Max Your ROI at This Year’s SEMA Show

SEMA News—September 2019

Max Your ROI at This Year’s SEMA Show

Chris Kersting

Chris Kersting

Preparations for the 2019 SEMA Show are in full swing, and staff just delivered our annual Exhibitor Summit—a two-day info-fest to help new AND seasoned exhibitors learn how to capture maximum value from the SEMA Show. How do we know what makes up a successful Show strategy? You give us the answers—through post-Show surveys completed annually by thousands of SEMA Show buyers and exhibitors. These surveys help us stay current with the objectives of buyers and sellers, identifying trends and seeing where buyers and exhibitors are aligned—and sometimes misaligned. Below are some top examples where exhibiting manufacturers may be missing the mark—and how to get on target.

Myth: “We don’t sell at the SEMA Show.”

Fact: That may be true for some exhibitors, but many buyers are interested. More than 40% of buyers tell us they placed an order from an exhibitor while at the Show. Of those buyers, 88% told us they took advantage of special sales or discounts offered during the Show. The takeaway is that many buyers do come to the Show looking to buy, and exhibitors can benefit by making known Show discounts programs that will secure an order if the opportunity is there.

Myth: “The interested buyers will find my booth…”

Fact: Actually, it’s clear that just buying a booth and waiting for the right people to come by is not the best way to maximize ROI. Year after year, buyers report they visit booths based on similar factors. First, contacting buyers in advance of the Show can be highly productive, whether via email, social media or other marketing methods. Of those buyers who reported receiving contact from exhibitors prior to the Show, more than 80% were more likely to visit some or all of those exhibitors’ booths. Second, a large percentage say that they were influenced to visit an exhibitor based on a product display in the New Product Showcase, which is consistently the number-one buyer destination at the SEMA Show. And while it’s true that buyers do browse sections of the Show, buyers report that product displays and demonstrations, booth design, and promotional activities, such as celebrity signings—in that order—are reasons why they stop and talk. Interestingly, the size and location of a booth are the least important factors prompting buyers to visit.

Myth: “I can’t take advantage of the New Product Showcase because I’m not introducing a new product this year.”

Fact: The New Product Showcase, the top Show destination for more than 80% of buyers, also has space for “featured products,” which are displayed in the same location. A featured product may not meet the criteria for the “new” product competition, but may very well be new to buyers, and be of interest to those expanding the scope of their business. Like the New Product Showcase, cost is minimal and the first product is free.

In short, the successful exhibitor gives buyers what they are looking for. That would include a booth that prioritizes display of products, and placement of products in the New Product Showcase to make products more visible. The successful exhibitor also markets to buyers before the Show, offers incentives to buyers who are prepared to close deals on the spot, and also collects leads to follow up after the Show. These factors were consistent no matter the size of the company or the size or location of the booth. This year’s SEMA Show promises to be another great opportunity for sales and growth for the industry. And that’s especially true for those exhibitors who don’t let “myths” hold them back.

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