“When you’re asking for money, always be the best-dressed guy in the room.” — Mark McCormack, founder, IMG
I walked into a pre-race expo a few years ago, and the first thing I saw from across the parking lot was a printed canopy that looked as it had survived the Battle of Baghdad. Legs askew, filthy top sagging. Beneath the tent a forlorn-looking field rep stood behind a bare table, below which were clearly visible opened and unopened boxes, plastic containers and assorted debris. Hastily handwritten placards identified what the poor guy was trying to sell (mostly unsuccessfully) to passing event participants.
This was not some mom & pop start-up – folks with no money who didn’t know better. This was a national brand, a publicly held company with senior marketing and merchandising executives, brand managers, field marketing specialists, and a rigid set of graphic brand specifications. What the heck?
I see this kind of thing all the time. Sure, I’m sensitive. Signage is my business. But still, it’s amazing to me how many otherwise smart, competent, detail-oriented companies fail to understand that every single contact with their brand counts, that first impressions matter, that how you look in the field reflects on how people perceive your company, your products, your relevance to their lives and needs.
Why put yourself in the position of having to overcome a poor presentation in the field, when doing it right is so easy and so relatively inexpensive?
One problem, of course, is that most folks see large format products like tents, materials as expenses against tight operations budgets. Can we get another year out of our equipment? Can we get by with cheap frames, less branding on the top? Do we really need printed table covers?
Well, yes, you do.
Your customers have too many choices. Large operation or small, national brand or local 10K, you can’t afford to look like a slob. Because people will notice. And they will go elsewhere.
Until next time. Be well. — MP