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Custom Vendor Fields: An Odyssey

  • Jan 20, 2021

I have tried writing this blog article a half-dozen times now. I want the article to discuss the new “custom vendor field” feature that I released in mid-December (2020). Each time I get a few paragraphs in and think, “Nobody wants to read this!” While a customizable vendor application may be interesting, and maybe even exciting, to a show promoter, everything I have written so far reads like a user’s manual. I have never seen a user’s manual on the best sellers list; doubt I ever will. Still, I want to talk about this new feature. It has been a long time coming and I want anyone with any interest in It’s Show Easy to know that custom vendor fields are finally available.

When I first launched It’s Show Easy as a product and started looking for potential customers, I looked at a lot of vendor applications. At the time, most vendor applications were only online in the sense that you could download a PDF document to print and fill out. Every application was a little different in layout and the information they collected, but I believed that the advantages of having a truly on-line application would outweigh the minor variations that an It’s Show Easy adopter would have to give up. That rationalization, plus the fact that implementing custom vendor fields was going to be hard, led me to put custom fields off in favor of adding other features. I still don’t believe that custom vendor fields would have made the difference in converting, or not converting, those leads. For the most part I have had trouble getting show promoters to listen long enough to learn what It’s Show Easy can and can’t do. That was a couple years ago.

The biggest feature I added before finally getting around to custom vendor fields was smart venues. For those of you that haven’t been following along, smart venues allow the show promoter to set up a booth map for their venue(s) and a booth map allows a user to select a booth, or booths, on-line by clicking on a booth on the map. I was convinced that smart venues would land me more customers than would custom applications and I thought it was going to be easier to implement. More bang for my buck! Well, my time anyway. In hindsight, I think smart venues was just as difficult as custom vendor fields turned out to be and, so far, just one month in, custom vendor fields has landed me the same number of new customers as smart venues. A big fat zero! So, on the heels of launching smart venues, beaming with pride to see my work in action on It’s Show Easy-generated websites, I dove headlong into custom vendor fields telling myself, “when I get this done, It’s Show Easy will be so attractive to show promoters it will sell itself!” Same old song and dance; starting to think I am just singing and dancing for myself.

Anyway, I started working on customer vendor fields in February 2020. I put some good time in, made some good progress, had it all sorted out as to how it was going to work and how I was going to implement it. Then, Coronavirus came knocking. I have been fortunate enough not to contract Coronavirus, but like everyone, it has still impacted on my life. Perhaps the biggest impact has been that it actually ratcheted up the workload at my day job (that’s right, It’s Show Easy does not pay the bills) and I found myself working long hours for months on end. That started around the end of March and custom vendor fields went on hold.

It wasn’t until mid-October that I was finally able to get back to putting in regular time on new It’s Show Easy features and I picked up working on customer vendor fields again. I worked consistently on it going into the holidays and finished it up and launched it just before Christmas. I was excited! Things had been stagnant for It’s Show Easy for a long time. I finally had something to add to the website again! You aren’t supposed to let your website go unchanged for long periods of time. Updating the website was the first thing I did after launching the new feature. I stared at the website for a long time trying to decide how best to factor in the new feature. I clicked through every page, searching for the perfect way to bring attention to custom vendor fields. In the end, this was what I settled on:

a before and after of a section from the website in which the text "Applications" has been changed to "Customizable applications" and has been bolded

That’s it. I added one word, bolded it, and the word that followed it. Anti-climactic, I know.

Well, that’s how I ended up here: certain that I needed to write a blog article about custom vendor fields. It’s a big feature! It adds a lot of value for show promoters! It deserves more than a, probably unnoticeable, update on the website. And while this article may not say much about how the feature works or exactly how it brings value to promoters, maybe it will serve to bring some attention to that which has been in my mind for the last year, if not in the forefront, at least in the back, nagging me to finish what I started.

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash