The AIA Show takes place this week. Like other building industry trade shows, the cost to attend and exhibit are a large expense for building materials manufacturers. The AIA Show can also be one of the most frustrating shows for an exhibitor because of the lack of traffic on the trade show floor. Here’s how to get the most out of exhibiting at AIA.
Architects Embrace Change
The building materials industry is notoriously difficult to change. Contractors and builders are very hard to change as they see more risk and cost to change than the potential benefits. Architects are not only open to new ideas and change; they embrace it.
Each new project is an opportunity for an architect to design an even better building. Yes, architects are busy and will cut and paste specs from a previous project. As a manufacturer, your job is to educate the architect about they should make a change.
Manufacturers need to appreciate the thousands of decisions that the architect has to make for each building. You need to answer the question, “Why is your change, more important than others?”
New ideas and changes in construction practices start with architects.
Unless You Sell Designer Eyewear, Don’t Sell to Architects
As I explained in this previous post, unless you are selling designer eyewear, don’t try to sell architects at the AIA Show. Architects attend the AIA to learn. They learn by attending classes, going on field trips and networking with other architects. Unfortunately, the last place an architect looks to learn is usually from a manufacturer’s exhibit.
Manufacturers focus on selling why their product is better. They need to step back share information about the problem the architect is trying to solve and why their product is one of the solutions.
It’s too late to change the message on your exhibit but it’s not too late to change your approach when talking to architects at the show. How can you help them design better buildings?
Follow-up After the Show
It still amazes me how frequently architects tell me they visit an exhibit and request information to be sent to them or to be contacted by a rep, only never to hear from the company. If you can’t even do this, how reliable is your product or company?
If you use a marketing automation program, which you should, this list of architectural leads should be put into your program for nuturing.
An Opportunity For You to Learn
The AIA show is a great opportunity to learn more about what architects are looking for from a manufacturer. Look at the list of classes that are offered; this is a great guide to their areas of interest. In addition to telling architects about your products, interview them. What can you learn about the type of firm they are, the type of projects they have and what problems they are trying to solve?
The leaders of the smartest companies spend time in their booth. Talking to architects to give them first-hand knowledge of the issues you are facing.
Debrief after the show. Most companies talk about how many leads they collected and which was the best restaurant and that’s it. Your whole team should also take time to share what they learned to make your future marketing, sales and trade show efforts, more effective.
Measure The Results
Take leads from the show and follow-up several months later to see if you are now being speced. This is an often overlooked, but important step that starts to give you some measurable ROI.
My experience has shown that the companies who follow these steps get a lot better results from their investment in exhibiting at the AIA Show. The ones who don’t, wonder why they even go to this show.
If you’d like a refresher on How to Sell Architects, before the show, read my post here.