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6 Trade Shows Building Products Manufactures Must Attend

4 May

 

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Trade shows are an optimal platform from which to introduce a captive audience to the latest innovative product or service you have to offer. The following trade shows are ones that should be on your short list for 2017 and ones to keep on your radar for 2018.  

 1 . National Hardware Show

Held each year in Las Vegas, Nevada, the National Hardware Show will run from May 9-11 in 2017. This annual trade show brings resellers and manufacturers from housing after-market sectors such as repair, remodeling and maintenance together. With attendance projected to top 35,000 over the course of its three-day run, 83 percent of people who have visited the trade show previously noted that they did so to look at new products. 

 2 . ENR FutureTech

San Francisco, California is the site of this year’s ENR FutureTech trade show. Hosted by Engineering News Record from May 30 until June 1 2017 , the show focuses on technology and its continuously-expanding role in construction, engineering and architecture. Combining intimate networking opportunities and interactive workshop sessions provides the opportunity for attendees to learn how technology applications can drive performance, profits and project delivery. 

 3. Remodeling Show | DeckExpo | JLC LIVE

Remodeling Show | DeckExpo | JLC LIVE – often shortened to R|D|J for brevity – is a three-day event that combines exhibit hall activities with workshops and other conference programs to provide training, education and networking for those in the residential construction industry. Held at the Baltimore Convention Center, R|D|J  2017 is slated to run from October 25-27. 

 4. Greenbuild

Hosted by the US Green Building Council from November 8-10 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts, Greenbuild boasts 20,000 registered attendees. Focusing on the premise that not only is green building an innovation that is shaping the current landscape of the industry, it is a concept that will continue to grow in the future, Greenbuild is dedicated to providing a forum for experts, professionals and industry leaders to connect. As the biggest conference dedicated to sustainable building in the world, Greenbuild generates a “Legacy Project” each year that is designed to deliver real-world solutions for the community whose outcomes will last for years to come. 

 5. Design & Construction Week

From January 9-11, 2018, Orlando will be the host city of Design & Construction Week. Expect more than 80,000 construction and design professionals to converge on the city to learn, talk and network at an event that is a combination of the talents of the NAHB International Builders Show (IBS) and the NKBA’s Kitchen and Bath Show (KBS). 

 6. AIA Conference on Architecture

New York City will be the home of the American Institute of Architects 2018’s National Convention. Set to go June 21st – 23rd the convention will feature intensive half-day and full-day workshops, seminars by leading architects and firms on emerging industry trends, tours of city architecture, events, and experiences covering the topic of the ever-changing world of architecture. The conference aims to create a space where a collection of talented and visionary individuals who are dedicated to improving the quality of life for all people in all communities come together.

 

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Why Do B2C Brands Have More “Epic Fails” Than B2B?

26 Apr

Marketing Fails

hillmanGuest Contributor:
Matt Hillman, Creative Director

Google the term “fails” and you net more than 350 million results—everything from proposals gone wrong to typos on billboards. Narrow it to “brand fails” and that number drops to just under 90 million. Expand the search to “b2b brand fails” and it falls to 325,000.

So what is it that’s protecting B2B brands from the foray? How is it that not even 4% of the brand fails are categorized as B2B?

One answer might be market size, the sheer volume of business in B2C vs. B2B makes for more opportunities to fail, but that’s not the case. If anything, B2B dwarfs B2C. In fact, by 2020, Forrester research projects the US B2B eCommerce market alone to be worth $1 trillion—twice the size of the US business-to-consumer (B2C) eCommerce market. Every year, B2B companies spend billions of dollars marketing their products & services with print and digital ads, trade shows, websites, collateral, and more; so there’s plenty of opportunity.

Then what is it? Why don’t we see the catastrophic failures in B2B marketing that we see in B2C? I suspect it’s a number of things—publicity, saturation of visible media, how easily broad B2C audiences can take offense to things—but most importantly, it comes down to the very intimate conversation in B2B between a specialized brand and a specialized audience.

There’s a unique level of understanding between B2B brands and their audiences, regardless if they’re selling building products or engagement surveys or auditing software or anything else. Where B2C requires an exploration of demo- and psychographics to find cues for connecting with various consumers (e.g., “White and Hispanic, suburban, college-educated women, 24–40, with multiple children, seeking time-saving solutions to maximize family time”), in B2B, we focus on clearer audience sets (e.g., “manufacturing company CFOs and COOs looking for greater shipping efficiency”).

Over time, that understanding means a greater ability to forecast how messages will be received, what matters most to those you’re talking to, and how to speak to them on their own terms.

Add to that the direct feedback between purveyors of B2B products & services and those who purchase them—or at the very least influence that decision—and you build a familiarity that simply doesn’t exist in most B2C marketing. As a result, B2B marketers can be less prone to putting their foot in their collective mouth.

But let’s face it: seeing the fails happen to someone else’s brand can be oddly satisfying—whether B2B or B2C. We take a deeper look as to why that happens in our latest whitepaper, “The Appeal of Brand Fails (and Six Ways B2B Brand Can Avoid Being One.” Get it for free right now.

 

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When Selling Building Products, Opt for Simple

21 Apr

Lessons Learned from the 2016 ISC West Show

ISC West

As building products marketers, are we overcomplicating things? Do we consult with people down the channel—including customers and even our own sales teams—to make sure we are delivering the best information in ways that are easy to consume? Most importantly, who can we look to for simplification inspiration in the building products industry?

I recently attended the 2016 ISC West Show, the largest security industry trade show in the United States, with technical reps from more than 1,000 exhibitors and brands in the security industry. While there, I explored and learned about the rapidly growing segment of the connected home and the integration challenges of hardware and software in the security and door hardware industry.

The attendees of the show are typically security dealers. They sell in consumer homes, similar to a lot of building materials products. And, like a window or siding rep, they have to “win the kitchen table” if they hope to sell their product effectively down the channel.

One of the tours that did a great job of demonstrating how to “win the kitchen table” based on their product offering was the Tektronix® Connected Home booth. There, I learned how their integrated system connects the video doorbell to the alarm, the sprinklers, garage door, network-boosting light bulbs, and so on. Obviously, Tektronix is not the only company doing this, but for manufacturers not thinking about what homeowners want, this is where they need to start looking.

What I found amazing was one of the final items on the Tektronix tour, which displayed their “upsell kit.” It’s what a marketer might call a sales rep kit or in-home kit. Over the years, we’ve probably created dozens of these for clients, ranging from somewhat basic to very complex and expensive to produce. You’ve likely done these as well.

The upsell kit Tektronix showed at their booth is their most requested and used of all time. So what makes it unique? Triple fold-out panels with a wiring schematic that integrates all the cool features? Maybe some electronic component that connects via Bluetooth to the reps phone?

Nope. It’s simply a printed image of all the pieces that might normally go into the kit.Unknown

Yes, you read that right. The sample kit doesn’t have physical samples. It has pictures of them and a call out image on the inside flap of the box. It’s very light, so it’s easy to carry. It’s very cheap to produce so dealers can have several of these for all their reps.

These are home security items—technology items. These are items that protect the homeowner’s family. But even with all that, they don’t require a physical sample. I realize they aren’t picking a color or finish, but compared to what most in the building products industry have always done, many might consider it a “fake” sales kit. But for Tektronix, it works well—and suits both their customers’ and sales teams’ needs just fine.

So, I’ve challenged our team and I’m challenging you to think about this when developing your in-home sales kit and other sales enablement tools. Have you talked to the dealers to see what works or why they don’t use one item or another? Have you ever tried a completely different approach? Have you asked why your company does it that way?

And most importantly, have you asked yourself if there is a simpler way to do this? That’s what drove this change in their upsell kit. We can do this too—find things to simplify in our increasingly complex lives, both as people and as marketers.

 

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IBS 2016: “The New Big Thing” Is…

23 Feb

My Key IBS Takeaway for Building Products Marketers

IBS 2016

We’ve talked a lot about the 2016 International Builders’ Show (IBS) throughout the course of the last few weeks. You might even say we’re a little obsessed. But the reason why is that, for building products marketers, trade shows are a big deal. And there is perhaps no bigger one—or more important—than IBS. Every year, IBS represents where the building industry is going, from products to design trends to marketing. And every year, it’s at IBS where you can find “the next big thing.”

For me, the next big thing in trade show marketing is pretty clear: experiential booths. For a long time—too long, in fact—boring and uninspired booths have ruled the roost. Matt Hillman, our creative director at ER Marketing, even recently went as far as to describe the majority of booths as “brochures you stand in.” Not far off. But things are changing. In his post, he discusses some of the booths at IBS that delivered much better experiences for their audience. The common theme was that these exhibitors need to put on a “show” for their audience.

I think this is true no matter what trade shows you attend. In fact, it sparked my thinking on some other trade shows I’ve been to that have exemplified the experiential booth marketing that was such a hit at IBS. Here are some of the standout booth experiences I’ve had attending trade shows—experiences that should become the model for B2B marketers in the building products industry:

  1. At the Food Equipment Show, a commercial sausage making company proved the power of their product by doing multiple demonstrations using Play-Doh. This created a colorful (in more ways than one) experience for attendees.
  2. A simple product demonstration that proved effective was a window company that let attendees experience their good, better, best product offerings. By placing single, double, and triple paned windows in front of heaters, visitors could simply touch the glass to feel the difference in quality.
  3. A house wrap company had an innovative approach to showing their product’s resilience. By pulling their house wrap taut and placing it next to competitors’ products, they were able to demonstrate which was the strongest—by having a professional pitching machine shoot baseballs at the wrap.
  4. At the Deck Expo, one company created a competition in which attendees attempted to break their product with a hammer. If they were able to break it, they won a huge prize. It was simple to execute, and best of all, the loud noises of people attempting to break the synthetic decking drew a crowd.

IBS proved that the next big thing for building products marketers is creating an experience attendees will remember and breaking from tradition to do it. But that’s not exclusive to IBS—these examples demonstrate that it’s a change happening at all trade shows. B2B marketers in the building products industry need to do better. Your average, boring trade show booths are no longer effective. Worse, they’re very likely a huge waste of your money.

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Lessons From The Builders’ Show

18 Feb

An Open Letter To Trade Show Exhibitors

Dear Friends,

According to the Convention Industry Council, trade shows added more than $280 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012, drawing more than 225 million participants. That’s a staggering set of figures and it underscores the importance these shows play. As marketers, we all know exhibiting at trade shows can be vital to our business—to see and be seen, to market products and services, and to nurture relationships.

Over my career, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a variety of trade shows across numerous industries, the most recent at the building industry’s combined 2016 IBS & KBIS in Las Vegas.

And over the years, I’m struck by one constant of booths, regardless of time, region or industry…

Chances are, your booth sucks. It’s cramped, cluttered, and really boring.

While harsh, it’s also probably true. Worst of all, you probably know it. But take heart because you’re most certainly not alone in this. Everywhere, at every show, are long swaths of cluttered and uninspired landscape—overwhelming collections of shapes and colors, fixtures and messages, all masquerading as brand. It’s as pervasive and inescapable as it is predictable.

Why? When did this happen? When did it become okay to develop a trade show booth as if someone pitched the idea “You know what people will want to do after spending thousands of dollars and traveling hundreds of miles? To stand inside our 4×9 brochure!

Sure, it sounds ridiculous, but it’s the reality we’ve all seen time and again—and sadly, what we’ve come to expect and attendees to accept. Throngs of people shuffling past a booth, each scanning over it and moving on. And that’s after you’ve spent—what?—tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of marketing budget, ostensibly to get exactly their attention.

So now that I’ve pointed out the obvious problem, let me point out the not-so-obvious remedy. The secret, the greatest missed opportunity, comes down to a simple idea that the majority of exhibitors overlook which is…want a hint? Here you go: International Builders’ Show, Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, International Consumer Electronics Show, SHOT Show, Club Industry Show, Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show…

Notice anything in common? They’re trade shows. And what is a show? It’s an event, a spectacle, something to witness and enjoy. It’s active, not passive—and that’s the key. If you were invited to “dinner and a show” you’d naturally expect to be entertained, and yet at trade shows, we invite people to come see us and then reward them with opportunities to stand around and read something. Where’s the spectacle? Where’s the pizazz?

Face it, contemporary trade shows are overgrown ice trays of bland inactivity. But there is hope, bright morsels of brilliance among the milquetoast masses.

As recently as the IBS/KBIS in Las Vegas, I found a few who got it right and as a result, got noticed—some with every chair filled and some with onlookers clogging the aisle (drawing even more to come and see what the buzz is about). Others would do well to follow their lead.

CertainTeed

IBS Certainteed

If you have the budget, go big and use celebrities. CertainTeed brought in HGTV star Mike Holmes for an appearance and photo opp, plus constructed a climbing wall. What does a climbing wall have to do with their products? It was lost on a lot of people. But see the woman in the foreground…she’s capturing it on her phone, probably sharing it with others. She’s sharing images of a B2B trade show booth unsolicited. Money shot, indeed.

GAF

IBS GAF

Don’t have big budgets for big talent? Go traditional and use models and simple RTW giveaways. Your own team is paid to be productive experts, but hired talent is paid to be charming, inviting, and generally attractive. At the GAF booth—just inside a major entry point—a smiling woman with a bubbly personality was getting grown men to register to win stuffed animals. And it worked; in the few moments it took for me to grab this picture, two men asked where to sign up.

Plastpro

IBS plastpro

I walked by the Plastpro booth a few times and each time I did, people were standing-room-only to watch a pro install a door. To most people, this would be a punchline, but to attendees it was interesting, valuable, and yes, entertaining. The presenter was upbeat and personable…and he presented, not simply talked. I’ll admit, I stuck around and learned how to square a door much easier than I used to (and I’m not even the target audience).

Okay, so it’s great if you have the resources for a 30×40 booth with big events and headline talent and boxes of prizes. But what about the 10×10 along the back wall? What about those who spent a third of their marketing budget just to get it all to the show?

Bad Dog Tools

IB baddog

For more than 10 minutes, I watched two men at Bad Dog Tools do nothing but demo their product and answer questions. No brochures, no giveaways, no models. Yet people were constantly lined up on two sides of the booth to watch drill bits bore through everything from rasps to brake discs. Bad Dog Tools could have made a video of it and had it looping while two of their salespeople sat on bar stools and watched attendees shuffle by and not stop, but instead they made the product the show. Brilliant.

What’s the takeaway? Don’t settle, make a spectacle. Create a booth that’s a destination, or at the very least, an interruption. Remember that people can get information about your products or services at your website, so use your trade show booth to interact with them in a way you can’t otherwise—and in a manner that doesn’t feel like you’re pressuring them to buy a timeshare.

And here’s one final thought to consider…

“People will pay more to be entertained than educated.” –Johnny Carson

So come on, marketers. Show us what you’re made of.

Sincerely,

Matt Hillman

ER Marketing, Creative Director

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