I hear “that doesn’t work for my business” all the time. Sometimes, this message is driven by stories within an industry. Sometimes this is driven by a past experience 10 years ago. Sometimes it’s something else. But, all the time, my role is to ask “how did you come to that conclusion.” And the answers from that question get very fuzzy.

In order to know whether something worked or did not work, one needs to evaluate the effort put into making it successful. You can’t simply make the claim you tried it and it didn’t work. Just because you did it, does not mean you did it as well as it could have been done.

Take a trade show. I often hear that certain shows “work” and other shows “don’t work” based on the one or two time experience of the exhibitor. When I query about what does a show effort look like, it boils down to put a bunch of stuff in a booth in an aisle of a show and talk to whomever walks into the booth.

A trade show is a temporary showroom in the downtown of an industry. Showing up with your stuff is the minimum that can be accomplished. Typically, that’s why the results are minimal as well. (Click here for my guide on how to do a trade show.)

As you evaluate what you have done, be very clear that you are evaluating the How you did it aspect. If you did not do “all you could” then your conclusion is not sound.

More importantly, if you did not do “all you could”, ask yourself why, and figure out how to do “all you can” next time. Better forethought creates clearer hindsight. Impulsive efforts can’t provide any valuable hindsight at all. If you have no valuable hindsight, you can never really no how you are doing.