John Wolz and the team from Fastener Industry News posted results of a survey in the August 27, 2018 edition of FIN. The topic was fastener trade shows and the the headline read “What Exhibitors Want”. A lot of the responses were what you would expect. Some want shorter hours, some want longer hours. Some complain about the number of shows, including the regional shows and table tops. If you try to attend them all it can nearly be a full time job. People commented on the location of the shows. Exhibitors care more about the number of prospects and customers attending the show and do not care about the number of booths – something that show operators NEED to be have for the show to be successful. The last comment of the article was from an exhibitor that attended a small regional show and had a prospect visit his booth that eventually turned into a $100,000/year customer. Paid for that and the other shows. It can happen, though he admitted it is “not the norm”.
Let’s change gears for a moment. One of the most successful events for the North Coast Fastener Association is the Distributor Social. Every year, between 200-250 people attend this networking event. The Mid West Fastener Association just held a “mixer” and the event was very well attended. I am pretty active on social media and I am regularly see Pac West hold their “After Hours” events in different cities, and they seem to also be very well attended. It appears that people in the fastener industry like to network and we know they like their cocktails! Golf outings too seem to be well attended.
One event that was held a couple different times was the “Speed Dating” event that was put on by the Young Fastener Professionals. By no means were there only young people at the event, but rather a cross section of people from all ages. And, the attendance was very strong, maybe 100-150 people. All just gathering up, moving from table to table and meeting individuals that ended up in their group. I’m not sure why they, or some other group like maybe the Fastener Industry Coalition has not tried to repeat that event with more advertising and promotion. It would be very inexpensive to coordinate and, again, fastener people seem to like networking. Like the guy who found a customer at the regional table top show, you never know who you’re going to meet.
Everybody who exhibits wants to visit existing customers and find new ones. It’s pretty simple. The trade show that can foster the most interaction between supplier and customer ultimately will be the most popular and valuable show. Education is important but so are industry related topics. People always want to hear about the latest personnel move or company acquisition. How are tariffs affecting your business, how are you handling Prop 65…these and other topics are what people want to discuss.