Today, for those of you keeping track, marks the first time in nine years that I have been home for my wife’s birthday. (So, naturally, she has to work today.) Since 2009, the middle of May has been at the height of our Road Trip Season, as we have bounced across the country (and occasionally across borders) to assist clients with their trade show appearances.
Past years have found me in Sao Paulo, Rome, Nuremberg, Orlando, Detroit, Charlotte, Atlanta, Las Vegas and – in a remarkable feat of logistics – St. Louis AND Indianapolis simultaneously. This year is no different – I get to spend my wife’s birthday at home thanks to a fortunate quirk in scheduling that had us in Atlantic City yesterday and then off to Atlanta this weekend.
Taking care of clients on the road is an interesting business, partially because the work we do has almost nothing to do with “marketing” as one might imagine it.
Many of these trips are exactly what you might think – media junkets, interviews, photo shoots, presentations. Often, we wear the uniform and work the booths. But as often as not, our real mission on these trips takes place 100-percent behind the scenes, out of sight and – if done right – completely out of mind. Orchestrating a perfect trade show appearance means getting there early, making sure everything is ready to go, setting up and stocking the booth, turning on electric and WiFi, interfacing with the show sponsors, then fading quietly into the background, reappearing only to ensure that anything that can go wrong … won’t.
For us, a perfect trade show appearance often means we aren’t seen at all.
I will be in Atlanta most of next week, helping clients at a technical show for lubrication scientists. This particular show, for us, is a behind-the-scenes special. Our marketing mission is to ensure a successful show for our clients. So we’ll be there early to set up, and we’ll be there often, making sure nothing goes wrong, so our clients can focus on their customers. Then, about five minutes after the show closes, we’ll be right there to handle all of the breakdown and wrap-up.
This level of service may not seem like “marketing” but in fact it has saved our clients hours of valuable time show after show. When they don’t have to worry about how to make the show work, they can focus on making the show work, creating positive networking opportunities, increasing face time with potential customers, generating good will in their industry, and making sure their investment in the trade show is money and time exceptionally well-spent.