Waiting for Captain Jerry

This story shows up every few years about the time I need to explain to a client how specific a trade show audience can be.

This time it was with my acoustic consultant client. Seems they go every year to a music industry conclave that is very broad in scope. And they may or may not come away with a lead.

The story of Captain Jerry King (at least that’s what I recall was his name) goes back to my days in the defense industry. The good Captain was in charge of a very large torpedo program for the US Navy that was a big part of the revenue for Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Each spring he would show up at the Sea-Air-Space (Navy League) conference and trade show.  And it was one of the few opportunities for ATK management to have his full attention.

While we did set up the trade show to be a gathering place for sales and marketing folks to meet clients, show off the offerings and interact with prospects in a broad way, it was this narrow focus that really ensured the health of the company. I still remember being told to save some shrimp from the evening in-hall reception food tray (and a glass of wine) for The Captain.

And it seemed to work.  The contracts were regularly renewed and both sides enjoyed clear communication and effective program results.

Fast forward to just this past weekend:I was at Sweetwater’s GearFest in Fort Wayne, IN, with my client, RBDG.  While we did have a small exhibit back by the studios the team designed, the focus was on meeting a few key members of the Sweetwater team. From setting up to potentially interact with nearly 15,000 attendees, the mission became to interact with just a few executives and resident talent.
While we didn’t save shrimp, we made sure the company’s principal consultant was available for conversations.  We did well when Russ was able to score some significant conversation time with the CEO and founder.  But it was because all were available and in the right place at the right time.
Focus means a lot in these situations.  Go with that mission in mind and stay on line to ensure you meet your goal.

Featured photo by Todd Diemer on Unsplash

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