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Helen Collier-Kogtevs, who Colin interviews here, attended a Best of Show Seminar. She
listened intently to our suggestions on speaking opportunities at shows and put them into
Here is her account of her extraordinary success.
Best of Show™ assists Exhibitors to attain the highest ROI at trade and consumer shows -
anywhere. Our seminars and educational materials have been developed and are maintained by
Colin Green. Colin is a Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM).
Information on Best of Show™ seminars, workshops, eBooks, DVDs and CDs are on our
Or telephone Colin in Sydney, Australia (02)9589-2000.
Our New Zealand telephone is (04)570-2000 & re-directs to Sydney.
morning, Helen. It’s great to talk with you; thank you very much for agreeing to be
please tell me a little bit about Real Wealth Australia. What do you actually do?
Wealth Australia runs mentoring programs where we teach people how to invest in property and build portfolios
that are balanced. We’re about helping people create their own personalized property investing strategy, so this
way it doesn’t matter what market they’re in or where they want to buy. It’s about teaching people how to buy in
any market, any time.
fantastic. Do you actually try to sell people any particular property, or do you just help them with anything at
all to ensure that they’re highly successful?
don’t sell real estate. I don’t have any association with any real estate agents. I don’t sell finance; I only
sell my own CDs and books, et cetera. So we’re not affiliated with anyone. We’re purely about offering a
personalized service. It’s a 12-month mentoring program where we run six classes, one per month.
a full day together and go through various topics. It’s really about offering a personalized service. It’s not
just a seminar where you come, get some information, and then you leave. This is about holding people’s hand
throughout the whole process so they actually then build the confidence to go on and do it for
Colin: As I
understand it, you do have some CDs and books to help in more general terms as well as the very person
correct. I’ve created a couple of CD-ROMs to help people who may not want to take on a program just yet, but
want to get started in property, or have already got some property and want some help, assistance and some tools
to continue building their property portfolio.
product is a “Getting Started” CD-ROM and the other one is “The Ultimate Property Resource Guide” which has got
all the checklists and all sorts of information in investor needs for building their portfolio. In fact, I still
use that CD today.
Colin: It was
actually quite interesting because you may recall that you gave me some of your material and we already had some
investment properties. It made an immense difference to our bottom line when we used some of the information
that was in your CDs and your books. Tell me, Helen, how did you actually get started with property and with
Real Wealth Australia?
had gone through a divorce and I had a lot of bad debt and together, we really wanted to create some wealth for
ourselves because we realized that if we were to retire at 60, when we did the numbers, it would work out to
$28,000 a year which we would have had to live off, and that was the aha moment when we realized that wasn’t
going to be enough and that we needed to do something.
So we started investing ourselves and built up a multi-million-dollar property portfolio, but we started with
only $12.5 thousand dollars in our back pocket. Today our portfolio is worth about $7.5 million. From that, as
we did it ourselves, friends and family could see what we were doing and it just evolved. We started teaching
people and showing them what we were doing and then it became a case of people saying, “Why don’t you run
courses and teach people how to do it?” and that’s how it evolved.
long ago was it that you did that?
started investing in 2001, so we’ve done it in seven years.
decided to do some exhibiting at a property expo. Why did you begin exhibiting and how did you approach
everything in life, both Ed and I are fans of having coaches and mentors in our life. It’s like with our
property investing, we’ve had mentors and coaches that have guided us through and we wouldn’t have what we have
today if it weren’t for the support of our mentors, so I applied the same strategy to
When we decided to run Real Wealth Australia and these programs, we thought we’d hire on a coach, someone who’s
been there and done that to show us what we needed to do and fast-track us. The Melbourne Property Expo was on
and my business coach at the time said, “You need to get yourself there,” and it was only two weeks prior to the
So we quickly rang up the organizers, booked ourselves a stand, $12,000 later, we were at the expo. I paid for
show bags, brochures, posters, furniture and all this kind of thing. At the end of the expo, we walked away with
zero dollars; we had made zero dollars. All we did achieve out of that particular expo was a runner-up award for
best-looking stand, but no money.
at least you got something positive. You did get the runner-up for best of stand! But following that, you came
to Best of Show Exhibitor Training.
correct. Following my strategy of always looking for someone who has been there and done that and who can
fast-track us, Colin, that’s when I noticed that you were running Best of Show Exhibiting Workshops and I
thought, “I have to be there,” so that’s when I came along and spent the day with you and I learned so much out
of that day.
In fact, before I even joined the workshop, I think I rang you and said, “What are your credentials? How long
have you been doing this? What kind of experience do you have in trade shows and exhibiting?” I think you said
something about “30 years” and I said, “Yes, that qualifies,” so I ticked that box and said, “I’m going to be
recall that rather vividly. I’ve never been so good in my life but that seemed to have worked at the end of the
day. We discussed lots of ideas on that day. What in particular really stood out to
were actually three things that stood out to me. The first one was having some objectives, and that’s where I
never even had any objectives for the first expo, so it was about growing my database because I send out monthly
newsletters so it was about growing the numbers on that list. You gave me some great ideas about selling some
At the time of my first expo, I didn’t have any products, so I created some CDs and I’ve since written a book.
But the real doozie of it all was speaking engagements. I didn’t realize that I could put my hand up and ask to
speak at these expos in the seminar series. I think I nearly fell off my chair when you said that I could do
that and how easy it was.
In fact, as a result of that tip, I actually rang the organizer the very next day and booked myself in. I said
to her, “I want to take you out for lunch or a coffee because this is what I want to do.” A couple weeks later I
caught up with her and then I had a speaking engagement. I was very excited about
Colin: Did you
actually find it easy to set up that speaking slot? Was there a long waiting list or did they have something
there ready for you? I perceive that with your enthusiasm, you probably bowled them
Helen: I wish
it was that easy! For the first particular show I only got one speaking engagement, and obviously being the new
kid on the block, they’re not going to allocate every day to me. There was a bit of testing for their part. So I
got one speaking engagement and that was great.
the Sydney expo, I got two speaking engagements, and now in Perth I’m speaking every day. So it’s been a slow
process but I have been building it up and I guess the proof is in the pudding. With the Sydney expo, I got two
time slots. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were the last speaking engagements for that seminar for
remember I was absolutely speechless when, for the Sunday, I was speaking at the same time as a high-profile
speaker in the other seminar and I thought, “Oh, great. I’ll be lucky if I get 20 people to come and see me.” I
was a bit nervous but I ended up with a full house! Not only was every seat full, they were standing around the
back and the doorways about five deep, they were sitting in the aisles, and they were sitting around the stage!
quite delighted by what had happened, but what I realized afterwards is some people that came back to stand to
see me actually explained that they were in seeing this other speaker and halfway through that person’s
presentation, they got up and left to walk in to mine.
I was ten
minutes into my talk and I realized there was this influx of people. I’m thinking, “Where did they all come
from?” and they had all come from the other seminar. They had upped, walked out and came in to mine so I was
delighted with that.
poor man. I saw that room and it was big, but in terms of numbers, how many people do you think you would have
actually had in front of you?
were 200 seats that were full and then there were people sitting all around the stage in front of me and people
standing all along the back walls and about five deep in the doorways, so I don’t know,
amazing. Actually I had been there earlier although I didn’t hear you speak, I would have thought it was nearer
300, but 250 is fantastic. It’s just wonderful. Tell me, what happened at the show in terms of sales on your
stand after your seminar?
technically sold out. I came home with only nine CDs. I had taken a whole stack up there. I only spoke on two
days of the Sydney expo. If I had spoken on the third day, we wouldn’t have had enough product; we would have
sold out completely.
Colin: I saw
your stand that day. There was an immense amount of product there. How many CDs and books do you think you
Helen: We sold
[just] under 200 books and about 120 CDs. People were buying the packs so I had all three products for
sounds amazing. Of course, one of your main objectives also was to collect names of people for mentoring and to
send your newsletter to. Do you have any numbers on that?
Helen: I ended
up with about 30 people on our priority waiting list and I’m currently going through that
terms of what happened before you did speaking as opposed to now that you are a speaker at shows, if you went
away with no advantages, having lost $12,000 the first time, and the difference that you are describing to me
now, it seems immense. You gave me a really nice testimonial. Would you like to share some of the numbers you
mentioned on that? This was only for your initial Melbourne show; this does not include
that’s correct. When I compare Melbourne the first time we were there to the last time we were there, it was
like a 300% increase on the newsletter database, gathering names and numbers for our newsletter. The other thing
that was really interesting that I learned from your workshop was the first time, the other thing I did wrong
was I actually ran a competition.
I ran it because I noticed it was what a lot of people did—they’d run these competitions. The very person who
won the prize, after they won (they were on my database to receive the newsletters), they unsubscribed, so they
weren’t actually interested in what I was offering.
an interesting story.
fact, when you said competitions don’t work, I had a perfect experience of how and why it doesn’t work. As a
result, I no longer run competitions; I just have a “join our free newsletter” and a little box that people can
put their names in. Considering I did not run a competition, I ended up with a 300% increase on the numbers from
the previous year.
I got a
5,000% increase on product sales and something like 500% increase on warm-to-hot leads for our mentoring
programs. So it’s these little tips like on the competition, I just couldn’t believe it. I go around to all of
my competitors and I can see they’re all running competitions, giving away bottles of wine.
Sydney expo, someone was giving away a little scooter. I’m thinking, “Gee, I’d sign up for that. I want nothing
to do with what they’re offering but I’d sign up to the competition to win the scooter,” and I could really see
how competitions do not work. They do not target your market.
Colin: I will
say, these sorts of things can work in some circumstances but they need to be thought out. It has to be right
for you, and it wasn’t right for you. It can work for some other people as long as they consider it carefully,
but you’re so right, if you do the same as everybody else, you successfully, at that point, meld into the
background like a chameleon and nobody notices.
correct. In fact, in thinking, Colin, more things are coming to mind. Again at the Sydney expo, I didn’t realize
it at the time but I actually had a stand opposite one of my competitors so we were watching them for the whole
three days and obviously they were watching us as well. I remember, I saw their people come casually dressed.
them sit down most of the time. They were eating and drinking their lunch while trying to talk to people. They
didn’t look interested at all; they were bored, they weren’t excited or passionate about what they were doing.
Again, all these tips and hints that you gave throughout your workshop, I applied.
I made my people wear business attire or a uniform. They’re only allowed to drink water at the stand. Teas,
coffees, food, no—they go for a walk if they want to do that or have a break. They’re not allowed to sit down. I
only had two stools. I give them a couple of minutes to sit down if they’re writing up a sale or something like
that, but otherwise they go and have a break if they need to sit down.
course, your infectious enthusiasm has got nothing to do with it.
Helen: I guess
think, substantially. Helen, were there any other spin-offs from your strategy of deciding to do seminars at the
shows? You got enormous responses, both at Melbourne and then of course in Sydney. I am so looking forward to
hearing about what happens in Perth. Of course, you got tremendous sales. You’ve given us some great numbers.
Helen: Let me
compare the two Melbourne expos—the one that I did on my own first and then the one I did after your program.
The differences were huge. The spin-off of the second expo that we did in Melbourne, I ended up meeting the
editor of two national magazines that I now work for, I contribute articles each month.
month I was on the cover of one of those magazines as well. The spin-offs have been huge. I’ve had speaking
engagements as a result of it. I’ve been interviewed on radio. I have newspapers ringing me for comments. It’s
just been phenomenal—a whole lot of free publicity that wasn’t even part of my imagination as a possibility!
It’s very exciting.
Colin: Was it
an accident that you put your stand right next door to the publisher who was also demonstrating at the show,
that had your picture all over their magazine?
Absolutely not. In fact, just to quickly tell you, we hadn’t planned to be at the Sydney expo this year. When I
looked at booking all the expos, I was doing that last year, pre-booking and planning our year this year. When I
spoke to the organizers about the Sydney expo, I wanted to be one of their speakers and unfortunately, they just
explained to me that their schedules were full so there were no speaking engagements.
I thought, “Well, I’ve really seen the impact of actually speaking, what it has on my bottom line,” so we
figured why spend the money? Let’s skip the Sydney program and not do it, and just focus on all the other expos
where I can get speaking engagements. Two weeks out from when the Sydney expo was on, I got a call from the
organizers explaining that a couple of speaking engagements had come available and whether we’d be
So we had two weeks to turn it around and the first thing I thought of was the company that owns those
magazines, do they have a stand there? The answer was yes and my first thought was only to find myself an ally.
I hadn’t launched myself into the Sydney market as yet, so I quickly asked, “Is there a stand available next to
[Key] Media?” who run these magazines.
Luckily for me, there was a stand right next door. The next call I made after that was to Key Media, saying,
“We’re going to be at the Sydney expo. I’ve got the stand right next to you,” and they said, “Great. We’re going
to get a big poster of you with the cover of the magazine.” I had a whole lot of magazines anyway, to hand out.
So jointly, we were able to leverage off each other because Key Media didn’t have any of the magazines with me
on the cover, but they had the big poster, whereas I didn’t have the big poster; I had the actual, physical
magazine. It allowed them to refer people to me and physically get to see me as well as grab a copy of the
magazine and vice versa. I got to refer people to Key Media’s stand saying, “ Have a look at some of the
articles I’ve been writing.”
that’s brilliant because one of the things we spoke about at the seminars was co-promotion and locating
exhibitors you could co-promote with. You did that extraordinarily well used your advantages.
considering we only had two weeks to turn around a stand, get all product up there, et cetera, I just know…I
know the Melbourne market’s hard, but I figured the Sydney market may be a little harder because the property
market up there is a little depressed.
really felt like I needed an ally, or someone to co-brand with to try and create a bigger impact considering I
didn’t have the lead-up to do all my marketing the promotion. I really needed to find who I could work with to
leverage and create a successful show.
long is it now since you came to the Best of Show Workshop, walked away with these ideas and turned everything
around? What’s the time frame?
Helen: It was
2007, last year.
it’s been under a year and you have absolutely turned on your whole promotion machine and everything you do at
expos, which now of course is the center of so much of what you do. You’ve totally revamped, revitalized and
turned it around.
fact, our marketing dollars are now spent on the expos rather than advertising in
an inspiration, and I truthfully mean that. You’ve clearly enjoyed massive success; are you planning on
implementing any other ideas and strategies from the Best of Show Workshop?
always looking to improve. I’m never satisfied with my stand the way it is. I’m always looking at how I can do
things better. In fact, at the Sydney expo, Colin, it was great that you were able to pop in because I didn’t
realize that my posters, for example, weren’t sending out a clear enough message. Especially with this “expo
glaze,” and that’s a fabulous thing…it’s just what you don’t know that you don’t
briefly, for anyone who’s reading here, the “exhibition glaze” is what exhibitors and also buyers get at a show
where there’s so much noise and so much going on, their eyes start to glaze over and it takes a lot to penetrate
and to communicate between exhibitor and buyer because there’s so much tiredness going
Exactly, and in fact, the way you know your message is not clear is if people say to you, “So, what do you do?”
If people said that to me, I knew that my posters or my marketing was not working and the message wasn’t clear
learned from that is I need to get my message clear to people that are suffering from expo glaze, so they’re
kind of a bit numb—they’re just staring but not really reading what’s on your poster and if they’re not getting
it, then the poster isn’t clear. So we’re now looking at revamping our posters for the Perth expo, again, to try
and make the message clearer.
Colin: I note
also, that you were changing things through the expo and that, of course, allowed you to see what improved your
stand as you went. So when you get to Perth, you’ve got a whole lot better stand, although you’re already
getting an amazing amount of impact as it is.
it simple, Colin. Who would have thought, the first year we did our Melbourne expo, our stand looked really
pretty, but it didn’t earn us any money. What I’m learning from that is it doesn’t have to look pretty, it’s
just got to give that person that’s walking past a really simple message. I don’t have all this fancy stuff. I
keep the posters really simple and I have a trestle table with the stock on it, simple
of course is at the back of the stand and not the front of the stand, correct?
one thing you were saying about barriers, wasn’t it?
exactly right. So the good thing about the Sydney expo was that we got to change things, which meant that we’re
constantly testing and measuring. If something’s not working, we’ll change it and see what reaction we get the
next day, or for the afternoon or the morning.
finding that people are drawn to something more, then we’ll continue to stick with it, but if people are looking
at something and then just putting it into a bag, we know that they’re never going to pull it out again so we
know that that piece of marketing doesn’t work. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve and then following
the strategy of keeping it simple.
how can people contact you if they want to know more about Real Wealth Australia?
can always go to my website, which is: RealWealthAustralia.com.au. On
the home page, they can opt in, provide me their details and download a free report that I’m giving away
valued at $17. It’s the “Top 5 Biggest Mistakes Made By Property
Investors and How To Avoid Them.”
With that, they’ll also receive monthly newsletters and articles from me and
things that are happening—specials, promotions, and things like that. On the website there’s also a Contact
page which has got a contact number for me: 1300 85 88 96.
someone was trying to contact you from overseas, how would they contact you so they could understand about
creating wealth and property in Australia? What’s your international phone
is +61 (3) 9471 8107, or they can email me at:
info (AT) RealWealthAustralia.com.au
Colin: As far
as your newsletter is concerned, I must say that (and you send it to me—thank you very kindly for that) I have
received all sorts of tips and ideas which are definitely worth real money to me. My wife and I really thank you
for that. Helen.
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