The only time to catch Mim Goldberg, president of staff training firm Marketech, during EXHIBITOR2010 is at lunch on the last day. Along with her husband and partner Marc and their tightly knit team, they are teaching educational sessions or talking to attendees at their booth, something they’ve been doing for 25 years.
“My very first session was at Exhibitor,” Mim recalled. “It was the only time in 25 years that Marc double booked. He was scheduled as a keynote speaker for an association and also as a presenter at a session. And that’s how I suddenly became involved.”
With years of experience as a teacher, Mim had no problem getting in front of large groups and keeping them engaged. What she didn’t know much about at the time was tradeshows.
“I literally memorized the script,” she said. “And I was deathly afraid that someone would ask a question, so I talked all the way to the end and then said, ‘Oh, I see we’re out of time. Please come by our booth and we’d be happy to answer any questions.’ I knew that Marc could be back by then.”
But the bug had already infected her, and as soon as their youngest daughter was driving, Mim became a permanent part of the team and took over curriculum planning. Marc, who had founded the company in 1985, handles most of the strategy and marketing. As an executive for energy company Westinghouse, he had been going to tradeshows for years and couldn’t shake off the idea that companies failed to take the most advantage of tradeshows as part of the marketing mix. His company was bought out, and the timing was perfect for Marketech. Headquartered in Westborough, Mass., it now employs 14 people based in San Antonio, Minneapolis and Chicago.
“Everything I know about marketing I learned from Marc,” Mim said. “He is a wonderful source of ideas. He has one or two a day on average.”
Thanks to many of those ideas, the company has been rolling out new products just about every year to meet the changing demands of the marketplace. When pharmaceutical shows banned giveaways, Marketech was one of the first companies to bring in new training about engagement. As booth personnel across industries got cut, they introduced RepConnect, a program where hired staff qualify attendees and direct them to the right company representatives. A few years ago measurement became an integral part of many marketing plans, and the business model got adjusted to accommodate.
“Right now the measurement part of our business has exceeded the training,” Mim said. “Telling the upper management that the booth was full doesn’t work anymore, and we see more and more companies invest into measurement.”
Along with competitive audit and other involved programs, Marketech designed Instant Metrics, a calculator that provides feedback on how well the booth staff met their objectives on each given day. Yet considering the breadth of possible measurable objectives, she is curious to see how technology and the general approach to this issue will progress in the future.
“Companies and industries look for different outcomes, and I don’t know if measurement would ever become standardized,” Mim said.
The same concept of flexibility has been key to the successful training part of their business. Every presentation and every survey are customized. Sometimes plans even have to get adjusted mid-flight.
“Children would try anything, but getting adults to participate can be one of the most frustrating things in the world,” Mim said. “If people are not with you, you have to switch gears, even if you have a great lesson plan.”
And yes, she gives out gold stars. And Starbucks cards.
Transitioning her own skills and adjusting to the new professional reality was not an easy task for Mim. Learning how to sell was a departure from her teaching experience.
“It was an absolute agony in the beginning,” she said.
But together with Marc as her alter-ego and partner, she got through it and grew to enjoy every aspect of their business. They also stayed married.
“Of course we talk about business at home, but when we go on vacation, we don’t take computers and don’t answer emails, and if thoughts about business come to mind, we write them down for discussion when we return to the office,” Mim said.
That is likely to continue to be the winning scenario for this dynamo duo, as there are no plans to retire. As Mim put it, “If I stay home more than three weeks, I get a little itchy.”