Case Study: How One New Exhibitor Achieved Success at the Show

By Chad Simon

Robert and Laura Muertter of Switch Pros won a New Product Award for their SP8100 switch panel system in their first year of exhibiting at the Show.

New exhibitors don’t need a large budget or what some may perceive as a “prime” booth location to succeed at the 2015 SEMA Show. Everyone has their own strategies for attracting buyers to their booths. Some utilize freebies or hire celebrities and models while others create an interesting visual backdrop imprinted with their name or have an interactive product display.

“If you don’t show or say what you’re doing, buyers tend to not stop by your booth,” said Laura Muertter, vice president of Switch Pros. “Draw passersby in to want to stop by and engage.” 

Focus on One Product Line

Stay focused on your best seller that you think will appeal to the sophisticated SEMA Show buyer, Muertter suggests. Don't muddy the water by bringing everything that you manufacture.

Prior to 2014, Rancho Santa Margarita, California-based Switch Pros had neither exhibited nor attended the SEMA Show. Muertter’s husband Robert—the company’s president and design engineer—had been working tirelessly on the SP8100 switch panel system, which he had planned to finish in time to bring to the 2014 SEMA Show. Because this particular project had been dragging on, the Muertters didn’t commit to exhibit until early last summer.

Take Advantage of the New Products Showcase

Buyers tend to make the New Products Showcase their first stop, so entering at least one product (the first one is free) is an effective method for gaining their attention. Not only was the SP8100 ready for the Show, but it also won an award for Best Interior Accessory Product.

“Winning the New Product Award validated our existence and demonstrated the value in being at the Show,” Muertter said. “Because of SEMA’s recognition, this year we feel we have a product that deserves the kind of attention that the SEMA Show brings. It gave us the means to generate both pre- and post-Show contacts; I haven’t had to chase a single sale. The award drove people to our booth who might not have otherwise known we were there.”

It's the Presentation, Not the Location

Switch Pros exhibits in the Trucks, Off-Road and SUV section in the Upper South Hall. In their rookie year, the manufacturer’s booth assignment was a little off to the side near the bathrooms but, according to Muertter, they still got all the foot traffic they could handle, largely due to the New Product Award displayed in their booth. She said at times 20 people were standing in front of their booth listening to their presentation and viewing their products.

“We had an interactive demonstration panel that people could touch,” Muertter said. “In my experience with promotions, I learned long ago that you can give away all the free stuff you want, but that doesn’t mean people have any interest in what you’re doing; they just want the free pen or keychain or whatever it is you’re giving away. But if you have a product that can engage people, it’s the No. 1 way to lure them into your booth.”

Make Connections

According to Muertter, the SP8100 has opened doors to grow the business because buyers now know more about the company and want to know what other products they manufacture. Switch Pros also landed a number of international retailers from China, Germany, Australia, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Canada and Oman.

“Since last year was our first year at the Show, we were flying solo,” Muertter said. “We didn’t know what to expect, but we made a lot of connections with others in the industry. This year we’re looking forward to gathering with people we’ve met and have done business with who live in other parts of the country.”

For more information about how to enter a product into the New Products Showcase, visit the SEMA Show website.