The Goldilocks Tragedy: Do Your Customers KNow Where They Are?

Published by: Jeff Day

One of the biggest problems facing leaders today is not just how you tell a story, it’s how people remember it!  On the heels of insatiable communications channels and technologies particularly in the live event realm, organizations struggle to strike the right balance between memorable messages and invested dollars.  Worse yet, new shiny objects appear every day which create roadblocks and obstacles for people desperate for a better way.

The other day I had an opportunity to meet with a CEO of highly innovative company.  In the conversation, we discussed this challenge specifically in a tradeshow environment.  I shared my observation about flat messages lost in over-techified delivery channels.  He completely agreed with an even better statement.  He said, “I can’t tell you what I heard in any tradeshow recently.  I can only tell you what I saw and how it made me feel.” 

Good news and bad news here.  Amped up stories are memorable.  But if it’s not done right, the experience may not be attributed to you, your brand, or your cause.  You need a better plan to connect the experience thread from your story to the experience.  You also need to find ways to leverage experience emotions where other’s activities will give lift to your own.  Yes, I’m saying a well planned and executed experience could even hijack’s other’s experience mojo for your gain.


In my work, I see hundreds of brands telling thousands of stories every day.  I think about it like the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the three bears.  Here, an unexpecting Goldilocks wanders into the three bears house, trying out every scenario of porridge, chairs, and beds.  After wandering and settling on the best fit for her, she hand NO IDEA she was even in a bear’s house.  Talk about memorable messages?  Maybe she missed the bear family portrait over the fireplace.  Get my drift?

Brands at tradeshows fall into this trap every day.  They have Goldilocks moving in and out of their spaces every day.  Trying the porridge, chairs, and beds…never quite realizing where they are!  This is a marketing and sales professional’s nightmare. 

Consider the following booths.  In the first, the booth is loaded with people that seem to be engaged in great conversations and everyone’s happy.  I can’t tell what’s being sold, but I can clearly see folks are having a great time.  The message:  we’re approachable, friendly, eager to engage a relationship.  Warm and happy…but I could have the same experience anywhere with better effect.

In the second booth, there’s a massive tech fueled display.  Dozens of people standing around taking it in.  They stop and look, but realizing they can’t actually get any closer they choose to move on.  What did they remember?  They saw something cool, but couldn’t get close enough.  They decided the wait wasn’t worth it, and the moved on.  Equally devastating scenario.

In the third booth, we have distributed moments throughout the space.  The first experience creates intrigue, the next peaks interest, and the last unlocks excitement.  The physical layout and the compliment of a diverse set of tools orchestrated to create discreet but complimentary moments turns out to lead directly to a smiling brand ambassador and a highly prepared customer.  Just by orchestrating the combination of activities, the result was exponentially better.  No Goldilocks surprises here.

So what’s a leader to do?  Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Plan a threaded experience. Don’t let unassuming people wander into the booth without some degree of choreography.  Tech can be a phenomenal tool to help it.  But it will never be just the tech.
  2. Thread the experience with other experiences. If you can connect your booth experience with other brand outlets you get a incrementally powerful gain on your story.  Connect your experience to your brand’s HQ or other area’s where your story is promoted.  1+1=3 here.
  3. Tech amplifies stories. Tech can kick it up…but it can’t replace it.  Your story lands with people who function with emotions.  The skill you need here is understand how emotions like wonderment, surprise, and intrigue work with your story.
  4. Connect the emotion dots. Here’s where you can leverage other brand’s mojo. Do this by incorporating hooks to a larger community through social platforms, for example.  Some brands make their brand moments social events.  This ensures the story lives on and can be returned to again and again.

Just as Goldilocks wandered into the bear’s house completely unaware of her surroundings, don’t let that happen to you.  Don’t be that brand coming back late trying to figure out who was eating the porridge, sitting in your chair, or sleeping in your bed.  Memorable stories start with threaded plans.  Remembered stories result in wild success!  Be success!


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