In the two short years since moving to Portland, I didn’t think Josh and I would be once again facing a huge life change; but here we are. Three years ago my father passed away suddenly, something I am only recently able to talk about with someone outside of my immediate circle. I don’t think you can ever really prepare for something like this and thankfully I was surrounded by loving family and incredible friends. While in the thick of grief someone shared a little advise, well many people shared advise, take some time to adjust and wait a year before making any dramatic life changes. My mother has faithfully stuck to this and has gone into each new chapter with a sure heart; we didn’t make it a year. Within six months we had made the decision to leave the company we’d been with for close to 10 years, saying goodbye the unique lifestyle we had know for most of our marriage. I am not sure what shocked our families more; that we were leaving the road, that we would no longer be working together or that we were moving across the county to Portland. We have made a home here; I found my dream job, Josh was working for friends of ours and we purchased our house.
Today we are faced with another set a changes, one by choice and one by force. Josh made the decision to pursue a new career that will allow him to be home every night and spend more time with Pippi and me….and his garden. This will be the first time he has worked in an office; from his early days of teaching, then onto field marketing and working as a full time truck driver, he has not known the perils of cubical life. As for me, upon moving I stayed in the live event industry and as you can image with our country in quarantine mode all live events are canceled. I am one of many who has lost their job due to these measures. So now I must decide am I also ready for a change, do I leave my beloved event world? How can anything compete with the pace and excitement of live events? Would I even fit somewhere else, working in these crazy circumstances breeds a certain personality, am I too much of an oddball to do anything else?
Taken my first week, love those little buses!
Now I sit down to work through resume updates and household budgets; while also trying to hold up my compatriots also effected. Change is good right?
It’s not every day that one of us has to crawl under a counter to work on plumbing but believe it when we say there is no typical day on a marketing tour! At a recent event we had a little tiny leak one a fixed coolerJ. Had that drain failed during a show we would have quickly found a wet floor and can unhappy client. Lucky for Team Van Gelder, Josh has the skills and patients to keep on top of all the moving parts.
Neither of us are strangers to a toolkit. Abigail’s father was an electrician and plumber like many of his ilk the last thing he wanted to do when he got home after long days was to have to fix something. Thankfully he taught his kids more than the basics and it’s that comfort that has made a big difference of tours, just a few weeks ago she rewired some speakers to custom fit on a new build. As for Josh’s hand skills he’s just that, handy. His love of learning to build things started in the Boy Scouts and has never ceased. When still teaching he spent a summer off as a handyman. Part of the lure of marking tours is the need for diligence in maintenance and there are always new problems to work through.
One of the best parts about summer when you work in the experiential marketing field is the prospect of taking out new tours. So many programs launch as temperatures rise and the opportunity to be a part of events that draw people out comes. When looking at new programs there are a thousand things to learn about the equipment and how the actual shows will run. Something that is hard for new people to the industry, at least those who travel with the tours is that you also have to “live the brand”. The moment you step near that marketing vehicle you represent that brand; fueling, stopping at a rest area, even pulling into a hotel. You, as the road team you are part of the visible element for your client. This should be reflected not just in how you act but also how you present yourself.
Guests to a mobile experiential program don’t know and aren’t going to be understanding that you are “just the driver” or don’t work for the brand on display. It is crucial that you match the image clients to reinforce their message. One of the programs we currently work with is a high-end firm hosting training seminars. It’s key that anyone coming in sees us as a person they can engage with, that we are supposed to be there.
On the other hand we serve two roles when in the field. when setting up the truck or moving down the road we also represent our employer. You never know when a random contact could turn into a long term program. We are careful to look professional even when setting up an exhibit. Years ago we met a gentleman while setting up a trailer in Washington DC, that brief contact put my firm on his radar and a few years later he was a driving force to put a tour on the road. What he saw of us ensured that we would be the right choice to representing that brand on a national scale.
Living the brand goes deeper than that, it takes very little effort to be knowledgeable about the industry your client operates in. It’s as easy as taking a gander of PR Newswire a couple of times a week just to see what is going on with a client’s customers and their competition. This can help you talk the talk as you walk the walk.
During dinner a few weeks back we started to both bring up examples of times we have broken the rules. Looking back at our early days in promotional marketing, there were many times we joined crews of brand ambassadors handing out fliers and giveaways. Rarely did we have a permit to be there. To be frank it was a highly unauthorized promotion that led us down the path where we found MRA and started the adventures in marketing tours.
We drive the wrong way down roads, illegally park, take up handicap spaces, put up signs without permission. How often do you send out event staff as a field team to drive in traffic? On a recent call with city planners office some strange questions started coming up. About half-way thought the process I realized that she had at one time worked with a different firm who widely misrepresented their event and left the city with damage and cleanup. She wasn’t trying to get more permit funds from me but instead to make her local police and park employees aware. Maybe too often we view people in those positions as an obstacle versus a partner.
We recently had the opportunity to help out with some planning on tour run by our employer but outside of our client portfolio. They needed help to secure a year’s worth of tour stops in three weeks. This was a great opportunity to put forth a concentrated effort treat the contacts at locations like they were a preferred vendor, a partner. By expressed our excitement to be in the community and to use their facility. It was a striking difference, out of the entire list only one location said no. We were able to give the client exactly what they asked for. It has been a great opportunity to grow professionally from this and noticed immediately how differently it felt to work some of other vendors.
We wear a number of different hats within the company and it will be a long time before again seeing anyone as a road block versus a partner again.
You can see from the red pins on the map that we are getting a little time in Florida, it looks like we will spend the batter part of two weeks soaking in some sun. We will need it, very shortly we will be off to Canada.
Courtesy of Google Maps
Song of the Week: B.E.R. – Night Begins to Shine
Week in Review: While heading north we had the most delightful thing happen, we were stuck in New York traffic NEXT to another MRA truck. We have over the years seen another vehicle going to other way on an interstate and once at the same Penske but this was a first. Thankfully they also had a chase vehicle that was able to capture this unique moment. It was a fairly busy week with work but we did visit my beloved New Hampshire and enjoyed the lovely cool weather but there wasn’t time to go up to the SNHU campus this time.
Fun Photo of the Week: This was snapped by our co-workers Gordon and Robyn Marks
We are starting a fairly mile heavy, year-end push. As you can see over the next three weeks we will be hitting a different markets, the rest of the year will be much the same. This week has us up in the Northeast, with a stop near Boston and then onto my beloved New Hampshire.
Courtesy of Google Maps
Song of the Week: Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere
Week in Review: Last week we had the opportunity to strap on our packs and do some hiking. Being in Virginia for work it was an easy choice to scurry off to Shenandoah National Park. We went out for a 4 day hike, it was amazing until the last day which consisted of nearly 8 miles in the rain, a touch unpleasant. After a night in one of the lovely lodges within the park it was time for another hike, this was just going to be a three day trip. Well that plan when to crap when we stumbled into a black fly hatch, it was insane. We had to set up the tent just to get some relief and eat lunch. Needless to say the day turned into a miserable 8 mile march just trying to get the heck out of there. Alternate plan was a visit to Luray Caverns. As you can see from below Pippi was less than enthused about the prospect of hiking and instead stayed with a nice family outside the park.
Fun Photo of the Week:
Well this could be an interesting week. I am once again home to visit with my folks but this time Josh is out on a tour. He has been able to step in and take out a program for Sprint, this is a small trailer that sets up at mostly community events. He is hitting the State Fair circuit, with this regional tour. Next week will have us both in Michigan and probably enjoying some of the more unique area festivals.
Courtesy of Google Maps
Song of the Week: Hurricane Season – Trombone Shorty
Week in Review: It was nice to spend a little time together during the summer, we often have such different schedules. I did head back home a touch early while Josh made for Indianapolis. Lucky for me the my hometown was hosting the annual county fair (Brown County Fair). Had the opportunity to take in some harness racing with my family.
I was also “home” for the grand opening of a coffee shop in my hometown. I’m from a town of 1300 people and it’s the county seat. Biggest town for miles!!!! So the opening of a coffee shop is news and something that Josh is looking forward to.
Fun Photo of the Week: