When I made the decision to move into the world of belting with Smiley Monroe, I knew I had made the leap into a forward thinking, marketing driven company. I was prepared to be challenged and inspired, but what happened next exceeded expectation.
Four Days to Take Off
I arrived at Smiley Monroe during the final countdown to ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017 – the company’s largest investment in an exhibition to date. The clock was ticking with just four days before departure for Las Vegas. The pressure was real – it was time to swallow those first day nerves, roll up my sleeves and get the job done. The excitement at Smiley Monroe HQ was palpable and infectious. Swept along on a wave of anticipation, the passion of the team was beginning to rub off and as the we boarded the BA0275 from Heathrow, I felt an equal share in the pre-show jitters, willing all to be well on the other side.
Upon arrival, neither jetlag nor blistering Nevada heat could dwindle the enthusiasm of the Smiley Monroe team. Invigorated by the sight of our ‘awesome’ booth on the Bronze Lot, the ConExpo delegate pulled out all the stops, making sure every visitor experienced some legendary Northern Irish hospitality. Watched over by our ‘Giant of Belting’ team members from sales, technical, marketing and finance worked seamlessly together to make ConExpo 2017, Smiley Monroe’s most successful show ever.
The theme of this year’s show was ‘Imagine What’s Next’. With that in mind, the Smiley Monroe booth featured a virtual reality pod, offering customers an immersive product experience and an education on all products in a quick four-minute video. Paying close attention to the customer journey, the booth operated a ‘self-service’ system, guiding visitors through each zone and allowing them to use custom iPad apps. By far the biggest talking point was the Giant, emerging majestically from the asphalt. Our ‘Giant Selfie’ competition to win an Apple Nike Watch was a hit, with many visitors opting to ‘Leave their Mark’ on our Causeway inspired timeline with a good, old fashioned polaroid photo.
If you can’t stand the heat you should get out of Vegas…
As a ‘newbie’ to Smiley Monroe and the industry, the show was a huge learning curve, but one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Both colleagues and customers made me feel extremely welcome, willingly taking the time to explain products and applications. I even managed to climb on broad a screener (thank you Maximus) and meet bona fide, Gold Rush celebrity, Dozer Dave Turin (although I did have to google him later!). Had it not been for the generosity, patience and gusto of my new colleagues, my first ConExpo could have been a very different and daunting experience. Strangers put their faith in my skills, and I in theirs, resulting in perhaps the most positive experience of my professional career to date. As a marketer, the sense of ownership and belief in the brand, displayed by the whole team is refreshing and extremely motivating.
Imagine What’s Next?
For many exhibitors faced with the huge task of follow up, the post Vegas blues will have descended. This is not the case at Smiley Monroe. Buoyed by exceptional customer feedback, the team are chomping at the bit to get back to the nitty gritty of turning those leads into new business. And low and behold, after just 48 hours back at base, the first ConExpo order pinged through. The tidy, six figure order from a large North American screening brand feels like the tip of the iceberg.
It’s an exciting time to be part of Smiley Monroe. With ambitious expansion plans in North America, new factory facilities on the way and a marketing campaign which is gaining traction – the opportunities seem as endless as our belts.
As we reflect on a show that pushed the boundaries of what we dreamed was possible, there is an air of bravery in the Smiley Monroe office. To quote Marketing Director Tim Monroe, “We killed it”. But this is not a time to set back and pat ourselves on the back. Attention has already turned to how we build on this success, and better it, next time around. With creative ideas and innovation floating around, it’s hard not to be excited. With a little self-belief, a lot of talent and a shed load of passion under our belts, ‘Imagine What’s Next’ for Smiley Monroe?
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