KLS Marketing Allies, LLC

This Trio of Marketing Professionals Is Upping The Consulting Game With Their Collaborative New Business Model

There's a certain energy on a trade show floor that is wildly thrilling.

To call it sensory overload would be an understatement. There are the perfectly positioned booths, of various scales and designs, the bright overpowering lights, the smell of the fresh carpet, the sounds of bustling vendors frantically talking to as many people as they can, the amplification of the demos happening all over with people on microphones, and of course the squishes and squeaks of the tchotchkes collected at every turn. Then there is that underlying feeling of pressure in the air that you can sense from each exhibitor, all trying to maximize every moment of their time at the show because it's an opportunity for enormous business impact.

For many businesses, participating in certain shows are the lifeblood of their growth potential. A trade show floor is where transactions take place, partnerships are secured, products get released and customers experience the future of an industry for the very first time. So when the world shut down in 2020 for Covid-19, it was truly crippling for those that relied on this platform.

How do you sell a product, if no one can actually experience the product?

That is just one of the very tough questions that experiential marketing professionals, Kim Masters, Leslie Negron, and Shannon Hayden had to ask themselves when they were furloughed from their marketing agency. Not only were each of them personally affected like millions of others in hospitality, but they realized quickly that their clients were suffering after losing so many resources to meet their business objectives.

So with over 50 years of combined marketing experience, Kim, Leslie, and Shannan united to focus on not just getting back to work but to develop a niche consulting business focused on helping others get back on their feet with a new perspective, and as their allies.

“How do we pivot to keep our clients successful and moving forward?” -KLS Marketing Allies, LLC

KLS Marketing Allies, LLC was soon developed by the trio, combining forces to up the game of experiential marketing in the trade show and event sector.

Read on for our exclusive interview with this dynamic team, and learn their 5 tips for thriving in the trade show and event industry.

H&F: Please describe your career(s) prior to this venture.

KLS Team: 20+ years working in trade shows and events, on both client and agency/vendor side.

H&F: Tell us about how you have redefined yourself. Describe your project, business, brand, and/or platform.

KLS Team: KLS marketing Allies was formed by three event marketing veterans with a passion for the industry they love. After being furloughed from our trade show and event agency in March 2020 and several zoom wine happy hours, we had many conversations about what we liked and didn’t like about the industry pre covid. All three of us discussed a shared passion for making the client/vendor relationship a better, more collaborative, trusting, and transparent one. We also share a passion for finding the right team for each project and that doesn’t always mean utilizing employees. We are very proud of the networks we have built over time and we wanted our clients to have the opportunity to tap into them. Therefore, we developed a business structure that is different. We have no employees, just huge networks of wonderful, talented, tried and true people happy to jump in on any project or client relationship that fits.

H&F: Where is your business located and does your team travel?

KLS Team: We are located in Las Vegas, Lehi, Utah, and Atlanta, GA. YES! We travel! Right now while companies still will not fly employees, we are offering site selection/inspection services.

H&F: What do you love most about the event and tradeshow industry?

KLS Team: Making clients look good. We work tirelessly behind the scenes to make events come to life. It is very gratifying when our client contacts shine to their upper management.

H&F: What hurdles have you had to overcome that you did not anticipate in the beginning? KLS Team: We are used to wearing many hats, however, we found that we had to add a few more! We have worked for companies with marketing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, hr departments. Now it's on us!

H&F: What are your thoughts on the impact the pandemic has had on tradeshows and exhibits?

KLS Team: Devastating but the rebound will be incredible but different. The word, “hybrid” has been used a lot and we think it is here to stay. Depending on the company and the industry, they have had a year to really dig into their ROI and make some decisions moving forward. I personally think that roadshows and smaller more regional events will replace trade shows for some companies.

5 pro-tips For Thriving In the Tradeshow and Event's Industry From Kim, Leslie, and Shannon

1.) Always Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Our industry is stressful enough, find a way to stay ahead of it.

2.) Lean On Your Network of Experts

Circles are better than rows.

3.) Embrace The Uncomfortable

Embrace change. We have all had to learn this over the last year. Don’t fight it.

4.) Understand The “Why”

Know how to communicate it to all levels of your team members, both internal and external. Understand the reasoning behind what events and trade shows you are involved in.

5.) RFP's Should Make Sense

When sending out an RFP for a new partner, ask why you are adding certain companies to the list. Have good qualifying questions. “Because they stopped by my booth” is not a good reason.

H&F: Please tell us about any future plans you have for the business.

KLS Team: We will continue to grow the consulting side of the business, helping clients walk through the daunting RFP process as well as providing outstanding resources and flawless execution of events as we have for many years. We want to be known as a true, honest, and transparent partner for any client.

H&F: What encouraging advice would you offer someone who’s on the fence about planning a tradeshow?

KLS Team: Our industry has proven that this can be done safely. Jump in cautiously. Do your homework. “Because we’ve always done it” is not a good reason to go to a show, especially now. Make sure it’s the RIGHT audience and create something spectacular and memorable! Make a big splash! Show your audience that you are back!

H&F: Anything else you want to share?

KLS Team: There are whole industries that have had to do some real soul searching on what they want to do with their lives moving forward. Jumping into this new business has shown us what we thought we already knew but now proven…. We love our industry and we love what we do. Also, for an industry that has been known for fierce competition (and not always healthy), we have seen individuals come together like we’ve never seen and we really hope that this is the new standard.

“I know these have been trying times for all of us, but I believe that as long as we keep chasing our dreams and being the best we can be every day, we will be successful in anything we set our minds to."-Shannon Hayden

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