Our schedule for the next week looks like unpacking in four different hotels, spanning seven nights, while logging hours on a variety of interstates and coastal highways between Maryland and Maine. Client meetings are scheduled throughout the trip, so everything is organized in advance. One thing we’ve learned in our planning is that customers today receive information differently, and situations pop up that require flexibility. Since client discussions range from formal to casual, we try to include diverse visuals when packing our travel bags. Here are a few of the basics we consider as we hit the road:
As an artisan business, ours is a visual one, and the textures and finishes make a difference. When customers can hold a cutting board or ceramic cup, see the glaze, and feel the weight of the piece, they have a better appreciation for the work that went into making it. It’s best when a selection of artisan elements comes along for the ride, representing different colors and styles. A gift box also gets packed so clients can see first-hand the craftsmanship in our work.
The black hole of technology has taught us a lesson or two over the years. We always bring a PowerPoint of photos, mixed with access to the website. (All it takes is one big appointment, when the internet isn’t available to access your website, to learn this lesson. Been there, done that.) With the variance in internet speeds, waiting a few seconds for a page change can feel painful enough to make things awkward and there’s just no need. These days, depending on the number of people in attendance, clients don’t think twice about looking at photos on an iPhone either.
We pack beautiful, colorful promotional cards to leave behind and use to write notes (thank you, we dropped by to say hello etc.). They’re bigger than a business card, yet smaller than 5x7. (The website, MOO, has a variety of marketing options when you don’t have an in-house marketing team.) Again, we’re a visual business, and it’s beneficial to share our work in different mediums. We never know which one will resonate best.
The bottom line, be prepared and flexible. Technology breaks, time gets reallocated, and attention spans vary. The more you can adapt, the better your chance of success.