experience is like.

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We follow up,

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we talk to them because all of that helps us grow

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and learn as event producers and creating a better experience overall

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for everyone involved.

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Absolutely. The other thing that was really interesting this go around

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is that there were some question about how the booths got

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listed. Do you want to talk about that?

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Yeah. That was one thing that we,

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as a team wrestled with,

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because we know that in a physical space,

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there are some spots in the room that are better than

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others. Is it busier by the restrooms?

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Is it busier by the entrance?

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Do you want to be on an end cap?

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So a lot of that kind of goes away in the

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virtual space.

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So when it came time for us to lay the virtual

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space out with our booths,

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we wrestled with,

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well, how do we list them?

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Is it first come first serve?

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Is it alphabetical?

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Is it reverse alphabetical?

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And we tried a number of different ways.

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And again,

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we took the time to analyze those results,

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to see what might be working and what might not be

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working, but suffice to say that we're always trying to develop

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the best possible experience for our attendees and our vendors.

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And we work with our platform that we use in their

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development team in making sure that after each event,

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when we debrief and we survey and we get that feedback

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that we make the changes necessary to the virtual space going

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forward so that the experience always continues to improve.

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And we're always on the hunt for new tools that we

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can integrate because there is no one universal tool that takes

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care of everything.

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It's a myriad of things working in concert that create the

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overall ultimate best experience.

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And we're always on the hunt for that mix.

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And we take feedback very seriously.

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We don't just the old cartoon of the suggestion box.

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You put it in and there's a paper shredder inside when

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it's just shredding them up.

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It's not like that.

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When we get feedback from attendees,

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from our vendors,

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we take that very seriously and we do whatever it takes

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to implement those changes in those modifications.

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As we all continue to grow and evolve in a very,

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very new space for many of us.

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Yeah. The thing that was really exciting to me is I

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was looking at some of these numbers and I'm not going

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to reveal any booth in specific because that would only be

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for the vendors,

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obviously information,

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but the people that were the most successful with sales had

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all the foundations already set up.

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Like I'm thinking of a couple of people came in and

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it was easy for them to join because they had everything

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ready to go.

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I think they set their booths up Robert and like 30

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minutes and they were ready and rolling.

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And not that they didn't need to learn some of the

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specifics of the platform push this button.

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This is how you get to talk with people coming in

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the booth,

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things like that,

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but everything was ready to go.

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Their shipping processes were ready.

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This is another great thing about the show.

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Is it connects directly up to however you already capture your

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sales. So people who had that in place and smoothly were

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already processing sales had the easiest way of it if you

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will. But I'm thinking of some other people,

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it was really interesting to see,

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but there were some booths where there were lots of visits

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and lots of repeat visits too,

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which I thought was really interesting.

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Like it's not just people come to the booth,

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they make a decision and they go away.

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There's continually traffic coming in for all the days that the

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show was open.

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But then you could also look at the booths and see

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how much of that was new traffic and how much of

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it was repeat traffic.

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And I think this is really important when you think about

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virtual and I don't even put it in the same place

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as a face-to-face show at all.

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Because when you go to a face-to-face show,

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what are you doing?

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You're walking from booth to booth.

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That booth is getting the majority of your attention.

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Yeah. You might be with a girlfriend and you're chatting,

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but you're really focused on the booths.

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When you're in a virtual event,

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you might have other tabs open on your computer.

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You might be sitting with your computer while you're watching TV.

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Your kids might come and want to talk with you.

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Maybe you're watching when you're at work.

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And all of a sudden you better get back to the

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project. There are a lot of things competing for your attention.

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And I thought it was really interesting to see how people

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would come back to the booths over and over again.

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But what it also tells me is the booths need to

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be very clear and easy to navigate and not too overwhelming.

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Like not every single product you have in the whole entire

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world, just maybe your top best sellers.

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And I don't know that you've come upon or would have

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a recommendation for how many products,

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but I don't think it's everything because they can always go

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over to your website.

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Oh yeah.

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That's a great point.

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It's definitely not everything you definitely want to go with your

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handful of best-sellers six to 12 items,

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things that are seasonal.

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Yeah. And you have to be on target for season.

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And I know some of the things that we discussed Sue

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was that some of the participants who were struggling a little

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bit didn't really even have up-to-date presence online seasonally.

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And that might be a turnoff for a visitor to come

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and not see the website prepared for the season in which

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they are,

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if that is applicable.

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So it was clear to us that there were some that

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were very prepared and some that needed some help.

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And that's okay.

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That's something I think that shows that there is distinct here

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in this space for everyone along the continuum.

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So you don't have to be an extremely well-established business in

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order to take advantage of the virtual space.

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I think you have to have that desire and drive behind

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you the ability to take advice and to take some constructive

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criticism and to actually put that in place,

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because that's the thing.

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People will do a lot of educational seminars and workshops and

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self-help and all of that.

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But the fact of the matter is if you go to

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a conference,

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let's say whether it be online or in person,

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and you don't implement those ideas that you learn within the

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first two weeks of you learning them,

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guess what?

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You will never implement.

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That's not happening.

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Nope. Momentum is key.

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If you're in momentum,

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you have to remain in momentum.

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We do not exist in a business climate right now.

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Any business larger,

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small can take their foot off the gas.

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So it was much of a struggle as it is right

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now for some businesses financially.

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It is not the time to sit back and wait.

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It is the time to put everything into action and to

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move forward because that's going to be the way out of

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this. It's not sitting around and waiting for a solution it's

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action. It's moving in a forward momentum that will propel you

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out of this.

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And I think the people who are remaining afloat,

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or those who are creative,

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who are looking for new ways,

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in which to do business and are succeeding,

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they are succeeding in a very tough climate.

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I agree.

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And I would say that every single vendor we had for

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this show walked away with further insight on their business,

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what they could focus on to strengthen their business,

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how the nature of the people who come and visit their

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offerings, what happens with that?

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Like very insightful one-on-one personal experiences.

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So that was exciting.

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And for me,

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because I'm all about foundational business development.

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So you were a strong and profitable as you can be

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without gouging a customer,

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of course,

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but you know,

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the right mix.

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So you're actually making money.

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That is so exciting for me,

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for people to be seen and recognizing things in their business.

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Some of them are just little tweaks.

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Some of them are things that they're now for the first

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time, understanding why they're valuable because they're seeing their fellow booth

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mates doing it such as email lists.

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I mean,

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it's been so exciting to see eyes light up people excited

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and seeing potential for their business growth,

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from what they've experienced in the shell.

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I haven't even told you this before Robert,

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but that is my all time.

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Favorite thing about doing this with you,

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not because of everything we're doing,

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because that's all great too,

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but that they're walking away better,

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more insightful about what's happening with their business and looking at

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things that they can do to grow as they continue on.

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And hopefully coming into future shows with us.

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Yeah. It's just enormously satisfying To be a part of someone's

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success. And that has always been a highlight for me and

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for Holly and our careers is being able to help people,

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watch them grow,

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watch them flourish.

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And there's no better feeling in being able to help people

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with their businesses.

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Totally agree with you share with everybody where they can learn

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more about the add home events.

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So we have a great team and a wonderful web designer,

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and we have a great website that has all of our

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information, how to contact us all of our upcoming shows and

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that's at home event.com

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and you can reach us through there.

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If you have any questions,

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you can send them our social media links are there and

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we love to hear from people.

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So if you want to drop us a note,

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please do.

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So we get back to everybody.

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We're pretty small,

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tight operation here,

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and you need to speak to us directly.

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We will speak to you directly.

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Wonderful. And we have a couple of upcoming Kraft and gift

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shows planned for 2021,

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one in April one in December.

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So if you're interested in chatting about those and you can

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also look at everything over on the at-home event website.

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Absolutely. And I would encourage all of you to,

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if you're even thinking about it,

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please join us.

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You, you won't be sorry.

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And the sooner you commit to being a part of the

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event, that's when we get you into the flow of promotion

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that happens,

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we can take you on at the very last minute,

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but by being with us from the beginning,

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you'll get a distinct boost in terms of exposure,

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because we start to promote all of our partners immediately.

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So you'll get lots of extra promotion by joining us,

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right from the start.

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So if anyone has any questions or even thinking about it,

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please reach out to Sue or visit our website.

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And we'd be happy to share with you what we're doing.

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And you know what?

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The other thing that I was thinking that is a big

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perk too,

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is that once you've set up your booth,

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the first time you can go in and literally make some

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seasonal tweaks product tweaks,

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anything that needs to happen.

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So you don't have to start from the beginning again.

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So any of our repeat vendors can literally be up and

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running and ready to go within 15 minutes seriously because their

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boots already done already set up.

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Yeah, exactly.

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And even first time,

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we're setting up the booth,

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it's copy and paste for most of it.

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And it's all information that you already have established.

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So it's quite remarkable how quickly we can get you up

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and going With a really,

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really professional looking both to,

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well, Robert,

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thank you so much for being on the show here,

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talking through,

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we did a little bit about sharing directly with everyone who's

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listening. And then we also talked a little bit just you

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and I back and forth of our experience.

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So that was kind of fun to do,

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but I do want to Say here publicly,

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I am so honored to be connected with you and Holly

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to be putting on and sponsoring the two craft and gift

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events. And I look forward to what 2021 brings for us.

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Yes. We're very excited about working with you,

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Sue. And we are fortunate that we found each other.

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We're really excited about what next year has in store for

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all of us.

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And we hope that it will be a,

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a more positive year for everyone.

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And we know for a fact that no matter how we

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perceive getting back to normal is we know that what we've

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hit upon here in the virtual space will continue to exist

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regardless of how we get back to normal.

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As a lot of people are saying,

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we know that we've touched a part of our community,

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that we will continue to service and we will continue to

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be there for many years to come.

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Absolutely so well said,

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I have nothing to add.

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Thank you so much,

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Robert, for being on the show.

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Thank you,

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Sue is my pleasure.

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Okay. Picture me hitting you with a snowball all in front

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of chorus.

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I just want to get your attention.

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So you're really listening to this virtual shows.

Speaker:

Starting now are something you should be considering as you look

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at your marketing plan for 2021.

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If you're already doing in-person craft shows,

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this is unnatural.

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And if you've never done a show before,

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this is an excellent opportunity to get your product seen by

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a national audience.

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You've already heard my connection with at home events.

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And if you've never done an online show before I can

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tell you you'll be well taken care of and learn a

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lot about solid business practices along the way.

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I only attach my name to the best the at-home craft

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and gift shows this year are in April and December.

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You can go check out all the details at,

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at home event.com

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and for you special gift biz listeners,

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I've connected you up with a 10% discount off your booth.

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Just enter the code gift biz 10,

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to receive that savings.

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Again, gift biz 10,

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to get 10% off your booth at the at home craft

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and gift show.

Speaker:

Next week,

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we're talking all about makeup.

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I know it may seem like a break from what we

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normally talk about on the show,

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but really it isn't.

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I'm bringing in a pro to tell you how you can

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look your best live streaming and in-person through your makeup application

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because let's face it as much as we say,

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looks don't matter.

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They absolutely do.

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When it comes to boosting our confidence.

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And when we speak confidently,

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our customers believe in us and trust us with their orders.

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That's a wrap for today.

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Thanks for spending time with me.

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If you'd like to show support for the podcast,

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please leave a rating and review.

Speaker:

That means so much and helps the show get seen by

Speaker:

more makers.

Speaker:

So it's a great way to pay it forward and now

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be safe and well,

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and I'll see you again next week on the gift biz

Speaker:

unwrapped party.

Speaker:

Yes. I want to make sure you're familiar with my free

Speaker:

Facebook group called gift biz breeze.

Speaker:

It's a place where we all gather and our community to

Speaker:

support each other.

Speaker:

Got a really fun post in there.

Speaker:

That's my favorite of the week.

Speaker:

I have to say where I invite all of you to

Speaker:

share what you're doing to show pictures of your product,

Speaker:

to show what you're working on for the week to get

Speaker:

reaction from other people and just for fun,

Speaker:

because we all get to see the wonderful products that everybody

Speaker:

in the community is making my favorite post every single week,

Speaker:

without doubt.

Speaker:

Wait, what,

Speaker:

aren't you part of the group already,

Speaker:

if not make sure to jump over to Facebook and search

Speaker:

for the group gift biz breeze don't delay.