One of the many things I LOVE about working at Ogallala Comfort is the abundance of opportunities the company provides for individual growth. Our Owner and Chief Dreamer, Herb, came to me one day really excited about a Marketing class being offered in Lincoln, NE. I was unsure because the cost of the class seemed pretty high to me, but Herb had faith that I would learn a lot and that the return on investment would be worth the cost up front. His unwavering faith in me led me to the heart of Nebraska for a three-day training in Strategic Growth and Marketing.
Usually a trip to the city would have me feeling a little leery, but this was just a simple three-and-a-half hour journey to our Capital. I had been there several times before, so it should have been no problem... “should” being the key word there. Thankfully I made it to Lincoln without any problems. I checked into my hotel room without complications, parked, unpacked, and prepared myself for the class to begin the next day.
And that is where all the trouble began.
Day one of my class: I woke up extra early (5:30 am) even though the class didn’t begin until 8:00am, because I didn’t want to be late. After getting ready, and grabbing a quick bite for breakfast, I left for class, located on the University Of Nebraska Lincoln’s college campus. The GPS told me my destination was 10 minutes away, so leaving at 7:15am, a whole 45 minutes early, should give me PLENTY of time to arrive fashionably early. Again, “should.”
I’m in my pickup, with the GPS on my phone, ready to tackle this course –when, my phone starts acting up. The GPS re-routes me down a one-way… the wrong way down a one-way… and I begin to panic. I’m sure there was panicking from those in the oncoming traffic as well. I manage to somehow get going the right way down the street again, and begin to catch my breath a little. I can see the college, and I feel pretty good again, until the GPS has me take a sudden right turn. Now, I find myself on a freeway - that quickly takes me farther from my destination. I can’t get exit the freeway for what seems like forever; and the panic starts to rise again. It’s 7:38 when I finally am able to exit and immediately pull into a Burger King parking lot - where I proceed to cry. I pull myself together, and at 7:46am, I’m back on the freeway headed to the college. At 7:58am, I finally walk into my class… It’s a good thing I left 45 minutes early after all!
I spent the rest of the day enjoying other professional colleague’s ideas and inputs, uncovering customer needs, and evaluating priority segments. I take tons of notes to bring back to our team in Ogallala.
After class I am unsure whether or not to trust my GPS, but I manage to get back to the hotel in one piece. I decide that walking may be the better option for finding a dinner location - so I walk down the street, grab a burger, and call it a night. Hopefully tomorrow will bring me a little better luck.
Day two of my class: Now that I had successfully made it there once, I was able to navigate myself back to class on my own! I left the hotel at 7:15am once again, but this time my commute took me about 10 minutes, so I was extremely early for the lecture. Oh well, at least this gave me time to prepare for the lesson of the day (components of feasible business model) and enjoy conversation with the professor and some of the other students. I enjoyed another full day of learning and obtaining great information with my peers. I got to and from the class without difficulties - surely my bad luck had run out? Or so I hoped!
A great friend of mine lives in Lincoln, so I was excited to be meeting her for dinner. We chose a nice little sushi place close to my hotel, so I wouldn’t have to venture far. I pulled up my GPS, saw that it was a two minute walking distance and took off… but after about ten minutes of walking and not seeing a sushi restaurant anywhere, I questioned if the GPS was right. It wasn’t (of course!). Actually, the restaurant was half a block the other direction. It was literally the next building to my hotel!!! Have I mentioned that directions are not my thing?
Day three of class: At this point, I had found my way to the college quite well. Being early isn’t something I’m used to, since I run late for EVERYTHING, but I was really enjoying having that extra 30 minutes to discuss ideas and marketing tactics before class with the professors.
To say the class was beneficial would be an understatement. It was truly eye-opening and forced me to think outside of the box. I would come up with what I thought was a great idea and then the professor would say “Is that the best route? Do you think that’s original? Is that going to make people notice?” The answer: No. Sometimes we get so focused on what we think would be the quickest, easiest, marketing path and forget that marketing is not an overnight process. We have to build relationships; which in many cases can take months, even years.
I left on that final day of class feeling confident that what I had learned would be valuable to the Brand Refresh we have been working so hard on. As sad as I was that my learning experience was through, I was more than excited to be going home!
(If I could just get navigated out of here…)
Stay tuned for more updates on our New Product Line and the Brand Refresh we are so eager to share with you ☺
- Marlee Waugh