There is no doubt that I have a very interesting job. What is visible to most people is the "playtime" with computer hardware and the extensive customer interaction. But sometimes I get to do things that completely blow my mind and make for some interesting stories. I'd like to share one of them that I got to do some months ago. Our marketing officer had an idea that we should try out an experiment to see if it had potential to grow our brand. He called it the ThinkPad TrackPoint Ambassador Program. The idea was simple – find ThinkPad users and give them new TrackPoint caps. Hopefully this would be a positive reinforcement of their decision to buy Lenovo. The execution was almost as simple. I was told to book flights to nearby business hubs (Boston, New York, and Washington) and wander the airports in search of ThinkPad users. When I found these users I was to give them a new set of TrackPoint caps and start a conversation about our products. After I finished that day, I wrote a report, of which I'll share with you below.
Method I wore a ThinkPad branded shirt and wandered the concourses searching for open ThinkPad notebooks. Upon seeing one, I approached the customer and opened up with a line similar to "Hello, my name is Matthew and I'm from Lenovo, the company that makes ThinkPads." I then pulled out my bag of TrackPoint caps and said "I notice you cap is a bit dirty. Would you like to have a new one?" I then gave them all three of our cap types and explained the differences between them. Depending on their mood and knowledge, I engaged them in some conversation about their notebooks and their experiences with them. Some were talkative and others just took the caps and indicated that was as much as they wanted to say. Finding notebook users was more difficult than I figured. Even in airports with Wi-Fi, most people waiting were using their smart phones and not actively working. Their laptops were left in their bags.
Log The following is an informal log of some of my thoughts and interactions. It is not by any means inclusive or scientific, and the times are approximate as I jotted them down as I was on the plane to my next location. 5:20 a.m. – Arrive inside RDU 5:30 a.m. – Pass security. LOTS of vacation travelers today. One of the busiest days I have seen at the airport in quite some time. 5:35 a.m. – Discover Admiral's Club does not open until 6 a.m. Spend time until boarding wandering concourse looking for ThinkPads. Only saw one or two people with their systems open (Sony and Toshiba – non business models and users). Most people were reading the newspaper. 5:50 a.m. – Board flight. While in flight, look for people using notebooks. Due to early hour, most were slumped over and drooling on their shirts. 6:50 a.m. – Land in Washington National Airport (DCA) 7:01 a.m. – First customers. Group of 4 professionals. All were ThinkPad users, and all were excited to get new TrackPoint caps. One commented that he was waiting on his new Z61p to arrive (my surprise that he knew exactly what he was talking about) 7:38 a.m. – Young professional woman waiting at the gate. Due to professional dress and demeanor, appeared to work for a consulting company. After approaching, she accepts TrackPoint caps, but looks visibly distraught. I'm pretty sure she thought I was trying to hit on her. 8:32 a.m. – Young gentleman, approximately 25 yrs old. ThinkPad T42. Commented on how he loved the battery life. (Had 6 cell battery). Asked about newest ThinkPads, and wanted to know if we had a system that "does not have graphics that shares the same memory." Did not know about the ThinkLight 9:01 a.m. – Who would have thought there would be so many people drinking beer at such an early hour? 9:58 – JACKPOT! Customer is using Access Connections (version 4.x) to try and find a wireless network in the airport. He asked for help to see if I could find a network. Was relieved to find that I could not locate a network either, so that ruled out a technological issue with our system. Customer was not aware of the ThinkLight and was very enthusiastic to give some advice on marketing it better – suggested a sticker covering the light showing the Fn key combination that would make it work. Customer did not know show any name recognition of Lenovo and still thought IBM was making ThinkPads. 10:20 – board Delta Shuttle. Destination: New York LaGuardia 10:30 a.m. – Depart for LGA TOTAL SETS OF TRACKPOINTS GIVEN AT DCA= 40 11:29 a.m. – Arrive LGA 11:54 a.m. – Tim, Stockbroker. Company not mentioned. ThinkPad T41. Expressed distinct preference for dome TrackPoint cap. Did not know about ThinkLight. Did not appear to be using any ThinkVantage software 12:18 p.m. – User has ThinkPad T41. Jealous travel companion has HP. 1:05 p.m. – New York does not seem the right market for this, or else it is just a bad time. Haven't seen a ThinkPad for at least 30 mins. 1:29 p.m. – The mobile device of choice in this airport seems to be smart phones. They're everywhere. 2:30 p.m. – Depart for Boston TOTAL SETS OF TRACKPOINTS GIVEN AT NEW YORK LAGUARDIA = 20 3:28 p.m. – Arrive Boston 3:39 p.m. – More people definitely using laptops here as WiFi is free. Initial survey of terminal comes up relatively empty. Decide to head to Delta Crown Room 4:10 p.m. – In Crown Room. Many users of all makes and brands of laptops are present. Gave out 15 sets of TrackPoints in last 30 mins. 4:11 p.m. – Sadly, no one knows about the ThinkLight. 4:33 p.m. – Have decided to stop attempting to be a TrackPoint ambassador to any female. They all give me a look like I'm a stalker. 4:55 p.m. – New T60 user. Nice! 5:08 p.m. – Finally someone who has heard of ThinkVantage. Spend a few minutes talking about Rescue & Recovery. Unfortunately, he still doesn't know he has a ThinkLight. All I can do is sigh. 6:20 p.m. – Board flight for RDU 9:00 p.m. – Arrive RDU TOTAL SETS OF TRACKPOINTS GIVEN AT BOSTON = 45 Summary
- 105 sets of TrackPoint caps given away
- 4 airports in 1 day – Raleigh, New York, Washington, Boston
- 1 person knew the term ThinkVantage. Several were using ThinkVantage Technologies and could talk about the tools we had when engaged in conversation. Many had questions about Lenovo. No one knew about the ThinkLight
- 0 Marriage Proposals, but zero restraining orders issued either