What’s Better Than Free Hats?
It’s September 13, the last day of IMTS 2014. I’m wearing shoes guaranteed by the salesman at Nordstrom not to cause discomfort after ten days standing. I’ll give the shoes credit but at least half goes to the practical Okuma style budget item of extra thick carpet padding. When I arrived for pre-show set up at this, my first IMTS, I thought “making a difference that’s important to the customer” in the form of carpet padding vs. flashy advertisement to match the booths beside us was a flop. Not so. Right now I’m loving standing under a giant Okuma App Store sign on a double layer of carpet padding.
On the other hand, I just got married last month and I’m envious of the surrounding empty booths tearing down machines. Ours is planted in the middle of major competitors but for some reason we still have a steady flow of customers (and competitors) walking in with questions (and notepads and cameras.) Our contract administration and sales groups are feeling it even more because they haven’t gotten a chance to breathe in days, so I can’t complain.
Usually This Kind of Story Starts With Beer
I’m caught off guard by a group asking for Okuma hats. They look like they walked out of a machine shop. I’ve been asked for credit card-sized Okuma App Store USB sticks all week and I ran out yesterday. The hats are probably gone as well but I happily go fishing through empty boxes for an overlooked cap. Returning fruitless, they feign astonished disappointment telling me they just bought a million dollar machine and all they wanted was a hat or shirt.
Well in my book, anyone who wants to wear “Okuma” proudly should get the chance to do so. Without thinking, I reach for the top button of my very first and brand-new-for-the-show favorite embroidered Okuma dress shirt saying “well, if you really want a shirt, I’ll trade you.” Before I have the first button undone, one of them is taking his shirt off to trade. Woops, and now I’m committed.
Should’ve Given Them Apps
It’s amazing how much can go through your head in a split second while your eyes betray all the thoughts of a deer in headlights. “What was I thinking?” “I bet there were more hats if only I’d looked harder.” “Wow, his shirt looks like it’s been worn cutting parts all day in a shop!” “Was I kidding when I made that offer?” “What if there were more shirts somewhere else?” “What if I’d offered to give them an app tailored just to meet their needs? That would have been better than a hat!” The last thought stuck with me. I should have given them Apps. Regardless, there’s no turning back now and besides, how often do you have the chance to literally give the shirt off your back? Done.
Free Apps – Even Better Than Free Hats
I’m wearing a “Company X” t-shirt, which they reassure me has been washed and has not been in the shop at all today. As we’re posing for a picture beside their new machine, I’m trying to decide how I’ll explain this to my wife. “Yes, honey, I did get a nice new shirt…but I traded it.” I can still give them Apps – most of the apps on the Okuma App Store are free anyway! This is a paradigm shift in giving away “free stuff.” It costs us a lot to give an app away once for free. I know, I help write them. The savings comes when we’ve given away 10,000 free apps. I can’t give away three hats and see which one fits best and throw away the other ones. I can do that with apps though. An app doesn’t wear out but it does help customer productivity. What do you think will be remembered longer and make more of a difference on the floor where it really matters?
We Hope to Make a Difference
I forgot to mention the salesman actually sold me two pair of shoes just to be sure I got the best and he did tell me to bring back the pair I liked less. I tested them over the weeks leading up to IMTS 2014 and picked my favorite. While Okuma certainly has some of the nicest squishiest carpet at the show, I know the shoes I’m wearing are helping a lot. I wound up keeping both pair of shoes by the way and we hope that’s what happens when apps are downloaded from the Okuma App Store. Every developer hopes their app will make such a difference in efficiency on the floor that it becomes indispensable.
Tony Slagle is Software Engineer, Electrical Engineering, Okuma America Corporation.