Leaving on a jet plane

Two months in, and it’s time for my first business trip for Infinio.

Yesterday was a typical pre-business-trip day: running to Kinko’s, finishing emails, and squeezing cosmetics into 3 oz bottles.  Several calls to mrDiva as we figured out details for the week.  It reminded me of so many other trips I’ve taken and places I’ve been.

Except this time I’m traveling for Infinio.  Is this how baseball players feel?  They get traded from one team to another and then they are doing what they used to do but wearing a new uniform?  Except the big difference is that I chose Infinio because I respected the team and believed in the technology.  Not sure that is what’s happening at the trade deadline.

I am fortunate, because I’ve always been proud of working for my employer.  I loved traveling for Dell – I’d hope people would ask me who I was and why I was traveling so I could say I worked for Dell.  (Or I was in the Austin airport, where everyone worked for Dell.)

But it’s been a long time since I did a tradeshow.  My travel for Dell was either to individual customers, to present to small audiences as part of a roadshow, or part of Dell Storage Forum.

And tradeshows are different.  Customers are seeing all the major players in a part of the industry at once, so having a differentiated message is incredibly important.  It’s not just about the technology, by “why YOUR technology.”  It’s also the epitome of the elevator pitch – you have just a minute or two to get someone’s attention before they hurry off to the next booth.

It’s exhausting. 

But it’s also an amazing opportunity to talk to a large number of customers in a small amount of time.  It’s like a customer boot camp for marketers.  In marketing, we do this thing called “message testing” where we get a panel of customers to read or listen to our language around a product or feature, and we can see if it’s working.  We also do “A/B testing” where we show different groups of customers different versions of the same thing – say a website – and see which one is more resonant.

A tradeshow can be the biggest, fastest set of message testing and realtime A/B testing ever.

Of course, my top priority is to educate customers about Infinio.   After all, they are taking time out of their typical responsibilities to learn and we are a new brand in a new segment of the market.  In some ways, we’re exactly who a lot of customers are here to see.

Secondarily, I’m really interested in seeing how customers react to our message, whether the things we think are differentiated are really differentiated, whether the language we’re using is working.  Finally, lucky me, we’re at the stage of the company where executives are still booth staff.  So I’m also really interested in listening to how they talk about the product and the company.

I’ll write a post-mortem at the end of the week.




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