The Missed Opportunity for Sales and Branding

A few weeks ago I learned firsthand the self-inflicted pain of the missed opportunity.

Confession time: The metaphorical train left without me at a recent event because I didn't get my head in the game.  photo credit: TheeErin via photopin cc
Confession time: The metaphorical train left without me at a recent event because I didn’t get my head in the game. photo credit: TheeErin via photopin cc

Drawing on both my entertainment career and my formal education in science, I was asked to speak at a science museum on the subject of the relationship of science to the art of illusion.

As a former physics major, this obviously sparked memories of many wonderfully mysterious physics demonstrations. There are many such experiments which, as I pointed out in an earlier blog post in the 5 Kinds of Amazing series, reveal hidden but unexpected outcomes in what seem to be predictable, normal situations. I encourage brand managers to engage their audiences by embedding unexpected moments of amazement in their regular business processes.

Because amazement is sometimes produced by the unexpected, though, it’s fair to say I was amazed by the turnout for that event. Very nearly 500 people were on hand to see this lecture, which I had originally thought might draw a crowd of 50 to 80 people. Who would have thought so many adults and kids would be interested in the conservation of angular momentum? I certainly didn’t!

Great publicity, but a front-page reminder of a missed opportunity!
Great publicity, but a front-page reminder of a missed opportunity!
It should be noted that the museum expected the turnout. I just didn’t do as good a job as I should have done in understanding their plan. An early discussion of the event involved a lower crowd number, but I failed to ask them whether it had grown over the months since we planned the event. They had had a few hundred at a recent event, and they were expecting 400 at this one.

Flawed Assumptions Are Costly

Because I made a decision based on an assumption and I failed to ask important questions, I made a poor choice that had an even poorer outcome than I expected. Because I expected maybe 75 people, I decided not to bring product to the event. At that time I had only about 20 copies of my book remaining in my personal stock, and I decided not to bother bringing them since they weren’t particularly relevant to my topic anyhow. This meant I had no product available for sale at the event, but I shrugged it off as a small loss. “How many of those 75 people would have bought anything, anyway?”

Instead, I missed an opportunity to have hundreds of people leave with a tangible, branded product reminding them of me and the experience I delivered. It was, frankly, a blisteringly dumb move on the part of a brand engagement expert. I struck out looking when I was thrown a fantastic and utterly hittable pitch. I strolled to the platform and watched the train doors close. I bowled gutter balls. I jumbled metaphors with wanton disregard for taste or human decency.

The truth is, though, I’m not alone. Many of us have shrugged off what seemed to be small potatoes, only to miss exceptional opportunities on which we should have capitalized.

It’s one thing to be unready for an opportunity because you haven’t developed to the required level to seize upon it. It’s quite another thing to be unready because you were lazy or because you underestimated an opportunity.

What are you doing to be ready for the opportunities that are already staring you in the face?

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