CRFA Show & The Changing World of the SalesPerson/Marketer

I recently attended the Canadian Restaurants and Foodservice Association Show held at the Direct Energy Centre in downtown Toronto. The purpose of the trip? Business. I currently work for Blue Link Associates, a software firm that specializes in the FoodService industry and we were there visiting current clients and trying to sniff out future clients as well.


There was much to see and do and especially taste. One of the biggest draws of the show became abundantly clear early on: there was so much great food to try! The attendees were forming packs around the exhibitors with the best food. The cost of attending the show was only $25 so I highly encourage anyone who wants to try some great food to give it a try, especially if you have other reasons to be there as well (it was a popular show for culinary students, for example). After mingling amongst the great food for a little while though, it was off to work!

A colleague of mine joined me at the show to aid in our intelligence gathering. We learned a couple things early on: pitching the idea of software at a food show is tough and some people don’t want to give out their information. And now for my “boo-hoo salesperson rant”.

It is a shame that salespeople are looked down upon in today’s world. Salespeople were rarely ever given the time of day in the past, but as a result of the ever-growing spam and annoyances people face each and every day – legitimate marketing and sales have begun to be ignored even more. It has become harder and harder to get your message across so we must continue to find new ways to express ourselves to ensure we are heard.

Spammers do what they do best; send out information to vast numbers of people with no targeting whatsoever. Over time these communications have been lumped in with legitimate marketing efforts and have driven the use of spam filters through the roof. There is now a lot of legitimate email (not even other marketing promotions) that are lost in these junk mail filters never to be read.

What all this means is that we must be continually more targeted in our marketing and sales efforts. As I found at the show, the only way to breakthrough some of those barriers was to create a sense of familiarity. Discuss how you are relevant to their business, how you have clients in a similar industry (point them out) and talk about their business and what you can offer them specifically. Remain sincere and informative and focus on building a relationship and rapport. The solution for getting around spam filters I am still working on. I will report back when I have a solution.

What other means to modern salespeople and marketers have to break through some of these defensive barriers? How can marketers reclaim their territory that spammers have all but taken?

A colleague of mine also wrote a blog post on the Benefits of FoodService Software. Feel free to check it out as well.

The Social Media Tech Bubble

social media tech bubbleOne of my favourite things to do when I have a few minutes to spare is to pull out my iPhone 4 and begin sifting through article after article (if you want a great reliable reader that works for your browser and phone, check out Feedly). The amount of information available at your fingertips these days is amazing but it seems to me like many investors are not keeping up to speed. Hear me out.

Each and everyday I read at least 3 articles about up-and-coming tech start-ups; most of which exist in the realm of social media. The question becomes: when is enough, enough?

I was hardly old enough at the time of the first tech-bubble burst to keep up with the news and follow industry trends but even so, it seems that history may be repeating itself, as it often does.

There are a number of social media powerhouses in the arena currently such as Twitter and Facebook and, despite ridiculous valuations, their success is virtually assured. Facebook is now generating heaps of cash and will continue to pursue additional means of doing so, and Twitter has now amassed such a large user-base that it is only a matter of time before they start printing money as well. Not all websites can enjoy this level of success, however.

Each day, Tech Crunch publishes a number of articles describing tech start-ups (mostly just social media-based websites) and their ability to obtain funding. It baffles me how it seems that every entrepreneur that creates a website seems to be able to obtain vast amounts of funding. There is a finite demand for photo-sharing websites/apps for example, and yet it seems that each day 3 more websites crop up that offer the same benefits.

Many of these new websites/services/apps are able to obtain many millions of dollars in funding and I can only begin to wonder how they will ever be able to make money. Even if they do enjoy some popularity, it will likely be short-lived, leaving investors with empty pockets. It is only a matter of time before this ever-growing tech bubble bursts.

A recent article from Tech Crunch points out that Facebook and Twitter are the exception, not the rule. The reality is that most start-ups will fail sooner or later. Chances are it will be sooner rather than later, especially when considering social media sites which are almost entirely driven by short-term popularity.

Social media was “the new thing” but it is not so new anymore. Those that have already established their presence will continue to thrive. New entrants will face increasing competition, just as in any other maturing industry or marketspace. I think investors easily see this with other industries but seem to turn a blind eye when it involves new technologies and social media. As Sarah Lacy points out in the Tech Crunch article, there will be a number of great new social media start-ups down the road, but they will be the exception, not the rule.

But what do you think? Do you see a tech bubble forming? If so, when do you think it will pop?