Whenever I am reviewing a building material company’s marketing budget, I frequently see a long list of smaller local and regional trade shows.
I always ask, “Why do you spend the money to go to these shows?” The answer I usually get is, “We do it because the sales people want to be at these shows.” It’s treated almost as if it’s a favor to the local rep, rather than an important part of the company’s marketing program.
Why Local Building Product Shows Are Important
Everything in the marketing budget should taken seriously to get the most return. Many companies will attend 10, 20 or more local and regional shows. The cost of an individual show may seem small, but when you add them all up, it starts to become serious money. This isn’t a reason to forgo the smaller shows, but it is a reason to make sure the marketing team is supporting these efforts.
Local and regional shows have advantages that may not register on the project overview. These benefits can fuel your sales.
- The local rep usually wants to be at the local show. They are engaged and see it as a great way to grow their sales.
- It is local, so the leads the reps acquire are theirs and not for someone else located across the country.
- The reps have local knowledge.
- Your dealers and distributors can be involved.
How Manufacturers Waste Money on Local Shows
Manufacturers can be losing sales when local shows are treated as a side project. Here’s what typically happens.
Leaving the Poor Rep to Create a Booth with Whatever Is Available
Ignoring the Focus So the Rep Must Take a Kitchen Sink Approach
Making the Most of the Local Show Investment
Not all companies I see fail to support the local shows. Below are five companies that did it right.
It looks like the marketing departments were involved in supporting these booths. The rep wasn’t left to fend for themselves. All these exhibits have a message that will resonate with for the attending audience. Most companies take a one-size-fits-all display for use at local shows. That approach often lacks a compelling reason for a show attendee to stop at their booth.
The messages of these exhibits are also in alignment with the national programs these companies are promoting. There is a focus to these displays. They are not trying to sell everything. And finally, these booths present a positive rather, than a haphazard, brand image. These look like quality companies that supply quality products.
How to Make Small Building Product Shows Pay Off
Smaller shows can be a valuable marketing venue. They just need the right approach.
1. Have marketing talk to the local rep in advance of the show and ask the following questions. “Why are they going?” “What worked and didn’t work at this show last year?” “Who are the attendees?” “What is the main show goal the rep wants to accomplish?” “How will they measure the show’s success?” “How can marketing help the rep?”
2. Marketing should think about what they can do to help make the local show more successful. What display should they use? Should they create a custom display or a sign for this show? What handouts or giveaways should they use? Can they help the rep with pre- and post-show email followups?
3. Most important, have a debrief after the show so you can make other local shows better.
Dollar for dollar, local shows may be a better investment than national shows when properly executed.