A Distributor Asks: We are in the midst of planning our annual end-user showcase, and we were wondering if anyone had some interesting twists or ideas to make it more appealing to our clients. We currently ask our best suppliers to exhibit and we don’t charge the suppliers; we provide lunch for everyone—attendees and suppliers. We try to have it at a venue that is centrally located and has good parking and easy access. Our goal is to increase the number of vendors and attendees 25 percent per year and at the same time offer something unique to clients. Although we have had great success in the past, we are always looking for ways to improve and get better attendance. I would love to hear what others have been successful with.
Our answer is to do far more than show products.
- Facilitate interactions between companies and make introductions of client to client that would be mutually beneficial.
- Give a seminar on trends in the industry and show ways that you can provide value to your clients.
- Have your suppliers develop something that tells a story of each of your client’s brands. Something with their logo on it, combined with your logo is far more powerful than giving something with your logo alone.
- Find ways to be creative and innovative, and demonstrate how that creativity benefits your clients in ways that your competitors cannot.
- Give away something of real value─something that will be used, valued and talked about by the people who receive it.
Wow people and show them you do far more than just provide them another place where they can buy promotional products.
Your Brand Marketing
Here are some suggestions for distributor client shows to make them more successful from a supplier rep perspective:
- Only invite qualified buyers. Supplier exhibitors appreciate quality, not quantity. Inviting non-buyers can actually bog down the pace of a show because they have a tendency to “shop” and ask for one of this and one of that while an actual, qualified buyer walks on by.
- Show hours: 10 or 11 am to 2 pm; serve some lunch or heavy appetizers.
- Assign a number to each end buyer that designates their company and the distributor sales rep who manages their account. It makes it very easy for the supplier exhibitor to note that on a lead. For instance: MS1425 could be referenced to the AE, Mary Smith, and her buyer is #1425, Jane Doe at ABC company. John Miller at the same company could be MS1426.
- Do not ask a supplier to pay to exhibit in your end-buyer show. While the distributor has worked hard to arrange the show, the venue, etc., that is the cost of doing business. These shows cost supplier reps at least a day and a half out of the field for a chance to get in front of the distributor’s client and possibly secure one or two orders.
- Make sure the venue has an easy load-in and load-out for the distributor and the supplier.
- Make sure the venue has ample parking.
- Do request suppliers provide a giveaway or a door prize. And, do not announce door prize winners at the show. Wait until after the show to pick the door prizes for the right customer. This gives your AE an extra touch point with the client.
- Do provide a bag for the client to carry away catalogs and samples, a small notebook or journal and a pen. Page flags are a good option, too.
Kim Reinecker, MAS
Regional Sales Manager, Texas and Oklahoma
This is a very important question. Three ideas come to mind. First, follow up by telephone after you send invitations to your customers. It’s being done in my area with great results. Have a Brunch & Brand session. It’s a topic that will resonate with most of your customers. Finally, the last touch often determines the way an event is remembered. Develop a seamless protocol for handling sample requests. Samples received promptly after the show will leave a good impression and increase the attendance for your next end-buyer event.
David J. Hawes, MAS+
Have all the suppliers donate some of their most premium selections to an hourly raffle event using attendees’ submitted business cards that were collected at registration. Advertise these possible winning premiums to all as a hook to get them to attend the event. Create the need and “Pied Piper” them into the show.
Gary M. Murphy, CAS
Do You Have An Answer?
A Distributor Asks: We have a process in place for handling paper flow from the quote process to delivery of the product but are curious as to how others handle this step. What do others do to enhance and improve order flow management and follow up?
What’s Your Answer? Email answers along with your name, title and company name to Question@ppai.org by August 19 for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue of PPB magazine.
Julie Richie is associate editor for PPB.