Kris Kumnock: Win Hearts With Iconic Events

I recently had a chance to ask some of my old friends and reps to contribute a guest article to my blog. “What do you want us to write about?” they asked. “How about something you’ve learned in our years working together?” I said.

I’ve been in the “iconic event” business for several years, helping organize special experiences for people and companies. I often worked with David Marshall when he was at Robroy Industries, putting together special events and dinners for him, his staff, and his representative partners.

Kris Kumnock, a great organizer of iconic events.
Kris Kumnock
David always understood how to treat people and even though he was in business to make profit, it was always one of his standards to treat people right. He had created quite a culture at his company, and he took care of all his people.

One of the things we did a lot of was to have special dinners where a celebrity or two would show up and regale them with stories of their playing days. We had dinners with former athletes like Nolan Ryan and Roger Staubach, or Jerry West and Bill Walton, and even Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Cal Ripken together. We once hosted Emmitt Smith and Pat Summerall at Pat’s house.

There was usually a meet and greet with the people at the dinner, and then I would host a conversation with the celebrities, sort of a Q&A session where I could guide the conversation and they could tell stories all night.

David and Robroy were such a class act though, that when we had celebrities come to these events — we paid the celebrities for this, mind you — Robroy would always send them some kind of thank you gift. At one event, I can’t remember who we got, he was there on his wife’s birthday. So Robroy sent her a gift and a note that said, “Thank you for sharing your husband tonight.”

David has that kind of understanding how to treat people, and it’s rare, but he’s certainly got it.

People Remember Epic Events Better Than Cash

David used our service in a variety of ways. Sometimes he wanted to stay top of mind for his representative partners since his company didn’t have their own sales force. He wanted to engage them, and he did that through these iconic events or through performance awards at other times of the year.

You can hand someone a check for $1,000 to say, “You did a great job this year,” but they’ll often spend it or pay a bill out of necessity. But when you give them iconic experiences like these, even if it was something they could do for themselves (except they won’t), they’ll have memories for a lifetime.

They think, “This person cares enough about me to do something really special for me.” And that stays with them. That’s the value of it. It just leaves such a lasting impression on them, and that goes a long way with people.

David wanted to build a relationship with his representative partners because he knew they didn’t have to sell just his product. They worked with plenty of other suppliers, and in many cases, his products were not the top earners for them. So he was very appreciative of their commitment to his company.

He knew that if people worked hard for him, he needed to show his appreciation, whether it was his representative partners or his own employees. So he was always very clear about what he wanted from me.

He said, “I don’t know a lot of these people we’re booking, because I’m not into sports. So this needs to be iconic, or let’s not do it. It needs to be someone who’s as a very good player, not just a B list player.”

And we were always able to deliver what he asked for, because he knew, and we knew, how important it was to the people he worked with.

Author: David Marshall
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.