Survey Says: Three Ways Exhibitors Get Great Results at the SEMA Show

SEMA News—June 2017

Chris Kersting

Survey Says: Three Ways Exhibitors Get Great Results at the SEMA Show

Chris KerstingAs part of our planning for the SEMA Show each year, we poll our exhibitors, buyers and media from the prior Show and carefully review the results. I’d like to thank the 3,000-plus folks who responded to our most recent study, sharing with us your aims, perceptions and ideas for the SEMA Show. And good news: Both buyers and exhibitors report very high satisfaction with the Show, and we see their enthusiasm as preregistrations for the 2017 SEMA Show roll in at record levels.

Aside from serving as a report card, the poll also helps us learn about the evolving goals, expectations and behaviors of buyer attendees and those of our exhibitors. In the process, the poll helps expose missed opportunities—those chances for exhibitors to capitalize on what buyers consider top objectives when visiting the Show.

For example, 84% of buyers tell us their number-one business objective at the SEMA Show is to find new products—and most buyers purchased or planned to purchase new products introduced at the Show. The survey also tells us that many of our exhibitors could put greater emphasis on their new-product offerings at the Show.

The New Products Showcase—cited in the survey as the most-visited feature of the Show among buyers and media—is a practical mechanism for exhibitors to attract buyers and media to their booths. Some 55% of buyers told us they visited a booth after seeing a new product in the Showcase. Of those, 18% actually placed an order at the Show for that product.

The takeaway here is that those exhibitors who are not already using the Show to launch new products may be missing an opportunity. And by not entering a new or featured product in the New Products Showcase, they are leaving a significant number of buyer interactions on the table. That is especially regrettable, since every exhibitor has the opportunity to enter one product in the Showcase at no charge—and additional products can be placed at a very minimal fee.

Another set of statistics demonstrates the positive effect of pre-Show marketing and communications. Among 2,172 buyers who responded, 65% reported being contacted by exhibitors before the Show. Of those, 91% responded by visiting the exhibitors who had contacted them. Those responses indicate that buyers plan their time at the Show in advance, and exhibitors can pull them to their booths by supplying information in advance.

The survey also provides a surprise for some exhibitors: The notion that buyers generally are not placing orders while at the Show is a misconception. A full 40% of buyers reported placing orders at the Show. Of those, 80% took advantage of specials and discounts offered during Show week. Better yet, on average, 40% of the orders placed at the Show came from new customers. In short, it appears that exhibitors who prepare and offer Show specials are able to attract new customers and close sales at the Show—yet less than two-thirds of exhibitors reported offering Show specials. For those exhibitors looking to improve their SEMA Show return on investment, this information should be very relevant.

And here’s a bonus insight: In 2016, 22% of the buyers who responded to our survey reported that they were new to the SEMA Show. So the Show offers an inflow of new potential customers every year, bringing with it the potential for both buyers and exhibitors to acquire new business. That creates a great value proposition for both sides—exactly what we hope for at every SEMA Show.

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