As everyone in the industry knows it is show season. It is a great time to connect with dealers, customers, potential customers, old friends, new friends and other vendors who you generally see at trade shows, dealer meetings, demo days etc. This year I have three in a row – STMA, FenceTech and the GIS. There is a 24 day stretch where I am home only four days and I am OK with that – it is part of the job. Don’t get me wrong, while it is a grind, it is the time when the promise of the whole year is ahead and the fun of introducing people to our products is the best part of the day.
Trade shows seem to be shrinking and that is a shame in many ways. There is nothing like personal contact and looking someone in the eye when you discuss needs, wants and how your equipment may be able to help them solve a problem. There is that feeling in the pit of my stomach when the doors first open when all of the pre-show thoughts are running through my mind like a Speed Racer monologue. Does the booth look good? Will people see us? Will they stop? Do I have enough brochures? As well as forty or fifty more questions on a repeating reel. Then the first person walks into the booth and asks a question and it is all good. The conversations start, leads are collected and all of the preparation is put to good use. Those feelings and those conversations just aren’t the same as a webcast or online video.
We are not a large company with a six figure plus marketing budget. Like many companies our size, trade shows represent the largest single portion of our marketing budget – the GIS in particular. We bring in all of our equipment to a booth that isn’t cheap and then there are other charges like hotel, food, electricity and booth carpet (my first car didn’t cost as much as the carpet rental for our 20×20 booth). All of the shows that we go to add up and it is costly. With that being said, it is all worth it if the show attendees take the time to really walk the floor and look at things with an open mind.
So, to keep this near 500 words, I will just say this. To those attending the show – both dealer representatives and end users – please spend more time at the trade show than what you think the minimum amount needed. See more people then you planned. Walk some of the areas that you don’t normally visit. Think about what issues you want to solve and how something new out there you haven’t seen could help you solve it. From the exhibitor standpoint, trade shows are a lot of work and very expensive but CERTAINLY WORTH IT if we see and talk with those in the industry that we are there to see. Thanks and see you in Orlando.